What is IELTS exactly?
IELTS is a rigorous examination that tests your English language proficiency across reading, writing, listening and speaking. Being a proficient or even native speaker may not be enough to get the band you need. Very specific strategies need to be employed when taking the exam in order to reach your aim.
It is not to be taken lightly – so get all your facts before you start and set a realistic objective.
This is what you need to know and do:
- Must you take the Academic or General exam and what band do you need to achieve? Ask the institution you will be studying at or the embassy of the country you are emigrating to, to specify these requirements. Sometimes you only need to get a specific over-all band but occasionally, depending on your visa or course requirements, you may need to also get a specific score per skill as well, so…. know what your goal is.
- Do an assessment test to check your current level of English proficiency – do this even if you are a native speaker! You can do one here at the British Council’s IELTS Road Test.
- Once you have done the first two steps and have a clearer idea of how much you need to study and prepare, you can book an exam date. Depending on where you will be taking the exam, you may need to book a few months in advance as space is limited.
- HOT TIP: Irrespective of your proficiency, if you are going to self-study you need to budget for a minimum of 4 weeks (or about 120 hours) to prepare for the exam. This includes taking 2 or 3 full practice tests.
- REMEMBER – doing hundreds of practice tests and not changing band is not preparing. Understanding where you are going wrong and remedying those issues by using specific exam strategies and time-training is vital. This is where we can help you, contact us to find out how.
- If you are not a regular reader, this is a good time to start. IELTS reading comes from authentic material such as newspapers, journals, academic papers, brochures and columns. Here are a few good websites that will supply you with ample reading material. In all of these websites there are articles you can read online (no need to subscribe, they are free) This way you will get familiar with the style and level of articles you are likely to see in a real IELTS exam. Practice your reading by using these resources and you will kill two birds with one stone: improve your reading speed and expand your vocabulary.
The Economist – a weekly newspaper focusing on international politics and business news and opinions.
New Scientist – a weekly science and technology news magazine, considered by some to be the world’s best, with diverse subject matter.
American Scientist – an illustrated bimonthly magazine of science and technology
The Geographical Journal – publishers of original research and scholarship in physical and human geography.
Interscience – online editions of scientific, technical, medical and professional journals
Australian geographic – an entertaining and fact-filled reference for anyone who loves and is fascinated by Australia and all things Australian.
The British museum – online publications.
Illustrated London News – a pictorial example of a historic social record of British and world events up to the present day.