Wednesday March 9th, 2016 Nicoletta

IELTS Survival Pack 3

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Academic Director at English One
Nicoletta is the co-founder of English One. She holds a Dip. TESOL (licentiate) from Trinity College, London. She is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer with well over a decade of EFL experience.

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Improve your IELTS score NOW!

If you are here, you are either already studying towards taking the IELTS exam and doing some research on how to improve your score or you want to get started in your preparation.

I have been teaching IELTS preparation for a long time and the exam has been revised many times since then – exam rules have changed, the intensity has gone up, teachers are better equipped to teach but students’ initial perceptions of this exam remain the same – “It’s an English test, how hard could it be”. This is what ultimately puts a block on what really needs to be done to get the band needed.

Here is the real truth about succeeding in the IELTS test:

 icon-hand-o-right  WORK HARD, BUT WORK SMART TOO!  icon-hand-o-left 

Here are some proven ways on how to go further in your studies for IELTS:

1. Writing Tips

You must put pen to paper and actually write… seriously. You need to be able to come up with ideas for a written task in less than 5 minutes. How are your brainstorming skills?

Take a newspaper, open it and randomly point to an article. Read the title and write as much information as you can about it for 5 min. NOT sentences, just words and phrases. Do many of these.

If you struggle doing this, train yourself by using InstaGrok. It is an innovative brainstorming tool. Use it until you can come up with your own ideas.

2. Reading Tips

You have to read a lot and you have to read fast! Read every day. Not for hours at a time but try to do 15 to 20 mins three or four times a day.

Have a different book for each time during the day that you read. So if you read three times a day, have three books. Choose books with different themes – and not just ones you enjoy!

Do not use a dictionary. Guess the meaning of words you are not familiar with by looking at the context.

3. Speaking Tips

  • Hang out with English-speaking people (any English – it doesn’t matter!). If you attend a school, join any free socials that have a strict English-only policy.
  • Join online chatrooms. My favourite one can be found here. You can join a live conversation with people from all over the world, or listen to recorded conversations, or chat in text. Every Tuesday the conversations are corrected and you can read and listen to this too. So you get speaking and listening practice and there is correction too! And it’s free!

There is no excuse not to get speaking practice.

4. Self-study tips

Self-study is an absolute must, however, doing one or two practice tests a week before the exam does not constitute preparing for it. You will not get the band you are looking for. Concentrating on just the test and not the strategies for getting through it (which is essentially what is tested) then you are not seeing the woods for the trees.

If you

You can prepare on your own and do a really good job of it if you are well informed and have adequate material. Here is some direction on how to self-study for IELTS:

  • Join an online community like Gapfillers. They send you free exercises to do to prepare for IELTS.
  • Follow education blogs that give advice and tips for Academic English, like this one!
  • IELTS tests your proficiency in English in all four skills – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Do a timed-practice test to see what you are up against: You can do one here at the British Council’s IELTS Road Test.
  • When you do a task or practice test and find errors you must remedy them before moving on. It is not enough to look at an answer key and see the correction. You need to know why it is correct. You will continue to make the same mistake over and over if not.
  • It is highly recommended that you get a professional teacher who you can meet at least once a week for about 90 minutes to check your progress and give you direction. It doesn’t have to be at a school, it can also be over Skype, for example.

Please remember:

The better your general English, the more you will get out of IELTS preparation. You will not get a band 6.5 in just four weeks if your initial English level is Elementary – or even Intermediate! First, get your general English high enough to tackle academic English.

We have a lot more information that you can use to help you study for IELTS. If you would like some professional help then think about joining our Academic English Course. And if you don’t feel like travelling you can have private online lessons. And of course we are always here to answer any questions you may have!

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About the Author


Nicoletta is the co-founder of English One. She holds a Dip. TESOL (licentiate) from Trinity College, London. She is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer with well over a decade of EFL experience.

Comment (1)

  1. Great one!! There are numerous students who give their best to crack the IETLS, but they fail. The points that you have mentioned are great and by following this sincerely, I am sure that it will be easier for IETLS aspirants, to come up with flying colors.

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