What is IELTS?
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examination is a gateway to enter English-speaking countries for higher studies, work, or PR. Universities and organizations in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and even in the USA to some extent, recognize IELTS and offer admission based on the IELTS test scores. The exam tests your proficiency in the basics of English Language in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
Do you have to spend a fortune to crack IELTS?
You have set your eyes on your dream university, now comes the big question, how should you prepare for the exam? Should you enroll yourself in a coaching institute or prepare at home, all by yourself? The good news is that you need not shell out huge sums of money for taking coaching classes. With methodical and systematic planning and with a deep understanding of the structure of the test, you can prepare for IELTS at home.
How to Prepare for IELTS at Home?
Preparation of any exam begins with the understanding of exam pattern. What follows next is a correct list of books and resources. In addition to this, students can refer to the IELTS Preparation Guide that contains IELTS Sample Papers and strategies to help them prepare without going to any formal coaching institute.
We are mentioning a list of basic resources that you must have. These resources should form the base of your preparation:
- Official Website for understanding the pattern and solving questions
- The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS: This book must form the base of your preparation and everything else must be built upon it
- Cambridge IELTS Books 1 to 16: These books contain actual IELTS questions. Make sure to practice all of these
- Additional Resources: For additional resources, you can check the link here
With all the material and resources in your hand, here are few guidelines and tips that help you prepare for the exam on your own.
The test is divided into four sections, and each section requires a unique approach to achieve a decent band score
Listening is supposed to be the easiest of the four sections. The candidate will listen to 4 different recordings and answer 40 questions within 30 minutes. The tricky part is, you will listen and write the answers at the same time. So how do you ace the listening part of the exam?
- Practice, practice, and practice, take as many trail tests as possible before the actual exam.
- Focus is the key, listen to every single detail of the conversation being played out. Most often, losing the focus for a few seconds will fail you in answering one or two questions, this is where your score comes down.
- Please note that the recordings will be played only once. Keep your focus intact and do not get swayed away in your thoughts.
- Try to master different accents of English.
- When you are not taking mock tests listen to podcasts and follow British news channels such as the BBC. In addition, you can watch English shows. But do not watch these shows for entertainment purpose, rather watch them to get a hang of the accents. This will help in improvising your listening capabilities and understanding the accent of the native English speakers better.
The reading part contains 3 sections with 40 questions, and you need to answer them within 60 minutes. If listening is about practice, reading is about time management.
- Time your mock tests while practicing reading sections.
- Section 3 is relatively tougher compared to 1 and 2. As the test progresses, questions get tougher. Here, time management plays a major role. You must practice time management so that as you reach later sections, you have sufficient time at your disposal.
- Hone your vocabulary. As time is the deciding factor here, you should know the meaning of complicated words to proceed quickly.
- Take a glance at questions before you read the text. Make a note of keywords while you read. This helps you in identifying the important parts of the passage.
- As you read along, build a gist of the paragraph in your mind.
- Practice reading. It is not only about IELTS, but also about developing a reading habit. The more you read, the more you learn. There are excellent books and reading material available in the market. Pick up a genre that you enjoy, and read as much as possible. In addition, you can also read magazines such as the Economist to understand how formal language is written.
Writing involves 2 sections, Task 1 and Task 2. Task 2 is common for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training modules. However, Task 1 is different for both. On the IELTS Academic, Task 1 comprises analyzing a graph/chart/diagram/process and writing it summary. On the IELTS General, Task 1 comprises of an informal/semi-formal/formal letter. In Task 2, you will be required to write a long essay on a given topic.
- You must write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2. Writing less than that will attract a penalty.
- Writing tests your language skills in real sense. Mentally plan your composition and give a thought on the structure of the essay before putting it on the paper.
- Make sure that your text has a structure, a seamless flow, and sense. Your content must answer the question directly.
- You can substantiate your point of view in essay with the help of examples.
- Divide your content into 3 to 5 short paragraphs depending upon the question. The flow from one paragraph to another must be continuous and the ideas must connect with each other.
- Start with an attractive introduction and end with meaningful conclusions. However, you must make sure that both of them must answer the question.
- Do not repeat the words; use synonyms.
Speaking test takes place either few days before or after the other three section. This test requires you to wear your confidence on your sleeves for a smooth get-through. The entire test lasts for about 11-14 minutes and comprises three sections, introduction, individual long run, and two-way conversation between examiner and examinee.
- Start and end the sentences well.
- Do not repeat the words or sentences.
- Practice at home by talking to your pals on various topics and ask them to give feedback.
- Construct simple, error-free sentences.
- Get your pronunciation right and let your speech be organic. Do not try to forcefully fit in “high-level words”. Focus on coherence.
- Do not focus on regurgitating your memorized words. You should speak what fits the context. Remember that IELTS is not a test of vocabulary; rather it is a test of your general English. Examiner must not feel that you have memorized what you are speaking.
So, you can certainly prepare for IELTS at home and save on money and time. Hard work and smart work is the way to go. All the best.
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