Getting the Best Advice for the IELTS

October 16, 2017 by Lauren McKenzie

There are many websites, prep courses, books and online materials that offer IETLS candidates with sources of advice for the exam. There’s advice on what expressions to use during the writing module, your body language in the speaking module, the order in which you should read the passages in the reading module and understanding the different accents in the listening module.

It’s truly impossible to incorporate all the advice you receive when preparing for the IELTS so keep in mind you’ll have to make choices. Your job is to filter through the information to determine what works best for you and which advice leads to the best results.

When the time comes, it’s just you and the IELTS. The last thing you need is competing advice creating noise in your head on test day. Therefore, the best advice you’ll read here today is to make those choices before you go into the exam. Different approaches will have their pros and cons, but you should stay the path and stick with your choices. For example, in the reading portion, many sources will tell you to read the questions before you read the text, so that you know what information you’re looking for. Still there are other sources that directly conflict with that approach.

During your preparation you should try different strategies and determine which work best for you. Do practice tests in the time limit prescribed by the IETLS using different strategies and see which ones help you get better results. You may be surprised by the outcome.


Finding the Right Advice

Start by looking critically at the source of the advice. A good place to start is to go to the IDP website and read it thoroughly. Here you will find official practice materials and blogs written by experienced IELTS professionals. If you sign up for an IELTS test prep course, first do some research on the instructors. Ask them, if they’ve done the IELTS exam, and how familiar are they with the test. Ask your friends to see what courses they took, what materials they used – and what their experience was with the IELTS.

Most importantly, you want to find people who have reached their goal band score on the IELTS. Just like you wouldn’t aske for marriage advice from someone who has been divorced 10 times, you shouldn’t take advice from just anyone who has done the test, but from those who have reached the level that you hope to achieve.

Test Day

The day of your exam is not the time to be trying new strategies. Test day is your opportunity to show off the hard work you’ve put in during your preparation. You should have a clear plan of how you’ll address each part of the exam and you should follow that plan. Again, make those choices before the test and choose those strategies on test day. Good luck!

Lauren has been teaching English for close to fifteen years in universities and language schools in Halifax, NS. To meet the needs of her students, she began her own study of the IELTS exam nearly five years ago and has since taught preparation workshops. Lauren lives in Halifax, NS where she enjoys hiking and live music as well as travelling, studying languages and reading nonfiction.

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