The following article was produced for Pass IELTS Higher by Alexandra Taylor, via Copify, writing to a brief from me. I thought it would be helpful to get advice from others with experience too. I’ve linked to our articles and lessons which emphasise her points, where applicable.
With just two weeks to go before you sit the IELTS Test, it’s unlikely that you can significantly improve your level of English.
However, with focussed IELTS Test preparation you can improve your performance in the test by immersing yourself in the appropriate language and developing some important skills.
The IELTS Listening Test
The passages in the test will be quite formal, so listening to music radio or watching quiz shows won’t help you prepare. In the two weeks before the test, listen to radio programmes or podcasts about education, politics and society and pay attention to the language used. Have the radio on in the background while you are cooking or cleaning. Your ears and brain will still be absorbing information, even if you are not actively listening.
One of the major challenges of the Listening Test is that candidates have to read the questions, listen to the passage and write their answers all at the same time. This is a difficult skill to master. In addition to practice tests, one way to prepare is to watch television programmes but on bbciplayer or itvplayer. For 10 minutes and make notes, then repeat the programme but with the subtitles and compare your notes to the subtitles to see how well you listen and understand.The more you practise this, the easier you will find it.
Learn IELTS listening techniques in our free lessons at the links below:
The IELTS Reading Test
Try and read at least one article every day in the two weeks before the test but, as with listening preparation, make sure you read appropriate texts. Celebrity magazines will not help you become familiar with the more formal, academic language required for a strong performance in the IELTS Test. Try and read articles on a range of subjects, not just topics you are interested in, to experience a variety of specialist terms.
You cannot use a dictionary in the IELTS Test, so being able to guess the meaning of a word from its context is an important skill to develop. When preparing for the test, if you come across an unfamiliar word, don’t just reach for the dictionary. First, look for the root word and its prefixes to guess its underlying meaning. Then look at its place in the sentence and any suffixes to identify if it is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. Try and identify the main points of the text without checking the exact meaning of every word.
Learn IELTS Reading techniques in our free lessons at the links below:
The IELTS Writing Test
Writing is a physical skill which involves all the muscles in your hand, arm and shoulder. You will have to write continually for up to an hour and, if you’re not used to writing for this length of time, it can cause aches and pains that will distract you from demonstrating your best English. You will be asked to write two texts in the test, one of at least 150 words and one of at least 250 words. It’s important that you know what these lengths look like in your handwriting as you won’t have time count in the test. One way to address both these issues is to copy out any long text and stop when you think you have reached the required length, then count the words to see how close you were. Do this regularly and you will learn to judge when you have written enough without having to count, plus you will be building up those important writing muscles.
You should aim to use a wide range of vocabulary in your writing, but don’t try and learn a lot of new words in the two weeks before the test. It is more important to be able to use the vocabulary you already have correctly. Instead, spend time writing down as many words as you can think of that come from the same root, for example ‘nation’, ‘nationality’, ‘international’, ‘nationalise’. Think about what type of word each one is be it a noun, verb, adjective or adverb as well as which affixes are used. Find common collocations online and write a sentence with each word, ensuring the grammar is correct. Focusing on word families in this way will help you use a variety of sentence structures and make the most of your existing vocabulary.
For more on vocabulary, read this article on the Pass IELTS Higher website: https://www.passieltshigher.com/how-many-english-words-do-you-need-for-the-ielts-test
Learn IELTS Writing techniques in our free lessons at the links below:
The IELTS Speaking Test
As with writing, speaking is a physical skill and every language uses different muscles. To improve fluency and pronunciation, spend time training your lips and tongue to move in the correct way to form the sounds of English. One method is to regularly read aloud. Choose an appropriate text then read it through a couple of times, repeating any phrases which you find difficult to pronounce. Record yourself reading the text and listen back to the recording in order to identify areas for improvement. Another technique is to record a radio or television interview then listen and repeat, one sentence at a time, using the same stress and intonation as the speaker. Remember you are training your muscles, so make sure you are copying the sounds and intonation as accurately as possible.
Consider taking a mock IELTS Speaking test and receiving feedback to improve your performance
With just two weeks to go, it might be worth investing in a lesson with private tutor. An experienced coach will be able to give you personalised, last minute preparation advice to help you improve your test score. Search online for a specialist IELTS coach, or ask your test centre if they can recommend someone. It is also a good idea to be up to date with what’s happening in the news in the two months before your test. Read an English language newspaper, listen to the radio and watch the television news. As well as developing your language skills, it could give you something to speak or write about when faced with an unfamiliar topic in the test.
And finally, don’t forget the importance of rest and relaxation. Make yourself a realistic study plan with plenty of breaks and ensure you eat properly and get enough sleep. You won’t perform to the best of your abilities if you are stressed and tired.
Learn IELTS Speaking techniques in our free lessons at the links below:
Try our mock IELTS Speaking test here and get feedback from us on how to improve your speaking band scores.
For more IELTS Test Preparation take a look at ourfree IELTS Test lessons, covering all aspect of the IELTS Test, see all our IELTS Prepcasts here.