How well do you know the IELTS test?

info-31185_1280I’ve been a teacher of English since 1994 and a tutor of IELTS since 1998.

As you can imagine, in that time I’ve been asked just about every question there is about the English language and the IELTS test.  One question, however,  that almost all students, whatever their nationality ask me,  is

‘How do I get a higher Band Score?’

Well, where do I begin?  Academic or General?  Which skill; reading, writing, listening or speaking?  I’m going to ‘begin at the beginning’ with some general hints that anyone can put into practice straightaway.

The first thing to do is to educate yourself about the exam; I have taught many different exam classes in my teaching career, not only IELTS but also CPE, CAE, FCE, PET and KET.  One thing I have always believed is success is any test (not only an English language test) is made up of two factors; how well you know the subject matter and how well you know the test.

In the case of IELTS, this means that a good result is obviously based on your English language level in each of the four skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking but also on how well you know the test.

So what do I mean, ‘How well you know the test’?  I don’t mean you can predict what questions you will be asked or that you can memorise large amounts of information to reproduce during your test.  The bank of IELTS questions is huge, which makes predicting the questions impossible and large chunks of memorised information might even lose you points.

What I mean is to educate yourself about the layout of the test; learn how long each paper is, how many sections it has, how many questions you have to answer.

The IELTS Speaking Test and the IELTS Writing Test are marked by a certified examiner who has been specially trained to mark these parts of the test.  The IELTS assessment criteria are confidential and do not leave the test centre, the official IELTS website, www.ielts.org , does, however give some indication of what they contain.

Click here for the public version of IELTS Speaking band descriptors.

Click here for the public version of IELTS Task 1 Writing band descriptors.

Click here for the public version of IELTS Task 2 Writing band descriptors. 

Studying these descriptors will help you understand what an examiner is looking for and some of the key differences between a band 5, a band 6 and a band 7.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

 

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