english made easy:with the Language Coach
For many people planning to go and live and work or study abroad, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is a crucial step in their visa application process. This is because in most first world English-speaking countries, a test of English competency is a basic visa requirement. The IELTS exam is one of the most commonly used English language tests. It is used to assess an applicant’s proficiency in English for tertiary education and global migration. It is a prerequisite for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
There are two IELTS exam types: the academic and general training. The general test is usually taken by people intending to study in high school, training programmes, general work and/or accompanying spouses. The academic test is usually taken by those pursuing diplomas, under and postgraduate degrees, and professionals transferring to work in a different country which has an English-speaking environment. The test mirrors the features, registers and structures of academic language and behaviour. It also evaluates whether the candidate is ready to begin studying or training in that particular environment with no challenges.
Both tests require an approved band score for a candidate to satisfy their visa requirements. It should be noted that institutions and situations the visa has been applied for, usually set conditions and minimum band scores for people applying for the visa by criteria.
IELTS is just like any other exam. It is neither too difficult nor too easy. The trick to passing it with a high score remains the same: preparation, practice and mastery. The questions in each section (writing, listening, reading, and speaking) are set and designed to measure how proficiently the candidate uses and comprehends English in academic, professional and social settings.
When you decide to take your IELTS exam, first decide which test you will sit for. Next, make sure you are aware of the IELTS band score required for your visa. After this, purchase the required study guides and modules for your IELTS exam period and location. These are paid for and available online and can also be purchased at the British Embassy. Having completed the above, it is now wise to start practicing for your exam, either with an IELTS preparation course, in a study group or individually. A lead time of six weeks before the actual exam is highly recommended for good results. This is especially recommended if English is your second language.
Below are further tips on how to pass your IELTS with a high score:
Read extensively and study vocabulary
Reading frequently and extensively ensures that you improve and polish your ability to put words into their proper context when reading, writing, speaking and listening to English. Read all types of literature, novels, newspapers, academic journals, websites and blogs to learn more. You need to have a wide conversational range and many topics to draw from. You will realise that the more words and literature you are exposed to, the better your vocabulary will be.
A good study habit is to pay attention to unfamiliar words and phrases, note them and look them up. To practise later, use them in a sentence. Keep a notebook of your progress, using your new word often to improve your vocabulary. The above will greatly help in your reading and writing tests. Reading often increases reading speed, vocabulary retention and writing skills. This is an absolutely crucial skill for the IELTS exam.
Improve your writing skills
Writing skills are a very important part of the IETS exam. The writing test has two parts: Part A and B. The main challenge students face is failure to finish their work on time. To combat this, using the IELTS study module and any other practice material you may have acquired, always practice your writing test under timed conditions to improve your speed. Students are exhorted to always remember that Task 2 is longer than Task 1, so enough time should be left for it.
Analysis of the question, underlining of key words and writing out a draft paragraph of your ideas on a rough paper are prudent ways of ensuring you do not forget your ideas. Always check that the question has been answered fully. On revision of your work, ensure that no repetitiveness, waffling or rambling off topic has been indulged in. Furthermore, this is an English proficiency exam. Poor spelling, clumsy punctuation and grammar will lose you marks.
Practice English fluency and pronunciation
The IELTS exam has three speaking components. These are, a structured interview where you communicate with the interviewer using appropriate register and pronunciation. The second part is a talk for about two minutes on a general topic chosen by the interviewer, for which you will be given a minute to marshal your thoughts and begin your monologue. The third part is more of a conversation or discussion with the interviewer.
It is imperative, therefore, for the IELTS candidate to be fluent in English, have a good vocabulary of words and phrases, and understand everyday English language. The prospective candidate is advised to speak clearly, coherently and confidently. It is inevitable that the accent of the first language can interfere with the speaking test, but candidates are encouraged to correct any extreme language barriers with constant practice. After all, the object of the test is to speak and be understood, and to listen, comprehend and respond. To pass this test, consistent practice is needed.
Practice your listening skills
The IELTS study module will provide you with a sample listening test. You can also access more tapes if you are working with an IELTS preparation instructor.
The key to passing the listening test is constant practice until you no longer suffer interference of different accents. Most students struggle with acclimatising to the accent, speech speed, colloquial language and idioms used by native English speakers. The listening test is designed from taking everyday audio clips from an English-speaking country, and then the candidate is asked questions about the clip they have just heard. Speed, concentration and focus are crucial in this test. The recording will only be played once. Constant practice in listening to sample tests is highly recommended. A student who panics during this test rarely does well
A combination of these helpful hints, commitment and focus will help you greatly in passing your IELTS exam with a high band score.
lThe Language Coach runs a language school for IELTS in Greencroft, Harare. For more details, contact 0772487227