IELTS – the International English Language Testing System — refers to a test of English language proficiency and is considered as the world’s most popular and respected form of English language assessment for higher education and migration requirements to English-speaking nations, especially intended for aspirants whose native tongue is not English. It is recognized internationally as the most reliable system for testing a person’s English language skills and abilities in four essential categories, namely – listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Introduced in 1989, IELTS examination has evolved as one of the most preferred forms of English-language evaluation. It is universally accepted and acknowledged by around 8,000 universities, companies, and immigration institutions across the world. (This includes major English-speaking countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and England). The IELTS testing methods focus on the candidate’s practical capability to use and comprehend English in real-life situations fluently.
So, IELTS is like a port of entry for strivers in higher education in native English-speaking nations including (but not restricted to) the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland et al. Evidently, a good score helps. The test can be categorized into – (i) Academic IELTS (a test especially for the students seeking admission to educational institutions), and (ii) General IELTS (for the candidates looking to migrate in the native English-speaking countries for job prospects or aspiring citizenship). So, while preparing for the test, remember the aim is to judge your proficiency in the English language in four ways –
- Listening to and comprehending the language in a short timespan
- Reading a passage fluently
- Writing the language comprehensively
- Speaking the language without any glitch
If you are one of the aspirers and are planning to prepare for the test from the safety and convenience of your home (pre-pandemic cautions!), we are happy to help with suggestions and pointers.
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Various Tips to prepare for IELTS at home
Lots of students enquire about how to prepare for IELTS at home? Such candidates can refer to the comprehensive guide available on the official IELTS website along with other study materials available online and offline. Apart from this, the below listed tips will surely help these aspirants to attain some direction about preparing for this examination properly at home.
For the candidates wondering how to start preparation for IELTS at home, some generic tips ensure that the students are on the right track:
- Practice questions — It is important for the candidate to keep practicing questions at home. There are different types of practice questions available at different IELTS websites which can be immensely helpful in this task. It is a very critical part in the initial preparation that helps the students know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It ameliorates their weaknesses and focusses on reinforcing their strength for a solid foundation for the examination. But the student often must struggle hard to identify their mistakes and that is when they need an expert by their side. But if help is not available, even constant solo practice at home can do wonders in making them exam ready.
- Computer delivered IELTS test format — The candidates can solve really helpful practice and test papers materials available online. This mode of practice via the computer system is like mock tests helping them hone their skill set. Also, the online world is a treasure trove for some quality study material for this examination – ready for the aspirant to delve deep. This helps them to get familiarized with the test format and easily handle any kind of tough exam paper at the time of taking the actual test.
- Beware of the time constraint — The reaction and response time accorded during the IELTS is very low. Which means, you must grasp what is said, comprehend what you write, be lucid about what you speak, and read comprehensively – all without much ado. For this swiftness, you need proficiency. Naturally, for proficiency you need practice. And we cannot harp enough on this. The more you practice, the more you climb a step further towards your goal.
- Join a coaching center — The students can also get through IELTS exam preparation at home with the aid of good tutorial centers , providing the right guidance and solutions to the candidates to pass this test in flying colors. Their trustworthy and experienced staff and teachers ensure that the students are polished to their shining best in the realm of English proficiency – naturally, their students rank high in the scoreboard.
- Try multitasking in English — The candidates getting ready for the IELTS exams will have to be ready to write and hear at the same time and excel in all of it too. And all these within an extremely limited time window. So, you simply cannot be caught unaware. The students should rehearse writing and listening at the same time to ensure competency.
- Start the preparations before time — The candidates should be completely ready for the exams at least a week before the official date of the test. But the preparation procedure requires at least 3-6 months in pursuit of excellence.
2.Tips for Listening preparation
Listening is considered as the easiest of the four sections of preparations for the IELTS exams. The candidate has to listen intently to 4 different recordings and then answer 40 questions within just a short span of 30 minutes. But the most difficult part of this section is that the student has to both hear the questions and answer them at the same time. That is when the tips for listening preparations given below would come useful:
- Severe practice — If the candidate is practicing multiple times listening to the questions and trying to answer them, it will benefit them a lot. The trial tests the students take while listening and writing the entire exams make the candidate proficient in this aspect. This is considered the best way to prepare for IELTS at home.
- Focus is essential — A candidate focusing on even the minutest details can catch the gist of the matter quite easily. (This also helps the student to speak by emulating the speech he/she has heard.) Losing the focus even for a few seconds might lead to a great setback in this test. So, the candidate should be attentively engrossed while hearing the audios.
- Mastering different English accents — Pronunciation matters in IELTS. Simply because the right diction connotes your ability to speak the words with clarity and accuracy. You must be fluent and spontaneous while speaking, and of course coherent too. Expose yourself to various kinds of accents by listening to a plethora of audios. The crux is – using your natural accent and speed of speech, you have to speak with emphasis and clarity.
- Watching or listening to English content — The experts suggest watching different English shows, podcasts, and news channels to help with IELTS preparation for beginners. This largely aids in improving the student’s listening capabilities and understanding of the various English accents.
The main motive of the reading exam is to test a large range of reading skills involved in this language. Reading for main ideas of the passage, reading for detailed information, skimming, understanding the logical argument provided in the write-ups, and properly recognizing and understanding the writer’s opinions, options, attitudes and even the purpose. The examinees have to provide short answers (relevant to the passage provided), match the correct information, complete the given sentences, match the headings appropriately or complete the diagram labels accurately.
In the reading part, the candidate has to answer 40 questions within the time span of 60 minutes. This segment contains 3 sections, and the students are expected to read the passage given to find the relevant answers from the given references. While a student can master the art of understanding the native English accents via listening, the reading section helps them to master the art of assessing the information and managing the conversation within a limited time span. Some tips to excel in time management during the exams are listed below:
- Keeping a track on reading time — The students should master their skills in reading by keeping a track of the time required for them to complete a certain passage. If the students are reading regularly, their speed increases automatically and they’ll easily finish reading the given passage in the provided time frame.
- Brushing up the vocabulary — Along with reading the matter, the candidates should also concentrate on increasing their vocabulary. They should learn new and complicated words by reading different levels of passages. The students can even search for the glossary manually to get some knowledge of the words that can be a part of their regular language skills.
- Concentration is essential — Reading multiple times without focus and concentration only wastes time. Instead, if the students are just reading once, but very intently and with absolute focus, they tend to grasp the matter better and provide the answers quickly.
- Reading the questions carefully — The candidates shouldn’t start answering the questions without studying them intently. They should take some minutes to read the entire matter carefully and answer only what is asked in the query. It’s very important to keep a track on the important keywords listed in the question for accurate answers.
- Covering all the pointers — Providing incomplete answers can also take away from your score. It is very essential that the students should read properly, understand the questions well, and then answer them covering all the relevant parts asked.
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Writing the IELTS test is considered the most essential part of the exam. So, it should also be concentrated upon and practiced perfectly. It comprises two sections. Task 1 involves analyzing a graph diagram or a chart. Task 2 includes writing a long essay about the topic given to the students. The writing module is the type that most people struggle with. The students should always remember that both the tasks should be written in a formal style only. The students should describe and explain the data in detail, and this requires significant and constant practice in English. They are also presented with a number of challenges during this task. Often, the topics given for the charts are totally new and distinct and the students might find it totally confusing to solve.
Since it is a written examination, the candidates have to be very thorough about the words and sentences used in the paragraphs because mistakes here could cost them their marks. The best tips to prepare perfectly for the writing test are:
- Mental preparation — The writing test actually displays the language skills of the candidate perfectly. The student should mentally prepare about the ideas to write about in detail as per the topic provided by the examiner. Thinking about all the essential matters related to the topic is important and also covering all of them in writing is crucial too.
- Dividing the content properly — The candidate should also divide and write about the topic in multiple paragraphs. This helps in providing a systematic outlook of the topic and properly presents the essay as well.
- The proper body of the write up — The students should practice writing alluring content. Like, an attractive introduction is the key to grasp the attention of the examiner. Next, relevant and accurate information should follow in an interesting and lucid language that would grip the attention of the examiner. The conclusion shouldn’t be diluted at all. It should comprehensively provide a finishing touch to the entire essay the student has written. If the candidate is practicing writing good essays keeping in mind all these pointers, they tend to get a proper grasp on writing these tests.
- Practicing graphs — The students also require practicing, analyzing, and dividing the information and writing them systematically in the graph format. They should also refer to the previous test samples and check what types of charts they’ll get to solve and try practicing those meticulously and profusely.
Fluency in spoken English is an integral part of the IELTS examination. Here, the examiners assess how the candidate fares in expressing an idea candidly without any hurdle. After all, a fluent conversation is what gives the examiner the impression whether the student can express and interact in the English language.
The fluency of the student’s oration, the overall uninterrupted speech, and the right choice of words and accent tend to pose particularly important roles in this test. This section lasts for around 15 minutes. There are three segments in this test which include introduction, induction, and a smooth two-way conversation between the examiner and the examinee. To prepare for this segment try —
- Conversing in English at home — Proper practice of English-speaking tests includes lots of practice in the fluency of the language and utmost clarity and confidence during speech. And to gain this, the individual should converse a lot in English at home. A proper diction is a must for clarity and comprehension of the examiner.
- Getting the pronunciation right —The students should hear intently and practice pronouncing all the vowels and consonants well to get even better clarity in terms of speaking the English language.
- No repetition of words — The students should also remember that there shouldn’t be any unnecessary repetitions of words within close proximity while speaking in front of the examiner. They should consider learning more synonyms and practice framing a sentence keeping in mind only the relevant and important pointers.
- Be quick in answering the queries — While the students are practicing for the exams, they should also be quick in answering all the queries presented to them. The faster the student is in providing answers to the questions accurately, the more confidence the candidate gains. And the same confidence helps the student in scoring well in the exams.
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Relevant information at a glance for the IELTS exams
After practicing for the IELTS exams at home, the students should just keep these prominent pointers in mind in order to get through with flying colors:
- Always read the instructions carefully before starting the exams
- Keep a track of time while answering the questions
- In the speaking module, the students don’t have to be too formal; a one to one conversation between the examiner and the examinee is possible even in an easy and informal manner. The more comfortable the student is during the speaking test, the better the results are.
- Students should also ensure that their headphones are working fine.
- Students should keep writing the questions on a paper while listening to remember them better.
- The students should never ever submit the papers without checking for grammatical mistakes and spelling errors.
- They should keep a track on the word count as they write the papers
- The students should never answer the questions before the analyzing them in their mind
- While writing the test, the student should keep the 150 words for task 1 and around 250 words for task 2
- Keeping the information to the point is always recommended for the students rather than adding more (superfluous) words which are not required. In other words – trim out the fluff.
- Not taking long pauses when answering the questions is specifically recommended
- Focusing on the tenses is important for the students
- Examining all the details of the graphs and diagrams in the written exams is necessary
- Using all capital letters for all the answers is highly recommended in hand-written tests to ensure clarity for the examiner. In a computer-based submission, however, using both upper and lower cases is alright.
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The preparations for the IELTS examination are not at all difficult if the candidates are following all the given information and instructions clearly. It’s important for the candidates to remember that the IELTS exams require them to pass all these stages in flying colors. Only if they succeed in getting great results in all these sections can they score well to enter the prestigious universities or the companies of the English-speaking countries.