An English language expert from Greenwich English College answers this one big question.
As a migration or education agent you may often hear customers saying: ‘I have prepared for this test for such a long time and I cannot pass. I know all the tips and tricks about it and I still cannot get the score I need. I am sure they are doing it on purpose so that we cannot apply for a visa in Australia’.
IELTS is not just another test. However, like all other tests there are some strategies/tips that can help candidates improve their score. Knowing the IELTS tricks and tips doesn’t mean that a high score is guaranteed.
Here are some popular IELTS tips/tricks:
- Make sure that the style used is appropriate (formal language to be used in essays and formal letters and informal language to be used in the informal letters).
- Make sure you answer the question.
- There is no right or wrong answer as long as you answer the question. The language is assessed not the ideas.
- Focus on both sides of the question (agree/disagree; positive/negative aspects; advantages/disadvantages; problems/solutions; causes/effects)
- Write your answers in capital letters to avoid making punctuation mistakes.
- Use the checking time at the end of each section to read the next section.
- Predict answers. Your prediction may be the correct answer.
- Don’t focus on spelling during the listening. You can check the spelling at the end of the test when you transfer the answers onto the answer sheet.
- Answers should be in order in the text.
- The first two sections of the test are easier than the third one, so answer the questions in order.
- Don’t leave empty boxes. Write an answer even if you are not sure it is the correct answer.
- Read the questions first and then find the information in the texts.
- Keep on talking. The more you talk, the higher the score.
- Listen to the questions and make sure you answer the question. Going off topic may mean that you didn’t understand the topic or you are trying to use memorised answers.
- Give shorter answers for PART 1 and longer answers for PART 3
- Make sure you talk about PART 2 for at least for 90 seconds
What are these tips/tricks? Imagine that you are building a house. The bigger the house, the higher the score. How can you build a big house? The answer is simple: by building a big and solid foundation! Will these tricks and tips help you build this foundation? The answer is NO. Grammar, vocabulary and word order help you build this foundation. Once your English level is good, the tips will definitely help you improve your score and not the other way round.
When examiners mark your test, they have to look at all the aspects of your skills. Let’s take for example the writing test. There are four criteria examiners look at:
- Task Response (For example: Did the candidate answer the question? Is the format appropriate? Is the style appropriate? Did the candidate develop the answer appropriately? Did the candidate express his/her opinion clearly and draw a conclusion at the end of the task?)
- Grammar (For example: How accurate is the grammar? How complex is the grammar used?)
- Vocabulary (For example: Is the candidate able to paraphrase? How wide is the range of language used? Is the candidate using any collocations, idioms?)
- Coherence and Cohesion (For example: Are ideas organised logically? Are ideas connected using different ways of linking them, such as linking words, substitution, referencing?)
Knowing the tips about the IELTS test will help candidates get a good score for their Task Response and maybe for Coherence and Cohesion. However, if the candidate is aiming to get a high score (7.0), both the Vocabulary and the Grammar must be improved. This is the reason why at Greenwich English College we have designed the only IELTS Online course which covers these two areas.
If candidates constantly get 6.0 or 6.5, this is often because one of the four areas needs improvement. Again luck will not help you get a higher score. Understanding what examiners look for in your test is vital if you want to improve and get a high score. The recommendation is to focus less on tips and more on improving your English skills. This will help you get the desired score.