The first step towards acing the IELTS is to understand the test. It is essential to recognise what the IELTS examiners are trying to gauge when they test common skills such as ‘Reading’, ‘Listening’, ‘Writing’, and ‘Speaking’.
IELTS is needed for anyone planning to study/work/migrate or in other words stay in Australia for an extended period of time. Since English is the dominantly used language here, it is essential for everyone to have a certain level of proficiency to be able to function and co-exist in this country.
The IELTS tests whether you can:
- Read and understand complex texts?
- Identify, analyse and utilise relevant information?
- Comprehend native speakers and sophisticated dialogues?
- Participate and make coherent conversation?
- Aware of topic specific vocabulary?
- Compose texts formally and/or academically?
- Present your opinion clearly and consistently?
All these skills are important to study, work and live in a pre-dominantly English speaking country and therefore the IELTS is a comprehensive way of testing these capabilities.
It is unfortunate that the IELTS is being perceived as a business and several entities (often without appropriate qualification or experience) offer ‘expert’ advice and guarantee results to unsuspecting public. Many IELTS training institutes supply a list of IELTS vocabulary consisting of more than 1000 words which the students are required to learn. They provide shortcuts such as standard introduction/conclusion for the Writing section, again which the students are supposed to memorise and copy-paste in any topic. These quick fixes seem very attractive to people, but they fail to realise that each topic is unique and has to be understood and answered accordingly.
I have had students who have taken the IELTS 20 times and are frustrated with the test and feel cheated. They are right in feeling so, as there would be nothing worse than paying hard-earned money to take a test and failing to attain the desired score on numerous occasions.
My advice to them and all potential test takers is this:
- Take time to understand the test;
- Recognise your problem areas;
- Work on the particular sections which you find more challenging;
- Look for relevant guidance, NOT shortcuts; and
- Familiarise yourself with English in all forms; be it books, newspapers, television, radio, conversations with locals.
All the best and I sincerely hope this one will be your last IELTS test as you would have scored your required band ☺