Anonymous IELTS Experience (III)

(This post was originally written for my blog on 24th February 2017. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer, for which I thank them. The writer chose to remain anonymous)

 

FOREWORD:

This post is written with good intentions, I hope that it proves helpful.

 

HOW TO ACE IELTS IN 14 DAYS:

Yes, it is possible to ace IELTS in 14 days or even less with the required band score.

Remember these few rules before you start.

RULE # 1: Never over-estimate yourself.

RULE # 2: No matter how good your English is, you need to study for IELTS.

RULE # 3: Practice makes perfect.

RULE # 4: Do not listen to people who decide for you if you can or cannot do it, anything is possible, you can assess yourself best.

RULE # 5: Compartmentalize your preparation and give more time to the area you find yourself weak in.

RULE # 6: Always remember, IELTS is not a difficult exam, only a tricky one.

 

WHAT TO DO FIRST?

First and foremost is your assessment of your language proficiency skills. No matter how sophisticated an accent you have, you might not be as proficient in the English language as you think.

 

REQUIREMENTS OF A GOOD BAND SCORE:

For a good score in IELTS with a prep of 14 days or less, you should have a previous knowledge of basic English grammar. You should have an adequate vocabulary. You should know how to use proper punctuation. You should know a little about making complex sentences, and using them not just in written expression but also in the spoken one. For the speaking part, you don’t have to have a good accent, you should just be able to speak grammatically correct English with confidence.

Please take at least a month or more if you are weak in grammar. Do not risk your attempt without proper preparation.

 

WHAT TO STUDY?

There is A LOT of material available for preparation for IELTS. You can use some or all depending on how much time you have. Remember, IELTS is not a difficult exam but just a tricky one. You can easily tackle it by targeted prep.

As we all know that the IELTS exam has basically four parts; Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. I’ll try to guide you through them one by one, as best as I can.

The books that I would like to recommend are:

New Insight intoIelts-Student’s Book with answers

Insight into IELTS Extra with Answers

I would also recommend www.ieltsadvantage.comfor tips and material.

.

PART 1-LISTENING:

The first part you encounter in your exam is the listening part. You can prepare best for it by listening. It is the easiest part where you just follow the conversation.

British accent might be a bit difficult to understand for some. Even for those people who have been watching English Movies/TV shows all their lives, I would like to say that American accent is a tad different than British accent. You have to get accustomed to it to understand it. We, in Pakistan, have a mixed accent, so, conversing with each other in English wouldn’t help much for this section. BBC English is the best source. As soon as you start preparing for IELTS start listening to BBC News or watching any BBC TV show.

For the exam preparation, Insight into IELTS is adequate. It comes with an audio CD which has audio recordings with a set of questions (just like in the actual exam). It guides you step by step through different types of audio clips you might hear and tips on how to tackle them. It also has an additional workbook, Insight into IELTS Extra (with CD), which you can use for further practice. This would be enough to prepare you for the exam.

 

PART 2 – READING:

This is the second part of the IELTS exam. Again, Insight into IELTS is an adequate book. It guides you like a beginner through the process to achieve a good score in the actual exam. We all read, if not fiction then text books. So, we have an idea on how to read a passage and understand it’s essence. Just read from the book what is expected of your reading skills, and solve the exercises, you’ll be good to go.

 

PART 3 – WRITING:

This is the third and the most tactical part of the IELTS exam. You don’t have to be a professional writer to get through it. You just need to understand what do the examiners expect of you and how best to fulfil the requirement.

Start practicing for it from Day 1, a little every day.

The writing part consists of two tasks(exercises); Task 1 & Task 2.

There’s a set target of words for both tasks, you can exceed it somewhat, but cannot stay below it. You cannot write too much or too less, both cost you marks. Always keep track of the number of words you are using for each task. You can only achieve this by practising. During the exam, you might not have enough time to count the words, but if you practice beforehand, you can have a rough idea how many lines you can fill with a set number of words. Also, keep track of grammar and punctuation, an error in both will cost you marks.

TASK 1 is the shorter part and carries less marks than Task 2.

  • You are given a table or a graph and tested on your ability to describe it concisely & precisely.
  • You are given a statement about the task, which you can use in your introduction by rearranging it. However, you cannot repeat any phrase or expression, as that won’t be counted for by the examiner and you will lose marks.
  • BothInsight Into IELTS and ieltsadvantage.com have excellent tips on tackling this part; study, understand and practice.

Task 2 is the longer part and carries more marks.

  • You are given either a descriptive topic or an argumentative one to write upon.
  • You can be asked to describe both views, argue over both views or just to side with one. You must write in accordance with what is asked of you.
  • The main points on which you are judged in this part are; your vocabulary and your grammar skills.
  • A simple trick is not to use any two words twice. Keep a thesaurus with you while preparing.
  • Also, learn to use complex sentences.
  • An essay for the Writing Task 2 usually has 4 or 5 paragraphs, depending on your topic; the most important of these are the first and the last
  • From the introductory paragraph, the examiner should be able to infer that you have understood the topic well and have organized ideas to explain your stance.
  • The last paragraph is the conclusion, which should tell the examiner a summary of what you have written and your opinion if it’s required.
  • Practice for this task as much as you can. Pick one topic daily and write about it. Check it yourself for the key requirements of the essay.
  • You don’t have to have a lot of knowledge about the topic to score a band 7 or above, but your essay should have a proper structure.
  • ieltsadvantage.com gives you the facility to have your essays checked.

 

PART 4 – SPEAKING:

This is the last part of the IELTS exam. You are expected to be able to express yourself in coherent English, with good grammar and versatile vocabulary. Insight into IELTS and www.ieltsadvantage.com have adequate tips to prepare you for this exam. Some people say that it is better if you practice with a partner, you don’t necessarily have to. You can practice in front of the mirror too. Listen to the different audios in the CD provided with Insight intoIELTS and you’ll have a good idea of what to say during the exam.

The speaking part has a sub-part in which you are given a random topic and asked to talk on it for a minute or two. The examiner will be silent during this part and will only start speaking again when the timer beeps. It is very common that you aren’t able to come up with enough ideas about the topic to keep talking for two whole minutes. The key is to just keep talking. You can steer the conversation in any direction you want. Practice and prepare yourself mentally for that beforehand. Do not worry if you do not have a good accent, it should just be coherent and grammatically correct.

 

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY:

You cannot learn a whole thesaurus in just a few days. You don’t have to know big words, but just a variety of smaller words. Do not try to improve your vocabulary by cramming up words. It doesn’t work. Even if you can remember the words you mustalso know their correct grammatical usage. It’s better that you start reading a good English newspaper. Reader’s Digest is also good. Read every line, underline difficult words and look up their meanings. Underline phrases that you aren’t familiar with and look them up. See different types of sentences being used and practice to make up your own. You don’t have to read novels or anything. Also, while watching an English movie or TV show, you can switch on the subtitles, pick out different words/phrases and look them up.

It all must seem a lot of work to you, but it is not. You just have to understand the basic pattern and requirements of the IELTS exam and prepare accordingly. Please do not go unprepared, no matter how good your English is. Start with practicing the writing task since day 1 and keep practicing the other parts alongside.

 

MY IELTS EXPERIENCE

EXAM PREPARATION:

I had roughly 10 days for my IELTS prep. I have never had any problem with the language, written or spoken, so I thought that I could easily do it without much preparation. After submitting my application, I solved a test on the British Council website and managed it alright with very few mistakes. That boosted my confidence further. A friend of mine advised me not to go totally unprepared though. Acting on the advice I got Insight into IELTS and just started going through it.

The listening and reading parts were alright and I didn’t face much difficulty in solving the exercises. The writing part was a bit difficult for me as I’ve never been good in descriptive writing 😃. I then studied all the tips given in Insight into IELTS in the few days I had, and solved the exercises. I also studied the sample answers given at the end of it. I also solved a few exercises from Insight into IELTS Extra workbook.

While preparing, I read about www.ieltsadvantage.com somewhere on Facebook, just 5 days before my exam. I looked it up and found it to very helpful. Chris Pell, the founder of the website, has really simplified the writing task in easy steps. There are a lot of tips and samples on the website. He also offers essay evaluation via email on payment; I didn’t go for it though. I just read every tip from both sources.

I, however, made a grave mistake of not practicing writing for either Task 1 or Task 2. Practice, I realised only later, is vital for a good band score.

In addition to this I read a few past papers containing essays with a score of band 7.

My speaking test was a day after the written exam so I didn’t prepare for it at all earlier. In the one day that I had before my speaking test, I just went through speaking section of Insight intoIELTS and listened to a few audio clips. I did not practice it with anyone or even in front of the mirror.

 

EXAM DAY:

The listening part was okay. I lost a little concentration during it so missed some 2 questions. The rest of them I couldfill in correctly.

The reading part was good. It wasn’t difficult. I finished it well before time.

Then we were handed questions for the writing tasks. I made two mistakes; I read both tasks together and took a short break. This cost me 15 minutes, and so I panicked. I decided to attempt Task 1 first and be done with it quickly, but couldn’t. I spent a total of 20 minutes on task 1 but was satisfied with it in the end. In doing that, I had only 25 minutes left for task 2. I panicked some more. Thankfully I remembered the tips from www.ieltsadvantage.com and started writing. I managed an adequate introduction and conclusion and quickly jotted down a few jumbled-upideas in between. I didn’t have enough time to count the words but hoped that they were enough. I took care however not to use the same word twice and use a few complex sentences. Towards the end, I panicked more, as people were asking for extra sheets 😃. Somehow, I finished it just in the nick of time.

My speaking test was a day after. The examiner had a pleasant attitude which gave me confidence. I did alright in the beginning. Then came the part where I was given a topic to speak about. I thought of a few points and wrote them down on the paper provided to me. Thinking that they would be enough to speak about, I started speaking. But, I ran out of ideas well before time. The examiner and I were both silent for a while, thank God that the bell rang soon . The next part however I managed without any glitch. I took care to use a wide range of words and a few complex sentences in my speech. Overall, it went fine.

 

MY SCORE:

Listening   8.5

Reading    8.0

Writing     7.0

Speaking   7.5

OVERALL BAND SCORE   8.0

 

TIPS AND ADVICE:

  • Do not go for the exam totally unprepared.
  • Have a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast before the exam
  • Remember that it is not a difficult exam but only a tricky one
  • Practise before the exam as much as you can, especially the writing tasks. Do not go for the exam without preparation.
  • Practise for the speaking task if not with anyone then at least in front of the mirror for a few days. Do not go for it without any preparation.
  • During the exam, do not read both the writing tasks together.
  • During the exam, divide your time for the writing tasks. Read Task 1 first, use the first 5 minutes to form ideas and think about sentence formation, and use the next 15 minutes to finish it. Then, read the Task 2. Out of the remaining 40 minutes you would have, use the first 10 minutes to think about the topic and write down any ideas you get on the question paper. Also, write down any relevant vocabulary that you could think of using in your essay. Use the next 30 minutes to write the essay. It’s better if you use a pencil as it is easy to erase, cutting doesn’t look good.
  • Pray

 

CREDITS:

I owe my success to Allah Almighty, my family and a few dear friends; I couldn’t have done it without them.

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