The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an important exam if you wish to get admissions to any foreign university in Australia, Canada, UK or New Zealand, among other English-speaking countries. It’s also important for those planning to migrate to any of these countries for work or permanent residence.
Therefore, it’s best to prepare for the IELTS test in a manner that you can crack the exam at the first go and score enough points to qualify for an admission, job or a visa.
Best Ways to Prepare for IELTS
Preparing for the IELTS test can be an uphill task if you’re not a native English speaker. However, that’s nothing to worry about. Because there’re several best ways to prepare for an IELTS test, if you know how to go about the process.
In this article, I will write about the best way to prepare for IELTS. That could help you to prepare well for the big test and possibly ensure you pass with amazing scores.
Comprehend the IELTS Format
It’s very important to fully comprehend the format of the IELTS test before you begin preparing. Basically, an IELTS test consists of four parts: English Writing, English Reading, English Listening and English Speaking.
Cracking all these four tests are equally important. That means you’ll require a good vocabulary as well as superb grammar and punctuation skills. Additionally, you will have to understand English as it’s spoken by a native speaker. However, for the Spoken English test, your own accent is acceptable as long it is understood by the test administrator.
Remember, you have to prepare for all the four modules of the test. There’re some options of appearing for one module at a later date, though it’s not really recommended.
Take a Mock Test
You can get a lot of mock IELTS tests online. The best way to prepare for cracking the main IELTS test is by taking these mock tests without any prior preparation. That allows you to understand fully, where you stand when it would come to the real test, with your existing skills. Obviously here, the results would differ from person to person because some of us could be sharp at reading and writing while lagging in speaking and listening to native English.
However, the experience of most persons that’ve successfully cracked the IELTS test proves that taking mock tests does expose our weak points as well as highlights our strong points. Therefore, note down where you’re strong and weak. You will need these notes to better prepare for the real IELTS test, when the time comes to appear for one.
Start Well in Advance
Normally, you would have a window of three months to six months to appear for the final IELTS test, once you register. Therefore, you have to make the best of this time. And you also need to be aware that each module of the IELTS test comes with a time constraint. That means, you need to complete the test within the specific number of minutes and hours.
Therefore, start preparing for an IELTS test the moment you enroll for one. That would give you a head-start and help prepare better. You can keep doing mock tests too to find out whether you can complete the main one within the limited time span, over this period of three to six months. The more mock tests you do, better the chances of completing the test on time.
Develop Overall English Language Skills
One of the greatest blunders that all IELTS aspirants commit is that they prepare only for the exam. That is, they prepare only with as much English skills that they believe would be adequate to crack the IELTS exam. That’s a wrong way to prepare for the test, since IELTS requires much more than mere preparation.
The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to go back to your secondary school English text books and grammar books. As a matter of fact, such books are a goldmine for preparing to pass an IELTS test. They teach you the very basics of English, which would certainly come up during an IELTS exam. Therefore, preparing only for the test isn’t worth it since you can easily fail. Instead, develop your overall skills in the language.
Read, Read and Read
Read, read and read. That’s the advice I give to anyone who’s serious about cracking the IELTS test. That’s because English Reading is one of the four modules of the overall IELTS test. And there would be words or sentences that’re rather simple to a native speaker but you could find them rather complex to understand.
You can eliminate this handicap by reading newspapers, magazines and all sorts of books. That’s because the more you read, the better your vocabulary. And it would prove very easy to understand the meaning of a sentence or form sentences and paragraphs during the real IELTS test. There’re no specific guidelines about what you can read. However, developing the reading habit within the time to appear for the IELTS test can help you pass the test with better scores.
Start Talking in English Only
Start talking in English only where possible. And this is an important way to prepare for the IELTS test because it also consists of a Spoken English module. Most IELTS aspirants shy away from speaking English even when they can because they’re afraid of ridicule. This is a myth. If you tell people that you’re preparing for an IELTS test, anyone that speaks English will gladly cooperate and help you improve your spoken.
The more English you talk, the better. Because you need to make yourself understood very clearly to the IELTS exam administrator by speaking coherently. And you can also rid any accents to get a clear one for the exam. Generally, persons with strong regional accents need to practice vigorously with spoken English to crack the exam.
Listen to Native English
The best way to listen to native English is by tuning in to BBC World Service. All their newscasters are native English speakers and you can get valuable insights on how they pronounce each word. Then there’re also apps from British Council that you can download for free and learn how each word is correctly pronounced.
For many of us, pronunciation may sound easy. Let me assure you, it’s not as easy as you might falsely believe. In fact, clear pronunciation will help you crack the spoken English test. And to do so, you would require an accent that’s nearly native. Furthermore, listening to English can also help you to overcome any difficulties that you could otherwise encounter while appearing for the English Listening test.
Learn Writing Skills
And last but not the least, practice your English writing skills. Generally, an IELTS test consists of writing an essay such as discussing in favor and against a specific thing. That means, you need to write this essay in the form of a debate. Therefore, practice such essay writing during your spare time. Especially try writing debate style essays where you speak in favor and against something.
Generally, essays during an IELTS test aren’t very long. Therefore, you will require a good vocabulary to get your points through in least possible number of words. And enough general knowledge too. Because lots of IELTS aspirants find themselves groping in the dark when they have to write an essay about a topic that they don’t know.
Books & Study Material
You can download study material and IELTS mock tests from their official website. You can also get some study material by joining the British Council, if they operate in your city. Additionally, a lot of IELTS study material is also available commercially from offline and online book stores.
One of the things that I would recommend you to buy is a good grammar book and a concise dictionary of the English language. That could help you to improve your English language skills to prepare for the final test. However, use them for reference purposes only.
Nowadays, you can also take classes and tutorials to crack the IELTS test. You can find some superb courses on e-learning platforms such as Udemy. Or if you like, there’re several offline or online classes too where you can prepare for the IELTS test.
In any case, the choice of study materials is wide. You could select the ones that best suits your needs and budget.
Continue Mock Tests
One of the things I would recommend is also that you continue doing mock tests at regular intervals when you prepare for IELTS. That would help you to fathom where you stand as far as preparedness is concerned.
There’re superb books available with mock tests. And you can also get CDs and DVDs for the written and listening modules of the IELTS test.
These are the best ways to prepare for an IELTS test. Before concluding I’ll add that an IELTS test isn’t all that difficult to pass if you prepare well. Having a good command over English isn’t really the only qualification you require to pass the test. In fact, many persons that’re fluent at English actually fail when it comes to the IELTS. Therefore, I would advice you to take all the preparations for the IELTS test rather seriously. Some people that’ve successfully cleared the IELTS test aver that group studies for the test is the best. That’s because we learn from one-another’s mistakes while helping peers to overcome and patch these grey areas. If you can get a study group for IELTS, join it to prepare.