Crossing fingers is a poor strategy for IELTS

I have been speaking to lots of IELTS students over the past two weeks and I have been very surprised by how many of them trust their IELTS result to fate. They go into the exam hoping that this time it will be ‘their turn’ to get their band. As strategies go this is probably among the worst you can use as there is no strategy – just a blind hopefulness and hope is rarely a good strategy without at least some certainty. Furthermore, repeating the same thing over and over will yield the same results (and is, according to Einstein, the definition of madness!).

I spoke to Mohamed who has taken the test 4 times and always got the same result of Band 6. I asked him about his preparation and he told me that he had just been doing the same things for this test that he had done for the past 4 so, by the law of averages, he will most likely get the same result. I also spoke to Marie, she took the exam 2 months ago and got band 5.5. She needs at least Band 7 and would prefer Band 8 to achieve her dream of moving to Australia. To move from Band 5.5 to Band 8 will take much, much longer than 2 months yet she believes that this time will be her lucky chance. Words like ‘hope’ and ‘luck’ should not really be in your IELTS vocabulary. These beliefs will not get you to your band score. To get a high band like 7 or 8 what you need most is skill. Skill in English language and skill in applying those language skills to the tasks in the exam. So in my discussions with these two students I discovered that Mohamed had really good skills in English but he was not applying these well to the IELTS test and so needed to understand exactly how to use his

Don’t waste Time and Money

language correctly to fulfill all the requirements of the IELTS Test. In a nutshell, he needed to do more dedicated IELTS practice and learn some IELTS strategies. Marie, on the other hand, was lacking basic language skills especially in speaking and writing. She made lots of grammar errors and her sentence structures were not wholly correct. She also had problems with pronunciation and speaking fluently. For her the remedy was to improve her general English skills through more speaking and general language practice before trying the exam again.

IELTS students don’t like to hear this but it’s tough love. To keep taking the exam using a strategy or’hope’ and ‘crossed fingers’ is a route to wasting money and despondency and I meet many students in this state. Money and time can both run out and I am certain that you don’t want to lose your chance to get your IELTS Band and move on to your new life just because you rushed into the exam too fast and too often.

So what is the solution to this?

Success Ladder

 

Firstly, understand that your study and preparation are far more important to passing the exam than the actual exam itself. The exam doesn’t lie – what you get is generally where you are (very occasionally examiners can make a mistake – they are only human after all – but be assured that this is in the minority of cases and most re-marked scripts remain at the same band).

Secondly, be prepared to invest time and money in your preparation – for your university and professional exams you would expect to study and also pay for those teachers to support you. Achieving IELTS Band 7 or 8 is not a ‘walk in the park’ – you have to study and practise. Practising in the wrong direction will not help you to succeed so get some help.

Finally don’t book the exam until you know that you are ready for it. If you can’t get band 7 in your practice then you won’t get it in the exam. If you can only get band 7 if you spend 2 hours on reading then you are not ready to get band 7 in the exam. If you don’t know whether your writing is at band 7 or not then you have no guarantee that you will get this band in the exam. It is common sense – why waste the exam fee if you are not certain?

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Get Support for your IELTS exam

I speak to students almost every day about their IELTS on Skype. I know exactly what the problems are and also how to solve them and I give this advice to the students I speak to. I also work with students, training them to get to Band 7 and 8. Not all students I speak to are able to work with me or even ready to but this is something we explore together in our conversation. If you want to get my advice and look at the possibility of getting some support then I would love to speak to you.

All I ask is that you complete a questionnaire – so that on the call I already understand something about your situation and what you have done in IELTS. This helps me to give you the very best advice.

The questionnaire is very short – just a few simple questions and you can find it here:

Give me some information about your IELTS

After that you will be invited to choose a time to book a call with me – the call is free an there is no obligation.

One final point – praying to God for success, if this is something you do, is a good thing – we all need  that sort of guidance. We have a saying in English ‘God helps those who help themselves’ so pray by all means, expect miracles but make sure you put in the right amount and type of good practice and preparation as well.

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas and the celebration of Twelfth Night. In the past this was a very big celebration with people feasting and partying well into the night. In other countries in Europe twelfth night and tomorrow January 6th (the feast of the 3 Kings) are big festivals but in the UK we have largely sacrificed this for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Tomorrow is the day to take the Christmas tree and all the other Christmas decorations down. Failure to do this results in bad luck for the year (so the tradition goes). So we are now at the end of Christmas for another year and after all the celebrations we settle down to our shiny New Year and begin all the great plans we have.

I hope that you have begun your great plans too and I’m sure that these will include your IELTS exam – is this the year to get the score you want and move on with your dreams?

On this, the twelfth and last day of Christmas I want to share my final tip of this Christmas series – something about the exam as a whole.

I hope that over the past 12 days you have learned something about the skills you need to perfect in order to gain a high IELTS band score in each part of the test. To be honest during these twelve days I have only been able to scratch the surface of the skills that you can work on to make sure that your IELTS is on track for bands 7 and 8. We haven’t talked about vocabulary or grammar, for example, which are also important.

My final piece of advice is don’t go it alone. Get some help and support. This could be from me and my team and I would love it if you can come and work with us online – if this isn’t for you then get another teacher or at least find a group of people who are also doing IELTS at your level  to work with. Doing it by yourself is a lonely journey; you have no-one to check things with, to ask questions from or to share your highs and lows as you prepare for the exam.

So to get help and support for your IELTS this January I am offering you a free IELTS Exam Support Skype call. In this call we can look at your IELTS, see what needs to happen to get you to your band score and then talk about how you can get this support if that is appropriate.

To get a call with me you must complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I will also be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift to everyone who completes the form and books a call.

Questionnaire

I hope you have enjoyed this little journey through the Christmas Season. I can’t wait to speaking with you soon and find out more about you and your IELTS.

Questionnaire

Berni xx

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Just two days left of the Christmas Season – it’s all gone so fast! Today is tinged with sadness as the festival that we prepared so long for, that we looked forward to for several weeks is now almost over and we will have to wait another whole year for it to come around again (some will be happy about this :-))! We make our last batch of mince pies, take a last look at the tree and its lights and baubles. Tomorrow will be the very last day to celebrate, then we will put it all away.

Still, we can continue to enjoy a relaxing day with Christmas food, friends and family and even more Christmas TV!! Perhaps tomorrow is a working day and then we will be packing up everything until next year or, for some, Twelfth Night parties will be held today or tomorrow.

Today is the eleventh day of Christmas; here is another thing you need to do to achieve a good mark in the speaking exam.

When working with students on IELTS speaking I usually find that Part 2 is the part that will make or break the final score. This a chance for you to speak without interruption and really make an impression on the examiner.

You need to make sure your ‘little talk’ is organised (this is why you are given a series of questions – to help you create a beginning, middle and end) and also that it is interesting, fluent and uses good language. Unlike the writing your speaking is spontaneous and there is only a little time to prepare. If you think too much you won’t be fluent, if you search for words you won’t communicate well so your focus MUST be on the story you are telling and not on things like vocabulary and grammar. Tell your story and trust that the language will come. If your speaking is around band 7 then this will probably happen -if it isn’t then it’s really important to get your speaking up to the band first or you will struggle to perform well.

This is where the right practice comes in – like everything else in IELTS knowing about isn’t enough – language skills can ONLY be improved by practice. You wouldn’t try to drive a car after just reading a manual and this is the same – skills need first to be learned and then practised and the more you practise the better you will become. BUT, if you don’t practise correctly you will not be able to achieve a good level.

As a former examiner I have examined on many speaking tests and I know what you have to do to maximise your score. Now I want to help you to improve your speaking and other IELTS skills.

To do this I need to know more about your IELTS and so I am setting aside some time in January and I would love you to take one of these calls so I can help you see how you can be supported in your IELTS practice.

To get one of these calls you have to complete the questionnaire below

Questionnaire

I will be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift to everyone who completes the questionnaire and books a Skype call.

Questionnaire

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

We’re coming towards the end of our Christmas season now. Today is the tenth day of Christmas we’re into the new year yet still a little in party mood. Some people will most likely start to take down their Christmas decorations today although others may want to stretch the Christmas season as much as they can and squeeze even more brilliance out of it. Many people start to think about the over-indulgence that has happened and go to the gym or take long walks in the countryside. A long country walk and a stop at a pub for lunch is a lovely activity on a cold winter’s day especially if there is a warm fire and still some Christmas cheer around.

The next two months are often bleak so we love to enjoy as much as we can of the Christmas season before facing the dark cold days of January and February.

Today is the tenth day of Christmas; now we’ll look at the speaking exam.

Speaking is the one part of the test that is entirely in your hands (writing is too but that is not as immediate). Speaking is all about communication – this is the main focus. If you communicate well on the topics even if you make a few errors in grammar and vocabulary you should get a good band. But, it is important that you give the examiner enough of your language to enable them to give you a good mark.

I remember when I was an examiner sometimes students would speak quite well but only say very little. In this case I couldn’t give them bands 7 and 8 even though I suspected that they could achieve these bands – the examiner can only mark what you give them and if you don’t answer fully then that is not good communication. So it’s important to maximise the time you have to speak without the whole thing becoming a monologue. Communication is two-way and you have to remember this.

Getting the balance right is a skill you need to learn and this is something we work on in the speaking part of our courses. How much is enough and how much is rambling or not enough. You need to understand this so you can perform at your best.

I’d love to help you with this.

I’m setting up Exam Support calls at the beginning of January where you can meet me on Skype and look at the possibility of working with me and my team in 2018 to make sure you get really ready for your IELTS high band score when you take your exam.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I also have a special Christmas gift – but you have to complete the questionnaire and book one of the Skype calls.

Questionnaire

Berni xx

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is the ninth day of Christmas. Celebrations are now going on and many people also take the time today to consider their New Year resolutions. I’ve made one about helping even more people in 2018 to get the IELTS result they want. I have written several IELTS programmes and the results so far are excellent – so if you want your high bands in 2018 read on – it will be useful to you.

 

Today is the ninth day of Christmas; I want to share one final piece of advice about the IELTS writing exam that you need to consider if you want a high band.

When you make your New Year resolutions this year and if getting IELTS is one of them – make your resolutions more specific. Getting your IELTS is not really compelling enough; you need to break it down. Look at the areas in IELTS that are still not at the right level and make resolutions around them. This could be increasing your score in reading and listening by 3 points for example and then look at what steps you need to take to be able to do this. Or it might be finding speaking partners to practise on Skype with – how can you do this?(I might be able to help) One of the best things you can do for your IELTS writing is to perfect your planning.

Many students just don’t plan – they let the ideas flow. If you use this method then I have to tell you that it really doesn’t work. You cannot focus on ideas and really good language at the same time unless you are a native, or almost native, speaker and even then I doubt whether it would work well. If I write a model task I will spend some time planning this so that it fits the IELTS criteria.

Planning does three things that will transform your writing:

  1. It helps to get your ideas out of the way before you begin to write so you can focus on language (remember IELTS is a test of English language)
  2. It helps you to write more accurately and grammatically paying attention to your vocabulary, sentence structure and linking words without being distracted by ideas
  3. It helps you write more efficiently and quickly leaving you time at the end to check

IELTS writing is not creative in fact it is quite formulaic and to create this formula you need to have a good outline.

Planning is the best thing you can do for your writing and I know how to do this and can teach you how to do it easily and effectively.

Conquer your IELTS writing ‘once and for all’ in 2018! I want to offer you the chance to work with me and my team in January.

I am setting aside some days during the beginning of 2018 to speak to you about getting the help you need to get the IELTS score you want.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I will be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift for all those who complete the questionnaire and request a Skype call.

Questionnaire

Happy New Year 2018!!

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Ring out the old ring in the new J I wish you all a prosperous and successful 2018. I really hope that I might be able to support you in that success. I am certain that you will be away celebrating today and may not read this until tomorrow or the day after. Enjoy your celebrations, have fun and relax – forget about IELTS for a few days and re-charge your batteries.

 

On this New Year’s Day, the eighth day of Christmas, I want to share something that you really should do for your writing in order to be sure you can get a high band score.

When it comes to IELTS writing students can be very neglectful. This is the one area that is almost impossible to improve alone. In fact trying to do this alone can be not only counter-productive but also dangerous to your score.

If you don’t know what mistakes you are making and if you don’t know exactly how to write a band 7 or 8 task and yet continue to practise alone you can actually learn mistakes that will become so ingrained in your writing that they will be very hard to eliminate. I see this, on a daily basis in students’ writing and I know that it is going to take a long time to unravel the errors.

If you use a teacher for nothing else use them to correct your writing. And, a native speaker who is not a trained teacher may not be able to help you with this either as although they will certainly know where your mistakes are they won’t necessarily be able to help you prevent them in future writing. Even general English language teachers only have limited skill when it comes to IELTS writing and many of them cannot show you exactly what you need to do to improve.

This is one area of IELTS that I feel really strongly about – I would say that the majority of my students are struggling to get their band in writing. Sometimes the other scores can be band 7.5 and 8 and even 9 yet the writing is still coming out at band 6 and 6.5.

The good news is that I can help you with this – ‘the last hurdle’ as one of my students put it.

To find out how I can help you I am inviting you to have a Skype call with me in January. In this call we can look at your IELTS and see what support you need to get the band that you want.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I also have a special Christmas gift to offer – but you have to complete the questionnaire and book for one of these Skype calls.

 

 

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is New Year’s Eve, the very last day of the year and one which is celebrated all across the world. Here in the UK people celebrate in different ways. For the people of Scotland they have a huge celebration – more important than Christmas – called Hogmanay. Others prefer to celebrate in clubs or pubs with friends and some at home with family. Whatever the celebration chosen you can be sure it will go on well into the early morning. One tradition that is common here in the north of England is called ‘first footing’. The first person to enter a house in the New Year is believed to bring the fortune of that house for the rest of the year. Usually it should be a man – tall and dark haired. To avoid any mistakes in this, the tallest and darkest man in the New Year celebration (in our house it will usually be my husband) goes outside just before midnight and will knock on the door on the strike of midnight and enter with a piece of coal. He is then given a drink of whisky in return. The coal is to guarantee heat in the home and he usually needs the whisky to get warm again!! This act secures luck for the coming year. One year our red-haired dog got in first and it was one of the worst years we ever had!!

On this seventh day of Christmas, I want to share something that you must do in writing in order to be sure you can get a high band score.

I have written a story above about a New Year’s Eve celebration. Stories are nice, they are interesting and they can be fun – BUT they are not suitable for IELTS writing.

IELTS writing must be more formal (in academic language – except for the GT letter), objective and clear. Stories are the opposite they are subjective, creative and paint pictures and they use lots of tenses. If you are writing stories in your IELTS tasks then you are stopping yourself from getting a high score.

I know how to teach you to write an objective, academic task. I also know what the examiner is looking for because I used to be an examiner myself. I have great skill in this area. One thing I can tell you and it’s important – writing takes time to develop so you have to be patient but it will develop a lot faster if you know what you have to write to secure your high band.

I want to help you achieve this important writing skill and give you the chance to work with me and my team in January and February to make sure your IELTS is ready for band 7 and 8.

I am setting aside time during early January to speak to you about getting the help you need to get the IELTS score you want.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I’m giving a special IELTS Christmas gift also – but you have to complete the questionnaire and qualify for one of these Skype calls.

Questionnaire

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

We are now half-way through our celebration and the end of the year is coming. Tomorrow is a special day in the Christmas holiday season and also for people all around the world. It’s the time when we say goodbye to 2017 and open our arms to 2018 and what it has to offer us. Today is the time to prepare for this second main celebration of the season. It means more shopping, more food preparation and more parties!!

It’s also a time to reflect – on what has happened in 2017 – then, learn from it, let it go and move forward into 2018 – could this be YOUR year for IELTS success?

On this sixth day of Christmas, I want to give you more advice about IELTS Reading.

In my experience, reading and writing are the two areas of IELTS that cause the most problems for students. It is therefore no surprise to find that these skills are closely related to each other. Understanding the process of writing will help you with your reading and understanding how sentences and paragraphs are put together in readning will help you with constructing your writing.

This is especially important when dealing with question types such as YNNG and TFNG as well as headings – certain words in the question and also in the text can give you a strong indication about the correct answers. These words are easy to spot but are very often overlooked. Being able to identify these words can help you to improve your score dramatically if reading is an area that you are struggling with. The other advantage is that it can also help you with your own IELTS writing too!

This is a skill we teach in all our IELTS training on reading. If you want to find support for your IELTS and make sure that you get the result that you want in 2017 and move on with your life and dreams for your future then you should consider taking our intensive IELTS training.

To see if I can support you in this I’m setting up Exam Support calls at the beginning of January where you can meet me on Skype and look at the possibility of working with me and my team in January and February to make sure you get really ready for your IELTS high band score.

To get one of these Skype appointments all you need to do is complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I also have a special Christmas gift to offer – but you have to complete the questionnaire first.

Questionnaire

Berni xx

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is the fifth day of the Christmas season and as it’s Friday many people will have already gone back to work – but not for long as another public holiday is only 3 days away! For those lucky enough to have the whole season off there is more festive cheer around in the shops – the sales have begun – and also more friends and family to celebrate with!

 

On this fifth day of Christmas, I want to give you more advice about something you really need to do well in IELTS Reading to get a high band.

Sometimes students tell me that their score in reading can vary a lot from one test to another. One day they will get 34/40 and the next only 25/40 – this seems strange. In actual fact it isn’t strange at all!

One question I always ask my students when I begin working with them is whether there are any types of question that they find challenging. Most people say YNNG or Headings or sometimes MCQ. I have seen tests that contained a YNNG or TFNG exercise in each reading section – that can be 15 questions so if this is a question type that you are not very good at it can, of course, affect your score massively. To have a band 7 or 8 in reading you can only afford to miss a few questions – this is the reality. Therefore the key to making sure you achieve a high band score is to be good at all types of question.

In my training I do this; we cover every type of exercise and make sure that you know and can use the techniques that go with each type. I’ve seen students who can do this fly through the reading very quickly – they know exactly what to look for and their scanning and skimming techniques are really fast – they can complete a passage in 15 minutes. Imagine what that means in the exam. Time to check the questions you are not sure about and make sure that your spelling and grammar are absolutely right – this is band 8 work.

To see if I can help you to get your band 7 and 8 I’m setting up Exam Support calls at the beginning of January where you can meet me personally on Skype and look at the possibility of working with me and my team for the next 5 or 12 weeks to make sure you are really ready for your IELTS band 7 or 8 score.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I will be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift but you have to complete the questionnaire first and book a call with me.

Questionnaire

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

 

Wow! The main part of Christmas is over but we are all still celebrating! This period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve is a chance to say goodbye to the old year and think about the new one. It’s a time when people start to think about New Year resolutions and how they will change things for the coming year.

 

 

Maybe your target for 2018 will be to get your IELTS exam score once and for all! I’d love to help you with that and will tell you how that can be an option for you at the end of this email.

On this fourth day of Christmas, I want to take a look at something you can do to change your IELTS Reading

This is my favourite topic to teach. I love to show my students the relationships between the questions and the text and in many ways it is a voyage of discovery trying to explore the text to find just the right fit for the answer.

Mastering the reading can take a little time and the better you are at understanding sentence structure the better you will do in this part of the test.

The key skill that will help you to improve your reading skills is to spend more time on the questions than on the text. Yes, the clue to the answers lies not so much in the text as in the questions and a careful analysis of these will help you find more accurate answers. Not only this, but it will really help you with the speed as well.

So to make sure you find accurate answers and improve your speed every time you must learn how to analyse the questions well and pick out just the right key words.

And I can help you with this too – key words are a vital skill in IELTS Reading.

So to help make your dreams come true in 2018, I want to offer you the chance to work with me and my team in January.

I am setting aside time during the start of 2018 to speak to you personally about getting the help you need to get the IELTS score you want.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:

Questionnaire

I will be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift to those who complete the questionnaire and book a Skype call.

Questionnaire

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