If you have been watching the interviews that I have done with some of my students who have now passed the IETS with the bands that they wanted you will know that they all said one of the things that changed everything for them was not trying to get their IELTS score alone.
Here are the first two interviews in case you haven’t seen them:
So can you do it completely alone?
Students often ask me how to improve their reading and although there are several techniques that I teach and help students to perfect, the one thing that always makes a difference is the use of Keywords.
Key words help you to locate the place in the text where the answer lies AND to pick out EXACTLY which part of this group of sentences is the one that you need for the correct answer.
Finding the place in the text is the first part of your task and the Keywords that you need to do this are ‘Location’ Keywords. These will typically be numbers, dates, names from the texts, nouns which describe the topic, specific phrases that are about the topic – they will all contain content related to the theme of the text. By using these keywords you should be able to locate the place you need to answer the question.
One of my students sent me this message last Friday:
“Hi Berni, I have a happy news for you. All credit goes to you. Got it finally. Listening: 7 Reading : 7.5 Writing : 7.5 Speaking : 7”
I disagreed with the comment about ‘all credit goes to you’ which was very flattering but not really true. All credit actually goes to the student an all the hard work and effort that went into this awesome result. As a teacher I can only stand close and give support and encouragement.
My student then wrote a very encouraging post on our private Facebook group for all his fellow IELTS students and gave some very sound advice.
I want to share this with you in this article. Remember these are not my words, they are the words of someone who has taken on the struggle with IELTS, persevered, taken all my advice, kept going and was determined and has now achieved an awesome result and is on his way to a new future.
This is the kind of message I get from students quite often:
“Can you give a guarantee or refund money if I do not achieve the desired score”
When students ask me if I can guarantee their result if they work with me I am always a little ‘amused’ as to how can I guarantee your result. I can guarantee my own work and the support I give and the quality of the programmes I write for IELTS students.
It does, however, need lots of practice to get it going well and you really do need to practice just knowing about it is not enough to change your score.
My reading strategy:
One of the things that IELTS students tell me when they work with me is that what our lessons tell them the most is how much they don’t know and how much they still need to learn not just for IELTS but for the life that they will have once they have passed the exam. I am always happy when students realise this as I know that IELTS is really only the gateway to your new life.
Passing IELTS will not give you all the English skills you will need for a new life in an English speaking country and you will soon discover how much else there is to learn when you arrive there. However this should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience as you will not have the pressure of the exam to worry about.
You may have heard the expression Rome wasn’t built in a day; it refers to the need for patience and having a systematic and steady approach to something. I meet many, many IELTS students who are in a hurry to take the exam and because of this they are not really looking at whether they are actually capable of getting the result that they want with the English level that they have.
All areas of the IELTS exam require some patience to perfect the skills you need to achieve the band that you want, but I wanted to look very specifically at writing as this part of the exam for most people does require longer to get to the required score.
I was speaking to a student today and we were joking about putting together a perfect IELTS student for band 7/8 and then making every IELTS student into this character. I could picture my best listening student, my best reading student, speaking and writing students and I said that if I were able to combine all these elements into one person I would have the perfect band 8.5/9 candidate. The reality, of course, is that sadly life is not like this and each IELTS student has different strengths and weaknesses.
The student to whom I was speaking is excellent at speaking and always gets a really high band for this practice and he felt that this was not an advantage as what he really needed was better reading skills. I thought about all my students who would LOVE to have his speaking ability! I was working with another student last week who got a 40/40 score in one of the reading tests we did – this is a really amazing achievement but she was much more worried about her listening so wasn’t overly excited.
I had told him that the best way to get a higher band was to focus on his English language skills and he write back:
“I know that this would really help me but I don’t have time to do this as I am too busy with my IELTS”
Do you sometimes catch yourself thinking like this when your teacher tells you to go and practise your present and past tenses or to check out vocabulary for numbers?
It’s a New Year, time for all those New Year resolutions. Have you made any yet?
I really want you to make just one resolution this year and that is to pass your IELTS.
It’s that simple – focus and pass – that’s it really.
So, how do you focus on this one thing?
There are a few things to understand about creating a really strong goal.