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ielts-speaking-tipThe IELTS speaking exam is the one place where you have control so make sure you are confident enough to take advantage of this and score a high band.

The examiner will feed you the questions but you must take the opportunity to use this part of the test to really show what you can really do in English.

Students often worry about the speaking test because they don’t know what answers the examiner expects. I used to be an examiner and I can tell you that when I did IELTS speaking tests, I knew exactly what the questions were that I had to ask but I NEVER had any idea about the answers. I was only looking for good, sensible and interesting answers from the candidate.

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ielts_writing_exam_tipsTask 1 is sometimes given less attention because students are often more concerned about Task 2. It is true that Task 1 is shorter and slightly more straightforward and that task 2 carries more marks but Task 1 is just as important and it is your first piece (normally) of writing that the examiner sees. As such, this task will give the examiner their first impression of your ability in English writing and you really want this impression to be a good one.

Task 1, whether Academic or General, is a more practical piece of writing than Task 2. This means that you need a more objective style of writing. Here you are not being asked for your opinion or ideas.

You are either being asked to describe something or to write a letter to achieve a certain result.

Let us first look at Task 1 Academic:

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I hear this often with IELTS students.  I really don’t understand why people leave it so late.

night-before-the-ielts-examGoing over the exam procedure, making sure that you know what to do and when things are happening, checking the times etc.. is one thing you should do the night before, but trying to address the whole speaking test the night before or even in the days before the exam begs the question – should you even be doing the exam?

What should you do the night before an IELTS exam?

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ielts-language-learning-stylesI have taught many students and am always interested to see how they each approached the process of IELTS language learning.

It seemed that the results do not necessarily relate to the amount of effort they put in.  All of them worked hard and made progress and were delightful to teach and work with but analysing their preparedness and study methods gave me some insights into what sort of things seem to work well.  

Learning styles

As teachers and learners we know that different people have different preferences and styles when it comes to studying.  I see, as a teacher, where I need to adapt my choice of material or style to suit different students. Things which work fantastically well with one student might fall completely flat with another.

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ielts-writingDid you know that the IELTS writing usually scores to lowest band in any IELTS exam session? The IELTS writing test can be a hard mountain to climb but with the right preparation you can make sure that your IELTS essay will be good enough to attract the score that you really want.

Taking time over your IELTS writing practice and making sure that you are not repeating the same mistakes over and over is essential and with some focus you will soon be on track to get the score you dream about.

There is a lot to remember: you need to manage your time, not make mistakes, find valid points to make about the topic, keep to the word limit AND find time to use great vocabulary and check your work. It may look impossible but it is all achievable if you work systematically and keep control over what you are doing.

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ielts_improve_scoreHave you been dissappointed with your IELTS results?

Wondering if you will ever reach the Band 7 or Band 8 in IETLS?

Sometimes it happens, you study hard, you know you have put in 200% effort, you are really prepared, motivated and ready for the exam but somehow, for some reason you don’t get the result you need and it’s a BIG BLOW.

Some of my own students have experienced this and I shared the disappointment with them, especially as I really knew that they had everything they needed at their fingertips to pass with the band they wanted. Whatever had gone wrong on the day, the most important task now would be to do a post-mortem and then decide on a way forward.

So here’s my plan of action that you can put in place when your exam doesn’t give you the score you want.

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I feel like I have been working with IELTS for years, in fact a long time ago I administered the Davies Test which was a pre-cursor of IELTS!!

ielts-test-preparationI wanted to pass on to you my top 10 tips for improving your IELTS exam results.  This is what I give my own students who are preparing for this test.

Most of the students I work with need to achieve a band score of 7 or 8 and in some cases they require a band 7 in each part of the test. This is no easy task and in order to be successful you need to be prepared for not only hard, but also smart work.

If you are preparing for this test:

  •  How do you feel about it?
  • What is your experience?

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  • Are you struggling to get those band 7/8s?
  • Do you practise english every day yet still seem to be stuck with the same IELTS scores?
  • Have you sat the test multiple times and spent a lot of money on teachers?
  • Are you worried that you’ll never get the score you want?

If you are feeling like this then you are definitely in the right place.

Do you work for hours every day, get excited about your progress and even gain confidence in your ability just to get the same old result at every IELTS exam?

So why is this? Surely the harder you work the more certain the rewards? Isn’t that what we’ve always been told?

Well here’s the thing, working hard will not necessarily give you the results you want – hard is good but there is a more certain way of getting those results and it IS possible and without TOO much effort.

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improve-ielts-speakingAs with reading and writing, these two skills are linked.

You can use language from your listening practice to help with your speaking and vice versa.

The more you practice the speaking the more you will be able to pick up on the listening.

  • Can you think about examples of issues you have with either of these skills?
  • How have you been preparing for these papers?

Whenever you are listening to English if you find useful expressions and words write them down so that you can use them in your speaking. Don’t restrict your practice to text books, IELTS or otherwise, what you really need is exposure to authentic language. Continue reading

ExamI’ve just been helping my 11 year-old daughter prepare for a mid-term French test.

I was ironing and she was at her books. We practised some short dialogues about the weather, transport, time etc.. did some drilling on pronunciation, new words and word order and then the usual recitation of irregular verbs. A few weeks ago another daughter took a French oral exam. This was a little more involved, we practised dialogues on given topics and I sent her a couple of questions in French during the day as text messages and she responded. Our big area of grammar was tenses.

My reason for describing this is not to give you an insight into domestic bliss in our household or to boast about my dedication to my children’s education. In fact I have two older daughters, now working, neither of whom speak any language other than English (cobblers’ children and all that). No, in fact it got me thinking about language exams and approaches to language exams and what activities might be most productive when facing a language exam. Don’t forget that the IELTS exam is a language exam – a test of your English language ability.

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