skim and scan

Question:  Do I need to skim and scan in IELTS reading? Answer: Yes you do. These are important reading skills which will help you to extract information quickly from a large body of text; this is exactly the skill that is being tested in IELTS reading.

It’s important to understand the difference between them and use each one to best effect. So here is an explanation and also not only how you can use these skills to help your IELTS reading but also how you can improve them to make your skimming and scanning faster and more effective.

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speaking

With the vast majority of band 7 and 8 IELTS students, speaking is generally at a good level. However, what can happen is that the general good level of speaking is not always reflected in the exam result and students who are fluent and confident can sometimes score 6.5 and then have to re-take the exam. It is a great shame when this happens as it is completely avoidable by practising.

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listening

When you focus on things they improve – this is a fact and for anybody who needs an overall score of say band 7 or 7.5 or an overall score with a minimum of 7 in each part (which is commonly asked for from medical professionals) then the listening part is probably your best bet for a higher band. So here is a strategy that will get your score to a very high band such as band 8 or even band 8.5.

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There seem to be lots of IELTS myths going around about IELTS writing. Let me tell you that in my experience (and I’ve been teaching IELTS at bands 7 and 8 for well over 20 years) there are no short cuts, tricks or quick solutions to writing. The best way to improve your IELTS writing is to do it! You can read, watch YouTube videos, speak to teachers, ask friends and even contact examiners and they will all give you lots of advice all of which might be very good BUT unless you put your pen on to a sheet of paper and write that task none of it will make the slightest bit of difference to your writing. It’s a fact. It’s rather like trying to learn to drive from a book or manual and then expecting to take a driving test having never been inside a car.

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Fact 1

You’ll find these in the question NOT the text. Sometimes when I start to work with IELTS students I see them going through the passages and underlining lots of ‘keywords’ – ‘Why are you doing that?‘ I usually ask them, ‘You don’t even know what the questions are yet so how will that help you?’ It is also a great way to waste time – and time is very precious in reading. (The only words that it might be a good idea to underline in the text at the beginning are the names of people for the specific matching exercise of names to their comments or ideas – but check first that you actually have this question!).

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reading

To be honest there are no real secrets or ‘tricks’ to IELTS reading just good skill and common sense. However under the pressure of the exam (and in practice too) common sense seems to go out of the window and panic takes over. People look for short cuts or quick fixes to get it done fast and what happens is that the quick fix method becomes so overwhelming that the text and questions often fade into the background as students grab the first word they see or search endlessly inside a paragraph which cannot possibly contain the information. The answer is to step back and focus on the text and questions rather than the tricks.

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IELTS study

I don’t know if these are really secrets or not. In fact most of them are really just common sense but I am often surprised how many students seem to make life more difficult for themselves in terms of IELTS than it needs to be. By taking this route it not only costs more (how many exams do you want to take before getting your score?) but it can also take more time to actually achieve your score.

I have been an IELTS teacher for over 20 years and in all that time I have mostly taught students who need band 7 and 8. In fact I specialise in teaching bands 7 and 8 and of the hundreds of students that I have taught and prepared for IELTS over the years I have seen most pass their exam and move on with their lives and I can see among these successful students the reasons why they were successful and also perhaps why others are not. So here are some of the most important things to consider when deciding to take the IELTS exam.

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