At the beginning of August my youngest daughter Imogen performed at a Proms concert in the Albert Hall in London. She was part of the National Youth Choir. The Proms is a big deal, music concerts performed by some of the world’s greatest musicians in one of the best and most famous music venues in the world.
My daughter was just 18 years old and to be a part of a Proms concert was something truly amazing for her and of course for me too – I was a very proud mother. I went to the concert and enjoyed it thoroughly but like any proud parent, mostly had eyes only for her!
After the concert I was thinking about how she managed, so young, to get into this concert and it was all about firstly skill and secondly being in the right place at the right time. Luck is important in life, but we have to be ready to take advantage of this – so without the right skills she would never have been able to do this. These skills were acquired through practice and hard work, yes, but also through having the right teachers to show her how to develop her skill and also the right way to practise.
It is exactly the same with IELTS – it is not practice alone that will get you to a band 7 or 8 in fact I’m sure that many of you practise a lot – maybe for hours and hours – and yet those bands are still not appearing in your results. Practice is only half of the story – practising the right things and having the right set of skills for each part of the test are also really important. In fact, if you practise the wrong things then you’ll easily become an expert at what will NOT deliver a band 7 and 8 for you.
I’ve seen this over and over, students limiting their ability to get a high band because they have adopted sets of ‘rules’ that simply do not work or students who don’t check and re-check their errors to see exactly WHY they got things wrong. Practice on its own is what the American teachers call ‘busy work’ – work with no purpose.
The quickest and best way to improve skill is by having an experienced and expert teacher who can show you exactly what to do and also show you how to practise to turn that knowledge into higher scores. I have frequently moved a student from band 6 in IELTS reading to band 8.5 in a less than a month. This is because they were practising the wrong things and so their scores weren’t moving forward. Once they got the right skills and practised those the scores jumped.
I have also moved students from band 6.5 in IELTS writing to 7 and 7.5 in less than a month. Although writing does take the longest to reach band 7 it is also true that some students have the right level of language but they are not developing their writing skills enough to fulfil all the band descriptors and this can be fairly easy to rectify.
Do not under-estimate the power of a good teacher. They can cut your preparation time in half, make you excited about and interested in your IELTS again and thus boost your confidence. All of these things are critical for taking the exam.
I see again and again students who are quite despondent about ever getting their score come alive again and start to reach really high scores very quickly once they see how different it can be if their skills are good – often they can’t wait to do the next reading or writing task!
So like my daughter and her truly exciting opportunity to take place in a Proms concert – work on your English and IELTS skills and you will see that your scores can be transformed absolutely and your chance of getting bands 7 or 8 truly possible. If you score isn’t changing – then you are not doing the right things. Change these and the score will increase.