Exams are often a major cause of stress for anyone. Taking one that could determine your entire future is grounds for a mental breakdown. The important thing to remember is that with proper preparation, you can significantly reduce anxiety and even boost your confidence level—which can help to improve your score as well.
Taking the IELTS exam can be intimidating as there are four sections you have to pass: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The good part? These are things that you already do on a daily basis. The only difference is that you are doing them in a different language. Why does this matter?—because you have a solid foundation on which to advance your new skills. What do you excel in?—are you a good listener; do you write well? What is your weakest area of communication?—do you have poor conversation skills? Find out what your weakest and strongest areas are and tailor your practice habits to suit them. If your weakest area is speaking, devote extra time and effort to focusing on this section of the test. Figure out what works best for your learning style and practice accordingly.
One of the greatest ways to begin your test preparation is to study with a native English speaker, or if possible, an experienced instructor. If you don’t have access to someone in your region, there are plenty of options for finding help through the internet. Here are a few more tips that can assist you with your daily practice in each section.
- Reading: One of the easiest and most efficient ways to practice reading is through a variety of everyday materials such as newspapers, magazines, and even social media sites. The most important factor is being able to read quickly and efficiently in order to pull the pertinent information that will help you comprehend the context of your material.
- Writing: The most important item to keep in mind for this section is to pay close attention to the format that you will be utilizing. Conversation questions are used to focus on your understanding of dialogue and social contexts, while essay formats—or monologue—is used for academic and educational purposes; practice the varying formats so that you are able to easily identify them and structure your answers accordingly.
- Listening: Complete immersion is always the preferred way to learn a language; however, many of us don’t have that option, so the next best thing is to listen to anything that can help you understand the accents and pronunciations. Listening to voice-based media such as radio, podcasts, and music can help you pick up on vocal sounds without facial or visual cues. TV and movies are useful, but can often hinder you by offering visual cues such as subtitles and lip reading.
- Speaking: Creating a broad vocabulary is the best option to help develop your speaking skills. Practice with flashcards, dictionaries, books, and with the help of friends and other students to help broaden your vocabulary. Reading, writing, and listening practices will also help to aid you in this section as well.
Preparing for your IELTS exam will take an enormous amount of time, effort, and practice. Create a daily routine and incorporate as much as you can into your day-to-day conversation and habits in order to effectively practice your skills. Your brain processes new skills faster by practicing in short intervals over a long period of time, so be sure to take breaks so that you do not overwhelm yourself; the best thing you can do is avoid becoming anxious and stressed. Practice as much as you can and you will definitely succeed!