Written by Yasmin Kamal
Relying on 'express preparation'
Three things all teachers and test-takers agree you will need are commitment, dedication and hard-work. However, the first concern on most students mind is ‘how long will the preparation take?’
This will completely depend on two aspects:
Forgetting to plan ahead
Avoid putting pressure on yourself, by ensuring you have enough time to prepare before the test.
Don’t forget to take external factors, such as work and your social life, into account. You will not be productive if you study 24/7. Schedule regular breaks between your preparation, to allow time for the information to be absorbed.
Plan ahead and book a date for a test that gives you plenty of time to work towards your ideal score.
It is always a better idea to plan your preparation journey beforehand. Speak to a course consultant for further guidance.
Not familiarising yourself with your options
Ensure you are aware with the two test types. Do you need to test for the Academic or the General? This will depend on what you need the result for.
It is equally important to consider whether you are planning to take the computer based test or the written test. Keep in mind that the content of the test will not vary. This decision will mostly affect the writing skills section. Do you feel more comfortable writing or typing?
Focusing more on the test and less on your language capabilities
Learners often place majority of their concern on the IELTS test rather on than their language ability. Remember you are being tested for your aptitude in the English Language. Thus, it is essential that you focus on developing your language capability.
The test is unpredictable. You are expected to be able to handle the wide variety of topics it will invite you to explore. Having an extensive range of vocabulary is pivotal for this, as well as being able to display a flexible use of more complex sentence structures. That is why constant learning is essential in your test preparation.
We highly recommend finding an institution which will help you in both aspects: English development and IELTS strategies.
English development means building your fluency and coherence, adding to your lexical resource or vocabulary, improving your grammatical range, and fixing your pronunciation as well as IELTS strategies such as time management, analysing questions, identifying keywords and issues, and scanning skills.
Not understanding the test format and time constraints
Before your begin practising, it’s extremely important that you know what to expect of the test format. Familiarise yourself with it by reviewing the content of the test, as well as the question and task types for each section. Conduct your preparation under timed conditions, so you become accustomed to the pace of the test.
Never taking a practice test
This is a critical part in your initial preparation that will help identify where your strengths and weaknesses are. Not only it is necessary to work up on your weaknesses, but it is equally essential to build up on your strengths to create a solid foundation for the examination.
Not immersing yourself in English
Expose yourself to as much language as you can along side your test preparation. Read things that interest you in English, online magazines or blogs can be a great place to start.
Write some English every day, by writing a diary, keeping a blog or communicating with an online community such as people on a Facebook group that share an interest with you.
Listen to native speakers talking to one another and if possible join in. Try the ‘shadowing’ technique. This involves repeating what someone has just said in English. This will help with pronunciation, intonation and stress.
One of the biggest mistakes students make is to focus only on IELTS. They do lots of IELTS practice tests but they forget to improve their English.
Overlooking your vocabulary
Vocabulary is the key to success in any language proficiency examination. As you read and listen to conversations in English, make a list of words you don’t recognise or understand.
Look up these words online or in a dictionary to make sure they are spelt correctly in your list, and to properly understand the meaning of each word.
Note down a synonym or short definition for the words, and practise using them in your writing and daily conversations.
Never finding out your learning style
Remember everyone is different, so expect your learning style and pace to be too. Bear in mind self-learning is possible as long as you are committed and find someone who is able to give you feedback.
If you are unable to commit or cannot find a suitable partner, find an institution that can guide you and give feedback.
Not considering a preparation course
One of the most easiest methods to approach your IELTS examination preparation is by enrolling into one of the training centres that specialises in making students exam-ready for IELTS.
Remember this should be complimented with sufficient self-preparation too. Speak to a course consultant, to find out more.