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Tips for IELTS Listening

Answer the questions as you listen to the cassette. You will hear an announcer introducing the situation. You have around 30 seconds to go through the related questions so you know which information to focus on once the tape starts playing. Once you answer these questions, you are given a few more seconds to check the answers. Each section follows the same pattern. Tips to follow for IELTS Listening Read and listen to the instructions. Make sure you follow them correctly. Read the questions carefully, underline key words and try to predict the kind of answer required. Try and find out the difference between similar looking pictures and diagrams. The extra time given to check answers can be used to preview questions from the next section. Make sure you continue to listen to the conversation while you are writing your answers. In the diagrams (or tables), read the information given on both the horizontal and vertical axis. Don't start reading the words; instead, locate the numbers (questions) and see the information given corresponding to these numbers. Generally, the conversation in these kind of tables and diagrams is in sequence -either horizontally or vertically. 7. Try and stay ahead of the recording so you have time to go through the question and know what information you are looking for while the recording plays. 8. Don't panic if you miss out on any answer; jump to the next question. Attempt the missed answer when you get extra time to check the answers. 9. Carefully transfer answers to the transfer sheet. Ensure you don't make mistakes. 10. There is no negative marking, so make a guess in case you have missed out on any answer. Don't leave any question unanswered. 11. Take adequate care while transferring the answers to the transfer sheet. The serial number in the question paper and answer sheet must tally and no variation must occur in the wording of the answer stem. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Tips for IELTS Reading

1. Don't spend too long on a single question as that will lose you time for answering questions that could be easier for you. Sometimes leaving a question and coming back later can help you answer it too. Leave any questions that you have spent too long on, and come back at the end of the test if you have time. Sometimes, if the question has a yes/no/not given answer, the answer you are looking for does not exist as it could be a not given. Be aware so you don't waste time looking for something that isn't there. 2. Read the questions and instructions so you don't make a silly mistake. For example, people often will mix the yes/no answers with the true/false answers and write yes as an answer instead of true or vice versa. Strictly speaking you are wrong although you have understood the question and answer. 3. If the question asks for one answer then give one answer. Giving two is wrong as it asks for one and you will be marked wrong. The type of question where this could happen would be: Give one example of... Writing two examples, to show you really understand, is wrong. 4. If the question asks for no more than 3 words, use no more than 3 words. Writing 4 words or more is wrong. You won't be asked to do it in 3 words or less unless it is possible so don't worry; it can always be done. 5. One area that students don't like is that, in the reading test, good grammar and spelling are important. The grammar part is not as important as you can't make many grammar errors in 3 words (the maximum you use in the reading test) but, if you spell something wrong, it will be marked as wrong. People think, quite rightly in my opinion, that the reading should test whether you understand what you read and not how you spell something but these are the rules. So, be careful about your spelling! 6. One constant discussion I have had with students is whether to read the questions first and then read the passage or read the passage first and then the questions. From my experience with many students my conclusion is that there is no correct answer for this. It depends on a number of variables. It can depend on the types of question and how difficult the questions are. It can depend on how good and fast a reader you are. It can depend on the length of the text and how much time you have. Let's look at these variables. If the question type is difficult and asking something which is hard to answer then reading the text first can help. Just a quick read through using a technique called skimming (see below for an analysis of



skimming) can give you the knowledge of the text that will help you find the answer more easily. 8. If you are a good, fast reader, then you can read the text quickly, getting good knowledge of the contents without using up too much precious time. This can help you answer the questions better. If the texts are short then it doesn't take long to quickly read through them. On the other hand, if the texts are short it is easier to find the answers so you may not have to waste time reading the texts to find the answers quickly, especially if time is short. If time is short then it doesn't matter how complex or long the texts are. You need to get some answers on the answer sheet as quickly as possible. So, you can see that there is not one answer to the problem of whether to read the texts or questions first. What I tell students is to experiment in your practice and see what suits you for the different types of question in different situations. As usual practising your techniques is the key.


10. Time management is an important thing to be aware of. You have a number of texts to read and 40 questions to answer in 1 hour. If you spend to long on one part, you may find that you have not enough time to finish all the questions and some of those questions could be ones that you could answer quite easily. As I said above, don't spend too long on a difficult answer but also keep an eye on the clock. It's a good idea to have your watch or a small clock on your desk so you know exactly how long you have left in the test at any given time. In addition to this, keep control on how long you spend on each section. Remember the test gets more difficult as it goes on so you will probably need more time for the questions at the end than for those at the start. Maybe a guideline could be: 17 minutes on section 1. 20 minutes on section 2. 23 minutes on section 3. (If you can do things more quickly all the better as that will give you time to look at questions that you skipped and to check on your answers) With experience and practice you will soon know how long things take you, and be able to manage your time well. If you have finished the exam with time to spare, DON'T just sit there!! Check what you have done. If you have time after the check, check again. And so on....

Tips for IELTS Writing

Actually sit and write out tasks 1 and 2 while practising. It is very tempting to think of what you would write and not do the actual writing. You will appreciate the importance of using a structured format and avoiding being repetitive only if you practice writing. Task 2 carries more marks. Spend more time on it. Twenty minutes on task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2 would be a good balance. Since task 2 is more important, it may be a good idea to do task 2 first and task 1 later. However, make sure you write for each task in the allotted area since the answer sheet has separate areas designated for each task. For both writing tasks, it is a good idea to jot down your ideas on the question sheet so that you know the outline of what you will be writing. It may take 2 or 3 minutes but the time spent is worth it. Writing task 1 requires you to describe a graph / table / diagram in AT LEAST 150 words. I had practised on a lot of graphs but the task we had was to describe the data in a table! So practise describing all kinds of graphs / tables. See how much of your writing is 150 words. If you write less that 150 words, you lose marks. If you write more, you are likely to make more mistakes. Try and stick to around 150 words. For task 1, first spend some time looking at the graph / table and understanding the information given. Don't start writing immediately. Make sure you know what each axis of the graph represents and in what units. The following structure is suggested for writing: A sentence describing what the graph / table shows. Another sentence describing the broad / important trends shown.


Description of the data. It may not be possible to describe all the data as there may be too much data presented. Describe the relevant and most important parts. If there is more than one graph / chart, describe any comparisons or trends that can be made out. A concluding sentence which sums up the data / trends. Practice using a variety of phrases to avoid being repetitive. The best practice for task 2, which asks you to present an argument, is to read newspaper editorials and magazine articles on current topics. This will help you develop your ideas. A suggested structure for writing is: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Introduce the topic and state your stand, whether you agree or disagree. Give arguments in support of your viewpoint supported by relevant examples. State the contrary viewpoint and give reasons why you don't agree with it. Conclude with a short concluding paragraph. If there is time left at the end, revise your answers and correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes.

Tips for IELTS Speaking

The test consists of three parts. First Part In the first part the examiner introduces himself and asks you your name, address, interests and occupation. This part, lasting 4 to 5 minutes, is fairly simple if you are not nervous and your conversational English is adequate. Second Part In the second part you will be given a sheet of paper with a topic written on it. You have to speak for 2 minutes on this topic. You can't ask for another topic. You are given 1 minute to write down your ideas. A sheet of paper and a pen are provided. 1. Make sure you read all the questions relating to the topic, written on the paper. It usually has two or three parts which you will have to talk about. Don't miss out any question or you will lose marks. 2. Take the one minute provided to write down all the ideas you get about the topic. You lose no marks if you use up the one minute. Two minutes can be a long time to talk solo and the notes you make will help you keep talking for the full two minutes.

Once you finish your two minutes, the examiner will stop you and then ask you some questions on what you have talked about. The second part lasts a total of 3-4 minutes. Third Part The third part involves a discussion between you and the examiner on a topic related to what you spoke about in part 2. You will be marked on fluency, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and ideas. The most important thing which will help you in the speaking test is to use English in your everyday conversations. Avoid using your native language for a few weeks before the test and converse only in English. This will make you confident and you will talk fluently in the test. Watch English movies or English programs on television to improve your pronunciation and to expand your vocabulary.