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In order to gain a permanent residency visa, study in higher education or seek certain employment in Canada, you will usually be required to demonstrate your English abilities through the IELTS test. The test gauges your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in English and ranks you between 1 and 9 on each section. Before you book your IELTS test, it is important to prepare well to get the highest possible score, as this can help your application. But how can you best prepare? Let’s take a closer look:
How To Improve Your English Skills
Learn English From Authentic Material
When learning English, it is important to use authentic material so that you get used to the vocabulary and way of speaking. Try listening to podcasts and videos in English, music, or news programs. Read newspapers and magazines that are written in English as these will be of a similar difficulty level to the text you will see in the IELTS test.
Identify Your Areas For Improvement
Learning from your mistakes is an important part of learning any new skill and is essential on the path to success. Ask for someone with excellent English skills to critique your work or mark practice tests that you find online. This will allow you to identify areas where you need to work harder. Look at the areas where you struggle – if you mix up your tenses, focus your revision for the test around this. If you struggle with the spelling of English words, get someone to practice spelling with you.
Build Your English Vocabulary
Understanding as many English words as possible will prepare you well for the IELTS assessment. An easy way to build up your vocabulary is by reading and listening to a wide range of source material. If you do not understand any words, take note of them and look up their definitions, allowing you to learn as you go. Once you know the meaning of a word, try and use it in your writing or speaking, as by using these new words frequently, you will remember them.
Tips for the IELTS Speaking Test
When completing the speaking part of the test, practice speaking with fluency and confidence.
This is more important than using fancy words, so instead, focus on simple but correct phrases said with confidence. Ensure that you pace yourself well, pausing when necessary for your speaking to sound natural.
There are many example speaking questions online that you can practice in order to improve your speaking skills and confidence levels – similar questions to these may come up in your assessment. During your speaking assessment, it is important that you understand what you are being asked before you begin your answer, so if you need them to repeat the question, ask the examiner to do so – this will not lose you marks.
Tips for the IELTS Listening Test
The IELTS listening test assesses your listening skills and ability to understand the English language. To help prepare for this, use both practice listening tests and listen to authentic material such as podcasts and tv shows in English.
On top of this, increase your vocabulary so that you understand what the listening assessment is saying. Common listening test topics can be found online, with the topics often centering around education. Ensure that you know common words and phrases discussed in education in case this topic comes up.
After each listening section, you will have around 30 seconds to look over your answers – use this time effectively. Check that your spelling and grammar are correct, as this can have an impact on your overall score.
Tips for the IELTS Reading Test
When completing the reading part of the assessment, focus on the questions that you are being asked and skim over the text to find the keywords that link to each question. Remember, the questions that you will be asked tend to appear in order, giving you a hint as to where you can find the answer in the passage.
When it comes to answering these questions, don’t leave any blank boxes as this will definitely not gain you marks. Even if you do not know the answer, try and go back through and make a sensible guess to pick up some extra marks – there is no penalty for wrong answers.
Tips for the IELTS Writing Test
When you are preparing for the writing part of the IELTS test, it is important to ensure that you understand what the question is asking you before beginning to write your answer. Ensure that you read the question carefully and plan your answer before starting to write.
While there are many model written answers available online, do not simply memorize these as you are likely to be asked different topics. Not writing on topic will lead you to get a very low score in this section, so it is crucial that you are answering the specific question you are asked.
Instead of learning model answers, consider learning more complex vocabulary to include in your writing in order to show off your broad range of the English language. Once you have completed your written answer, make sure that you read it over, correcting any mistakes before submitting it.
Preparing for the IELTS test can be a stressful time, but by following our tips above, you are more likely to succeed. Remember, the key to the test is to use authentic English materials in your preparation to understand common English words and phrases, as well as completing practise IELTS tests, so you are aware of the structure of the assessment. This will help boost your final score.
Recommended Resources to Improve Your Skills
There are a number of different resources available online to help improve your skills when working towards the IELTS test. Take a look at some of our favourites below:
- All Ears English Podcast – packed full of tips, tricks, and strategies to help with the IELTS score.
- IELTS Podcast – This podcast has free IELTS exam tutorials, example essays for the written section, and great advice on how to prepare for the exam.
- How to get a high score in IELTS | Tips and Tricks – Canada IELTS based advice, tips and tricks.