Wednesday, 26 August 2015

How To Ace IELTS

They said third time is the charm. I had 5 times.


IELTS is an English proficiency test; just like MUET in Malaysia but it is widely recognised all around the world. So if you're planning to go overseas, IELTS is what you have to tick off from your pre-departure's list.

I took IELTS five times(!!), so I am pretty sure I am the right person to talk about IELTS (But not writing about IELTS though, I'm sure there are few grammar mistakes in this post).

So there are 4 components; listening, reading, writing and speaking. I had to score band 7 for all four components of IELTS in order to study and work in Australia. I took 4 tests in Malaysia and one here in Adelaide (not all in one year).

It was quite frustrating to begin with. I had to spend a lot of money on it just to get a piece of paper to be certified for having a fair proficiency in English. One test costs me about RM500++ and here it is around 300++ AUD.

What annoys me so much that I had to score at least band 7 for all of them. Previously I had at least 7.5 for 3 components and usually it's either writing or speaking that I stumbled a bit. Shamefully, I scored 6.5 for either of them.

Somehow losing off that 0.5 makes a huge difference; to your motivation and bank account too.

Once I told myself before my 5th IELTS, I promised if I did not get all bands 7 I'm not going to apply a job here. But thankfully I scored all bands 8! The most pleasant feeling after striving so hard trying to impress those English professionals!

1) Listening

Practice is the key! I completed 4 Cambrige IELTS books as my practice, probably 2 months before the exam date. If you would like to start early, that would be even better. Practically, you need to get used to spoken English words particularly if you want to excel in this section. You'll be thrown with different English accents in the recording, but it won't be that much hassle for you ears. They are all projected clearly with distinct pronunciation. But the trick is always listen to the entire sentences before putting down your answers. They always repeat/ correct/ restructure their words so the answer can be possibly all around the place! (Usually the answers are in order).

2) Reading

This section tests your comprehension and having a wide range of vocabulary would be a major plus! Read the whole paragraphs carefully and usually the answers can be tracked according to their orders in the paragraphs. What I mean is, the answer for the 3rd question would not be before the answer to the 2nd question. Get it?

3) Writing

This one. 2 essays, a short and a long written tasks. You are asked to provide a short summary of any diagram/ charts/ tables and you will write the summary as if you are going to explain it to a blind person. This is quite easy to score because you don't have to spend much time thinking about the essay's structure and its content. It's quite straightforward; you are trying to "convert" the diagram into 180 words essay. So the examiner is looking for a precise description so that they can draft/draw it in their head without having a peek at the diagram. The other lengthy essay; it's all about crafting and mastering the proper use of grammar. Read the instruction carefully too;

Writing "what had the pollution caused" is not the same thing as to "what had caused the pollution".

Use extravagant words to join/link your sentences like furthermore or moreover.  They make your essay looks professional.

4) Speaking

Practice, practice and practice. Speak clearly; loud and succinct and make sure you are able to answer all the questions in the given time. There are 3 parts; introduction, 2-minute discussion about a general topic and further discussion using your creative and critical thinking. Avoid a lot of "Ummmphhh" during the interview, but instead say "Give me a second" while giving them your thinking pose. Think carefully before you speak, you are not going to get a good band if you keep on repetitively correcting yourself. Make the interviewer loves you; charm them!

I'm sure there are many tips I can come up with but not at this moment. I'll add up more if I can come across to any.

Click here for tips from qualified IELTS examiners!

Good luck guys!

The exam venue at UniSA East Campus.