For any exam of any intensity – preparation is always the key to success. Often, the hardest part is finding techniques that best suit your learning style, so you can properly absorb the information you need to achieve a good score.
The best way to combat this is by taking top tips from education experts. At International House Belfast – we are the leading English Language and Teacher Training Institute in Northern Ireland – so you know you can trust our recommendations, especially when it comes to the popular IELTS exam.
What is the IELTS?
IELTS (which stands for International English Language Testing System) is an exam that measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work in a place where English is predominantly used.
The exam is recognised worldwide, as the majority of UK universities and workplaces will use an applicant’s IELTS score to determine whether they have the required level of English before they are accepted onto their course, or offered a job.
The IELTS course structure focuses on the core elements needed to understand and practise a new language fluently. The test itself is divided into four sections:
For the results, students are given a score on a nine-band scale: with zero meaning no language skills, and nine being an expert English user.
As your IELTS score can open the doors to your future – the question becomes how can you best prepare for the IELTS exam? Well, our experienced teaching team have rounded up their top tips that you should follow to maximise your potential.
Preparing for IELTS
When it comes to IELTS – the more prepared you are, the easier the exam will be. Here are our top tips that we guarantee will help you:
Choose the Right Course Length
What course length you choose can play a big part in how well you prepare for the test. Before you begin investing your time in the IELTS, you should select a course that will give you the best chance to learn at your favoured pace.
At International House Belfast, we offer a 12, 8 and 4 week IELT preparation course.
The 12 week course gives you more time to develop your language skills, build your knowledge and familiarise yourself with the structure and content of the exam. The 8 week course allows you to fill any knowledge gaps, learn the exam structure and practise key techniques. Alternatively, the 4 week course is for those who are confident with their language level and want a general refresh.
Once you have decided which course is best suited to you, you can boost your knowledge further by applying these additional tips…
Spend Time With People
While it may seem like procrastination, the best way to prepare for a language exam is by putting your verbal and listening skills to the test. This way, you can better learn how to construct sentences, and process key words and phrases that you have been taught in class.
The best way to do this is to spend some time with people who are fluent English speakers, as well as those who are in the same situation as you. This could be something as simple as having a conversation with your teacher, or participating in a group activity with your classmates. Either way – this will help you develop a greater understanding and grasp of the language.
Take Timed Practise Exams
While this is something that all accredited schools will suggest for students – doing mock exams in your own time will help you get a high score.
These can be for any strand of the IELTS exam. For example: you can ask your teacher for previous speaking tests, which you can then record yourself doing and either assess yourself, or ask your teacher to give you areas to improve on.
As the IELTS is timed, you should aim to match, or come under this time threshold. If you know what your weaknesses are, spend time doing mocks on these first. That way, you can refine and perfect your tactics before going into the exam – as well as avoid unwanted panic!
Read English Newspapers
Whether online or offline – reading newspapers is a great, cost-effective way to boost your reading and writing skills.
With newspapers, you are supplied with fresh content everyday that will show you different examples of grammar, punctuation and spelling. It will also help you expand your vocabulary, which you can adopt when you go to take your official exam.
Research With Synonyms
An extra top tip of ours would be to focus on synonyms. If you read a word that you aren’t familiar with – research words that are closely related to it.
With synonyms: they can make your written and verbal efforts much more interesting, avoid boring and repetitive text, and improve communication between you and others.
By doing this, you will understand the word better, strengthen your knowledge base and be more equipped to take the exam.
No matter what, you need to be comfortable with the style of the IELTS exam. As it is uniquely designed, testing the four key areas of English language comprehension, you have to be dedicated in order to return good results. At the end of the day – practise really does make perfect!
Study IELTS in Belfast with International House
At International House Belfast, all of our courses combine language learning with exam preparation. We have a proven track record of helping students from all around the world to improve their English, and meet their personal and professional goals.
If you need to prove your English abilities to access education or work, book an IELTS course with International House. If you’re unsure which course to select, contact our advisors today and we will be happy to assist you.
Or, if you want to read our latest news and advice – check out our blog for more.
No matter where you are in the UK and Ireland, the International House family can also help facilitate your language learning process through its other partner organisations in Galway, Manchester, Portsmouth and Bristol.