IELTS Preparation: Tips and Tricks II

SPEAKING AND LISTENING

Getting a high score on IELTS test is challenging. Yet it isn’t impossible if you familiarize yourself with the structure of the test and understand what is tested and what to pay attention to dealing with each of the 4 modules of the test. Also, you really should spend enough time to practice sample tasks and questions of the test.

The exam consists of 4 modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Each of them is aimed at checking certain skills and there are things to focus on and bear in mind while doing them.

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Let’s start with the Speaking Module to which there are 3 parts. In the first part you are asked a set of questions about yourself, your home or hometown and your interests. This is the easiest part of the Speaking Module and it gives you some time to feel comfortable, which is great as you should adapt to the situation and try to relax. Still you should remember not to give one sentence, or even worse, one word answers. Make it a rule to never say just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Explain why it is so, give some details.

In the second part, you will be given a card with a topic and some points developing it and you will be given 1-2 minutes to prepare. You will be given a pencil and paper to make notes, which we don’t recommend using as writing will distract you. What we do recommend is to spend this little time given to think what you are going to talk about, structure your talk and try to remember some vocabulary connected to the topic. This brings us to the following: it is an exam and you should do your best to demonstrate all the vocabulary you have acquired and your skill of using various grammar structures when speaking. Instead of saying ‘very good’ say ‘absolutely fantastic’. Similarly, don’t say two simple sentences; connect them with a linker.

Sometimes students freeze when they get a topic on something that they have no experience of, e.g. “Describe a wedding you have been to recently” or “Describe something you bought and weren’t happy with”. The best thing you can do here is relax. Invent a story, use your imagination as nobody is going to know whether it is true or not. We would really recommend practicing as many sample tasks as you can.

In part 3 the examiner will ask you to consider general issues, sometimes connected to the part 2 subject. The questions are of a more abstract nature and contain more advanced vocabulary and structures, which is a surprise for some students. So be aware. Another thing to be aware of is that unlike in parts 1 and 2, you are not expected to talk about yourself and your personal experience but rather express your opinions and views on issues, situations and people in general. At all times you should remember to support the ideas expressed with examples and to explain your opinions.

On the whole, the Speaking Module usually takes 11-14 minutes. You will be assessed on your fluency and coherence (So bear in mind the pace of your speaking and don’t make pauses. Connect your ideas logically using linkers and connecting phrases.), vocabulary, grammar range and accuracy (It’s better to try and use some advanced structures and various tenses and sometimes make mistakes along the way than to speak in simple sentences of a pre-intermediate level.) and pronunciation (which you can improve even on your own doing a lot of listening).

The Listening Module of IELTS test consists of 4 parts with the first two sections being of general, social nature and the third and fourth sections being of educational and training nature. The recordings are played once only so you should stay really focused on the task at hand. You are given some time between the sections and there are pauses within the first three sections to provide you with time to go through the questions. Use the time wisely and read the question, underline key words, try to predict what the speaker/speakers will talk about. Remember that there are usually no pauses in section four so try to read all the questions for this section in the beginning. It is obvious that to prepare for listening test you should listen to as much English as you can. However, we think it’s worth focusing on listening to sample IELTS recordings as this way you will be able to acquire the listening skills necessary to pass the test.

All in all, passing IELTS test is a challenging task and you should give your preparation serious consideration and invest a lot of time. However, there are ways and tricks to deal with it successfully.

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