Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Get a Band 7 in the IELTS Exam

IELTS by Kaplan
Fresh from the oven!
Finally, after three trials I got a band 7 in the General Training IELTS exam. I thought of sharing some useful tips, which are put below in the same order of the different parts of the exam (If you are taking the TOEFL, click here).
Be calm and confident, just as if you are having a normal conversation with a friend. The second part is the toughest as the minute you spend on preparing your answer goes too fast while talking for two minutes seems to take a very long time.
If you have the option, do the Speaking test on a different day and remember that you don't get extra points for the accent. It is also useful to memorize some fillers to use them in case you run out of words (ex. that's a good question, let me think, I cannot find the word for that ..). Finally, take a deep breath when you get confused and as the examiner is asking the question.

Focus, focus and focus! As you proceed towards the last section, the speed of the conversation increases and you have more blanks to fill. If you miss one blank proceed directly to the next one, otherwise you might mess more blanks.
The narrator spends time explaining the task before the actual exam, you can utilize this idle time to read the questions and try to predict the answers, especially for the last section. Silly mistakes could happen as well, I once made a mistake in copying my answers to the answer sheet, please don't do that.

The trick about this part is to read the questions first then move to skim the passages for the answers, otherwise if you start by reading the whole passages you will run out of time. The good thing about the Reading exam is that the questions come in the same order of the passages, though the bad thing is it is a bit tougher than the Listening section (a mistake here costs half a mark, while in Listening 3 mistakes still get you 8.5).

In my opinion, this is the dullest part of the exam, I had to repeat the exam for the third time because I was short of 0.5 mark in the Speaking exam and all the extra effort I put hardly got me to 7. The two parts of this section are mentioned below, in both cases word count is important, but exceeding the word count does not mean points will be deducted.
* A Letter (150 words)
Spend 5 minutes to prepare (read, brainstorm & plan), 10 to draft and 5 to review. You have to explicitly address the objectives of the question. As for the salutation:
- a formal message, name of recipient is unknown: Yours faithfully
- a formal message, name of recipient is known: Yours sincerely
- an informal message: regards
* An Essay (250 words)
Spend 10 minutes to prepare (read, brainstorm & plan), 20 to draft and 10 to review. When brainstorming, write at least four points on each side and in terms of the structure:
- introduction, just rephrase the question
- write "on the one hand" followed by a paragraph containing the side you argue with
- write "on the other hand" followed by a paragraph having the side you support
- write "in conclusion" followed by concluding paragraph, which should clearly mention your opinion

I read somewhere that even a native English speaker could fail this exam, therefore, doing more mock exams enhances your chance of getting a very good result. This book was useful although I had higher expectations about its content (ex. it has some trivial typos: "you might makes" on page 143). Good luck!
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