Are you thinking about studying abroad? Do you dream about a life and career aspiration in a different country? You’ve made significant progress in your new language, and you’ve come a long way; so, are you ready to take IELTS? Here’s how you know:
You’re a bright-eyed student ready to take on university, or you’re an ambitious worker ready to prove your skills to your boss. Another good reason could be your willingness to start a new life abroad and the need to show the local government you can speak the language.
Tip: As studying and taking the IELTS is a serious investment, having a clear goal in mind is crucial.
There is no “passing” or“good” score for the IELTS. The test is scored from 0 to 9, and it’s up to each university, government or company to decide what is passing for them. So, you need to find out from the institution you are applying to what score is acceptable. Some university programs only ask for a 5; some governments require as high as an 8! Do your research and find out that number that you need to shoot for.
Often test scores are due including other materials by a deadline date. Some institutions give some leeway (for example, you need to take the test by a certain date, and scores must be received by a certain date). Find out by when you need to register, sit the exam, and when your scores will be released on the IELTS website.
Tip: Typically, you have to book two weeks in advance, and it takes almost two weeks to receive the scores.
Have you taken an IELTS practice test?
This is the best way to know what your level is. The British Council’s website has practice exams available.
If you’ve taken English lessons or a placement test before, you might have achieved a level such as A2 or B1. If you know your level, you can guess your IELTS score by converting it here.
How much time do you have before you take your exam? 3 weeks? 3 months? If you are at a 4 and your need to get to a 6.5, you have some serious studying to do! If there is an available course nearby for your level (for example, B2 to C1), how long does that course take? Will you be able to complete it before your exam?
If there’s no course nearby, measure your progress in hours. To go up one score level in EACH SKILL may take between 300 to 700 hours of productive studying—wait, how many hours a week is that??
Being aware of your current level, your goal score, when you have to take the exam, and how much time you realistically have to study will help you effectively set study goals and manage your time.
Whether you are at band 4 and need to reach an overall 6, or if you are at 7 and need to reach 8, you’ve got a plan about how to get there. Maybe you will take lessons, join speaking clubs, watch movies, keep a journal, or use self-access materials on the internet. You are also aware of your specific weaknesses and strengths and know what you have to work on. Maybe you’re a star at speaking but struggle with writing. It happens!
Tip: Ask your teacher to help you find resources you can use outside of class to practice grammar, vocabulary, writing, speaking, reading, and listening.
Sometimes we can get anxious about taking tests, lose our motivation, or have other situations that come up that make it difficult to focus on our goals.
Tip: Try to talk to your teacher or a counsellor about these issues for encouragement and success. We’re all humans who need help sometimes, and especially when we’re up against a challenge.
With all this knowledge power, you’re ready to tackle this beast with confidence and flair. Reach for the stars and go for your dreams!
Written by Rachel Bradley for Blackboard English on the 6th Of April, 2017.