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IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

A Few Thoughts on Preparing for IELTS – Sameen Abdus Sattar

Dear Group Members,

We all are in this group for a common reason, and that is to get guidance about the IELTS exam.

I am not a very avid follower of this group but time and again have gone through some of the posts by different members. The posts are mostly regarding exam materials. Seeking advice like how to prepare for a specific type of exam in a remaining timeline is also very common. I have sat for the IELTS exam thrice. Just a few thoughts from my experience:

📌 IELTS is an exam that will evaluate one’s command of the English language. It is not something like sitting for a math exam where maybe knowing the application of ten formulae will ensure a good grade. One has to acquire proficiency in all four forms of communication, i.e. listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

📌 A very regular attribute of exam preparation is concentrating on exam techniques like time management, logical deduction, skimming, etc. But, by going through this process we tend to forget that our foremost objective is to master the language. Exam tips and tricks will only come in useful if our language skills improve. That is why, a lot of us have probably experienced that despite solving a lot of question papers, it has still not resulted in any desired improvement.

📌 One has to understand that the goal is becoming as affluent as possible in a new language. If this notion can be internalized, good results would be the spill-over effect. So, how to become fluent in English? According to me, there is no shortcut way of learning a language. One has to practice, practice, and practice. Anyone aiming for a high IELTS score should take a timeframe of six months to one year depending on her level of skill.

📌 I prefer reading English loudly every day. Here, doing it “every day” is the key. It can be a book, article, newspaper, anything of one’s interest. Studying with voice actually taps into three of our four language yardsticks: a) Definitely you read, b) You listen the English, and c) You are also speaking English by reading at a high pitch. Also, you have to check the word meaning every time an unknown word pops up. This is an absolute necessity to enrich one’s vocabulary.

📌 Practicing with a partner helps quite a bit in speaking. But I would also recommend trying to talk on your own by picking up a random topic and stretch it with a time-check in place. You can record the speech and playback to have a real-life feel of how you actually sound.

📌 Practicing to read the questions (and answer options) before each listening section starts and skimming through paragraphs after having a look at the answers of reading parts are widely used exam techniques.

📌 Writing is considered to be the toughest benchmark for betterment. One of the reasons is its nature of subjectivity. Moreover, one has to be getting the cohesiveness of the essay correct at one go. I mean, you won’t have time to draft something and fine-tune on top of it. There are lots of help out there such as, writing down the salient points about a topic then trying to build upon it, or having a specific format of introduction or conclusion depending on the essay type. I believe that if you are doing point 4 on a regular basis, it will automatically have an impact on your writing. And just like any other area, you need to do a lot of writing exercises.

📌 While working on acquiring nuances of the language, sometimes it is natural to become a bit wary about our grammar foundation. Just to shed a bit more light on this phenomenon; in the case of our mother tongue, we learn the language first, then the grammar. Memorizing grammar rules may be handy at times but it won’t make you fluent in English. Again, point 4 is the way I believe and is extremely effective.

Anyone who has had the patience to finish this long piece in our fast-paced world, thank you for your patience and perseverance.

Author

Sameen Abdus Sattar

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