The IELTS Listening test
Even if you are a long way from an English-speaking country, there are a lot of things you can do these days to give you practice in the kinds of listening you will have to deal with in the IELTS Listening test. Here are some ideas:
- Go to the websites of universities in English-speaking countries
- these often have links where you can listen to students or staff talking about the experience of studying in their institution.
- You can find TV and radio programmes on topics relevant to IELTS on the websites of national public broadcasting organisations like the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer), PBS (www.pbs.org) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (www.abc.net). You can access some of these whereveryou are in the world, but some programmes are only available to people living in the country where the broadcaster is based.
- Find the tourist information website for a country that you would like to visit – such websites often now have video clips which provide useful listening materials.
- Many libraries and museums now also have websites with video materials which can provide useful listening practice.
- Search YouTube (www.youtube.com) for interesting recordings
- use keywords like ‘lecture’ or‘tutorial’, or‘study skills’ or‘lab reports’ and you should find plenty of clips to help you practise.
The IELTS Academic Reading test
The more you read before the test, the better you will do. Reading is also a very good way of improving your vocabulary and grammar and it will also help your own writing.
In the Academic Reading test you will mainly have to read the kind of factual or discursive texts that have an academic relevance. It is therefore sensible to revise by reading plenty of texts of this kind. Look for articles in quality newspapers, magazines and journals focusing on academic topics (e.g. science, humanities, economics, current affairs, sociology). Make sure you read from a wide range of sources including something from each of the text types listed above – you can easily find examples of all ofthese on the internet as well as in printed form.
It’s important to read for pleasure, so regularly read something thatyou enjoy – novels, sports reports or magazine quizzes may not feature in IELTS but reading them will also help you develop your knowledge of the language in an effective way.
Keep a reading diary – write a couple of sentences in English about what you have read. This should also help you to learn some of the words and expressions you have read and will also help you with the IELTS Writing paper.
Discuss what you have read with a friend – perhaps start a reading club to do this on a regular basis,
Don’t look up every word that you are not sure about when you read. Just look up anything that seems to be important for a general understanding of the text. When you have finished reading you can then, if you want, go back and check the meanings of less important vocabulary.
Examples of things you might like to read include:
- graded readers and magazines
- translations of books you have already read in your own language
- travel information about your own country or places you have been to
- newspaper articles
- music, film or book reviews.
Other good sources of appropriate reading material for the IELTS Academic Reading test include:
- encyclopedia entries fortopics that interest you
- language-learning materials that focus on academic vocabulary.
The IELTS Academic Writing test
In the Academic Writing test you will have to describe and explain a graph or other visual material [Task 1) and write an essay giving your opinion on a topic (Task 2).
Practise writing answers to exam type tasks on a regular basis – if possible, ask a teacher or other good English speaker to correct your work. Pay attention to the comments they make and try to improve in the next piece of writing you do forthem.
- Always think about the structure of what you are going to write – make a plan first.
- In your writing make a point of using new words and expressions that you have recently learned – if necessary use a good learner’s dictionary for good examples of how words are used in practice.
- Practise checking yourwriting carefully so that it is as accurate as possible – look particularly forthe kinds of mistakes that you know you often make (mistakes with verb agreement, prepositions or articles, for example).
The IELTS Speaking test
Make the effort to practise speaking in English wheneveryou can.
- Make sure that you know how to talk about your own work and study experiences and plans – become familiar with the relevant language by reading articles on the internet about, for example, your chosen profession and about university courses.
- Make sure that you know how to express your opinion on a range of general topics, giving examples and reasons to explain why you think as you do – become familiar with the relevant language by listeningto radio orwatchingTV programmes in which people give their opinions.
- If there are students in your area whose first language is English, try to make contact with them – perhaps you could exchange conversation sessions with them – half an hour in English and half an hour in your first language.
- Try to make contact with English-speaking visitors to yourarea.
- Practise with friends by agreeing only to talk in English for half an
hour on a regular basis – choose a specific topic to discuss for that time.
- Join an English language club if there is one in your area.
- Make sure that you can do these things with ease in English – introduce yourself, agree or disagree, ask someone to repeat or explain, give arguments for and against, make hypotheses, talk about your own experiences, justify a point of view – as you will almost certainly need to do most of these in the Speaking test.
We hope these ideas will help you to make the most of your revision time. Above all, we hope that you enjoy your studies and wish you all the best for your exam.