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3 tips on how to perform your best during the IELTS Test

Written by Reven Wee, February 2017

It is not uncommon for some people to suffer some degree of anxiety when preparing for a test. The effect may range from mild insomnia the night before to panic attack during the test. Whatever the level of anxiety, it is important to reduce them so allow for best performance. The well-known trick of course is to have more practice across an extended period of time.  The more you practice and prepare yourself, the less uncertainty hence less stress.

Here are three tips to get you performing your best during your IELTS test.

Tip #1 

Concentrate and focus on the listening module, you only get to hear it once

There is a fear of losing concentration during the listening test, ask any IELTS candidate what they are afraid of in the Listening module and they will say:  “I am afraid I can’t focus and may miss answers. I am afraid that I won’t be able to follow the recording”.

To make this fear disappear there is only one solution – practice. Practicing builds up confidence and teaches you how to recover even if you’ve missed a question or two; how to move on and get all the rest done. Practice reveals what your weaknesses are, which tasks are the most difficult for you, and where the points are usually lost. Paying extra attention to those tasks will save precious points and improve the overall band score.

Tip #2

Pace yourself for each question and test components to ensure you have sufficient time

In the Reading and Writing test component, the most common fear is to not finish on time. The best way to deal with this fear is to take control of the time and manage it carefully. The students are given several passages and under no circumstances should you let one passage consume up all the time. 

One of the time management techniques is called “Divide and Conquer”. Divide the time in the very beginning of the test and write down when you will start working on each passage. Follow the divide and conquer plan no matter what, even if you have questions unanswered, move on to the next passage. Consider this a damage control or risk management – it will make sure that even if some questions were missed, most of the questions will be answered.

Tip #3

Be creative and versatile with your topics and discussion points to write about

This is a fear of writer’s block. Many test candidates are afraid of getting a topic for the essay and having nothing to say about it. The easiest way to get over it is to read a lot of essays on different topics and to absorb other people’s ideas. The truth is that IELTS examiners don’t care about the source of the information; it is the way an essay is written and presented that matters.

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