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Tips to help you improve your IELTS score

Thu 02 Jan 2020

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is required for students looking to study in countries such as the UK or US. You can also study IELTS to get a visa or for work purposes. The test itself is split into two modules, with the academic module being a lot more difficult than the general one. This means that international students will need to train and practice to meet the requirements.

The scoring is from 0 to 9 (with 9 being expert level), and will include scores for listening, reading, writing and speaking. Most universities require a total score average of 6-6.5 or higher for undergraduate degrees or 4-4.5 for foundation courses, but make sure you find out the minimum from the institution you’re applying with.

If you need to boost your IELTS score fast, here are some tips to help you improve.

1. Practice conversations

The quickest way to improve your English language listening skills is to practice conversation with someone who speaks the language. For students still living overseas, this may be difficult. But watching English or American movies can be a great way to learn. There are also many online language courses that can be very helpful. Tuning your ear to the sound of English vowels and consonants as well as the natural intonations of the language is essential if you want to raise your score for IELTS, so don’t just practice your speech.

2. Develop your vocabulary

A lack of vocabulary knowledge is one of the most common reasons why students fail to get the scores they need. Learning vocabulary isn’t just about dictionary definitions. You also need to know how and when to apply words in sentences. When practicing your vocabulary, find ways of using these words when writing or speaking.

The best way to improve vocabulary is to use new words as often as possible in everyday communication. If you learn a new word or phrase in a book, try and apply it in your own life and practice using it in your writing or oral communication with other people.

3. Master English grammar

As well as having excellent vocabulary, you also need to understand the rules of grammar. Mastering this early on will make your language learning much easier. Understanding the way that sentences are structured and formed means you can read, write, listen and speak effectively.

Pay attention to simple rules, approach grammar in a systematic way, and keep practicing your grammar until it becomes second nature.

4. Learn to skim read

This is an essential skill and will really help you save time in the IELTS test. You should be able to skim read and scan passages to get a general idea of the content. A lot of questions in the test come after excerpts, and by getting a sense of the layout and topic before you read the question can give you an advantage in understanding what it is really asking you.

For the reading test, you will only have 60 minutes in total. In that time, there’s over 2,000 words to read and around 40 questions to answer. Speed reading is key, so you’ll have to train yourself to understand written English within a time limit.

5. Download practice tests

Practice makes perfect when it comes to improving your language skills. And there’s no better way of preparing for an IELTS test than with mock exams. The IELTS website publishes past papers for free, so students can practice all four areas of listening, reading, writing and speaking.

If you have friends on the same course who are also due to do the IELTS, it can be a good idea to practice together. A collaborative approach will help you find solutions to each other’s pitfalls. You can share techniques and help each other improve.

6. Get an IELTS tutor

If you want to boost your IELTS score, simply practicing your English isn’t enough. It’s also important to practice your test techniques. Hiring an IELTS tutor who specialises in helping students with this type of exam can help you gain a competitive edge. They will help you work through different past papers, provide you with appropriate study material, and give structure to your revision. When you’re busy getting used to life in a new country, having someone to guide you can be very helpful.

Additionally, a tutor can teach you the best and fastest methods for answering questions. Another benefit of having IELTS coaching is that you can clarify any doubts you have. If you’re unsure about anything, it’s good to know that you have someone to turn to for advice.

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