If you are hoping to study at an English-based academic institution, work in an English-speaking environment, or immigrate, then you need to take the International English Language Testing System exam (referred to as the IELTS exam). This exam is designed to measure one’s grasp of the English language and his/her ability to communicate in English effectively.
By passing the IELTS exam, many more doors will open for you. This explains why over 3 million people took the IELTS exam last year alone. If you are one of those hoping to take the exam and use your scores to further your education or career, here are six ways to prepare for success:
1. Study English
Naturally, the first thing you must do to prepare for the IELTS exam is to study English. While it may be tempting to study English online, you will have much more success studying English at an official language school. For example, students who study English in Washington DC at inlingua have an incredible opportunity to master the language while being immersed in the culture.
Those who are immersed in the culture learn more than just vocabulary; they also learn how to differentiate between casual and business English. As the test requires you to write and speak in English, it is imperative that you have opportunities to practice both. You will have these opportunities when you study English in Washington DC, which is a completely different experience than memorizing textbook material online.
2. Learn the Test Basics
Once you feel proficient in English, you need to start taking steps to prepare for the IELTS exam. The first thing you must do is learn how the test works. This means understanding the IELTS test format. For instance, there are two different tests available: the IELTS Academic exam and the IELTS General Training exam. While the listening and speaking sections are the same for each of these exams, they do vary in the reading and writing sections. Universities typically require the Academic module, while Immigration authorities and employers usually require the General Training module.
Once you know which test version you need take, you will then need to familiarize yourself with the various test sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Each section is a specific amount of time and covers different material. In addition to being familiar with the sections and the length of times, you will also need to understand how the IELTS exam is assessed. It is also helpful to know there rules regarding bathroom breaks and what to bring with you to the exam. You can find all this information on the IELTS website.
3. Take a Test Prep Course
After you have decided you want to take the IELTS exam, you should sign up for a test prep course. However, you need to know that you will be much more prepared if you take an official test prep course from a premier language school versus an unestablished program. For instance, inlingua in Washington DC is not simply a fantastic language school, it is also an English test center. In fact, it is the only IELTS Test Center in the region and the largest IELTS Test Center in the US. So, in addition to learning English on their campus, you can also take the IELTS test there.
But, wait, that’s not all. Inlingua also offers a variety of IELTS test prep courses. Students can take group or private test preparation courses. Another reason inlingua’s test prep courses stand out amongst the competition is because their teachers receive special training specifically for teaching both language skills and test taking skills to help their students pass the IELTS exam with immense success.
In order to become as familiar with the IELTS exam as possible before you take it, you should also invest in the official practice materials. Sure, you can find free test prep materials online. But, these will not provide the same quality as the authentic Cambridge English materials, as these tests and workbooks have been developed by the same makers as the tests. Again, if you take a test prep courses at the Washington language school, inlingua, you will already be a step ahead because their 8-week test prep courses use the Cambridge English materials.
The benefit of using official practice materials is that you can prepare for the exam using sample questions that are similar to the ones you will be asked. Additionally, the IELTS official materials include a CD to help prepare for the Listening section, as well as a DVD to help prepare for the Speaking section. The more time you spend using these practice materials, the more comfortable you will feel on test day.
4. Register for the Test
Once you feel prepared and ready to take the IELTS exam, you need to register. You want to choose an English test center that is close to where you live and has times that are convenient. Inlingua in Washington DC hosts the IELTS exam four times a month giving you multiple opportunities to find a date that works well.
Another bonus for taking test prep courses at an official test center is that you have plenty of opportunity to ask any questions–big or small–that you may have about the test before or after your English classes. Being familiar with all the smaller details like parking, bathrooms, belongings check, Speaking test times, and so forth can calm your fears and ease any testing anxiety you may feel. This will give you an advantage on test day and help you achieve your best score.
5. Rest and Eat Well
On the day of your exam, you should aim to be calm and focused. The best ways to do so are to get some rest the night before and eat well the day of the exam. Before you head to bed, review the test basics and your plan for the day ahead. Then, settle in early and get a full night’s rest. On the day of the exam, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, as you will not be able to eat during the exam. Don’t let hunger or lack of sleep affect your concentration!