What do singers, athletes and actors all do before they perform? They warm up. Why? To improve their performance. This is exactly the same in the IELTS test.
If a footballer starts a game without stretching, running and practicing with the ball, they are very likely to have a bad game and maybe even get injured. Students who fail to warm up for their IELTS test will do the same thing. I’ve seen this so many times with students both in class and in the IELTS test. If your brain is working in your native language it is very difficult to switch to English straight away. It normally takes most people 10-15 minutes to warm up and perform well in a second language. So many good candidates go straight in to the speaking or writing test without using English for a while and they perform badly as a result.
The solution is to stop speaking your first language for at least 24 hours before the test. You don’t have to practice lots of IELTS tests, just surround yourself with English, and make sure you do all your listening, reading, writing and speaking in English. Make sure you tell your family and friends what you are doing or they might just think you have gone a little crazy 🙂
Some things you could do 24 hours before your test:
Listening: podcasts, radio, songs, TV, movies, YouTube, IELTS practice tests.
Reading: news sites, blogs, magazines, novels, IELTS practice tests.
Speaking: find friends online, talk to classmates, find IELTS Facebook groups and chat to them, find expats in your city, as a friend to ask you common IELTS questions.
Writing: write a blog, comment on blogs and news sites, IELTS practice tests, find sample answers on this site and compare with your own, journal.
When you get to the test centre, talk to the other candidates and the staff in English. This will make you feel more comfortable and get your brain working in English. It will make a huge difference when you sit down to do your test.