I’m a bit obsessed with the difference between a student who gets the scores that they need and those that don’t. Every time I get an email from someone who got a 7 or above, I try to find out what they did that allowed them to get such a high score.
I’m certain that it does not come down to their level of English, skills or knowledge- of course, those things are very important- but 5 key things that they do when they are preparing for the test.
Here they are:
They Work Hard
This is the number one factor that you control. You cannot control the type of questions or topics that might come up, but you do control how much work you put in.
I think this is the most important factor. There are no problems that can’t be solved with hard work.
They Don’t Complain
One of the easiest things to do is to blame other factors for your result. Some of the most common ones are:
- The test is unfair.
- The test is stupid.
- IDP/BC is not as hard as BC/IDP.
- My teacher gave me bad advice.
- The examiner didn’t like me.
- The questions/topics were too hard.
- I don’t have time to study.
It is much more difficult to accept that you have to work hard and do the work, than to make excuses, but those who put their head down and focus on their work, rather than make excuses, do much better.
A recent student who got 7.5, worked very long hours as a nurse, had 3 children to look after when she got home from work and had failed to get the score she needed 3 times. She had every reason to make excuses and complain, but instead she found the time to work hard and get the score she needed.
They Are Patient
When I did level/placement testing at the British Council, many students would laugh at me when I told them it would take 6-12 months before they were ready to do the test. They wanted to do a very short course and magically get the score they needed. This is impossible for most people who are not already at the required level.
I also get about 10 emails a day from people who tell me their IELTS test is next week and they want some ‘quick tips’ to help them get a high score. Again, this is fantasy.
The people who get the higher scores know their current level and make a realistic plan to get to where they want to go.
They Learn AND Practice
It is very important to learn about the test and the different techniques and strategies you need, however, lots of people think that all you have to do is do lots of reading and watch YouTube videos every day and they will get a 7 or above.
Likewise, many students believe that simply attending classes, but not actually doing any work outside of class, will help them.
It is more important to implement what you have learned. For example, don’t watch 10 videos about how to write an introduction. Watch the best 2-3 and write 10 introductions using what you’ve learned. Do the hard work before your test to make your job much easier on test day.
They Seek Professional Advice
There are many great free resources out there, but if you really want to improve there is no better way than consulting an expert. They will be able to tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong and tell you exactly what you need to do to improve.
A good teacher should be able to look at your writing or listen to your speaking and tell you almost immediately how to improve. You can improve at home on your own, but not as quickly or effectively without a good teacher.
There are many great teachers both offline and online and it is much cheaper to get their help, than to have to repeat the test many times.
Reading this article is not going to help you improve, but if you implement what you’ve learned here, you will get better.