How to learn IELTS… faster!

How to learn IELTS… faster!

 

 

I recently came across this great video by Brendan Burchard about how to learn…faster! Catchy title, but was there anything to back it up? Lucky for you, there was. 

We get a lot of messages from stressed-out students saying they need to improve quickly. But often these students don’t know much about IELTS, and have no study plan. If this sounds familiar, then you need to get serious.

This article will show you how to master your IELTS preparation.

Read more here about the difference between successful and unsuccessful students.

If you want to both improve your English and feel comfortable, I now offer online lessons complete with feedback, videos, workbooks and more – you can learn more here!

 

#1 Make Clear Life Goals

In order to improve fast, you’re gonna need to work hard every day, putting in the hours day in, day out.

But the problem is that without sufficient motivation, most students are not able to work hard for long periods day in, day out.

And to be sure, you’re going to need some very good reasons why you should be doing a listening test on a Saturday afternoon rather than hanging out with your friends.  

What you need is a clear vision for who you want to be and what you want to do with your life and how achieving your target IELTS score will contribute to that.

According to Brendan, once you have that purpose, you will start to learn much faster.

 

 

#2 Follow Good Advice

Imagine two students. One is studying alone, the other is being tutored by a friend who already got a good score on the IELTS exam. Who is going to progress faster?

It’s a no-brainer right? The slowest students are those who start from scratch, with nothing. The fastest students are those who try to copy the best and learn from them.

Another example is students who try to prepare for the writing exam without studying model essays or looking closely at the official band descriptors. They are almost certainly going to lose marks.

Let’s talk more about band descriptors. These are documents produced by Cambridge (who make all the IELTS exams), that tells you exactly what the examiner wants.

If you want a copy of them, check out the links here for IELTS writing Task 1, Task 2 and Speaking.

So you will improve your scores much faster if your writing and speaking practice follows the band descriptors. And this is why all of the advice that we give you at How to do IELTS is based on these documents.

So whichever source of information you use – a course book, a teacher, a website, make sure they refer to the band descriptors. If you’re not sure about whether they’re giving you good advice, please message us and we’ll let you know.

Also be careful not to use sample essays from too many different sources. There is more than one right way, and you may get confused which will slow down the learning process.

 

 

#3 Everyday, you’re studying

So once you know what you need to do, the next step on your journey to becoming a master student is consistent practice.

Day in, day out, you need to put in the hours (remember those Saturday afternoon listening tests?).  For example, if you want to improve your speaking score quickly, only practicing with your friend one hour a week isn’t going to work, is it?

Instead you need regular, focussed, repeated practice e.g. talking to yourself at home for an hour every day. Talking to yourself? Yes, that’s right! You should record yourself, listen back and think about how to do it better (choose one area at a time – fluency, grammar, vocab, pron), then try the same question again, and repeat, and repeat…

If you’re thinking “I don’t have time to study for hours every day.”, then you need to go back to point 1 and think about how important IELTS is to achieving your life goals. 

You need to be honest with yourself about how much time you can/need to put in to achieve your target score in the timescale you want.

If you can only study a few times a week, of course that’s fine, but you need to recognise that your progress is going to be much slower than students who are studying every day.

But it’s more than that. Practising in the right way is a habit. The more you do it, the better you will get, the easier it will feel, and the more effective your studying will become.

 

 

#4 Get Feedback

If you want to learn fast, you also need feedback, so you need to find a suitable tutor. This could be a friend, classmate, teacher, or your friendly online IELTS expert….

But the better your tutor, the better feedback they can give you, so the faster you can improve. And again, if they don’t base their advice on band descriptors, ask them why.

And don’t worry if you are someone who isn’t very good at taking criticism. Just sleep on it and think about it the next day. If the feedback is from someone whose opinion you trust, then it’s important you look carefully at all their feedback and all your mistakes, so you can continue to improve as fast as possible.

 

 

#5 Set a Realistic Deadline.

A lot of students seem to book their IELTS test earlier than they need , and before they’ve even started studying for the test.

You should set a clear deadline based on what score you need and when. Then estimate how many hours of study you need to do every day to achieve this.

Talk to your classmates and teacher about your study plan and decide how realistic your deadline is, and whether you need to adjust it.

 

Now it’s Your Turn! Comment below!

Are you studying IELTS like a master?

Which of the five steps do you need to work on?

You can also check out our Facebook Group or our Instagram page for more information about IELTS!

Learn more about my online courses here.

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Write a Clear and Simple Conclusion

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Write a Clear and Simple Conclusion

 

 

The conclusion should be the easiest part of your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay.

You’ve done all the hard work – you’ve come up with all the ideas, the structure, your body paragraphs – and now you just have to finish off the last paragraph.

It’s like a footballer who’s run the length of the football pitch and now they are facing an open goal. They just have to put the ball in the back of the net.

However, the conclusion is where a lot of IELTS students fail to score a goal. They make a simple mistake and get an automatic 5 for Task Achievement!

Read some full writing task 2 sample answers from the real test here.

If you want to both improve your English and feel comfortable, I now offer online lessons complete with feedback, videos, workbooks and more – you can learn more here!

 

 

Review – What should a conclusion contain?

First let’s look at an example question:

Some people think that all university students should study whatever they like.

Others believe that they should only be allowed to study subjects that will be useful in the future, such as those related to science and technology.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

A simple conclusion should include the following:

– A clear overall opinion or ‘position’

“In conclusion, I feel that there are clear advantages of allowing students to choose their own subjects.”

 – A summary (paraphrase) of your main and supporting ideas

 “The main benefits are students who are more motivated, successful and creative. This outweighs the drawback of a lack of students in core subjects.”

 – A final thought (for bands 7+)

“The question reminds us that we must always make sure our Universities are flexible enough to meet the challenges that society will face in the future.”    

But actually the most important is including your position/opinion, because without it you will get a 5 for Task Achievement.

This is the big mistake that holds back too many students from getting the score they deserve: no clear opinion/position.

 

Clear overall opinion or ‘position’

The first thing to remember is that for nearly all IELTS Task 2 questions you need to choose a side.

If you don’t choose a side and support that ‘position’ clearly, you will end up with a 5 for your Task Achievement.

Ideally, you should state your position in your introduction and confirm it in your conclusion.

But even if you don’t include it in your intro, it should definitely be clear in your conclusion.

So our example position is as follows:

“In conclusion, I feel that there are clear advantages of allowing students to choose their own subjects.”

Some students fail to do this and say “Both X and Y have advantages and disadvantages.”

That is not a clear conclusion, so you will definitely lose marks for your task response.

If you don’t have a clear opinion you can only get a maximum of 5 for task achievement, no matter how good the rest of your writing is!

Also, you shouldn’t say “Overall I think X and Y are important so we should allow both.”

Technically this is OK as your opinion is clear, but some examiners might not agree so this is risky.

Therefore if your position is to sit on the fence you might lose marks for your task response.

So the safest strategy is to choose a side, even if that isn’t your real opinion.

 

 

Summary of your main and supporting ideas

For this one, just re-state all of your main ideas from your two body paragraphs and the most relevant supporting ideas.

Position:  students should be allowed to chose their own subjects

Main idea for first side (body 1): Students will be more motivated

Supporting ideas (body 1): they will work harder, achieve more and be more creative

Main idea for other side (body 2): A lack of students in core subjects

Supporting ideas (body 2): less skilled labour force, negative impact on economy.

Therefore your paraphrase of your main ideas is as follows:

“The main benefits are students who are more motivated, successful and creative. This outweighs the drawback of a lack of students in core subjects.”

 

 

Adding a final thought

Some IELTS examiners feel that to achieve a 7+ for task achievement you should have some new information in your conclusion.

This is one of the few, tricky areas where different examiners will give you different scores. Some don’t care about this. Others will not give you above a 7 for task achievement if you don’t have some new information in your conclusion!

One common way to add an extra comment is to draw out something about the general topic related to the future.

“The question reminds us that we must always make sure our Universities are flexible enough to meet the challenges that society will face in the future.”   

 

 

Model conclusion

Here are all three elements together:

Clear position                         Summary of ideas                        New information

In conclusion, I feel that there are clear advantages of allowing students to choose their own subjects. The main benefits are students who are more motivated, successful and creative. This outweighs the drawback of a lack of students in core subjects. The question reminds us that we must always make sure our Universities are flexible enough to meet the challenges that society will face in the future.    

Remember: the opinion/position is the most important part. Include that to make sure you get at least a 5 for task achievement.

 

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments

In some countries, governments are making some criminals do voluntary community work rather than being put in prison.

To what extent do you agree with this?

Brainstorm your main ideas and position for the question above and write a conclusion. Put it in comments.

 

 

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