Practice tests are an awful way to improve your English and only an average way to prepare for the test.
They are not good for improving your English because they are just focused on testing your skills. Of course your English may improve over time but that is not their aim.
Contrast these books with books for learning English that focus on grammar and vocabulary and guide you through with exercises. The process of improving your English is completely different from testing your English – so don’t waste time and money confusing the two!
The biggest mistake that that most students make is they only do these practice tests and don’t find better ways to improve their English.
What are better ways? These ways involve finding something interesting (a movie, music, book, etc.) and keeping your motiviation high with quality content.
You might also decide to take a course in English or hire a tutor. This will improve your English – practice tests will not!
But there are some ways in which these books are good for preparation. First, you can become more familiar with the format of the test and the different questions types.
That makes them decent preparation for the test question types.
Secondly, they are also good tests. Duh.
That means that you can measure your progress with them. If you are planning on taking IELTS in the next month or two you should probably do a weekly test to measure your progress.
If you have several months to a year (or more) then you should do a practice test once a month to measure your progress.
This is the proper way to use practice tests – don’t rely on them to improve your English.
Many students lazily believe that doing test after test will improve their score – they are searching for an overly simple solution when the real solution is staring them right in the face: improve your English and your IELTS score will follow you like your shadow!
Simple Steps for Using IELTS Cambridge 13 to Test your English
1. Start with the listening test. Do the listening test fully but don’t check your answers! Read the tapescript carefully after you finish and underline the distractors and paraphrases. This way you learn about how IELTS listening works.
2. Do the reading test. When you check your answers, figure out the reason why you got each one wrong. Because of a paraphrase? Because of vocabulary? Grammar? This way you can improve your weaknesses.
3. Do the writing tests. Time yourself and be strict. Read my samples answers for task 1 and task 2 writing.
Simple Steps for Using IELTS Cambridge 13 to Improve your English
1. Start with a listening test but don’t do the full test. Just listen to part 1. Listen to it at least 3 times. Repeat this for every part of the test. Read here about how this will improve your listening. Again, check your answers with the tapescript and try to figure out why you got each answer wrong. Usually it will be because of vocabulary – so learn more vocab!
3. Do both writing tests but don’t worry about the timing. After you finish you can compare with my sample answers and do the practice activities for task 1 and task 2. The next day, do the same sample answer again but try to improve your ideas, vocabulary, and grammar. Keep doing this until you are happy with your writing.
4. Do the practice speaking test by yourself or with a friend/teacher. Don’t move on to a new test. Keep learning new vocabulary related to the same topics and od the test over and over again. If you get bored, try varying or writing slightly new questions related to the questions. Don’t try to give exactly the same answer each time. Vary it a little bit so that your speaking doesn’t become too robotic.
If you have any questions about the book, you can comment them below and I will reply as soon as possible!
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