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Guest Rachael M Bowen

IELTS....Process and Top Tips

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    Guest Rachael M Bowen

    I thought I’d write a few tips for those that are taking the General IELTS test. (however, the listening part is forboth general and academic). I know how the words IELTS can make even the best of us tremble!


    The test is made up of 4 components listening,reading writing and speaking. The listening and reading tests are the first parts of the test. There are 40 questions in each of these components. To score an 8 you need to get 36/40.


    Listening component.


    You will be handed the blank answer sheet first. One side of this sheet is for the listening answers the other side is for the reading answers. You can ONLY use pencil for both these components. Once you have gone through how to complete the personal information on the front sheet you will then be given the question booklet. This is under exam conditions so you are NOT allowed to open the booklet until you are told to do so. The listening test will then start. A short speech test is run to ensure everyone in the room can hear the CD. Write your answers in the booklet you will get 10 minutes at the end of the CD to transfer your answers from your booklet to your answer sheet.


    The test is broken down in to sections, the first conversation you hear for example may cover questions 1-10. You are given 30 seconds to read through the questions 1-10 before the CD starts.


    TOP TIP.


    Highlight the leading word/s in each question, e,g How old must you be to join the gym? In this sentence you could underline the words must & gym. This then enables you to listen for trigger words within the conversations. Once you have completed the questions 1-10 the CD will pause, you will get a few seconds to check your answers before the CD restarts. Again you will get 30 seconds to read through the next bunch of questions. This will continue until you have completed all 40 questions. Don’t forget to transfer your answers from the booklet to the answer sheet. If you have any spare time check, check and thrice check that you have married up the answers in your booklet to the correct number on the answer sheet.


    Reading component.

    Your answers for this part need to be written directly on to your answer sheet NOT in the booklet. You will not be given time at the end to transfer them. Again this is pencil only.


    You will work through the booklet which is made up of different written subject matters, starting with easy and working through to more difficult. Each section will have questions for you to answer, 40 in total. The hardest parts of this are the True/False/Not Given questions. If the info isn’t there then it’s not given, native speakers make the mistake of reading between the lines and assuming the writer is implying it could be true or false.




    Ensure you read the textabove the questions this will stipulate who many words you can use for eachanswer. You may be able to answer in 1,2 or 3 words. Remember the listening andreading tests are marked by computers!!!


    The answers to the questions will run in order through the text, which means once you have answered question 1, question 2 will be somewhere after it in the text. (You are very unlikely to have to read back up the text). So once you have found the answer to question 1 write a number 1 above the answer in that part of the text, when you have found the answer to question 2, write number 2 so on and so forth. This then allows you to see where you have read to and where the next answer is likely to be. Also if you can skim read look for leading word/s in the question, skim read until you find it then take more time to fully read what the text is saying in that area. E.g, Question – Which river can rainbow trout be fished for? Skim read until you find the words rainbow trout then concentrate more deeply in that area until you find the name of the river. You would then write the question number above the name of the river so you have a marker.


    Writing component.


    This has two parts to the test. 150 word letter writing and then 250 opinion piece essay. You will be marked down for not writing enough.


    In the letter you will be asked to include 3 different things. Example question, “You are going away on holiday and your friend is going to look after your house and pet for you. Write a letter to your friend, include


    1. What you would like them to do to mind the house.


    2. What they need to do for your pet.


    3. Who they can contact in an emergency.


    Example answer.


    Dear Fran,


    Thank you so much for offering to look after my house and goldfish whilst I am away I really do appreciate it.


    Point one you could mention how to use the alarm, if they would remove post from the letter box where to put it for you, close curtains at night open in the morning etc,etc.


    Point two, Freddie fish needs only to be fed once a day. You can find the food in the cupboard above the microwave. Just a pinch of food will be enough daily. If he is in sunlight could you move his bowl to a more shaded area of the kitchen please?


    Point three in case of an emergency contact?????? On 01234 567890 or blah blah blah.


    Once again thank you so much and the wine and chocolates on the breakfast bar are for you as a thank you. I am expecting to be home ?????? at about ? pm.


    Yours faithfully


    Word count for this above is 159. Don’t spend too much time on this as this is a low percentage weight of marks.


    Part two in more of an opinion piece and carries more weight. Again this will have specific tasks they will want you to include. Read the question carefully then make a plan to guide our essay. Question paper I had was something like “it has been reported that children today do not appear to have developed social skills and have little respect for others. What do you think influences this and who or what do you think is responsible for how children develop? Write an opinion piece and include any personal experience you may have had”.


    Make a short plan for how you will structurethis. You need an opening, middle and conclusion


    I started my essay with:- Nature verses Nurture the on-going debate! Then expanded…….


    I then discussed what is natural behaviour and what could be learnt behaviour. What influences these behaviours, environment,parents, siblings, peers, teachers or role models, media. Personal experience could be what you have observed your own children or other people’s children, if you’re a teacher, or work in child services etc. Are they aware of boundaries? Do they understand consequence of actions?


    I then closed that the main influence would be who they spend the most time with, teachers, parents; grandparents, otherfamily members, foster parents etc but no matter what it is the responsibility of the appropriate adult to give the child the opportunity to develop their social skills and to learn what is acceptable and not acceptable within society.




    You will be interviewed by an IELTS examiner. They will start with simple tell me a little about yourself. They will then work through different subjects, things I have been asked are quite random, such as do I use bags? what type of bag do I use and when? What do I look for when purchasing a bag? What do I want from a bag?


    You then will be asked to talk about given subject for 2 minutes. They will give you time to make quick notes/prompts. They then tell you to begin. Example question was, “have you ever bought something that you really weren’t happy with? And if so what did you do?” once you have completed this 2 minute task they will then again ask you questions related to the subject what you have just talked about. The interview is approx. 10-15minutes.




    Don’t stop talking until they tell you to!


    Native speakers will talk faster than those whose English is a second or third language. Two minutes may not sound long but I assure you it is!!! Take your time, remember to stop for breathe,refer back to your notes.


    Well I hope this may help at least one of you.


    Good luck

    Edited by Rachael M Bowen

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    Guest MandiMR2

    Wow this is amazin Rach!!! I'm certain it will help many. Wish there was something like this when I was starting out!! Doesn't it feel good to be able to contribute from our own experiences as well as asking all the questions?!!! Well done huni.

    Mandi x

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    Guest Spratnat

    This was so helpful, thankyou so much for taking the time to write this!

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