The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is usually required when you are migrating to English-speaking countries or studying abroad. There are 4 components: reading, listening, writing, and speaking.
Here are some of my quick tips to ace IELTS.
☐ Computer-based or paper-based? I would personally suggest taking the computer-based IELTS. It is easier, word count as you type (for Writing test), you have privacy (you get a cubicle with a PC & noise-cancelling headphones), smaller crowd; and the best part: you get your results faster — often within 5–7 working days.
However, Speaking test will still be done face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.
☐ Book a slot: IELTS test in Malaysia is offered at the British Council Malaysia and IDP Malaysia. Pick a location most convenient to you. Current fee for IELTS (Academic) is RM795. Apply early because the slots are almost always full.
☐ Familiarise yourself with the format: the type of questions, instructions, word limit, page layout for computer-based tests, etc.
☐ Do practice tests: There are various (free) practice tests online and video guides on YouTube. Check them out. They are very helpful!
PREP: READING TEST
☐ Learn how to skim and scan a passage to look for the main ideas: you can underline the key points (for computer-based tests, you can highlight them)
☐ Develop your speed reading skill
☐ Increase your vocabulary: learn how to spot synonyms
☐ Read newspapers, magazines, journals, novels
PREP: LISTENING TEST
☐ Know the format
- Section 1: conversation between two speakers on an everyday/social topic
- Section 2: talk by one speaker on a general topic
- Section 3: discussion between two to four speakers on a topic related to academics
- Section 4: lecture or talk by one speaker on an academic or study-related topic
☐ Practice multitasking: you will have to listen well (audio will only be played once) and you have to write down the answer
☐ Listen: have an English news channel or radio station on to familiarise yourself with spoken English
☐ Improve on your spelling or you will lose precious marks
PREP: WRITING TEST
☐ Know the format
- Task 1: a descriptive report on a graph, process, table, or pictorial information (150 words)
- Task 2: written argumentative piece on a given topic (250 words)
☐ Structure your essay
- Introduction: you may paraphrase the question/topic to begin
- Body: Key points in the next 2–3 paragraphs. Use linkers to connect your ideas
- Conclusion: Include an overview/summary at the end
☐ Remember the word count limit and be mindful of the time (1 hour)
- Divide your time wisely
- Suggestion: spend 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2
☐ Read a lot, and keep up with the news and current developments
PREP: SPEAKING TEST
☐ You may be asked about anything — so have an “idea bank” prepared
- Pick a favourite: food, actor, travel destination, sport, movie, hobby, book, building, etc.
- Personal experience: accomplishment, habit, project, struggles, events
☐ Practice: talk to yourself or have someone to engage in a conversation with you
☐ Listen: have an English news channel or radio station on. This will help you on speaking styles as well as give you interesting topics to talk about
☐ Speak naturally: do not fake any accents