Listen to news and podcasts regularly via free websites such as the BBC. Dive into a new TV series. Watch talks by experts on a variety of topics at www.TED.com. Newspaper articles are a great resource, as they are often of a similar length and complexity to the Reading texts in the IELTS exam. Use online news resources such as The Guardian and get into the habit of jotting down new vocabulary. Get stuck into a good book, either fiction or non-fiction and underline and look up new words and phrases. Always remember: vocabulary is key to gaining high marks in IELTS.
Model answers to Writing tasks 1 and 2 are a useful resource for understanding and copying key vocabulary and sentence and paragraph structure. You can find these online or in IELTS textbooks.
When you achieve feedback on your writing, always re-write your response following your teacher’s advice and comments, correcting any spelling and grammar errors. You can then send your work to be graded again, to see how your grade has improved.
Completing practice tasks under exam conditions (in silence, no phone, dictionary or distractions and under a strict time limit) will help you with time management when you sit the real exam. This is particularly useful for the Writing section where you need to practice completing Task 1 in 20 minutes and Task 2 in 40 minutes!
Reading is key to building vocabulary and gaining an awareness of sentence and paragraph structure that you can replicate in your own writing. But don’t just read dry, academic IELTS texts! Try:
• fiction books. Some great Young Adult authors are: JK Rowling (fantasy), SophieKinsella (Romance/Drama), Jodi Picoult (Romance/Drama), Stephen King (Horror)
• non-fiction books, such as historical accounts or biographies.
• newspaper articles (available online for free at sites such as The Guardian, The BBC, The Daily Mail)
• journal articles (available online for free)
The best way to practice Speaking outside of class is to record and listen to yourself. Use your phone to record yourself talking about a variety of topics, for example a holiday you enjoyed or a tv programme you are currently watching. Listen to the recordings and critique your grammar, accent and pronunciation.
Always read your teacher’s feedback carefully and take note of the mistakes you are commonly making. Is your main weakness grammar? Spelling? Sentence structure? Pinpoint your weak areas and work on these.
Remember that you are ultimately responsible for your own learning. Make sure you attend every class and do your homework. Read and take on board feedback from your teacher. Read, speak and listen to English as much as possible. Keep a record of new vocabulary and revise your lists regularly. Be an active learner.
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