Prepare Don’t Procrastinate ielts Exam Tips

Prepare Don’t Procrastinate ielts Exam Tips

Since so much depends on your score, you should maximize your chances of
success. In order to maximize the likelihood of success, you’ve got to prepare in
advance. This means taking official practice tests and spending time learning the
information and test taking strategies you will need to succeed.

You can always retake the test more than once, but remember that you will have
to wait a minimum of three months before retaking the test. Don’t get into a
situation where you need a higher score and can’t afford to wait, so don’t take the
IELTS as a “practice” test. Feel free to take sample tests on your own, but when
you go to take the IELTS, be prepared, be focused, and do your best the first
time!

The Listening Module
The Listening module of the IELTS consists of a total of 40 questions.

There are four sections:
1. Social Needs – Conversation between two speakers
2. Social Needs – Speech by one speaker
3. Educational or Training – Conversation between up to four speakers
4. Educational or Training – Speech by one speaker

Main Ideas
Important words and main ideas in conversation are ones that will come up again
and again. Listen carefully for any word or words that come up repeatedly. What
words come up in nearly every statement made? These words with high
frequency are likely to be in the main idea of the conversation. For example, in a
conversation about class size in the business department of a college, the term
“class size” is likely to appear in nearly every statement made by either speaker
in the discussion.

Voice Changes
IELTS expects you to be able to recognize and interpret nuances of speech. Be
on the alert for any changes in voice, which might register surprise, excitement,
or another emotion. If a speaker is talking in a normal monotone voice and
suddenly raises their voice to a high pitch, that is a huge clue that something
critical is being stated. Listen for a speaker to change their voice and understand
the meaning of what they are saying.
Example:
Man: Let’s go to Wal-mart.
Woman: There’s a Wal-mart in this small town?

If the woman’s statement was higher pitched, indicating surprise and shock, then
she probably did not expect there to be a Wal-mart in that town.

 

Specifics
Listen carefully for specific pieces of information. Adjectives are commonly
asked about in IELTS questions. Try to remember any main adjectives that are
mentioned. Pick out adjectives such as numbers, colors, or sizes.
Example:
Man: Let’s go to the store and get some apples to make the pie.
Woman: How many do we need?
Man: We’ll need five apples to make the pie.

A typical question might be about how many apples were needed.

Interpret
As you are listening to the conversation, put yourself in the person’s shoes.
Think about why someone would make a statement. You’ll need to do more than
just regurgitate the spoken words but also interpret them.
Example:
Woman: I think I’m sick with the flu.
Man: Why don’t you go see the campus doctor?

Sample Question: Why did the man mention the campus doctor?
Answer: The campus doctor would be able to determine if the woman had the flu.

Find the Hidden Meaning
Look for the meaning behind a statement. When a speaker answers a question
with a statement that doesn’t immediately seem to answer the question, the
response probably contained a hidden meaning that you will need to recognize
and explain.
Man: Are you going to be ready for your presentation?
Woman: I’ve only got half of it finished and it’s taken me five hours just to do this
much. There’s only an hour left before the presentation is due.

At first, the woman did not seem to answer the question the man presented. She
responded with a statement that only seemed loosely related. Once you look
deeper, then you can find the true meaning of what she said. If it took the
woman five hours to do the first half of the presentation, then it would logically
take her another five hours to do the second half. Since she only has one hour
until her presentation is due, she would probably NOT be able to be ready for the
presentation. So, while an answer was not immediately visible to the man’s
question, when you applied some logic to her response, you could find the
hidden meaning beneath.

Memory Enhancers
You have scratch paper provided to you while taking the test. This can be a
huge help. While you listen, you are free to make notes. If different people are
talking, use short hand to describe the main characteristics of each speaker. As
you hear main adjectives that you think might be hard to remember, jot them
down quickly in order that you can refer to them later during the question stage.
Use your notes to help you remember those hard to remember facts. Don’t end
your test without making use of your scratch paper ally.
Example:
Speaker 1: I’m Bob Thomas, and I’m majoring in business development.
Speaker 2: I’m Matt Smith, and I’m majoring in chemical engineering.
Speaker 3: I’m John Douglass, and I’m majoring in speech therapy.

Your short hand might read:
Bob – Bus.
Matt – Chem. E
John – Sp. Th.

On subsequent questions about the characters, you’ll be able to remember these
basic facts and answer more accurately. However, don’t spend so much time making notes that you miss something on the tape. You won’t be able to rewind it and catch what you miss. The idea is that the notes should only supplement  your memory, not replace it.

The Reading Module
The Reading module of the IELTS consists of a total of 40 questions.

There are three passages, with a total of 2,000 to 2,750 words.

Skimming
Your first task when you begin reading is to answer the question “What is the
topic of the selection?” This can best be answered by quickly skimming the
passage for the general idea, stopping to read only the first sentence of each
paragraph. A paragraph’s first sentence is usually the main topic sentence, and it
gives you a summary of the content of the paragraph.

Once you’ve skimmed the passage, stopping to read only the first sentences, you
will have a general idea about what it is about, as well as what is the expected
topic in each paragraph.

Each question will contain clues as to where to find the answer in the passage.
Do not just randomly search through the passage for the correct answer to each
question. Search scientifically. Find key word(s) or ideas in the question that are
going to either contain or be near the correct answer. These are typically nouns,
verbs, numbers, or phrases in the question that will probably be duplicated in the
passage. Once you have identified those key word(s) or idea, skim the passage
quickly to find where those key word(s) or idea appears. The correct answer
choice will be nearby.

Example: What caused Martin to suddenly return to Paris?

The key word is Paris. Skim the passage quickly to find where this word
appears. The answer will be close by that word.

However, sometimes key words in the question are not repeated in the passage.
In those cases, search for the general idea of the question.

Example: Which of the following was the psychological impact of the author’s
childhood upon the remainder of his life?

Key words are “childhood” or “psychology”. While searching for those words, be
alert for other words or phrases that have similar meaning, such as “emotional
effect” or “mentally” which could be used in the passage, rather than the exact
word “psychology”.

Numbers or years can be particularly good key words to skim for, as they stand
out from the rest of the text.

Example: Which of the following best describes the influence of Monet’s work in
the 20th century?

20th contains numbers and will easily stand out from the rest of the text. Use
20th as the key word to skim for in the passage.

Once you’ve quickly found the correct section of the passage to find the answer,
focus upon the answer choices. Sometimes a choice will repeat word for word a
portion of the passage near the answer. However, beware of such duplication –
it may be a trap! More than likely, the correct choice will paraphrase or
summarize the related portion of the passage, rather than being exactly the same
wording.

For the answers that you think are correct, read them carefully and make sure
that they answer the question. An answer can be factually correct, but it MUST
answer the question asked. Additionally, two answers can both be seemingly

correct, so be sure to read all of the answer choices, and make sure that you get
the one that BEST answers the question.

Some questions will not have a key word.

Example: Which of the following would the author of this passage likely agree
with?

In these cases, look for key words in the answer choices. Then skim the
passage to find where the answer choice occurs. By skimming to find where to
look, you can minimize the time required.

Sometimes it may be difficult to identify a good key word in the question to skim
for in the passage. In those cases, look for a key word in one of the answer
choices to skim for. Often the answer choices can all be found in the same
paragraph, which can quickly narrow your search.

Paragraph Focus
Focus upon the first sentence of each paragraph, which is the most important.
The main topic of the paragraph is usually there.

Once you’ve read the first sentence in the paragraph, you have a general idea
about what each paragraph will be about. As you read the questions, try to
determine which paragraph will have the answer. Paragraphs have a concise
topic. The answer should either obviously be there or obviously not. It will save
time if you can jump straight to the paragraph, so try to remember what you
learned from the first sentences.
Example: The first paragraph is about poets; the second is about poetry. If a
question asks about poetry, where will the answer be? The second paragraph.

 

The main idea of a passage is typically spread across all or most of its
paragraphs. Whereas the main idea of a paragraph may be completely different
than the main idea of the very next paragraph, a main idea for a passage affects
all of the paragraphs in one form or another.
Example: What is the main idea of the passage?

For each answer choice, try to see how many paragraphs are related. It can help
to count how many sentences are affected by each choice, but it is best to see
how many paragraphs are affected by the choice. Typically the answer choices
will include incorrect choices that are main ideas of individual paragraphs, but not
the entire passage. That is why it is crucial to choose ideas that are supported
by the most paragraphs possible.

Eliminate Choices
Some choices can quickly be eliminated. “Andy Warhol lived there.” Is Andy
Warhol even mentioned in the article? If not, quickly eliminate it.

When trying to answer a question such as “the passage indicates all of the
following EXCEPT” quickly skim the paragraph searching for references to each
choice. If the reference exists, scratch it off as a choice. Similar choices may be
crossed off simultaneously if they are close enough.

In choices that ask you to choose “which answer choice does NOT describe?” or
“all of the following answer choices are identifiable characteristics, EXCEPT
which?” look for answers that are similarly worded. Since only one answer can
be correct, if there are two answers that appear to mean the same thing, they
must BOTH be incorrect, and can be eliminated.
Example:
A.) changing values and attitudes
B.) a large population of mobile or uprooted people

These answer choices are similar; they both describe a fluid culture. Because of
their similarity, they can be linked together. Since the answer can have only one
choice, they can also be eliminated together.

Contextual Clues
Look for contextual clues. An answer can be right but not correct. The
contextual clues will help you find the answer that is most right and is correct.
Understand the context in which a phrase is stated.

When asked for the implied meaning of a statement made in the passage,
immediately go find the statement and read the context it was made in. Also,
look for an answer choice that has a similar phrase to the statement in question.
Example: In the passage, what is implied by the phrase “Churches have become
more or less part of the furniture”?

Find an answer choice that is similar or describes the phrase “part of the
furniture” as that is the key phrase in the question. “Part of the furniture” is a
saying that means something is fixed, immovable, or set in their ways. Those
are all similar ways of saying “part of the furniture.” As such, the correct answer
choice will probably include a similar rewording of the expression.
Example: Why was John described as “morally desperate”.

The answer will probably have some sort of definition of morals in it. “Morals”
refers to a code of right and wrong behavior, so the correct answer choice will
likely have words that mean something like that.

Fact/Opinion
When asked about which statement is a fact or opinion, remember that answer
choices that are facts will typically have no ambiguous words. For example, how
long is a long time? What defines an ordinary person? These ambiguous words

of “long” and “ordinary” should not be in a factual statement. However, if all of
the choices have ambiguous words, go to the context of the passage. Often a
factual statement may be set out as a research finding.
Example: “The scientist found that the eye reacts quickly to change in light.”

Opinions may be set out in the context of words like thought, believed,
understood, or wished.
Example: “He thought the Yankees should win the World Series.”

Opposites
Answer choices that are direct opposites are usually correct. The paragraph will
often contain established relationships (when this goes up, that goes down). The
question may ask you to draw conclusions for this and will give two similar
answer choices that are opposites.
Example:
A.) if other factors are held constant, then increasing the interest rate will lead to
a decrease in housing starts
B.) if other factors are held constant, then increasing the interest rate will lead to
an increase in housing starts

Often these opposites will not be so clearly recognized. Don’t be thrown off by
different wording, look for the meaning beneath. Notice how these two answer
choices are really opposites, with just a slight change in the wording shown
above. Once you realize these are opposites, you should examine them closely.
One of these two is likely to be the correct answer.
Example:
A.) if other factors are held constant, then increasing the interest rate will lead to
a decrease in housing starts
B.) when there is an increase in housing starts, and other things remaining equal,
it is often the result of an increase in interest rates

Make Predictions
As you read and understand the passage and then the question, try to guess
what the answer will be. Remember that most of the answer choices are wrong,
and once you being reading them, your mind will immediately become cluttered
with answer choices designed to throw you off. Your mind is typically the most
focused immediately after you have read the passage and question and digested
its contents. If you can, try to predict what the correct answer will be. You may
be surprised at what you can predict.

Quickly scan the choices and see if your prediction is in the listed answer
choices. If it is, then you can be quite confident that you have the right answer.
It still won’t hurt to check the other answer choices, but most of the time, you’ve
got it!

Answer the Question
It may seem obvious to only pick answer choices that answer the question, but
IELTS can create some excellent answer choices that are wrong. Don’t pick an
answer just because it sounds right, or you believe it to be true. It MUST answer
the question. Once you’ve made your selection, always go back and check it
against the question and make sure that you didn’t misread the question, and the
answer choice does answer the question posed.

Benchmark
After you read the first answer choice, decide if you think it sounds correct or not.
If it doesn’t, move on to the next answer choice. If it does, make a mental note
about that choice. This doesn’t mean that you’ve definitely selected it as your
answer choice, it just means that it’s the best you’ve seen thus far. Go ahead
and read the next choice. If the next choice is worse than the one you’ve already
selected, keep going to the next answer choice. If the next choice is better than
the choice you’ve already selected, then make a mental note about that answer
choice.

As you read through the list, you are mentally noting the choice you think is right.
That is your new standard. Every other answer choice must be benchmarked
against that standard. That choice is correct until proven otherwise by another
answer choice beating it out. Once you’ve decided that no other answer choice
seems as good, do one final check to ensure that it answers the question posed.

New Information
Correct answers will usually contain the information listed in the paragraph and
question. Rarely will completely new information be inserted into a correct
answer choice. Occasionally the new information may be related in a manner
than IELTS is asking for you to interpret, but seldom.
Example:
The argument above is dependent upon which of the following assumptions?
A.) Scientists have used Charles’s Law to interpret the relationship.

If Charles’s Law is not mentioned at all in the referenced paragraph and
argument, then it is unlikely that this choice is correct. All of the information
needed to answer the question is provided for you, and so you should not have
to make guesses that are unsupported or choose answer choices that have
unknown information that cannot be reasoned.

Key Words
Look for answer choices that have the same key words in them as the question.
Example:
Which of the following, if true, would best explain the reluctance of politicians
since 1980 to support this funding?

Look for the key words “since 1980” to be referenced in the correct answer
choice. Most valid answer choices would probably include a phrase such as
“since 1980, politicians have…”

Valid Information
Don’t discount any of the information provided in the passage, particularly shorter
ones. Every piece of information may be necessary to determine the correct
answer. None of the information in the passage is there to throw you off (while
the answer choices will certainly have information to throw you off). If two
seemingly unrelated topics are discussed, don’t ignore either. You can be
confident there is a relationship, or it wouldn’t be included in the passage, and
you are probably going to have to determine what is that relationship for the
answer.

Time Management
In technical passages, do not get lost on the technical terms. Skip them and
move on. You want a general understanding of what is going on, not a mastery
of the passage.

When you encounter material in the selection that seems difficult to understand,
it often may not be necessary and can be skipped. Only spend time trying to
understand it if it is going to be relevant for a question. Understand difficult
phrases only as a last resort.

Identify each question by type. Usually the wording of a question will tell you
whether you can find the answer by referring directly to the passage or by using
your reasoning powers. You alone know which question types you customarily
handle with ease and which give you trouble and will require more time.

Final Warnings

Hedge Phrases Revisited
Once again, watch out for critical “hedge” phrases, such as likely, may, can, will
often, sometimes, etc, often, almost, mostly, usually, generally, rarely,
sometimes. Question writers insert these hedge phrases, to cover every

possibility. Often an answer will be wrong simply because it leaves no room for
exception.
Example: Animals live longer in cold places than animals in warm places.

This answer choice is wrong, because there are exceptions in which certain
warm climate animals live longer. This answer choice leaves no possibility of
exception. It states that every animal species in cold places live longer than
animal species in warm places. Correct answer choices will typically have a key
hedge word to leave room for exceptions.
Example: In severe cold, a polar bear cub is likely to survive longer than an adult
polar bear.

This answer choice is correct, because not only does the passage imply that
younger animals survive better in the cold, it also allows for exceptions to exist.
The use of the word “likely” leaves room for cases in which a polar bear cub
might not survive longer than the adult polar bear.

Word Usage Questions
When asked how a word is used in the passage, don’t use your existing
knowledge of the word. The question is being asked precisely because there is
some strange or unusual usage of the word in the passage. Go to the passage
and use contextual clues to determine the answer. Don’t simply use the popular
definition you already know.

Switchback Words
Stay alert for “switchbacks”. These are the words and phrases frequently used to
alert you to shifts in thought. The most common switchback word is “but”.
Others include although, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, even though,
while, in spite of, despite, regardless of.

Avoid “Fact Traps”
Once you know which paragraph the answer will be in, focus on that paragraph.
However, don’t get distracted by a choice that is factually true about the
paragraph. Your search is for the answer that answers the question, which may
be about a tiny aspect in the paragraph. Stay focused and don’t fall for an
answer that describes the larger picture of the paragraph. Always go back to the
question and make sure you’re choosing an answer that actually answers the
question and is not just a true statement.

 

The Writing Module

The Writing module of the IELTS consists of a 60 minute module with two tasks.

Task 1: A diagram or table will be presented to you and you must write out
approximately a 150 word discussion on it within approximately 20 minutes. You
must evaluate the diagram or table, organize your ideas, and develop them into a
cohesive and coherent explanation.

Task 2: A topic will be presented to you and you must write out approximately a
250 word discussion on it within approximately 40 minutes. There is not a
“correct” answer to the topic. You must evaluate the topic, organize your ideas,
and develop them into a cohesive and coherent response.

You will be scored on how well you are able to utilize standard written English,
organize and explain your thoughts, and support those thoughts with reasons
and examples.

Brainstorm
Spend the first three to five minutes brainstorming out ideas. Write down any
ideas you might have on the topic or table. The purpose is to extract from the
recesses of your memory any relevant information. In this stage, anything goes
down. Write down any idea, regardless of how good it may initially seem. You
can use either the scratch paper provided or the word processor to quickly jot
down your thoughts and ideas. The word processor is highly recommended
though, particularly if you are a fast typist.

Strength through Diversity
The best papers will contain diversity of examples and reasoning. As you
brainstorm consider different perspectives. Not only are there two sides to every
issue, but there are also countless perspectives that can be considered. On any

issue, different groups are impacted, with many reaching the same conclusion or
position, but through vastly different paths. Try to “see” the issue through as
many different eyes as you can. Look at it from every angle and from every
vantage point. The more diverse the reasoning used, the more balanced the
paper will become and the better the score.
Example:
The issue of free trade is not just two sided. It impacts politicians, domestic (US)
manufacturers, foreign manufacturers, the US economy, the world economy,
strategic alliances, retailers, wholesalers, consumers, unions, workers, and the
exchange of more than just goods, but also of ideas, beliefs, and cultures. The
more of these angles that you can approach the issue from, the more solid your
reasoning and the stronger your position.

Furthermore, don’t just use information as to how the issue impacts other people.
Draw liberally from your own experience and your own observations. Explain a
personal experience that you have had and your own emotions from that
moment. Anything that you’ve seen in your community or observed in society
can be expanded upon to further round out your position on the issue.

Pick a Main Idea
Once you have finished with your creative flow, stop and review it. Which idea
were you able to come up with the most supporting information? It’s extremely
important that you pick an angle that will allow you to have a thorough and
comprehensive coverage of the topic or table. This is not about your personal
convictions, but about writing a concise rational discussion of an idea.

Weed the Garden
Every garden of ideas gets weeds in it. The ideas that you brainstormed over
are going to be random pieces of information of mixed value. Go through it
methodically and pick out the ones that are the best. The best ideas are strong
points that it will be easy to write a few sentences or a paragraph about.

Create a Logical Flow
Now that you know which ideas you are going to use and focus upon, organize
them. Put your writing points in a logical order. You have your main ideas that
you will focus on, and must align them in a sequence that will flow in a smooth,
sensible path from point to point, so that the reader will go smoothly from one
idea to the next in a logical path. Readers must have a sense of continuity as
they read your paper. You don’t want to have a paper that rambles back and
forth.

Start Your Engines
You have a logical flow of main ideas with which to start writing. Begin
expanding on the issues in the sequence that you have set for yourself. Pace
yourself. Don’t spend too much time on any one of the ideas that you are
expanding upon. You want to have time for all of them. Make sure you watch
your time. If you have twenty minutes left to write out your ideas and you have
ten ideas, then you can only use two minutes per idea. It can be a daunting task
to cram a lot of information down in words in a short amount of time, but if you
pace yourself, you can get through it all. If you find that you are falling behind,
speed up. Move through each idea more quickly, spending less time to expand
upon the idea in order to catch back up.

Once you finish expanding on each idea, go back to your brainstorming session
up above, where you wrote out your ideas. Go ahead and erase the ideas as
you write about them. This will let you see what you need to write about next,
and also allow you to pace yourself and see what you have left to cover.

First Paragraph
Your first paragraph should have several easily identifiable features.
First, it should have a quick description or paraphrasing of the topic or table. Use
your own words to briefly explain what the topic or table is about.

Second, you should explain your opinion of the topic or table and give an
explanation of why you feel that way. What is your decision or conclusion on the
topic or table?
Third, you should list your “writing points”. What are the main ideas that you
came up with earlier? This is your opportunity to outline the rest of your paper.
Have a sentence explaining each idea that you will go intend further depth in
additional paragraphs. If someone was to only read this paragraph, they should
be able to get an “executive summary” of the entire paper.

Body Paragraph
Each of your successive paragraphs should expand upon one of the points listed
in the main paragraph. Use your personal experience and knowledge to support
each of your points. Examples should back up everything.

Conclusion Paragraph
Once you have finished expanding upon each of your main points, wrap it up.
Summarize what you have said and covered in a conclusion paragraph. Explain
once more your opinion of the topic or table and quickly review why you feel that
way. At this stage, you have already backed up your statements, so there is no
need to do that again. All you are doing is refreshing in the mind of the reader
the main points that you have made.

Don’t Panic
Panicking will not put down any more words on paper for you. Therefore, it isn’t
helpful. When you first see the topic or table, if your mind goes as blank as the
page on which you have to write your paper, take a deep breath. Force yourself
to mechanically go through the steps listed above.

Secondly, don’t get clock fever. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you’re looking
at a page that doesn’t seem to have much text, there is a lot of blank space
further down, your mind is full of random thoughts and feeling confused, and the
clock is ticking down faster than you would like. You brainstormed first so that

you don’t have to keep coming up with ideas. If you’re running out of time and
you have a lot of ideas that you haven’t expanded upon, don’t be afraid to make
some cuts. Start picking the best ideas that you have left and expand on those
few. Don’t feel like you have to write down and expand all of your ideas.

Check Your Work
It is more important to have a shorter paper that is well written and well
organized, than a longer paper that is poorly written and poorly organized.
Remember though that you will be penalized for answers shorter than the
required minimum limit. Don’t keep writing about a subject just to add words and
sentences, and certainly don’t start repeating yourself. Expand on the ideas that
you identified in the brainstorming session and make sure that you save yourself
a few minutes at the end to go back and check your work.

Leave time at the end, at least three minutes, to go back and check over your
work. Reread and make sure that everything you’ve written makes sense and
flows. Clean up any spelling or grammar mistakes that you might have made. If
you see anything that needs to be moved around, such as a paragraph that
would fit in better somewhere else, cut and paste it to that new location. Also, go
ahead and erase any brainstorming ideas that you weren’t able to expand upon
and clean up any other extraneous information that you might have written that
doesn’t fit into your paper.

As you proofread, make sure there aren’t any fragments or run-ons. Check for
sentences that are too short or too long. If the sentence is too short, look to see
if you have an identifiable subject and verb. If it is too long, break it up into two
separate sentences. Watch out for any “big” words you may have used. It’s
good to use difficult vocabulary words, but only if you are positive that you are
using them correctly. Your paper has to be correct, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
You’re not trying to impress anyone with your vocabulary, just your ability to
develop and express ideas.

Shortcut Keys
If you’re taking the IELTS on the computer, spend some time on your keyboard
getting familiar with the shortcut keys to cut, copy, and paste. It will help you to
quickly move text around on your paper. First highlight the text you wish to move
or copy and then type:
Ctrl+C = copy
Ctrl+X = cut
Ctrl+V = paste
You must hold down the ctrl key and then tap the “c”, “x”, or “v” key to perform
the desired function.

Final Note
Depending on your test taking preferences and personality, the essay writing will
probably be your hardest or your easiest section. You are required to go through
the entire process of writing a paper very quickly, which can be quite a challenge.

Focus upon each of the steps listed above. Go through the process of creative
flow first, generating ideas and thoughts about the topic or table. Then organize
those ideas into a smooth logical flow. Pick out the ones that are best from the
list you have created. Decide which main idea or angle of the topic or table you
will discuss.

Create a recognizable structure in your paper, with an introductory paragraph
explaining what you have decided upon, and what your main points will be. Use
the body paragraphs to expand on those main points and have a conclusion that
wraps up the topic or table.

Save a few moments to go back and review what you have written. Clean up
any minor mistakes that you might have had and give it those last few critical

touches that can make a huge difference. Finally, be proud and confident of
what you have written!

The Speaking Module

The Speaking Module of the IELTS consists of a 60 minute module with three
parts.

Part 1
You will need to answer general questions about yourself, your homes/families,
your jobs/studies, your interests, and a range of familiar topic areas in four to five
minutes.

Part 2
You will be given a verbal prompt on a card and asked to speak about a
particular topic (listed on the card). You will have one minute to prepare before
speaking at length, and will need to speak between one and two minutes. Then
the examiner will ask you one or two follow up questions.

Part 3
You and the examiner will engage in a discussion of more abstract concepts and
issues which will be linked to the topic you discussed in Part 2. The discussion
will last between four and five minutes.

You will be scored on how well you are able to communicate effectively in
English.

Of all the test modules on IELTS, this is the easiest to prepare for. This is the
test module that you can practice anywhere, in your car, in your room, on the
phone, by yourself or with someone else. After you successfully pass IELTS,
you will be speaking English a lot, so you might as well prepare by speaking it at
every opportunity beforehand.

Exhausting the Possibilities
Part 1 will ask basic questions. There are only so many possible basic questions
that can be asked about someone. You can easily be prepared for every
possibility. Go through and write down all the possibilities and a good answer for
each. When you’re asked about your family, don’t have to struggle to come up
with descriptions for your family members. Practice ahead of time and know
what you’re going to say. Right now as you’re reading this, stop and take a
minute to answer each of these following questions. If you were asked these in
an interview, what would you say?
1. Please describe yourself.
2. Please describe your family.
3. Please describe your home.
4. Please describe some of your interests.
5. Please describe your job.
6. Please describe your studies

This is important practice. Make sure that you can spend a minute or so
answering each of these questions without having to take time to think of a good
response. These are basic questions and you should have your basic answers
ready.

Tell a Story
Movie making is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why? It’s because everyone likes
to hear a good story, and the best movies contain great stories. The Speaking
Module interview can be a big aggravation for both sides. Usually, it is tense,
uncomfortable, and boring for both the interviewer and the test taker.

Think about your favorite relatives. In many cases, they are your favorite
because they are such raconteurs, or good storytellers. These are your aunts
and uncles that can turn a simple trip to the grocery store into high adventure and
will keep you captivated and entertained. Even if you’re not a natural storyteller,

with a little thought and practice, even you can turn your dull past experiences
into exciting exploits.

Stories are your strongest weapon for captivating the interviewer and
demonstrating your mastery of speaking English. The questions in Part 2 of the
Speaking Module literally beg for stories to be told. These need to be compelling
stories, real time drama, and you’re the hero. You want the interviewer begging
for more, asking follow-up questions, eager to hear how it ends. Once you begin
a quick exciting story, you set the tone of the interview, and you will determine
what will be the follow-up questions.

The easiest way to prepare for these Part 2 questions is to scour your memory
for any exciting instance in your past. Perhaps where you played a leadership
role or accomplished a goal. These can be from any part of your past, during
your education, at home with your family, projects at work, or anything that you
might have had a part in. Identify the main characteristics of the story, you want
to have things straight. Make sure you know the basics of what happened, who
was involved, why it occurred, and how the events unfolded sequentially. You
certainly don’t want to stumble over the facts and repeat yourself during the
interview.

One Size Fits All
These basic stories are building blocks. Just as a piece of lumber can be cut into
many different shapes and have many completely unique uses, each of your
stories does not only answer one unique question. Your stories are one size fits
all. With practice you will find that you can use the same story to answer two
seemingly unrelated questions.

For example, a question about teamwork and working under pressure can both
be answered by a story about your experience playing intramural basketball.
The story could describe how you had to work as a team in order to get into the

playoffs, spending time practicing together, coordinating plays, whatever was
necessary for the team to advance. Alternatively, the story could focus upon the
clutch shots that you made that season in order to win the game in the last few
seconds of play under enormous pressure. The basic story is the same: your
experiences playing basketball.

The questions were different, but you customized the story to fit the question.
With practice you should be able to answer almost any question with just a few
stock stories that can be customized.

Find the Bridges
Some questions will lend themselves more readily to a story than others. You
must have a set of basic stories ready that can be modified to fit the occasion.
You must “find the bridges” in the questions offered to make sure your stories get
told.

In WWII, the US Army used Bailey bridges. Bailey bridges were bridges made of
prefabricated steel sections that were carried around and could be thrown
together at a moment’s notice, allowing the army to move quickly across any
obstacle and get to where they wanted to go.

You need to find bridges, i.e. opportunities to tell your stories. Look for any
chance to turn a standard question about anything, into a bridge to begin telling
your story. For example, “What is your job title?”

On the surface that might not seem like the ideal bridge, but with a little insight
your response might become:

“My job title is Product Line Manager. I was responsible for everything from the
development of new products, to the obsolescence of old products. Marketing,
sales, engineering, and production of the entire product line fell under my

responsibility. One of the products was even my own idea based on feedback I
received from my interactions with our customers. In the first year, it alone had
achieved a sales level of over…”

The key to remember is that just because a question is asked as a closed ended
question (yes/no, or one word answers), doesn’t mean that you have to answer it
as a closed ended question. Answer the question asked, but then find a way to
develop your answer and a bridge to a good story of yours. With an open mind,
the most closed ended of questions can become a launch pad into a story.

Pregnant Pause
A good story can usually wind its way down a long path. There is always a
danger that you will begin to bore the interviewer, who may wonder if an end is in
sight. Some interviewers may get worried that they won’t be able to get through
the fifteen questions on their list during the allotted time. Therefore, find natural
breaks in your story and pause for a second. If the interviewer maintains eye
contact or asks continuation questions, then keep going. But this will give them a
chance to stop the story and ask a different question if they are getting bored and
want to move on.

Taking the Final Step
By trying to answer each of your Part 2 questions with a basic story, you will be
able to transition nicely into the final step, Part 3. Part 3 questions are based
upon your answers to Part 2 questions and will be asked at the interviewer’s
discretion. By using the story techniques listed above, you will have already
determined the path that the interviewer will take with his follow-up Part 3
questions. The interviewer will naturally ask questions that tie into your story and
you will already be prepared for those questions and will ace Part 3 as easily as
the others.

Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t try to answer every question by shooting from the hip. You’ll spend most of
your time trying to think of what happened and repeating yourself. Think of the
classic stories that you could tell and then practice going over them with your
friends, explaining how you successfully achieved the goal, or took charge and
gave leadership to your group project. You don’t want to have the story
memorized, because it will become stale in the telling, but you want it to be
smooth. This story must be live and in living color, where the interviewer can see
himself taking part on the sidelines and watching the situation take place. Have
your friends and family members quiz you by asking you random questions and
see how well you can adapt to the question and give a lucid response.

 

 

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