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Preparation for IELTS

“Hyperpolysyllabicomania is a fondness for big words.” – unknown

IELTS is important but you need to practice other skills in order to be successful in an foreign university.

The article below talks about the other areas that you really need to improve as well as doing well on the IELTS test.

If you would like to practice for your IELTS Speaking portion of the examination, please contact Michael using the form below to arrange a time when we can meet online for a discussion.

You can also go to IELTS Speaking with Confidence to sign up for sessions with me.

Michael Wilkovesky

The Ielts Test and Ielts Preparation – by Bob Indo

The Test
The IELTS test is in four sections; listening, reading, writing and speaking, and lasts for approximately 3 hours. Candidates receive their scores within two weeks, giving them a band score of between 1 (no language ability) to 9 (native-speaker level language ability). Generally speaking, most universities require a score of 6 or 7 to enter their programs, depending on the university and the degree or postgraduate program the student is applying for.

Students wishing to enroll at universities take the academic module of the IELTS test, while there is also a ‘General Training’ module of the test (with simplified reading and writing sections) which is often taken by candidates wishing to join an overseas high school, or for migration purposes.

IELTS preparation
A spin-off of the rise in popularity of the IELTS test has been the emergence of IELTS preparation courses. These courses teach the specific skills and strategies necessary for success in the IELTS test. Usually longer than a standard English course, a good IELTS preparation course (and a motivated student) should have the ability to increase a student’s score by one band.

Common misconceptions
The IELTS test is purely a test designed to indicate to universities that a student has the necessary level of English to have a chance of success in their degree programs. Reaching the required band score, however, does not necessarily mean that a student is equipped with the skills needed for university-level study. Similarly, IELTS preparation courses focus only on the test itself, and do not specifically teach all of the skills that an overseas student needs.

As an illustration, the IELTS writing test includes a 250-word essay, which must be written in 40 minutes. At universities, essays often require weeks of research and are often thousands of words in length. IELTS preparation courses generally show students how to write these short essays by introducing rigid ‘formulas’, formulas which are rarely applicable to the essays the students will write at universities. During IELTS preparation courses, students are rarely taught about citation, paraphrasing, thesis structure and other key skills for successful university-level writing. Similarly, in the IELTS listening tests, students listen and answer question. At universities, students need to be able to listen to lectures and write notes, which involves altogether different skills. Limitations in the reading and writing modules of the IELTS test are also evident.

While the value of the IELTS test and IELTS preparation courses are sometimes misinterpreted or overestimated, it is clear that an internationally recognised, standardised test of English is a necessity. While there are limitations, IELTS opens the doors to international study opportunities to students from all over the world. Students with the required score, however, should not be complacent. Often training in advanced Academic English (often known as EAP – English for Academic Purposes) is of great benefit for international students, and could be taken in conjunction with IELTS preparation.


About the Author

Aim for English in Jakarta, Indonesia is a pioneering new school with IELTS preparation courses which include EAP. Students are not only prepared for a 3-hour test, they are prepared for 4 years of life at an overseas further education institution. See their website for more details.