5 Keys to IELTS Success - A Crucial Checklist For Your IELTS Exam Preparation
Jennifer: What are you doing next Saturday, Sam?
Sam: I'm going to do the I.L. exam.
Jennifer: The I.L. exam? What's that?
Sam: You know. The I.L. exam. I've been studying about that for the last 3 months.
Jennifer: Oh! You mean the IELTS* exam?
Sam: That's what I said. The I.L. exam.
Jennifer: But I didn't hear the "T" or the "S" when you said it. That's why I didn't understand. You really need to say "IELTS".
Sam: I can't hear the difference, so it's not important to me.
Jennifer: But don't you think it's important to other people? Don't you think it's really important to the IELTS examiner you're going to meet on Saturday?
Jennifer, a homestay mother, told me about this conversation with her Chinese student, Sam.
There was a gleam in Jennifer's eye, and she was obviously quite pleased about something, so I knew there was more to the story.
"Sam just shrugged," she said, "and I thought he hadn't grasped how important the distinction was. But the next morning, at breakfast, he said to me: "Only five more days to go now, until my IELTS exam!" He spat out the "T" and he hissed the "S". It was perfect! We both had a good laugh about it. And he's said it perfectly ever since!"
Jennifer's story reminded me of an exercise I asked my IELTS teaching team to do once. It had always intrigued me how, sometimes within a week of a new IELTS student joining one of the classes, the teachers were able to state quite confidently either " This student is going to struggle with the IELTS test" or "This student is going to be one of our success stories!"
I asked them to list the characteristics that the "success story" IELTS students showed. They tossed the question around a bit, and then agreed on five. Here they are:
1.He makes a conscious effort to strike up friendships with other students from different countries. Students who stick with a group of friends from their home country are in for a very slow learning experience.
2.He reads an English-language newspaper every morning and listens to the news in English.
3.He uses an English-English dictionary. He works out the meanings of new words from that - he does not translate back to his own language.
4.He takes risks, experiments with new words and phrases and is not worried about making mistakes and being corrected.
But it was the fifth characteristic on their list that they agreed was the most important of all. Here it is:
5.He uses what he has learned. This, they told me, was the most important characteristic for a number of reasons. By using a new word, or a correct pronunciation, the student is reinforcing what he has learned, imprinting it in his mind. Also, it signals to whoever taught him the new skill, whether that be a teacher, a friend or a fellow-worker, that he has made a conscious effort to memorize something that has been taught. This encourages his mentors to be more determined than ever to help him succeed.
And that was exactly what had happened with Sam and Jennifer.
So, if you're preparing for the IELTS exam, or if you're helping someone who is, remember the five characteristics and put them into practice. It will definitely pay off for you on the day of the exam.
*IELTS - International English Language Teaching System. This is the world's leading test of English language ability for higher education, immigration and employment.