If you are taking your IELTS exam, you need to practise exam-style questions again and again. While there is no shortage of free IELTS practice material and IELTS advice available online, students who learn English in London often comment that they wish to know exactly what areas they should focus on to improve their grades. This brief study guide gives students taking IELTS courses in London just what they need: information on the areas to focus on and the skills to master for IELTS success.

Listening

  • Some of the most common mistakes students make are through lack of concentration. Always read the instructions carefully and do not assume they are exactly the same as other questions you have come across.
  • Take your time so you avoid careless mistakes in the seemingly easy initial questions. Focus on your spelling to avoid needlessly dropping marks. If you are struggling to understand the speaker, try not to panic. Take a couple of deep breaths, relax and try again.
  • Never leave a blank – have an educated guess at an answer and you may just be right.
  • Perhaps the most important skill for the listening section is to the ability to read, write and listen at the same time. Make sure you have practised doing this.

Reading

  • Be careful with your time. Move on from an answer you are struggling with. Do not focus on words you do not know – try to guess their meaning from the context. Avoid re-inventing the wheel by simply copying the answer from the text if it is there, and if only one answer is requested, only give one answer.
  • Read widely from a variety of sources before taking the exam, such as books, newspapers, magazines and academic articles. For many students wishing to learn English London is an ideal base, as there is so much to see and do, with plenty of opportunities to read English everywhere.
  • Always check your spelling and be careful not to confuse singulars with plurals.

Writing

  • Stick to the question. Make sure your paragraphs are clearly divided and deal with one idea at a time. Make sure you are always answering the question directly.
  • Do not answer the question with a model answer you have memorised. This is a recipe for disaster, as you will not be answering exactly what the question asks.
  • Watch the clock and remember Task 2 needs more time and can get you more points. Leave yourself time to check and correct your writing.
  • Avoid repeating yourself. If you have made a point, do not go on to do this again in different words.
  • Develop ways to quickly estimate how many words you have written: for instance, if you fit 10 words on to a line, then 15 lines will contain roughly 150 words.

Speaking

  • Be confident. You are being tested on your ability to communicate effectively and not just your grammatical accuracy. Always ask for clarification if you need it.
  • Rather than learn prepared answers, focus on learning essential vocab and phrases, as the examiner will not always stick to the script.
  • Be expansive. Always give opinions and try to develop your points as much as possible.
  • Practise important phrases and possible responses at home using a voice recorder.