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Effective IELTS Preparation Planner for Intensive Study (with Recommendations for the Best Materials)

2017.07.27
Effective IELTS Preparation Planner for Intensive Study  (with Recommendations for the Best Materials)

Nowadays IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is one of the world’s most popular English language tests. According to the official website, about 3 million people took the exam in more than 140 countries only last year. What’s the secret to IELTS popularity? Here are some possible reasons:

  1. IELTS results are used to gain entry to more than 10,000 organizations all over the world, including  large European universities, international companies, and government institutions;

  2. IELTS is the only English language test trusted by all immigration authorities in such key English-speaking countries as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain;

  3. There are two exam versions according to test takers’ needs: IELTS Academic is for those willing to enter a foreign university, and the easier IELTS General Training test is for migration purposes;

  4. IELTS is one of the few modern English language exams which includes a face-to-face speaking test with an experienced examiner, rather than recording equipment, which allows better imitation of real communication and more effective assessment of  a candidate’s language proficiency.

Such widespread popularity of the IELTS test has led to a big variety of preparation materials, both found on the Internet and printed by well-known publishing houses. Among the best IELTS preparation materials are:

  1. Practice tests:
    a) IELTS Trainer by Louise Hashemi and Barbara Thomas, CUP 2011;
    b) The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS by Pauline Cullen, Amanda French, Vanessa Jakeman, CUP 2012;
    c) IELTS Practice Tests Plus by Vanessa Jakeman, Clare McDowell, Longman 2001;
    d) Cambridge IELTS 11 Academic, CUP 2016;
    e) Cambridge IELTS 11 General Training, CUP 2016;

  2. For speaking practice:
    a) IELTS Maximizer Educational Book by Alireza Memarzadeh;
    b) How to Pass the IELTS Speaking Module by IELTS-Blog.com 2010;

  3. For writing practice:
    a) 15 Days' Practice for IELTS Writing by Wang Hong Xia;
    b) How to Pass the IELTS Writing Module by IELTS-Blog.com 2010;

  4. Grammar and vocabulary:
    a) Cambridge Grammar for IELTS by Diana Hopkins and Pauline Cullen, CUP 2007;
    b) Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS by Paulien Cullen, CUP 2008;

  5. Complete IELTS preparation courses:
    a) Objective IELTS Intermediate by Michael Black and Wendy Sharp, CUP;
    b) IELTS Masterclass by Simon Haines and Peter May, OUP;

  6. Online resources:
    1. www.ielts.org;
    2. www.takeielts.britishcouncil.org;
    3. www.ieltsliz.com;
    4. www.ieltsbuddy.com;
    5. www.ielts-exam.net.

 

So you have decided to take IELTS. It’s very important that you start preparing for the exam as soon as possible because a high degree of language proficiency does not guarantee you would easily get the result you need – it’s equally vital to know the test length and format, assessment criteria, and the right strategies to address all tasks.


But what can you do if the exam date is fast approaching and you have little time to prepare?  Especially for those who like to leave everything to the last moment, we have created an intensive 10-week IELTS preparation programme. We believe this period is the right amount of time needed to successfully prepare for the exam both on your own and with a qualified tutor. However, you should bear in mind that this programme can only help those whose English language proficiency is close to the CEFR level on which the required IELTS score is mapped (see the picture on the right, sourcewww.ielts.org) because the aim of this programme is not mastering the language, but acquiring detailed information about the exam format, systematizing  knowledge about the English language and maximizing chances of success at the exam by intensive training and repetitive test practice. For better results it’s also necessary to show diligence and discipline, and dutifully follow all the instructions given in the planner.

The following programme fully describes the plan of IELTS preparation in the course of 10 weeks leading to the exam date. It includes the objectives that a candidate should set for every week, gives useful tips and offers reminders, and recommends materials necessary to achieve all the objectives. Learning about the test components (listening, reading, writing and speaking) is organized in a different way from the exam: it starts with the most difficult, in our opinion, speaking component, the part which causes candidates most fear and self-doubt, then proceeds further to writing, reading and listening. If necessary, this order can be changed according to how much, or little, time you would like to spend on each test component. We recommend that you should spend the last four weeks before the exam on doing practice tests because this is the only method of preparation that can surely produce the desired outcome.

 

Objectives

Source materials

ten weeks until the exam

1. Learn about the exam format, choose the type of the IELTS test for you

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/test-format,

www.ielts.su/about/format,

www.ieltsessentials.com/global/testinformation/academicorgeneral?utm_source=IELTS+Essentials+Support+Tools+List&utm_campaign=b452c3919f-AUTOMATION_IELTS_Welcome_Series_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_22d81c5024-b452c3919f-48884517

2. Choose the exam date and location, register in the exam centre

Exam calendar for 2017:

-  in Moscow: www.ielts.su/near_date,

-  in other regions of Russia: www.ielts.su/regions

TIP: while choosing the test date make sure that the test type you need is available on this day.

3. Find out the minimum IELTS score you need

The database of organizations that accept IELTS results on the British Council website:

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/choose-ielts/who-accepts-ielts

TIP: the most accurate information about this can only be obtained from the organization at whose request you’re taking IELTS.

4. Take a complete IELTS practice test to establish your starting score, and strongest and weakest skills

 

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/free-practice-tests,

- Test 1 in one of the books with practice tests

5. Make changes to the preparation planner taking the entry results in consideration (if necessary)

 



6. Look for practical advice in success stories written by former IELTS candidates

www.idp.com/global/ielts/stories,

www.ielts.su/about/success

Nine weeks until the exam

1. Learn about Speaking in detail

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/test-format-in-detail (click on Speaking),

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/understand-test-format/speaking-test

2. Study sample questions and model answers of the speaking test

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/free-practice-tests/speaking-practice-test-1/speaking-part-1 (click on Next steps to go on to the next task),

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/sample-test-questions (click on Speaking),

ieltsliz.com/full-speaking-test-with-model-answers-and-audio/


3. Read IELTS speaking assessment criteria

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/IELTS_Speaking_band_descriptors.pdf,

www.ieltsessentials.com/global/results/understandingspeakingscores (a video collection of model answers for different scores)

TIP: about how to do the first task of the test properly: learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/ielts-interview-skills?_ga=2.88818076.688990958.1499704789-806784541.1499704789.

4. Practice exam tasks

ieltsliz.com/ielts-speaking-part-1-topics/ (Part 1)

ieltsliz.com/ielts-speaking-part-2-topics/ (Part 2)

- ieltsliz.com/ielts-speaking-part-3-topics-2/

- IELTS Maximizer Educational Book by Alireza Memarzadeh

TIP 1: record your answers for further listening and assessment, preferably by an experienced tutor.

TIP 2: remember about the time limits for every task and don’t cross them!

TIP 3: read about note taking in Part 2 of the test here: The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS, pp. 143 – 144.

Eight weeks until the exam

1. Learn about Writing in detail

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/test-format-in-detail (click on Academic Writing or General Training Writing)

TIP: carefully study all of the task types (Academic Writing is different from General Training Writing!), pay attention to the required length of your answers (150 and 250 words for Part 1and Part 2 respectively) and time given for each task (20 and 40 minutes).

2. Read IELTS writing assessment criteria

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/IELTS_task_1_Writing_band_descriptors.pdf (Task 1),

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/IELTS_task_2_Writing_band_descriptors.pdf (Task 2)

TIP: writing strategies can be found here: www.ielts-exam.net/ielts-preparation-tips/IELTS-Writing-strategies.html.

3. Learn about Task 1 in detail

- 15 Days' Practice for IELTS Writing by Wang Hong Xia, pp. 46 – 78 (Academic)

- IELTS Trainer (pp. 40 – 45 and 83 – 86 – Academic),

- Chapter IELTS Writing in The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS (pp. 93 – 112 – Academic, pp. 113 – 118 – General Training),

- Successful Writing Proficiency by Virginia Evans, Express Publishing 1998, pp. 82 – 116 (General Training)

Additionally on the Internet:

www.ielts-exam.net/ielts-preparation-tips/IELTS-Writing-Introduction.html,

www.ielts-exam.net/ielts-preparation-tips/describe-a-line-graph.html,

www.ielts-exam.net/ielts-preparation-tips/comparing-pie-charts.html (Academic)

4. Study model responses with examiners’ comments

www.ielts-exam.net/academic_writing_samples_task_1/ (Academic),

www.ielts-exam.net/general_writing_samples_task_1/ (General Training)

5. Practice Task 1

ieltsliz.com/ielts-sample-chart-for-writing-task-1/ (Academic)

ieltsliz.com/ielts-sample-letters-for-writing-task-1/ (General Training)

TIP 1: ask an experienced tutor to evaluate your writing responses.

TIP 2: practice self-correction here: www.flo-joe.co.uk/fce/students/writing/makeover/archive.htm (for FCE candidates, but can be useful for those preparing for IELTS General Training Writing because it contains a large archive of letters with corrections.

TIP 3: use the Task 1 answer sheet: www.ielts.org/-/media/pdfs/general-writing-answer-sheet-task-1.ashx?la=en.

Seven weeks until the exam

1. Learn about Task 2 (essay) in detail

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J628znIo6k (about Task 2 in detail),

- Chapter IELTS Writing in The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS (pp. 119 – 133),

- 15 Days' Practice for IELTS Writing by Wang Hong Xia, pp. 91 – 128

TIP: practice writing introductions (ieltsliz.com/ielts-writing-task-2-how-to-write-an-introduction/).

2. Study model responses with examiners’ comments

www.ielts-exam.net/ielts_writing_samples_task_2/,

ieltsliz.com/ielts-sample-essay/ (Band 9),

www.ielts.org/-/media/pdfs/113313_ac_sample_scripts.ashx?la=en (both tasks from Academic Writing),

www.ielts.org/-/media/pdfs/115004_general_training_writing_sample_scripts.ashx?la=en (both tasks from General Training Writing).

3. Practice Task 2

ieltsliz.com/100-ielts-essay-questions/,

- 15 Days' Practice for IELTS Writing by Wang Hong Xia, pp. 134 – 149

TIP 1: ask an experienced tutor to evaluate your writing responses.

TIP 2: use the Task 2 answer sheet: www.ielts.org/-/media/pdfs/academic-writing-answer-sheet-task-2.ashx?la=en.

Six weeks until the exam

1. Learn about Reading

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/test-format-in-detail (click on Academic Reading or General Training Reading),

ieltsliz.com/ielts-reading-faq/

2. Practice reading and doing exam tasks

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/sample-test-questions (click on Academic Reading or General Training Reading),

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/practice-tests/reading-practice-test-1-academic (Academic),

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/practice-tests/reading-practice-test-1-general-training (General Training),

elt.oup.com/elt/students/ielts/pdf/exams_ielts_mc_pt_read01.pdf?cc=gb&selLanguage=en,

elt.oup.com/elt/students/ielts/pdf/exams_ielts_mc_pt_read02.pdf?cc=gb&selLanguage=en,

elt.oup.com/elt/students/ielts/pdf/exams_ielts_mc_pt_read03.pdf?cc=gb&selLanguage=en,

elt.oup.com/elt/students/ielts/pdf/exams_ielts_mc_pt_readans.pdf?cc=gb&selLanguage=en

TIP 1: use the answer sheet: www.ielts.org/-/media/pdfs/academic-reading-answer-sheet.ashx?la=e.

TIP 2: keep track of time and do not cross the 60-minute limit (20 minutes per text with exercises)

3. Practice fast reading

www.bbc.com/news/world,

www.economist.com/,

www.newscientist.com/,

www.nationalgeographic.com/,

www.sciencefocus.com/,

-  Monthly magazine for learners of English Hot English Magazine:  vk.com/hot_english_magazine

TIP: learn to read 300 words per minute, practice on 1000-word-long texts.

Five weeks until the exam

1. Learn about Listening

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/test-format-in-detail (click on Listening),

ieltsliz.com/listening-frequently-asked-questions/

2. Practice listening and doing exam tasks

www.ielts.org/about-the-test/sample-test-questions (click on Listening),

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/free-ielts-practice-tests/listening-practice-test-1

TIP: use the answer sheet: www.ielts.org/about-the-test//-/media/pdfs/114189_ielts_listening_answer_sheet.ashx

3. Practice spelling

howtospell.co.uk/spellingquiz.php,

- IELTS Trainer, pp. 10 – 11

4. Practice single listening to texts on various topics

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002vsnh,

www.ted.com/talks,

learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/listen-and-watch

Four weeks until the exam

1. Take a complete IELTS practice test each week until the exam

-  Practice tests: IELTS Trainer, The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS, IELTS Practice Tests Plus

TIP 1: use answer sheets (see above).

TIP 2: try to keep to the time limits.

2. Ask an experienced tutor to evaluate your speaking and writing responses.

Choose a tutor from our website: skype-language.com/teachers/language/angliyskiy#ta

3. Continue preparing for the exam and working on your weakest skills

 

One week until the exam

1. Take a final IELTS practice test and compare your results with 10 weeks ago

-  The last test in one of the books with IELTS practice tests: IELTS Trainer, The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS, IELTS Practice Tests Plus, or

www.ieltsessentials.com/global/prepare/freepracticetests


2. Prepare for the test day

takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/test-day-advice

 

          We hope our intensive programme will help you prepare for the IELTS exam thoroughly and effectively, and most importantly – on time. We recommend that you closely follow all the instructions above and use every opportunity for practice. Try to “surround” yourself with English and take pleasure from your progress.

Good luck!

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