How to approach each section of IELTS

Every exam needs to be prepared in a different manner, and so does the day of the exam needs to be approached differently. Studying for the exam is half the process; the other half is having strategies to answer questions. Doing well on any exam requires you to understand how you approach the exam.

Here are a few tips to help you do well on each section.

  • Keep the length of your answers relevant. If you decide to keep on speaking until the examiner stops you, that will be wrong as the examiner may never stop you and you may start losing focus.
  • Don’t learn answers ‘by heart’ and practice them. This process will make you more nervous, and the chances are you will not asked the exact same question you prepared for.
  • Listen to the question carefully and then answer it. If you need any clarification, ask before answering so that your answer is relevant.
  • Talk in English before your exam. The simple reason behind this is to get your mind to start thinking in English. The best way to talk in English is to first start processing your thoughts in English.
  • Don’t divide total time by the number of questions. You get 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, so that gives you one and half minutes on each question. This process is wrong as there are different strategies that you need to consider. The initial few questions will take longer because you still have to figure out how the text is organized. You can decide to give a bit more time to the more hard passage, and a bit less to the easier one.
  • It is not necessary to first read the question and then read the passage to figure out where the answer is. It might work for some people, and may not for others. You can read the text quickly to get an idea of the content. You save time this way as you know which part of the text has the answer. First try both approaches and see which one works better for you as there is no right or wrong approach.
  • Leave as much time as possible for planning out the written answers. If you know what you want to say, you will write quicker and more precisely. First take two minutes to organize your thoughts and then start writing.
  • Save five minutes for the end to read your answer again. This is done to make sure there aren’t any repeated words. This is called repetition in language, and is a fatal error in any language exam. Make sure to double-check your answer.
  • Focus on the whole question, not don’t just look for keywords in it. Two questions can contain one keyword but can be completely different. Keywords only tell you the context of the question, not the answer.
  • Don’t write down everything as you are listening. If you are busy writing, then you are not listening.
  • Similar to the reading section, look at the complete question and listen closely. You will be required to read, write and think at the same time but most of your time needs to be spent listening.


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