My top ten IELTS tips
1. Usage of idioms: I have always found using idioms very useful in conveying a thought effectively. The number of idioms in use is quite large. But with some amount of practice, you can find yourself using them in a variety of situations in a matter of days. There are several websites that provide guidance on usage of idioms.
2. When in doubt about usage of a phrase or word, avoid it altogether. The reason for avoiding them could be difficulty in right pronunciation or spelling or proper usage. At the least, this strategy will help preserve what you have already scored in the writing or speaking test.
3. Watch good English language television and radio channels. You can of course include watching the several IELTS-related videos available on video sharing websites such as YouTube. This does a world of good to your preparations for the final test and with minimal effort.
4. I have come across many candidates who find the speaking test the most difficult. More often than not, the reason is that they come from a completely non-English speaking background. The only way to overcome this problem is to speak with good English-speakers. Do this as often as possible – on a daily basis if you have the opportunity to do so.
5. Know the difference between words that are spelled or pronounced similarly with different meanings. They are called homonyms and homophones (you wouldn’t be asked for a definition though).
6. Do all you can to drop your native accent. That said, it is equally unproductive to acquire and use a foreign accent. Just try to follow a neutral accent.
7. I would also suggest using shorter sentences if constructing longer ones aren’t your cup of tea (that’s an idiom, go research the meaning!).
8. Find and install a good dictionary on your computer (I would highly recommend Longman). You may choose to use a physical dictionary as well. Whichever way you choose, always keep the dictionary handy. This will help you look up and research words as soon as you encounter an interesting word.
9. There are mainly three versions of English in vogue worldwide – British, American and Australian English. Is any one version preferred over the others ? I posed my doubt to the guide during a British Council preparatory session. He said each one is as good as the other two – no preference. But he insisted that I follow one of the versions consistently in the test, else it could cost you marks !
10. Lastly, try to make use of all the resources available to you. It can be any of the vast array of books available for purchase, the free British Council library access, a friend who speaks good English or the slew of free online resources.
I would urge my IELTS candidate friends to go ahead and apply My top ten IELTS tips as often as possible and in different situations. To achieve above average scores, it also helps if you love and appreciate the language.