Answering that question without taking you through a list of difficulties students usually face while preparing for the IELTS Test would do grave injustice to all those reading this. What needs to be kept in mind that you are a unique individual and will face hurdles different from others, therefore, to ease things out for you, I would like to list down possible obstacles that you may encounter while studying for the test
Listening : A section that requires you to multitask, i.e., read the questions, listen to audio, write down the answers and at the same time ensure no spelling mistakes. Sounds a lot to do at first, however, this can be mastered with time, practice and patience. Learn the basics – get used to the various accents, work on your writing speed and handwriting, since this is a paper-pencil test and most importantly – increase your level of concentration – one of the most important requirements because your concentration level determines a good score. If you are not focused enough while listening to the audios, you WILL lose out on a string of answers that will leave you with a low score. Practice at least one test on each day (all 40 questions) since questions like MCQs, Sentence completion, Maps will pose as a challenge initially and may require constant practice. You are allowed to give yourself the leverage of listening to the audios twice, but do not make it a habit. Giving the audios a listen the second time will help you identify the mistakes you made in the first attempt, if any. The score will gradually increase, which means, it would be irrational to expect yourself to score 36+ within the first couple weeks of preparation
Reading : Three passages to be completed in 60 minutes which makes saving every minute all the more essential while attempting this section. Before anything else, it’s imperative that you scan the passage well, this will not only give you a brief outline of the context, but also help in relating questions with the passage in a better way. Next, read the passage well, this time, with the intent of understanding each word. Every small detail given in it, be it the heading, sub-heading, caption, footnote, etc. is to be read because each word will give you information that you will require to answer the questions correctly. As the passages progress, the level of difficulty increases, which means – you will need maximum time for the third comprehension. This is where the difficulties begin! Dividing time between the three passages and making sure to complete all 40 questions within the given time frame. Because you are an individual, the problems faced by you will be entirely different from what others face. However, questions like True, False, Not Given, Flow Chart, Sentence Completion are the most ticklish ones, practice them well
Writing : Requires you to know synonyms, antonyms, etc. Basically anything and everything that assists you with a better vocabulary. Pick up new words everyday, the source, however, could be your favourite T.V show! Make reading a habit, that *always* helps. Make meaningful sentences out of the words you pick up. Now, the writing sections has two tasks, Task 1 – Report Writing (Academic)/Letter (General) – To be written in more that 150 words, anything less will contribute towards a lesser score. Avoid repetition of words… this is where the usage of vocabulary comes into picture, since one of the criteria is Lexical Resource that takes into account the usage of different words. Adhere to the instructions and write a valid answer. Task 2 – Essay Writing – This must exceed 250 words! Putting your ideas and thoughts together to write a good essay can be challenging if the question is not understood. Write a short introduction, mostly involving paraphrase of the question. You will NOT be marked for a copied statement. Support or oppose the view if you have been asked to choose one, or write both positives and negatives if the question demands. Make sure to involve logical examples to validate your claims, this will not only explain your point of view well, but also give you enough material to write, because one can easily fall short for words. Usage of short form or casual words is prohibited. Proof read your answers for better results, a habit that often leads to improvisation of the write ups
Speaking : A form of a personal interview that lasts anywhere between 11–14 minutes during which you are expected to speak and answer the questions well. Here, you are tested on your verbal skills, and you are required to speak slowly and confidently as every word you utter gets recorded for further assessment. A lot of under confident candidates end up answering in monosyllables, which is suicidal! Your answers should be lengthy, in short – be as chatty as possible – at the same time ensuring you stick to what has been asked to speak about. Again, steer clear of repetition of words. If you make a mistake while speaking, correct yourself… this conveys that you know your English well. It’s wiser to practice the questions, all three sections, with someone who has a good hold over spoken English, most preferably a qualified trainer, who can give you an honest feedback, because you cannot possibly assess your answers , unless you record and to listen to them later. However, one usually gets biased towards their responses.
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I wish you all the very best!
Resham, IELTS Trainer