Have you started to think about your goals for 2023? Perhaps you’d like to work towards a career change, move overseas, or learn a new skill. Maybe you want to be proactive about meeting new people. However big or small your aims, this could be the ideal time to assess, improve and certify your English language skills.
So what is the best way to do that? You may be familiar with International English Language Testing System (IELTS), a standardised test that’s recognised around the world and taken by millions of people every year. This test will give you an objective understanding of your English level and unlock a range of exciting opportunities. Moreover, it will give you the confidence to use your English skills in whichever settings matter most to you.
If you decide to book an IELTS course and test in the New Year, it’s a great idea to get started on your preparation as soon as you can. Here are four ways that you can begin practising before the holidays are up.
Understand the test format
As a first step, get to know the content of the test. Broadly, there are four components to IELTS: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Familiarise yourself with the questions and tasks for each section, and how long you will have to complete them. This will help you to focus your studies and feel more relaxed and in control on the day.
Work on your timing
The more clearly you understand the test structure and time conditions, the better your chances of achieving a high grade. Take a practice test to first identify your strengths and weaknesses, then begin to introduce time constraints. Simulating exam pressure will get you accustomed to the pace of IELTS, so that you can feel confident about completing each task without rushing.
Practise for when you don’t know the answer
At some point during preparation for the speaking test, it’s natural to feel anxious about going blank, or struggling to understand a question. Think about how you will handle this scenario if it arises under real exam conditions. Can you buy yourself time to think by saying something like, ‘that is an interesting question…’, ask the examiner to rephrase it, or link the topic (closely) to something you feel able to speak about? The key is not to give a short answer, or no answer at all.
Remember that IELTS is not a test of your knowledge but your English language proficiency.
Immerse yourself in English
If you’re not ready to put a full study plan in place yet but you’d like to make use of the holidays, you’ll benefit hugely from absorbing as much English as possible. Make it fun; this can be your excuse to consume all of the English TV shows, movies, podcasts and magazines you like. Learning with another person has significant advantages, so try to get a friend involved, or spend time around native English speakers that you can ‘shadow’ in conversation.