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Here are some points to keep in mind while preparing for the International English Language Testing System.

Gurinder Bhatti |

When it comes to realising your dreams of studying abroad, there are several different tests and barriers that you will have to navigate. Alongside your application, the visa, and examinations like the Sat, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an essential requirement for this dream.

Over 10,000 institutes of higher learning in English-speaking countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand use your score in this exam as evidence of your proficiency in English.

Not doing well in this exam could mean being rejected. As a student with hopes and dreams, you don’t want to mess this opportunity up. To help you through this examination, here are five useful tips for your Ielts examination preparation:

Find and address weaknesses:

The most efficient way to improve is to find your weaknesses and work on them. While applying abroad, you will have dozens of things to deal with and prepare for; the more efficiently you prepare for the Ielts, the better.

Do some mock tests and let the data drive you. Which questions did you get wrong? Is the issue one of a subject or field of knowledge, or is it a type of question that is leaving you stumped?

A candidate is tested on their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Additionally, your grammar is evaluated throughout. Being able to identify where you are struggling the most will help you focus on that issue. If a type of question is leaving you stumped, practice it.

If your writing is bringing down your score, then working on improving it specifically as opposed to revising every aspect will be a more efficient way to improve your score.

Self-evaluate and find your level:

Doing mock tests to find your weaknesses is just the first part of the self-evaluation you will constantly have to undergo to direct your preparation and revision efforts. Frequently doing online and offline mock tests will help you understand how to approach the test.

In an examination like the Ielts, this can be very useful. It can help you gauge which structure to follow, which words and vocabulary to employ, how to put those words in a well-constructed sentence, and so forth. Giving these exams also has the added benefit of making you accustomed to the process and steadying your nerves for the actual examination.

Developing your vocabulary:

One of the most important qualities that is being tested in the Ielts is your vocabulary. In their desire to do well, students often rote-learn new words.

However, vocabulary is not about mugging up the meaning of words, but understanding how and when it should be used. The best way to expand your vocabulary in the most effective way for your exam is to learn a new word, and then make it a point to use it in conversation.

To become more familiar with the word and to recognise the best ways and forms in which to use it, make it a point to find instances of the word being used in literature or media and study it. During the exam, speak confidently and directly to the examiner and be careful and precise in what you say.

The idea is not to impress the examiner with what you know, but how you communicate it. Create appropriately structured sentences, speak clearly and lucidly, and use the right words at the right time to express yourself.

Focus on skill improvement:

At the point that your familiarity with the language is getting better and you are becoming more proficient in English, it is time to focus on method and process. Improve your listening skills by familiarising yourself with the sound, the situation, and the speakers.

Involve friends and family in your preparation — let them help you understand where you might be going off track. Having someone you trust giving you consistent feedback will help you get an objective understanding of how you’re doing.

Polish up your reading:

The reading module of the Ielts isn’t challenging because reading is difficult; it is challenging because it requires comprehensive and thorough reading with a strict time limit. There are several different methods that are recommended to help people crack this section.

Some suggest reading the questions first and then noting the answers as they occur in the passage and answering them. Another is to read the topic of the passage, read the first and last lines of each paragraph, and then move to the questions to understand what exactly has to be found while reading the entire passage.

Essentially, you have to practice this and determine what approach works best for you. Do this and settle on an approach, and then practice this until you have optimised it. Make sure that you practice this section often, as it is the one most vulnerable to being messed up due to nerves.

The writer is chairman and managing director, ESS Global- Study Abroad Consultant