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By Dan Newton, 20th December 2016

How to get a minimum Band 7 in IELTS - PART 1

IELTS, IELTS IELTS! This is the acronym that is on every non-native English speaker’s lips! The thing that a lot of IELTS students don’t always understand is that IELTS has rules; it has procedures that you must follow in order to show that you are able to use English to the best possible level.

 

IELTS is specific

Do not for one second think that you know best and that you can go into your IELTS exams and 'wow' the examiners with how much you can say about Manchester United or what your favorite movie is! IELTS has topics, you will be presented with specific tasks and questions and you must show that you understand the concept and that you can answer to a conscience and accurate level.

 

There are certain criteria that the examiners will be making you on for each of the four skills

Listening - The listening test contains 40 questions, the approximate band scores can be calculated using this table.

Band Score  9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
 Score/40 39-40 37-38 35-36 32-34 30-31 26-29 23-25 18-22 16-17 13-15 10-12 8-10 6-7 4-5

 

Reading – For the reading sections we have included both the General and the Academic IELTS Band Score tables. For immigration you will need to sit the General Reading. If you are planning on studying in a native English speaking country, then you should sit the Academic Reading test. Remember, if you are planning to study in the USA, check to see if the institutions to which you are applying accept the IELTS or the TOEFL.

 

Reading – General

Band Score  9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
 Score/40 40 39 37-38 36 34-35 32-33 30-31 27-29 23-26 19-22 15-18 12-14 9-11 6-8

 

Reading – Academic, (scored the same as Listening)

Band Score  9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
 Score/40 39-40 37-38 35-36 32-34 30-31 26-29 23-25 18-22 16-17 13-15 10-12 8-10 6-7 4-5

 

Writing - There are two writing questions, both marked out of 9 according to the following criteria:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

 

Speaking - The speaking test is also marked out of 9 according to the following criteria:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

 

English Training Lounge are here on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you become the best English language user possible! We say, ‘English language user’, because you have to show that you can use and understand English to a certain level in order to score higher in the IELTS exam.

Here are our killer tips on helping you gain a minimum Band 7 in the IELTS exam!

Whenever you set out to do anything, regardless of what it is, you set a goal. You set a target, a level that you want to achieve. This could be from saving money, to travelling, to progressing in your career. Well, the same applies for the IELTS exam.

Set realistic and achievable goals. If you want to hit the best possible IELTS Band Score, then be realistic in what you can study and how much you can study in the time you have set. Obviously, your end goal is to reach a best possible level of English proficiency. In the case of the IELTS exam… practice makes perfect! In fact, as the saying goes, ‘Repetition is the mother of skill’. It is important to know and understand what an IELTS score in any of the Sub-tests means, before you set yourself an end goal. Remember, there are 4 sections in the IELTS exam and each section has its own subsections! It sounds like a heck of a lot to take in and understand, but as mentioned two sentences ago, ‘Repetition is the mother of skill’… Practice, practice and more PRACTICE!

Follow a regular study plan.   As boring as it can be, follow a study routine. Decide on the maximum number of hours you can spare each day to practice English for all four sub-tests. Some IELTS students study one subset per day. We advise against this. The IELTS exam it linked together. You sit all the skills together, literally one after another. English Training Lounge suggests you study this way: Listening (30 – 60 minutes per day), Reading (30 – 60 minutes per day), Writing (30 – 60 minutes per day), and Speaking (30 – 60 minutes per day). Do this over and over and over again, until you can summarize a diagram, speak about your home town or read and highlight specific information in your sleep!  

Do not spend the majority of your time concentrating on your weakest areas. Be regular in your study routine. Set a realistic pace with short rests between tasks, (15 – 20 mins). Choose at least one day per week to rest and forget about the test completely. Most importantly, make sure you give yourself at least two month study time before the IELTS exam. ETL has found that the secret in IELTS success is to work towards your goal slowly, steadily and regularly. Take every opportunity to listen to English whenever and wherever you can. Watch TV programmes and films, listen to radio programmes and English language tapes - even songs in English down loaded to a mobile phone will help. Have as many conversations with native English speakers as possible and practice in English as often as possible with your non-native English-speaking friends. Try to read texts in English at least once every day. You should always be in the process of reading a book in English - a page or two each night before bedtime is an excellent plan. Read newspapers, magazines, and novels written for your English level. Academic Module candidates should obtain academic articles, if possible. Always carry English texts with you, so you can read when you have spare time that would otherwise be wasted. Do not worry about understanding every word. Read some articles in detail and some for speed.

Increase your personal speed. In the IELTS test, time is your enemy. Candidates who have taken the IELTS and did not perform as well as they had hoped often complain that they were unable to give all the answers in the Listening Test, because the recording was too fast or that they ran out of time in the Reading Test. Do not worry if you do not finish the tests. Remember, the test is designed to measure candidates over a range of scores from 0 to 9, (0 indicates the test was not attempted). Candidates whose English is near perfect can expect to score 9, but even native English-speaking people would be unlikely to complete every Listening Test question perfectly or finish the Reading Test with time to spare. Remember, the test is supposed to challenge your English abilities. The IELTS test measures many areas of your English abilities, including the speed at which you listen, read, write, speak, and think in English. Your personal speed is not something which changes a great deal from day-to-day, but does change over a longer period of time, as a direct result of practice. Again, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE! As English Training Lounge has always said, ‘Practice makes perfect!’ English Training Lounge believes in using what you have, as much as you can!

The official IELTS Band Scores you receive are extremely accurate, since each area is designed and tested extensively to offer all standardized results for all levels of English. That said, there are certainly lots of things you can do before and on the day of the test. These can help you use your time to the best possible standard and give yourself the best chance of success and gaining the highest possible Band. Here is something for you to think about: When a person learns to drive a car, they have to understand and prove their understanding in two main areas. First, they have to pass a road theory test. This shows that they understand what the road signs mean, when to stop and when to go, and so on. Second, they have to pass the practical test. This shows that they can use the car and that they understand how to behave whilst on the road. Without the practical practice, they may have the knowledge of how to drive, but they do not have the knowledge of driving. This is the same with IELTS examination preparation! You can read as many books, magazines, watch as many movies and listen to as many English songs on the radio as you want, but without actually using what you have studied in an authentic way, you will never really understand the use of English! In short, you have to get out and speak English, read every day English and write English in real world settings! JUST GO FOR IT!

Consider the following situation: Although a racing car cannot go faster than its maximum speed, the race can still be won, and its maximum speed maintained for longer, if an expert driver is at the wheel. The Listening, Reading, and Writing Tests are given in this order, and are usually held on a single morning. The combined length of these three tests is 2 hours and 30 minutes. (The Speaking Test is conducted at an appointed time in the afternoon.) Only one short break is given between the Reading and Writing Tests, so you need to be at your best for a long period of time, which is why you must sleep and eat well before the test. The hints and guidelines in this blog should help you achieve your "maximum speed". The more effort you put in, the faster your personal speed will be on the day. PRACTICE, PRACTICE and more PRACTICE!

Increase your sentence-reading speed. The faster and more accurately you read, the more questions you will be able to answer. In all the tests, the instructions, the examples, and the questions themselves need to be read quickly, and must be well understood in order for you to have more time to find the answers. It important to increase your overall reading speed. As always, task before text! Read the questions before you even consider reading the text! Quite often you can save time by scanning the text for the answer to the questions, instead of reading the text from beginning to end!

Develop a memory for English. In the Reading Test, it pays to remember as much as you can of what you have just read. However, in the Listening Test you cannot go back, and the audio recording is only played once. If the answer comes before the keyword/phrase, your memory of what you have just heard is even more important. Remember, the answer usually follows the keywords/phrases that you hear and is close in time to the main keyword/phrase you are listening for.

Manage your time carefully: The recording is played once only and you answer the questions as you listen. You only have a short period of time after each listening section is heard to check your work. When the time is up, you will hear a beep. Do not use this time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet! You are given 10 minutes at the end of the test to transfer your answers from the booklet to the answer sheet. For the Reading Sub-test, a set amount of time is usually given. In this time you are required to complete each of the three sections of the test. English Training Lounge advises all our learners to pace themselves and to keep a close watch of the time as you complete each question group. You stop answering questions when the advised time is up! Start the next group of questions even if you have not finished the questions before. If not, you will not complete as many questions as you could. Remember that you manage your time in the Reading Sub-test! You only have a certain amount so manage it well!

The Golden Rule of IELTS: The Golden Rule is to do exactly what the question or task asks! If a question or tasks asks for a one word, one number or letter answer, give a one word, one number or one letter answer! In other words, your answer to each question must be exactly what is asks for. If the word limit in the Writing exam asks for an 800 words minimum, make sure you give an 800 words minimum. Think about which tense the question or task is in. Think about which tense you may need to use in your answer. Failing to do so will instantly lock your writing paper at a Band 4 or below depending! Please do not make the mistake of trying to impress the people marking or examining your exam papers. All IELTS markers and invigilators work to a set rubric that they grade each and every exam to. Each exam paper is double and sometimes even triple checked to make sure that the Band given is accurate and fair to each and every candidate’s English abilities.  You might think that this advice is too simple to be worth remembering. It might seem obvious that you have to do what the test asks you to do and give the answers the test asks you to give. However, the number of IELTS papers that English Training Lounge teachers have graded over the years that do not follow this simple advice ridiculously high!

Read or listen to the instructions carefully: Candidates who do not read or listen to the instructions carefully may believe they are saving time, but the instructions contain vital information which must be understood in order to answer correctly. The instructions may contain information about the passage topic which helps to predict what you may hear or read. The instructions tell you what to do, what kind of answer to give, and, in the case of the Listening Test instructions, they tell you when to answer. It is important to read the instructions quickly and accurately. You might not have time to complete the test if you are too slow at reading the explanatory information.

Always look at the example: The example is given to you for a number of very good reasons. It is important to read and/or listen to the example very carefully. Some candidates believe they can save time by not looking at the example. Do not make this mistake. If you do not know how to give the answer, you are very likely to give an incorrect answer or a correct answer in the wrong form. The example offers 3 very important pieces of information about the task: 1.The example tells you how to give the answer to questions, such as how many words. 2. The example gives you information about the listening or reading passage. 3. The example tells you when to start listening, what you need to speak about, or where to start reading to find the answers.

Use question keywords to find the answer: The keywords or key phrases in the questions help you in your search for the answers. This is true for both the Listening and Reading Sub-tests. You must choose which word or phrase to listen for on the recording, or search for in the reading passages. There may be more than one keyword or keyword phrase in a question and they can be placed before or after the answer.

Do not forget to make logical guesses or inferences: In the Reading Sub-test, if you are having trouble completing the questions to a particular passage, you should leave a minute or so at the end of each advised time period for that passage (usually 20 minutes) to guess those questions that can be guessed or inferred by their use in context. In the Listening Sub-test, you are given a minute of silence after each section has finished. Candidates, who forget to give a logical guess to questions they cannot otherwise answer, do not give themselves any chance at all to get a mark! Something is always better than nothing!

Are your answers grammatically correct? Not all words and phrases given as answers to questions in the Listening and Reading Tests need to be grammatically correct, but it is usually possible to infer the correct answer by using your knowledge of grammar. Always check to see if your choice of answer is grammatically OK before making your final decision. This is especially true of the following types of tasks: short-answer question tasks

  • All table/chart/diagram/note completion tasks
  • Sentence completion tasks
  • Gap fill tasks

Verb forms, plural forms and other grammatical forms can be important when you give Speaking, Listening and Reading Test answers. A good rule is to always try to give the answer in correct grammatical form. If you are speaking about a past fact, then the Past Simple is quite often the best tense to us. If you are talking about present fact, then the Present Simple usually with Infinitive or gerund is the way to go. The same is true with the use of modal auxiliary verbs, negative auxiliaries and countable and uncountable.

Give one answer only: Give just one answer to a question, unless you are specifically requested to give more than one answer. Even if one of the multiple answers you give is correct, you might score zero if too many of the other answers are incorrect. Surprisingly, candidates sometimes give more answers than necessary! If you are asked to name just three items that you hear or read about in a passage, it makes no sense to give four items as your answer. You will score zero, even if all four items are correct. Remember the Golden Rule. Note that with short-answer questions, especially in the Listening Test, there are sometimes a variety of words or phrases that can give the correct answer. However, you waste valuable time if you give more than one of the correct answers to short-answer questions. 

Check your spelling: In the Listening and Reading Tests exact spelling is not always essential. It is only necessary in the Listening Test if a word answer is spelt out for you on the audio recording. Other correct answers in the Listening and Reading Tests can be incorrectly spelt and still count towards your Band Score, but they must be sufficiently well spelt to indicate the correct answer. Copy answers from the passages accurately in the Reading Test. In the Listening Test, if you are unsure of the spelling, write an approximation of the way the answer sounds. A lot of IELTS examiners are instructed to mark the Listening phonetically if the answer is correct.

Make sure your answers are easy to read: You cannot expect to do well if your answers cannot be read. Many candidates get the correct answer, but their handwriting is unclear, too small or covered in crossed out attempts. Candidates may be unaware that their answers cannot be understood by the examiners who mark the tests. Be careful! Words: If you have trouble with English letters, you could write your Listening and Reading Test answers in BLOCK LETTERS. Your letters must be distinguishable from each other. Pay particular attention to: E and F I, J and L M, N and W, U and V, I and T (It is often hard to tell the difference between these letters when candidates write them quickly.) A lot of Arabic speakers confuse the letter P with B. An example: 'What is your favorite drink?' 'My favorite drink is Bebsi Cola.' Numbers can be even more difficult to read: Many candidates do not realize that their numbers are difficult to recognize by the examiners. Practice so that your numbers look similar to those shown in everyday English text.

 

PART 2 will be an overview of the four IELTS skills and how they are presented and graded in the IELTS Academic and General examinations.

STAY TUNED!

By Dan Newton, 4th June 2016

Why is IELTS so important for Canada?

So, exactly what is IELTS and why do non-native English speakers need it? International English Language Testing System, or IELTS as it is more commonly known is the world's most popular English language proficiency test for educational and immigration purposes. In 2015 over two million people took the IELTS test in more than twenty countries around the world. To date, English Training Lounge has helped over a thousand people from countries such as Brazil, China, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam study and prepare for both the IETLS General and the IELTS Academic examinations. 

If you are planning to live, work or study in an English first language speaking country, you must take a recognized language test to prove your English proficiency is to an acceptable standard. For a country such as Canada, an IELTS Band 7 score is the minimum test result needed to satisfy the English language requirements of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), if you are applying for a work visa, professional registration or for permanent residence in Canada. English Training Lounge strongly suggests that all would be students first check the CIC website for a clearer understanding of what is required.

How can you meet the Canadian Language requirements and how can English Training Lounge help?

The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) are the national standards used in Canada for describing, measuring and recognising the English language proficiency of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants for living and working in Canada. Your IELTS test result demonstrates your English language proficiency level within the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) standards.

English Training Lounge offers an IELTS examination preparation course that specifically looks at the required English abilities and how to show not only understanding, but an actual uses of English in an authentic way. All IELTS examinations follow the same curriculum, this being: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

What score will you need for Canada?

What all perspective IELTS students need to understand is that there is no pass or fail in the IELTS exam. Remember, IELTS is simply to test your English language abilities and use. That is all it is for. Many students come to English Training Lounge and ask how to pass the IELTS. We always tell them the same thing, you have to show you can use English to a desired level. 

The score/band you need is set by the Canadian government and English Training Lounge can help you attain this in a realistic and manageable time frame, based on your present English as a second language abilities. You can find out more about which CBL score/band you will need on the CIC website. Please remember to regularly check the CIC website for any updates or amendments to the IETLS requirements. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/ 

Below is a table with the present Canadian Language Benchmarks, (CLB) test requirements and how they relate to IELTS band/scores. Please remember that you should also check with the city, Canadian province or professional registration association to find out the minimum IELTS band/score they require.  Example: the province of Alberta may ask for a CLB Level 9, whereas Ontario may ask for a CLB Level 8.

 CBL Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
 10  8.0  7.5  8.5  7.5
7.0  7.0  8.0  7.0 
6.5  6.5  7.5  6.5 
6.0  6.0 6.0 
5.0  5.5  5.5 5.5 
4.0  5.0  5.0  5.0 
3.5  4.0  4.5  4.0 

How can English Training Lounge help you prepare for your IELTS test?

They say that 'Repetition is the mother of skill', this should be the IELTS motto as far as English Training Lounge is concerned! As stated earlier in this blog, IELTS tests you ability to use English in a competent way. To get the best possible band score in your IELTS test, we tell all of our students to build on their English skills by using English in a communicative and practical way. There is little point in studying and studying without actually using what you have learnt in an authentic setting. This could be from listening to and understanding the news on the radio, to ordering a pizza from the local take-away. 

Preparing for the test is as important as actually sitting it. Please keep in mind, if you do not study, if you do not fully understand what the IELTS exam format is like and how to take it, you will more than likely run into problems. Do not think that the IELTS exam is a 'walk in the park'. Remember, IELTS asks specific questions and you have to give specific answers following the task outlines. Understanding the concept of the IELTS test is just as important as the reason for taking the test! Click or paste the link below for the official IELTS Candidate Handbook. This book will offer you more information on the exam. English Training Lounge strictly works to the course outlines as set by IELTS.

https://www.ielts.org/~/media/publications/information-for-candidates/ielts-information-for-candidates-2015-english-uk.ashx

On the official IELTS site you can also find practice questions and tasks. Please click or paste the link-

https://www.ielts.org/about-the-test/sample-test-questions

English Training Lounge has designed up to date IELTS practice materials, reading, listening, writing and speaking for all of our students to use. Added to this, the ETL elearning portal will soon has online IELTS exam practice that can be access 24 hours a day.

How is the IELTS test presented?

The Test. There are four main subjects to the IELTS Test; Listening, Reading, Writing & Speaking. Remember! There are two different IELTS tests – Academic or General Training – depending on their academic or professional aims, or visa requirements. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking components but different Reading and Writing components. English Training Lounge strongly suggests that all candidates ensure they make the right decision on which test they need to take. This is extremely important. ETL can help you in regards to which IELTS option best suits your specific needs.

Part 1 - Listening: There are 40 Questions made up from a variety of question types. These could be questions asking about times, numbers, day, places, names and so on. 

Section 1: Is a recorded conversation of English speaking people set in an every day social setting. This could be at a coffee shop, a bus station or in a youth hostel. 

Section 2: Is a monologue set in an everyday social situation. Example: A man booking a hotel room over the phone.

Section 3: Is a group conversation of up to 4 people. Example: A university student and professor discussing the results of a test.

Section 4: This is  a monologue on an academic subject, usually a university lecture if you are following the IELTS academic exam. 

Part 2 - Reading: There are 40 questions made up of a wide variety of question types.

Section 1: Contains 2 or 3 factual texts that people would find in every day life, in an English speaking country. Example: a newspaper article or an Email from a friend.

Section 2: Contains 2 short factual texts focusing on work related issues. Example: Applying for jobs, company policies or a job advertisement. 

Section 3: Contains one much longer complex text in a general interest area. Example: A club news letter or a story.

Part 3 - Writing: It is of the utmost importance that you follow the task outline and word limit carefully. Failing to do so will cost you points!

Section 1: You are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words.

Section 2: You are asked to write a response to a piece of text. Example: This could be an invitation to a party or an argument with someone via email. 

Part 4 - Speaking: Listen carefully to what is asked and answer using the required information.

Section 1: The examiner will introduce themselves and ask you to do the same. They then will ask a series of general questions. Example: About the street you grew-up on, your first school or perhaps what your father does or did for a living.

Section 2: You will be given a task card that will list some topics you can talk about. You will be given a short amount of time to prepare what you want to say. The instructor can then ask you a few questions on your topic. The instructor will be examining your use of vocabulary, task understanding, discourse and grammar.

Section 3: The assessor will then ask more questions on the topic you chose in section 2. They will be looking for more in-depth answers. 

English Training Lounge's Top 5 Tips For the IELTS Test

1) At the beginning of the listening sections follow the recording with the answer sheet. English Training Lounge;s IELTS listening practice exams cover this and offer extra help on maximizing your time.

2) To prepare yourself for the reading section it is a good idea to read a wide variety of different English texts. To familiarise yourself with different writing styles. ETL uses everything from newspaper reports, to magazine articles, to bus timetables to help prepare our students for this.

3) For the writing section it is important to use your own words. Examiners will not count words that are in the question. This is one of the most common issues that IELTS exam markers face. Candidates basically repeating the actual writing task question. ETL has a number of methods that we use to help our students hit higher grading markers, via grammar and tense.

4) In the lead up to your IELTS test it is very important to practice English with friends, family , work colleges and anyone who will listen. Having conversations with people in English is the best way to improve your own English skills. ETL offers set speaking practice topics and vital tips to ensure all of our students make the most of their speaking exam and are concise and fluent in their delivery.

5) The texts of the reading sections always contain the answers. So be sure to read through it thoroughly. Before you do, remember to read the questions first! English Training Lounge uses three key reading methods to help our students use their exam time wisely and to the best possible standard.

IELTS is a doorway to a new life in Canada, a life that can lead to great things for you and those around you. English Training Lounge can offer you the key to unlock your English as a second language potential!

Contact us today: info@englishtraininglounge.com

Canada needs skilled people. Could you be one of the needed 3 million people? 

http://www.readersdigest.ca/features/hot-topics/why-canada-needs-more-immigrants%E2%80%94now/