Ace the IELTS Exam with Better Listening and Speaking Skills
Navigating the challenging waters of the IELTS exam can feel daunting, especially when mastering crucial listening and speaking skills. But with the right preparation and strategies, you can overcome any obstacles and ace the exam.
What Is the IELTS Exam?
In a nutshell, the International English Language Testing System exam is carefully crafted for non-native English speakers who plan to pursue a medical profession or immigration overseas. This exam can be taken by college undergraduates who seek to continue their studies at a university in Canada, professionals who will be working in Canada, and those who are applying for a permanent residency or working visa here.
The general IELTS exam covers listening, speaking, reading, and writing tests to determine the conversational and English-comprehension skills of the student. In this article, we’ll focus on the listening and speaking parts of the test—offering strategic tips and proven techniques to enhance your listening and speaking abilities for the exam.
Skip to What You Need to Know:
- Honing Your Listening Skills
- Improving Your Speaking Ability
- Common Mistakes to Avoid in Listening and Speaking
Honing Your Listening Skills
When it comes to the IELTS exam, listening is more than just hearing; it’s about understanding and comprehending what is being said. This means that you need to be able to listen actively and attentively for key concepts, facts, keywords, and other important details. Here are a few tips that can help you hone your listening skills:
During your practice exams, it is important to try practice listening exams as how it would appear on the actual tests. Meaning you should only listen to the audio once. This allows you to practice your ability to pay attention and absorb as much information as possible without having the opportunity to re-listen or pause. As you go through this, take note of the mistakes and unfamiliar words and focus on this during the review. You may also try using different listening situations—-from simple conversations to lectures.
Choose Topics That Interest You
When practicing, choose topics that interest you. This way, you’ll be more engaged with the material and will have an easier time understanding it. For example, if you like playing basketball, listen to podcasts and English interviews about basketball. If you’re into psychology and self-improvement, listen to lectures about it. It’s always fun and motivating to do something that interests you, so incorporate what you like in practicing for your IELTS exam.
Read As You Listen
When watching movies, interviews, and listening to podcasts, turn on the English closed captions or audio scripts, if there are any available. This will allow you to read and listen at the same time. Reading as you listen can help you understand better by getting an idea of what is being said. Plus, it will help with your pronunciation and comprehension skills! However, be extremely watchful as you can be too dependent on the subtitles. Remember to try doing this both with and without closed captions.
Develop a Listening Habit
Habits like brushing your teeth, drinking coffee or tea, and exercising are recommended to stay healthy. Similarly, listening to English material is a habit we recommend you develop if you want to increase your comprehension skills for the IELTS exam. Listening every day will help keep your ears conditioned and make it easier for you to follow along with conversations. Plus, you can learn new words and expressions this way. You can listen to podcasts, interviews, news stories, or watch movies in English—even if it’s just 10 minutes of your day.
Familiarize Yourself With the Exam Content
The IELTS exam has four (4) sections, each catering to different types of listening: everyday English conversation, monologue, a conversation of 2-4 people (academic setting), and a monologue on an academic topic. The content of the exam is not limited to these topics, so make sure that you listen and familiarize yourself with the different types of English conversations.
Improving Your Speaking Ability
For the speaking component of the IELTS exam, it’s important to practice articulating your thoughts efficiently and effectively. Here are a few tips you can do to improve your speaking ability and speaking score:
Don’t Memorise Answers
The questions asked, and the answers you’ve made during practice exams can vary differently from what will be asked on the actual exams. Plus, giving pre-made answers can sometimes come off as robotic and unnatural, making it hard for the examiner to measure your speaking abilities accurately. Instead, practice by coming up with your answers and be comfortable talking about a wide range of topics—from technology to sports, news, and hobbies. You’ll find that being able to talk comfortably on any topic will make the IELTS exam more manageable.
Don’t worry about your accent. Speaking English naturally is always better than speaking it with a heavily rehearsed accent. Plus, the examiner will be looking for your ability to speak English correctly and fluently. Doing so can help you make an impression on the examiner. Also, if you’re worrying about whether or not your examiner will be able to understand you when you speak in an accent, remember that they are trained to understand English in a variety of accents—just be aware of some words you have difficulty pronouncing, though.
Avoid Using Big Words
As tempting as it may be, avoid using big words to sound more scholarly or professional. Doing so can have the opposite effect and make your answer sound artificial and forced. Instead, use a variety of small phrases that build up your answer correctly. For practice exams, take note of the words you don’t understand and use them on your actual exam date.
Avoid Using Fillers—Pause to Think
When we are nervous or not too confident speaking about a topic, we tend to use fillers like “uhm,” “uhh,” and “eh.” If you feel like using these, then it’s time to pause and think of the next words you’ll be saying. If you find yourself stuck in the middle of an answer, take a few seconds and think about how to continue. This will also help you form your thoughts better and give you more time to think of relevant examples that can back up your answer.
Elaborate Your Answers
Don’t just answer plainly and straightforwardly. As much as possible, try to answer your examiner in full without waiting for them to ask, “Why?”. By providing details and examples, your answer will be seen as more thorough and clear. For example, if the examiner asks you why you like a certain sport, list down some of the attributes that make it interesting to you. Doing this will also make your answers sound more natural and help you guarantee a higher speaking score in your IELTS exam!
Common Mistakes to Avoid in the Listening and Speaking Tests
When it comes to taking the listening and speaking tests, there are some common mistakes that you should try and avoid so you can get the best score possible. Try to be aware of them so you know what to do whenever you feel like you’re about to make a mistake.
- Not paying attention to word counts – during the test, you will be asked to answer on a specific word count. If the examiner says “in THREE words,” make your answer fit in three words only. Less or more than this can be flagged as incorrect.
- Writing incorrect spelling – being able to spell words correctly is also important in the IELTS exam. Familiarize yourself well with common English words such as library, professor, assistant, etc. Make sure to double-check your answer before submitting it for scoring.
- Listening and not understanding – in part 3 of the test, you will be listening to an academic discussion between 3-4 people. Always make sure to not just listen but also understand what they’re saying: the facts, reasons, and views. During practice, you may try to jot down the important information from the aud
- Repeating the same phrases and words – try to expand your answers as well as your vocabulary. Repeating phrases will decrease your IELTS exam score as it could show that you only have a limited speaking vocabulary.
- Overusing transition words – using transition words help make your answers flow better. However, overusing them can sound too artificial—which is the opposite of what the examiner wants to hear. Also, be careful in using formal writing terms, such as “furthermore” or “therefore,” as these may sound unnatural for a day-to-day conversation.
- Going off-topic – if you’re starting to lose sight of the question, take a moment to pause. You may also ask the examiner if they can repeat the question or if you’ve understood it right.
Ready to Ace Your IELTS Exam?
Preparing for the IELTS tests involves more than just understanding English; it demands strategic preparation and practice. This is where Abzi Academy steps in to help you ace your exam. Our IELTS Exam Prep course is structured to guide you in enhancing your listening and speaking skills while avoiding common mistakes. Our seasoned instructors are here to support you every step of the way, from providing practical tips to conducting mock tests that mimic the actual examination environment.