You’ve begun your preparations for the International English Language Test System (IELTS). Congratulations. Deciding to take things seriously and really getting into study mode are sometimes the most difficult part of the preps. Now is the time for determination, patience, and discipline, but those three won’t get you anywhere if you’re not practicing. Here’s a little secret: the Internet has so many practice examinations you can download. You’ll be swimming in practice exams in no time. Of course, your review center would probably provide you with some stuff to answer as well.
If you’re planning on doing some extra work outside your prep school, then it’s best to do something well, and that involves simulating the actual exam conditions. Of course, you can’t very well rent Crowne Plaza or Dusit Hotel just so you can have your practice test, right? Let us settle for having a few essentials.
1. Timer. Or a watch will do – anything that will tell you that your time is up. Remember that the IELTS is very strict when it comes to time limits. Managing how long you’ll spend on a section of the examination is important, if you want to finish on time. In the exam, there are no ifs, no buts, if time is up, then pass your papers. Here’s a quick check on how long each exam will be:
Listening: 30 minutes (recording and test) + 10 minutes (transfer time)
Reading: 60 minutes
Writing: 60 minutes
Speaking: 11-14 minutes
Try and finish before the time’s up, but don’t get frustrated if you couldn’t. Remember that as you get better, you also get faster – so more practice!
2. Speakers. If you’re practicing Listening at home, keep away from the headsets. The bad thing with headsets is that it makes it easier for you to concentrate on the recordings since it blocks out external noise. Yes, that’s bad. Exam conditions are different. Not only will you be using the speaker during the test, you would also be exposed to a lot of distraction. Invigilators will be walking around, peaking at your papers and making sure you’re not causing trouble. Your seatmate may be sighing desperately. People may be tapping their pencils on the table, at a loss of what the answer is. Best to get used to how it’s done when you actually sit the test.
3. At least 3 pieces of Mongol #3 pencils (because you’d really be better off using time to answer the question than sharpening your writing tools), eraser, and a sharpener (just in case).
These are the basic things you need to answer the test. It’s practically mortal sin to not have them.
4. An answer sheet. An intermediate pad is the best choice, because you can write 250 on it and it won’t look as if extra paper. You will need to practice with an answer sheet because in the actual IELTS exam whatever isn’t in the answer sheet doesn’t count. You can perfect the exam, but it means absolutely nothing unless you’ve written the answers down on the paper the examiners will check.
Practice exam isn’t about finishing as many as you can. In fact, it’s better to practice smart than practice much. Make everything you do during prep time a learning process.
Good luck with your IELTS!