By Angelica Gianni an Italian student currently study at Goldsmiths University in London.
Whilst working on the various college applications, you will probably be required to take an English test, the so-much feared ‘IELTS’. Students all around the world have been asked to attend this cursed test, including myself, which challenges everything you ever thought you knew about the English language.
When the university told me about the test the first thing that came to mind was to buy one of the hundreds of books that can easily be found in any equipped bookstore. Running through the different names on the shelves, I realised that the options were limitless. After having spent almost half a day staring at the books, where I only got more confused by the minute, I decided to take a purple exercise book, and its theory book, with the simplest title possible: “IELTS”. Once the books were bought I called the British Council to register for the exams; unfortunately, I was not able to attend the recommended course, due to the late notice the university had given me.
The IELTS is divided into four sections: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Each sector has specific formats and rules to follow; the most important thing to remember, while studying for the test, is to learn and understand the format. If the tests are understood, half of the work is already done; in fact, international students have most difficulties in adapting to the English formats, and methods, especially when presented with the Writing, and Reading section. Therefore, should be needless to say, is essential to practice, and do every exercise there is on the practice books, which if done profusely will become a simple task. During the exercises, once you have more confidence, it is very useful to time yourself; this will give you the opportunity to understand what the exam will be like. The section that most concerned me, as well as many other students, was the Listening part. Fortunately, the books carried CDs to help.
Personally, I spent an hour every day listening to the CDs, and found out that the recordings were easy to understand, and gave you time to answer the questions on the paper. In the matter of the Speaking section, I would recommend not to underestimate it. Take some time during your day to speak by yourself, or ask a friend to carry a short conversation with you, although if you find that not enough in the books you will find specific questions that you could be asked. To pass the IELTS without carrying too much stress, never forget to exercise, and to learn the format; this will make your experience rather enjoyable.
For more information about studying for, applying to take and differentiating between various English Language Tests.