SEVERAL TIPS OF ESSENTIAL GUIDELINES IN THE IELTS WRITING SKILLS

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Surely, in order for you to write effectively and score well on the IELTS writing module, it is very imperative that you should have in-depth knowledge of effective preparation and study plan, appropriate writing style and coherent tone, as well as the proper structure and format for each type of writing task. Well, this is mainly because when it comes to the flow of writing process, these tips will be helpful for you and therefore, you should study what could be the essential skills required to obtain a better result in the IELTS writing modules so that you can prepare your own essays effectively. Hence, the following procedures below are several guidelines which you can take into consideration in order to help you performing well in your writing test.


STAGE 1 – SELF PREPARATION
a. Read the instructions carefully. In this case, make sure that you have fully understood what you are required to write about, as you need to determine the appropriate style and tone of your essay to sound more coherently presented for the examiners to give a better mark.

b. Brainstorm and note down your ideas. Well, this should be done on your question paper (but not on your answer sheet) because no one will be interested to look at your notes after the test. So, try not to write the complete sentences while you are making your notes since you only need to extract your ideas (brainstorming) in order to help you identifying what you are going to write as instructed.

c. Plan your essay thoroughly. Select, prioritize, and group your ideas to the genre as well as the suggested layout for your essay format. In any case, you should not take more than 5 minutes to plan your essay for both tasks – Task 1 and Task 2.


STAGE 2 – DRAFTING YOUR ESSAY
Once you have an overall picture of what you are going to write about, it is well-advised that you should use a pencil when drafting your essay because it will seem much easier for you to make changes and self-corrections afterwards. So, make sure that everything you write on your answer sheet is legible. In this stage, you should not take more than 10 minutes in writing Task 1 and 20 minutes in writing Task 2.


STAGE 3 – REVIEWING WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN
Look back and try to read your essay again. Check it if there are grammar and spelling mistakes found. Perhaps, this is because of you probably will not be able to correct all the mistakes that you have made. So, focus on locating and correcting those typical mistakes of yours. To do this, you need to keep a list of such mistakes in mind and use it when you finish writing to check your essay. Again, you should not take more than 5 minutes for this part.

Here are some of the suggested checklists to help you reviewing your essay but before that, kindly ask yourself whether if you have...

a. Answered all aspects of the task required?

b. Chosen the appropriate style and language tone?

c. Included an introduction as well as a conclusion?

d. Made your paragraphing clear and logical?

e. Ensured all your supporting points are relevant?

f. Cross-checked any of your grammatical and spelling errors?

g. Accomplished the task achievement where you need to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2?

Bear in mind that for both parts of the IELTS writing modules, the language you use must be consistently appropriate, cohesive, and coherent in terms of style and tone.

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GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE IELTS WRITING TEST : ACADEMIC & GENERAL TRAINING MODULE

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First of all, the Academic and the General Training modules of IELTS writing test both consist of two tasks that do not require you to have a specialized or technical knowledge. In fact, the typical objective of this writing test is actually designed to assess whether you possess these following skills:

a. Ability to describe diagrams, tables, and lists

b. Ability to develop an argument supported by evidence (fact-based opinion)

c. Ability to communicate ideas vividly

d. Ability to utilize a range of English accuracy, vocabularies, and sentence structures

When it comes to the technical structures of the writing task types, you will be given two answer sheets – one for the Task 1 and one for the Task 2. Both your answers in the Task 1 and Task 2 must be written in a full essay (not in note form). As of today, you can choose whether to write your answers in pen or pencil (I personally suggest that you should use pencil instead because if you use pen, your answer sheet will end up terribly messy especially after you write your wrong sentences and you try to re-write them correctly by crossing the wrong sentences with lines). Again, it would be well-advised if you could bring over your pencil along with an eraser into the exam room instead of solely carrying a pen.

Following the above explanation as well as recommendation, the type of task 1 meanwhile carries one-third of the entire marks. In this case, you have to write at least 150 words for this task and it is recommended that you should do your best to spend 20 minutes of your time on it. While on the other hand, the typical writing test for Task 2 carries two-thirds of the entire marks. At this point, you have to write at least 250 words and you are highly advised to spend 40 minutes dealing with your essay on it.

Bottom line, keep it in mind that you will lose mark if you write fewer than the required number of words. In other words, you must perform your best to accomplish the task achievement for both Task 1 and Task 2. At the end, the overall result of your writing test will be translated into a score on the IELTS nine-band scale. Thus, it is important for you to follow these guidelines in both tests.

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GENERAL STRATEGIES FOR THE IELTS READING MODULE

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As we know, the reading module is the second part of the IELTS examination. It lasts roughly around 60 minutes and consists of 40 questions based on a variety of task types. Although the task types of the Academic and General Training modules are the same, however, their types of reading passages differ. To put it simply, the Academic module will usually contain at least one passage organized as a logical argument, while the reading modules in the General Training on the other hand are likely to be more descriptive or instructive.

Obviously, in order to achieve the best results in the IELTS reading section, the use of combination of strategies must be implemented simultaneously. Hence, the following strategies which will be explained below are some of the effective tips that can help you with this part of the IELTS exam, since they are considerably important for you to study them in order to help you achieving better scores both in the reading context of Academic and the General Training comprehensions.


STRATEGY 1 – MAKE NOTES
During your examination day, you are allowed to make notes on the IELTS question booklets since the IELTS examiners will never look at these notes that you have already written. Well, you can simply make notes, underline, draw arrows and symbols on the reading question booklet just to help yourself understand the text better and find your answers faster. By doing it so, you might be able to avoid chances of having to read the same portions of the reading passage repeatedly.


STRATEGY 2 – TRY TO PREDICT WHAT THE TOPIC IS ALL ABOUT & BUILD A MENTAL MAP OF THE PASSAGE AS YOU SKIM IT
Before you read a text, it might seem rather helpful if you could try to guess what the topics of that passage will be. One way to do this, perhaps, is by using the information of the title, any subheadings, and the introduction part.

Obviously, reading a text for the first time can be disorientating or quite unfamiliar where you may find it difficult to scan through the entire passage. Thus, a useful technique to help you navigating the whole passage easier is by building up a mental map of the reading text. In other words, what you need to do is try to identify the topic or purpose of each paragraph in the passage, make notes (a couple of words) about the main idea or purpose of paragraphs and sections next to them, and then get to know what the paragraphs are about which will help you to find the answers quicker.


STRATEGY 3 – IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF A TEXT THAT YOU ARE READING
For example, try to identify whether the passage is about a problem-solving case, chronological accounts/history/series of events of something, or whether it discusses some positive and negative points of view regarding a certain issue addressed in a topic presented. So, this can be done by quickly skimming the entire text and looking at the title, introduction, and opening paragraphs. As a result, these will give you the clues needed for you to easily identify the main ideas, topics, and organization of a reading text presented.


STRATEGY 4 – STUDY THE KEYWORDS & SKIM EFFECTIVELY
To locate certain parts of the text where the answers might easily be discovered, you need to carefully study the keywords in the questions and then scan the entire passage for these synonymous or parallel expressions. Well, by using your mental map of the reading text, this should help you to perform this technique effectively.

As for the skimming method, try not to worry about words, terms, jargon that you don’t understand. Instead, it is better if you can get an overall impression of the text and one way to do this is by making sure to read the first sentence of each paragraph. Eventually, these will give you an overview of the text that you are reading upon. However, you must remember that sometimes, two different task types may focus on the same parts within the passage. In other words, you may not be tested exactly on the same information provided just in case.

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IELTS LISTENING STRATEGIES FOR CONVERSATIONS & LECTURES

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Previously, I have already discussed several useful tips or effective strategies that can be applied for all sections in the IELTS listening test. Well, in case if you haven’t studied those little guides, kindly look up the article published on the sitemap or you can simply search the topic under the IELTS Preparation field of subject.

Talking about IELTS listening module strategies in particular of conversations and lectures’ talk, well, there are also several guides suggested that you can apply them to help you hearing what the speakers say easier during the section of your IELTS listening test. Hence, the following discussions which I am going to elaborate them below are practically referred to the strategies used in the IELTS listening comprehension for both conversations and lectures’ talk. So, let’s just take a look at them one by one.


STRATEGY 1 – CREATE ONE COLUMN FOR EACH SPEAKER IN YOUR NOTES TO AVOID CONFUSION WHEN YOU READ THEM
Should you decide to make notes, it is important to keep them neatly organized. Therefore, in order for you to do this, try to create one column for each speaker during the conversation presented. Although names are useful when they are being mentioned, however, you will never be asked to specifically name any of the speakers who deliver the talk. So, depending on the type of conversation spoken, it is better for you if you could identify each speaker such as which one is acting as:

a. Professor and the student

b. Man and Woman

c. Student 1 and Student 2


STRATEGY 2 – BE PREPARED FOR THE UNIQUE ELEMENTS OF SPOKEN ENGLISH (INTERRUPTIONS)
In most cases, the speaker during the section of your listening test for conversations as well as lectures will not sound as if they are reading an essay. To put it simply, their speech will be perfectly natural instead and the way they sound will resemble everyday spoken English, which include interruptions and self-corrections.

As we know, such an interruption occurs when a listener in a conversation or lecture says something before the speaker has done making a point of statement or observation. A speaker, in fact, could be interrupted by a question or comment, and the speaker will have to resolve the interruption arose before returning to the original topic. So, in that case, you will have to remember exactly what was being spoken prior to the interruption in order for you to understand fully what was being said afterwards.

Here are the most common words or vocabularies spoken during the interruption:

a. ‘Excuse me, but ...’

b. ‘I’m sorry, but ...’

c. ‘I don’t want to be rude, but ...’

d. ‘Hold on a minute ...’

e. ‘Hang on a second ...’

f. ‘Can I just say that ...’

While on the other hand, the typical self-correction occurs when you hear the speaker suddenly mispronounces the words while he or she is delivering the talk. Obviously, it is not a surprise to notice the fact that anyone can speak incorrectly whenever there is a conversation going on.

When people misspeak their words or vocabularies during their conversations, it is very natural to observe that they tend to interrupt themselves and then restate their idea correctly. Thus, self-correction could practically involve a certain number of expressions such as:

1. ‘Actually ...’

2. ‘That’s not exactly right, I suppose ...’

3. ‘Let me rephrase that in case if you don’t mind ...’

4. ‘Let me start again ...’

To conclude the above explanations, such mistakes occurred are usually used as distracters in the listening examinations. That is when you hear the incorrect information and you literally think that it is the correct answer. So, it is crucial for you to be fully aware of those distracters and be prepared to change your answers accordingly.


STRATEGY 3 – BE PREPARED TO INFER OR INTERPRET
Although it is possible at some point of time, however, a speaker will probably not state how his or her talk is organized directly. Hence, try not to rely on the explicit (obvious) statement such as ‘Let’s organize our discussions by types of energy sources bla...bla...bla...’ or ‘I want to begin with the best solution and then continue with the least suitable option bla...bla...bla...

Therefore, it is also critical that you must train yourself to predict and anticipate how the speaker’s talk is organized indirectly. Meaning to say, you will probably have to recognize how the element of speech is being thoroughly presented on your own.

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IELTS LISTENING STRATEGIES FOR ALL SECTIONS

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Some of the little strategies that I will explain below simply refer to the skills which are important during your IELTS listening test in all sections. Apparently, one of the major challenges that you as a test-taker have to face in many cases is that while you are listening to the tape recording, you must be able to recognize more than just names, places, time, and then try to connect ideas, organized information, generalize as well as infer the meaning from all the spoken materials being played.

Here are several tips of IELTS listening module test that you can use them to help you achieving a better score for all the question types.

STRATEGY 1 – LISTEN ACTIVELY

1. BEFORE YOU LISTEN, it is well-recommended that you need to:

a. Read the instructions carefully to know how many words are allowed or required for you to write. This includes the word limits such as articles and prepositions. Hence, try not to go above the word limits otherwise your answer will be marked incorrect by the examiner.

b. Read through the questions and notes on the question paper, then decide what the topic delivered is all about. For example, in order to get the right information from a conversation or monologue, it does help you if you ask yourself before you begin listening in the first place, such as:

- Who is talking?

- What are they talking about?

- How do they feel about it?

c. Analyze the questions and prompts, and then decide what sort of information is required. Perhaps, this may include the types of specific information such as price, name, or time.

d. Underline the keywords in the rubric, questions, and options before you listen. In other words, by highlighting the keywords around each gap in completion tasks or in questions can actually help you to listen more effectively. For example, a speaker might use a range of vocabulary that helps you to identify how the talk is organized. And let’s just say that a Professor Kate is giving a lecture about Newton’s law of physics. So, in that case, she probably would discuss each law by using the sequence of cohesion such as ‘first, next, in the meantime, then, finally’ in her speech, where the entire script can be organized as follows:

i. Body paragraph 1: ‘Isaac Newton first thought that ... He tested his theory by ...’

ii. Body paragraph 2: Next, Newton had always believed ... He conducted an experiment that ... Then he saw ...’

iii. Body paragraph 3: ‘Finally, Newton concluded that his theory ... However, he also learned that ...’

2. WHILE YOU LISTEN, here’s what you have to do:

a. Listen for any clue that the speakers are about to answer the questions. Perhaps, they probably will use different words (mostly, the synonyms) from the question given.

b. Always choose only the required number of options for each question.

c. Do not write more than the maximum number of words that you are asked for. Again, try to read and follow the instruction given carefully. Write only the words that you hear without changing them.

d. In case if you miss an answer, keep listening. Otherwise, you will miss the next questions by accident.

3. AFTER YOU LISTEN, this is what you must do:

a. Make sure you have answered every question because you will not lose marks for wrong answers.

b. As you copy your answers, check out the words you have written make sense or logical in the context. So, pay attention on the words you have written in particular of whether they are grammatically correct/correctly spelled or not.

c. Do not copy anything printed on the question paper when transferring your answers to the answer sheet provided. In that case, you should copy what you have written yourself.


STRATEGY 2 – ANTICIPATING KEY POINTS BASED ON THE MAIN IDEA
Obviously, anticipating is literally defined as thinking about what might come or will appear next. Besides, anticipation can make you more focused and your listening easier. Knowing the topic beforehand helps you to predict and anticipate certain details.

For example, a college student who wants to talk about his term paper might have a problem with the topic, organization (body assignment), due date, bibliography or a partner. Likewise, a professor who delivers a lecture about bees might discuss their appearance, abilities, evolution, migration, reproduction, diet, reasons for studying them, and so on. Hence, by knowing the possibilities of what might come out next, it will make your listening task achievement easier to be accomplished as a result of being able to hear clearly what the speaker says.


STRATEGY 3 – DO NOT TRY TO RECORD EVERYTHING IN NOTES
Perhaps, if you decide to take notes during the exam, you need to make sure that your notes are both effective and efficient. Having said that, you need to determine the topic of the talk, study the questions, plus decide what types of information and words are missing. So, based on your observations, simply focus on noting down only those missing information and words. Also, while you are making notes, less important words could either be omitted (eliminated) or recorded using symbols and abbreviations.

For example, let’s just say that an essential topic of the talk is a project that started in 1997. So, the key word to remember is the ‘project, started, and 1997’. For your information, it is very unlikely or quite impossible that in the IELTS exam, you will be asked to complete the gap with a word ‘started’ or ‘the’. Thus, you could make the following notes by your own, something like ‘project √† 1997’.

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SOME PARTICULAR STRATEGIES USED TO OVERCOME THE QUESTION TYPES OF IELTS READING MODULE

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Perhaps, the following strategies below may refer to the practical skills that are always significant to use for certain types of the IELTS reading module questions.


1. COMPLETION TASKS
Firstly, it is advisable that you should include the words which are essential to answering the questions correctly. Such correct answers, in fact, can contain fewer than the maximum number of words stated according to the instruction given. In completion tasks with words extracted straight forward from the reading passage, you must do your best to try predicting the type of answer that you are merely looking for. After that, the next step is skim the section that you have particularly identified and look for the word synonyms or paraphrases. So, try to think about both sides (the meaning as well as the grammar) and remember to use the exact words from the reading text.

Secondly, you should read the options carefully with other choices given in a box. It is very much possible that there could be more than one option selected for you to be able to complete the sentence, as the options will have the same grammatical structure. So in other words, you should pay your attention and focus more on the meaning instead and therefore, you should be capable enough to consider all the options provided in the box.


2. MULTIPLE-CHOICE TASKS
Dealing with the multiple-choice tasks, first, you should try to get rid of the options that may appear to be logically wrong. So, try to eliminate them by putting a cross beside when you are positive to confirm that they are the wrong choices. Perhaps, you also need to remember that in some cases, an option revealed may be true but it does not answer the question.

Then, it is recommended to double check your answer again. Remember, the answer that you choose is not only correct according to the passage, but also it has to give an appropriate reason or explanation to answer the question or complete the sentence. So keep it in mind that whenever you think that you have discovered the most correct answer in the multiple-choice questions, you have to double check that the rest of other options are definitely the wrong ones.


3. MATCHING TASKS
In the category of matching tasks, you should try to think of different words to describe what is in each picture and look for the keywords from the text given when dealing with matching pictures to sections of the text. Similarly, when it comes to matching the statements, try to identify the keywords carefully in the statements and look for the synonyms or paraphrases of these keywords contained in the passage.

Surely, it is necessary that you are advised to do the skimming technique over the given passage beforehand so that it can help you to build up a mental map of the reading text by noticing the main idea of each paragraph. Well, this is a good idea where you can match as many headings as possible without requiring you to read over the passage again and again. After all, you should also try to write down the number of all possible options that might be suitable and fit in to answer all the questions provided.

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SOME EFFECTIVE TIPS AND STRATEGIES APPLIED IN THE IELTS READING TEST

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Practically, in order to aim for the best results in the Reading test, it is strongly advised that you must apply a combination of strategies simultaneously so that you can take an advantage of your time as efficient as possible. Apparently, it is no longer a secret that there are several tips of essential reading comprehension skills which will help you to tackle a certain number of barriers or obstacles in this part of the IELTS exam.


1. SKIMMING AND SCANNING
Obviously, it is a very common habit that we tend to apply both skimming and scanning technique regularly in our everyday lives (particularly, when it comes to the reading activity). The skimming technique applied in reading is basically to identify general ideas from a passage and this could be effectively used if an article presented is long enough such as a researched project or a journal report which requires the test taker to quickly gather some of the key information from any given topics. The scanning method on the other side might be useful to find specific information, for example, finding a departure time on a train timetable or when a movie is playing from its regular schedule.

Both skimming and scanning apparently involve reading a text quickly; hence, they are considered as essential skills to be used in the IELTS exam. However, it is necessary to keep it in mind that even though skimming and scanning are considered as the important skills to use in the IELTS reading test, yet, they are used for different purposes. For example, the skimming method could be better applied during the reading test when you need to read quickly just to look out for the main idea of an article without thinking about specific details. While on the other hand, the scanning technique should be better utilized when you need to find particular pieces of information such as evidence or facts.


2. IDENTIFYING MAIN IDEAS AND DETAILS
Often, it is very obvious to notice that any texts or passages organized in the IELTS test are generally divided into paragraphs which make a candidate easier to read. Despite, such a reading text is usually constructed in these following ways:

a. Introduction (Paragraph 1): theme, statement, objective, purpose

b. Paragraph 2: topic, supporting points, details, arguments, illustrations

c. Paragraph 3: topic, supporting points, details, arguments, illustrations

d. Conclusion: summary and restatement of main idea as overall

Keep it in mind that in the introduction part, the writer usually outlines what he or she is going to discuss about along with the main issues to be raised. Each paragraph presented usually deals with one key issue described, which is stated in a topic sentence and it could also possibly summarized in the last sentence of paragraph. As for the supporting details or facts, they are intended to elaborate further about the main idea of paragraph.


3. UNDERSTANDING A WRITER’S OPINION
Literally, it is a very common practice to notice that such an opinion presented is basically defined as a personal belief which can either be true or false. It is different from a fact to some extent, which is a statement known can solidly be the truth based on generally accepted evidence. Regardless to this perceptive viewpoint, a writer’s opinions in the reading texts are usually introduced by phrases such as:

a. Professor Charles argues that .........

b. Some people claim that .........

c. It is a common belief to notice that .........

d. In Thomas’s point of view, .........

e. Many scientists suspect that .........

On the opposite side, certain number of facts might be introduced by phrases such as:

1. According to the latest researched projects, .........

2. Several scientists have discovered that .........

3. Some researched findings confirm that .........

4. As mentioned, it has frequently demonstrated that .........

The typical list of phrases as you can see from the following above examples are the general form of reported speech. Hence, when it comes to answering the writer’s opinion, you should be careful not to allow your own opinions with your choice of answer. In any case, you must remember that when it comes to understanding a writer’s opinion, you are looking for his or her idea (not yours).

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KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ACADEMIC & THE GENERAL TRAINING EXAMS

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As we know, the reading test is the second part of the IELTS examination which lasts roughly 60 minutes since it consists of 40 questions based on a variety of tasks required. In other words, you will have to go through reading three or four passages roughly about 2,000 – 3,000 words in total. And usually, there are three passages covered in the Academic Reading module while on the contrary, there are three or up to four passages presented in the General Training module.

On the practical basis, the IELTS reading module is basically designed to test a candidate a wide range of reading skills such as skimming, scanning, identifying the main ideas, reading for details, and understanding a certain opinion and attitude. While the typical tasks between the Academic and the General Training module are practically the same, however, the types of reading passages among these two modules are considerably different.

Basically, the Academic Reading module usually contains at least one passage organized as a logical argument while the reading texts in the General Training module on the other hand, are likely to appear rather descriptive or instructive. Perhaps, the organization of non-argumentative texts in the General Training module may vary from one to another in general. However, common organizational themes in the General Training exam are usually presented in form of categories, chronological description and describing a process.

In addition to that, another difference between the Academic and the General training module in IELTS test perhaps is that the Academic module involves three reading passages with one passage per section. Some of the reading texts, in fact, are usually derived from books, magazines, newspaper, and even journals. Although the texts are representative with at least one passage contains a detailed argument, however, the passages of reading requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate students are not discipline specific. In many cases, the reading passages in the Academic module are normally presented in an increasing order of level difficulty.

Meanwhile, the General Training module on the other hand involves three or four passages grouped into three or four sections. Section 1, for instance, usually deals with social survival where it consists of one or two texts that are short but contain a plenty of information. While in the section 2, it focuses on the subjects related to general training and usually consists of two texts in which for example, giving information about a university or college services and facilities provided.


And last but not least, both part of section 3 and 4 consist of one longer text which is connected to the general training module as they involve the common typical reading comprehension on almost any subjects presented.

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