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Please Fail The IELTS! And 9 More IELTS Tips

You’re reading this to improve your IELTS score. Great! You’ll love this mini-report because I picked the brains of 10 IELTS experts*. Below is a summary of some of their tips.

1. Before anything – Fail the IELTS!

Patrick revealed an awesome way to start your IELTS studying, incredibly simple and slashes hours off your studying time. He recommends taking a practice test, identifying your weak spots, then focussing on just these areas. Hardly difficult but terribly effective.

2. Build fluency fast and free

Angela, shared a fantastic cost effective method to build fluency and vocabulary, and improve pronunciation. Listen to the BBC podcasts and repeat exactly what you hear, in small chunks. I love this method because it’s free, effective and anyone can do it.

3. The examiner wants you to pass

Berni said go into the exam thinking it’s your opportunity to shine! Don’t worry! The examiner wants you to succeed! Compare this attitude to starting the speaking exam with “I don’t speak good English”!

4. Long-term memory can help in the Speaking

Miracel proposed using your long-term memory for content to avoid talking about hypothetical situations. This way you translate directly as opposed to inventing, translating and then communicating. A whole step is leap-frogged.

6. Tell a lie (if necessary)!

Nigel offered some solid advice for the Speaking section. He recommended getting familiar with the Speaking exam. For part one, think about giving interesting answers. For part two, don’t get carried away. Finally, for part three, fib (if absolutely necessary)!

7. Learn through your ears

AJ Hodge insisted on learning through your ears, putting your entire life in English. Listen to things you love, a football podcast, a technology podcast, anything! It’s the most natural, economical and effective way to learn a language.

8. Examiners are sick of formulaic essays

Carl Gene recommends: be strong with your opinion, really push it, be persuasive in an academic style. This makes it easier to follow, easier to plan and avoids the exhausted “on the one hand” phrase.

9. Sentence-by-sentence IELTS essay structure

Ryan Higgins states every sentence has a job to do – a topic sentence, the thesis sentence etc. This method facilitates the entire essay-writing process because it becomes a simplified step-by-step approach to scoring higher.

10. Simultaneous improvement for your listening, vocab and grammar

Bronwyn shared the Dictogloss method: the teacher reads the IELTS essay aloud various times. The first time you have to capture the ideas of the essay, the second time you copy language used. Finally you attempt to reconstruct the entire essay from your previous notes. Simultaneously you are working distinct language functions, making it an extremely effective method.


*More details of these IELTS experts can be found in my podcasts.

  • Patrick Bourne: published IELTS author
  • Angela Brown: ex-examiner for BULATS, Cambridge and YLE exams
  • Berni Wall: former IELTS examiner, coordinates immersion programmes
  • Miracel Juanta: IELTS essay specialist and experienced tutor
  • Nigel Haines: 20 years’ teaching experience
  • AJ Hodge: MS in TESOL, over 20 years’ teaching experience
  • Bronwyn Darby: former IELTS examiner, language acquisition expert
  • Ryan Higgins: YouTube teacher, academic writing expert
  • Carl Gene: IELTS Tutor, English/Chinese translation, interpretation expert
Written by Ben Worthington for EnglishClub June 2012
Ben Worthington is a freelance tutor and blog junkie. He currently produces IELTSPodcast, where he picks the brains of IELTS experts. In his spare time, he enjoys urban gardening, boxing, football and the beach!

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