The IELTS exam is a mandatory requirement for all nurses who are seeking to work in the USA. In order to pass the exam, you will need to achieve a minimum score of 7 in the speaking belt and 6.5 overall. You might feel nervous about preparing to sit the IELTS exam – Adevia Health understands why! That’s why we have written this blog article with five top tips to guide you in your preparations for the IELTS exam.  

Preparing for the structure of the exam

As you might know, the IELTS exam is divided into four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. What follows are a few pointers to help you prepare for each of these sections. 

In the Listening section, you’ll feel a lot of pressure to answer within the time limit. The actual audio file and the questions which follow are not difficult, but the time pressure can make it challenging to think clearly and answer the questions well. A big advantage is knowing what questions are coming before the recording even begins. At the end of each section, you are given thirty seconds to review your answers. Instead of reviewing your answers, you could spend this time reading the questions for the upcoming section. This is possible for both paper-based and computer-based tests. 

In the Reading section, you’ll find that a broad vocabulary is going to help you a lot – still, you can expect to encounter words which you do not know at all. Do not panic! This doesn’t mean that you are doing badly. Something to keep in mind when performing this part of the exam is that it is divided into three parts with approximately twenty minutes to complete each section. Our advice is to go through each section as quickly as possible, then to return to any unanswered questions for a second or even third attempt. This way, you won’t waste precious time that could be spent answering questions that you actually know the answers to. 

The Writing section is where most IELTS candidates score their lowest points – it’s true! It’s important to remember that, in this section, the examiner’s questions are NOT designed to test your general knowledge, they are designed to test your proficiency in English. So, it doesn’t matter if you do not know much about the things that they are asking questions about. What matters is the complexity of your vocabulary and your grammar skills, as well as the structure of your answers. Have you written an overview of your ideas? Is your position clear? Are your ideas linked? Is your essay organized in a way that is logical and easy to follow? This section is about skill, not knowledge. 

The Speaking interview is the section which is most talked about when it comes to preparing for your IELTS. The IELTS interview will not go like any other interview in your life. During the IELTS, the examiner may interrupt you with a new question at any moment – even if you haven’t finished answering the last one. This does not mean that you have answered incorrectly, it simply means that the examiner is running out of time and needs you to move on. You can practice answering common and difficult questions with a timer at home so that you have some idea of what your responses are going to sound like before the exam. Many candidates feel anxious about this portion because they feel pressure to say something smart. It’s better to be talkative than it is to say something extremely intelligent! There is a YouTube channel called TOP IELTS TESTS where you can watch real, top-scoring IELTS interviews to see model answers to common questions. 

Study tips 

Tip 1: Practice, practice, practice. It’s boring, we know, but the best way to prepare for the IELTS exam is to speak English for thirty minutes a day. An interesting study technique is the 4-3-2 technique. Choose a topic (for example, today’s weather) and speak for four minutes on it; time yourself! Then, speak on the same topic for three minutes. Finally, speak on the same topic for one minute. Gradually decreasing the time you have to speak on the topic will force you to self-edit your responses and make you a stronger, more natural-sounding English speaker. It’s also good practice for the two-minute monologue, which is a requirement of the IELTS!

Tip 2: Do some tests at home before the exam. Several practice tests can be found online, but the best ones to do for self-study are the Cambridge English tests, as they resemble the IELTS most closely. Try to find books number 15 and 16, as they are the most recent publications.  

Tip 3: Diversify your sources. You should be practicing your English by reading from a number of different sources. Read the news, watch the world’s most famous movies in English, use Facebook and Instagram to learn more about your favorite hobbies and interesting topics, and listen to podcasts. The more you expose yourself to different kinds of spoken and written English, the better you will fare in exam conditions. 

Tip 4: Write every day. While it is important to practice your spoken English every day, it is equally important to practice writing in English. A fun and accessible way to do this is to keep a blog or a Facebook page for like-minded people, where you can practice writing your English for free in a supportive environment. 

Tip 5: Identify your weak areas. To do this, it always helps to have a friend or a teacher point out which areas you could improve in. It’s important not to take this feedback personally. It’s also a good opportunity to practice answering questions that you don’t really know the answer to. Remember, it’s not your general knowledge that is being assessed in the IELTS exam – your English skills are! 

We hope that this article helps you to prepare for your IELTS exam. Adevia Health wishes you all the best for your upcoming assessments!