I needed to take an IELTS test (International English Language Testing System) for a visa. I’ll tell you more later, everything is still in process now, so not to jinx.
The results came in yesterday and I wanted to share the experience and how taking IELTS actually ended up helping my daily life. And this might come handy to those of you who need to take the test for visas as well.
A few tips on preparing for the test. The British Council resources you get when you register for the test are ok, go through them once and don’t focus too much on them – they’re mostly checking if you understood the mechanics of the test itself and that’s it.
I’ve learned everything from these two brilliant blogs:
They’re pure gold, study them thoroughly if you need a good band score, thank me later. Don’t read the comments in those blogs as they will only make you depressed.
As a result, I have achieved my goal (the visa requirements were “at least 7 for each band”) scoring the total band of 8.5 with the following breakdown:
I did practice listening and reading – did both practice tests at home twice, so that definitely helped; only practiced some writing the day before the test (obviously, this was a mistake and I should have spent more time practicing IELTS writing) and didn’t practice speaking at all, but looked through the requirements for each band and read a few posts from the blogs mentioned above.
Here’s how prepping for IELTS helped me in daily life
- First off, I started paying more attention to structuring my writing. Work emails, chats, letters to family – everything turned, Martix-like, into structural paragraphs, each one holding one main idea, supporting ideas and examples, followed by the conclusion.
- While preparing for the test, I would write down unknown English words and look them up. I have numerous post-its with words like “scorching”, “gullible”, “jaundice” and “pertinent”. Not sure how this will help in daily life, but the habit is there now – looking up unknown words. Come to think of it, I used “scorching” twice in conversations since, with the astounding effect on the audience :-)
- I definitely went out of my comfort zone, had a few stressful days and felt good achieving the goal. Achieving goals feels good, reminder to self: get out of the comfort zone more often. These strong emotions do flex your.. uhm.. which part of the brain does emotions? So that one was definitely flexed and we all know – exercise is good for you.
- I started reading even more. “Love, aren’t you supposed to be studying for IELTS?” – “This IS studying, I’m practicing my reading!”
- When asked the question, I am now very focused on answering the actual question right away in my response. It may sound weird, but try observing people’s conversations – often there is so much talking for the sake of talking! And sometimes it’s even worse – some people don’t know what is it that they’re really they’re asking when they ask. In IELTS it’s important to answer the question and not wander around showing off your vocabulary. So studying brought this interesting aspect of my daily life to the surface.
Those of you who practiced for the test will get the pun from this headline. By the way, I didn’t use this “followed by a reasoned conclusion” line in the essay. Maybe that’s why there’s a 7 for writing, who knows :-)
Anyhow, preparing for a test was fun, considering the fact that I took my last test… let me think.. well, not so long ago, so scrap that. Taking tests when you’re out of school is fun. Period. You stress, you keep reminding yourself that you’re an adult and that it’s not worth your mental health worrying that much, and worse comes to worst, you’ll pay another 750RM and take another test.
But, hey, 750RM is 3 days of diving…
You learn new things (like tricks how to pass an IELTS test), which are undoubtedly invaluable in daily life. You read more, you talk more, you have to practice writing with a pencil. A PENCIL!
Sarcasm aside, you get posts like this as an output. Thank you for reading, by the way, I salute you. If you are preparing for taking your IELTS, I wish you good luck. Read those two blogs, practice taking the test, don’t drink any water before the test, else train to hold your bladder for 3 straight hours. That’s it from me.