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IELTS Preparation tips

The best ways to study for the four IELTS sub-tests: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking

The 3 Mistakes in IELTS Speaking That Kill Your Score

The 3 Mistakes in IELTS Speaking That Kill Your Score

Different mistakes have a different effect on your IELTS score – some are minor and won’t do much damage, but others can undo all the hard work you’ve done preparing for the test.

These 3 mistakes are something you really need to avoid because they can kill your score in the IELTS Speaking test.

Mistake #1: Mumbling or speaking too quietly

If the examiner has to work extra hard to hear what you’re saying, you score will reflect it. This mistake affects your Fluency and Coherence score, and when it drops, your overall Speaking score goes down with it.

Tip: Speak up and make occasional eye contact with the examiner – but don’t stare at him/her! Staring is considered impolite in the Western culture.

Mistake #2: Answering questions with just a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

In the IELTS Speaking test the examiner isn’t conducting a survey about your likes and dislikes. The reason they ask you questions is to hear you SPEAK as much as possible. What you are saying (your message) isn’t as important as HOW you’re saying it. A good answer combines an idea that you express in a logical way with suitable vocabulary.

Tip: answer the question and then add a sentence explaining why, when or where or what.

Mistake #3: Talking about a something else instead of what you’ve been asked.

Sometimes test takers hear the question but forget it or get distracted and start talking about something that is perhaps related – but not quite what the examiner asked.

Example: If the examiner asks you what you like drinking, tea or coffee, don’t start talking about vegetarian dishes being your favorite or some types of food you like.

Why? You will lose marks for Fluency and Coherence and then even if you get a 7 in all the other criteria, your total Speaking score will still be just 6.5.

This is why I recommend bookmarking this post about the 3 mistakes and reminding yourself not to make them every time you practice in speaking, and especially on your test day.

How many of these mistakes are you making? Let me know in the comments!

5 Mistakes in IELTS writing that keep you from scoring a Band 7

5 Mistakes in IELTS writing that keep you from scoring a Band 7

You probably don’t want to hear this, but…

It’s not the IELTS examiner that is harsh on you. It’s YOUR WRITING.

Before you get offended, let me explain. There is a famous saying “You don’t know what you don’t know” and so many IELTS test takers aren’t aware of these little – yet costly – mistakes. They honestly think that their writing was 100% fine. They simply don’t understand how they lost all those marks, scoring a lousy Band 6 when they expected a 7.5 at least.

If this happened to you, here are the 5 major reasons why you got a low score in your IELTS writing test:

Mistake 1. Using informal language in your IELTS essay

Many students think that if it’s OK to use an informal expressions in Speaking, then it must be fine for their Writing. It is NOT! Forget about ‘I recon’ and use ‘In my opinion’. Don’t say heaps of people’ – say ‘a number of’ or ‘many people’.

Mistake 2. Addressing the question only partially

For example, if the essay topic has two questions in it, such as “Why is this happening? What can be done to improve the situation?’ – you need to answer both questions. Ideally dedicate 1 paragraph to each question.

Mistake 3. Not making your opinion clear

When the essay topic is asking “Do you agree or disagree”, don’t stay neutral like Switzerland! Pick a side and say on more than just one occasion how you, personally, feel about this. Make sure your opinion is in the introduction and in the conclusion, and if you can hint at it in the body paragraphs, that would make your essay even better.

Mistake 4. Using words you don’t fully understand

This is a very common mistake. You don’t want to sound repetitive, so you open a dictionary and look up synonyms for ‘important’. Oxford dictionary says ‘supreme’ is one of them, so you go ahead and use it in a sentence. But ‘supreme’ means not just important, but THE MOST important – and if you mention a number of things of equal importance, this would be a wrong word to use!

Mistake 5. Not separating your paragraphs

It’s very, very simple. Examiners need to see your paragraphs. If you don’t leave enough space between them, it makes your essay harder to read, because when two paragraphs are joined together (they look like one block of text), the examiner may think it’s one paragraph and he/she will expect to read about just ONE main idea, not two. This will lower your Coherence and Cohesion score.

How many of these mistakes can you find in your own essay? Let me know in the comments!