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Role Reversal: You are the Teacher

Published on August 27, 2018

You need to understand IELTS itself as well as the information that could be within the different sections to do well on the test. Trying to teach information to someone else is one of the best ways to know if you understand something. Becoming the “teacher” will allow you to display all the knowledge you have on that topic.

So, should you abandon all your studies and go to university to become a teacher? Of course not. However, practicing some techniques that teachers use in order to fully understand a topic can be beneficial. Here, your topic is the IELTS test.


You need to be able to say, or at least think about something, in your own words. Questions and passages will be written in a more formal way on the IELTS test. You need to be able to read a question, sentence, paragraph, or whole passage, and put it into your own words. This shows that you understand what you are reading. From this understanding, you are more likely to be able to answer questions about the information. You will need this specific skill when trying to understand passages in the reading section as well as when you are writing both tasks in the writing section. This will also benefit you in your Speaking test.

Think in simple terms

Think about how you would tell this information to a student who is not at the same English level as you when you are paraphrasing. Often times, thinking about a question or passage in simpler terms can make it easier to understand. You may be able to explain an idea back, through your writing and speaking, in a clearer way when you can think of it in a simpler way.

A range of vocabulary is necessary when paraphrasing. Reading, listening to different types of audio, as well as studying resources such as Academic Word Lists are great ways to build vocabulary.

Give specific details and examples

You should always be thinking about how to relate a topic to a specific example or how to explain specific details using examples, when speaking or writing. Again, this will help you understand the topic as well as explain it clearly, especially in your writing. You can use these examples and specific details in the body paragraphs of your essay in Task 2 in the writing section. For the speaking section, this will also help you speak for a longer time and make your ideas more relatable.

Ask comprehension questions

Teachers usually ask comprehension questions, once they have taught a lesson, to make sure the students understand what they have just learnt. Even though you are just asking yourself instead of other students, this is a crucial skill in the IELTS test. During different sections of the test, asking yourself comprehension questions could be beneficial. Once you have finished a reading passage, you should ask yourself questions to make sure you understand it. You can also concept check your ideas to make sure your answers make sense. Finally, you should also ask yourself if your writing is clear once you have written both tasks.

Think on the spot

In case you run into a problem on the IELTS test, always have a backup plan. For example, in all sections of the test, vocabulary can be an issue. Try to think of similar words or the same word in different forms if you do not know a word.

For Example: I don’t know the word ‘prohibition’. I’ve heard the phrase ‘Smoking is prohibited.’ Prohibited means not allowed. The spelling is very similar and the phonetics are almost the same. I think ‘prohibition’ means not allowed to do something.

If a certain word is crucial for the understanding of a question but you have no idea what it means, at least take a guess. There is a chance that you may have the correct answer, even though you may not feel confident about it, so never leave an answer blank.

Practicing these skills beforehand can make you feel more comfortable when doing each section of the test, even though feeling confident during the IELTS test can be a struggle at times.