Preparing in groups for your IELTS test

There are so many reasons to take the IELTS. Three years ago, I needed the IELTS in order to complete a college certificate in immigration law. In the immigration course, the requirement was an IELTS 7+, or no certificate. Since I already knew a lot about IELTS and English is my first language, I didn’t worry too much. However, some of my classmates didn’t have English as a first language, and were stressed out. So, I did what was natural. I helped them with their English and they helped me with immigration law. What I’m saying is, two heads are better than one, especially when preparing for the IELTS. Maybe you are applying for university with your classmates, you could be immigrating with your family, or you might need to re-new your work permit with co-workers. Whatever it is, remember that together we are often stronger when working towards the same goal.

Don't forget, IELTS is a LANGUAGE test

People often lose sight of this. They think that the path to success in IELTS is doing practice tests and taking an IELTS course. True, these things do help… but they are only one part of your journey to success. IELTS is a very well designed test. It is meant to give an accurate score to your English language ability. So, make sure you improve your overall English as you aim to do better. This includes making English a part of your life and everything you do. So, chat in English, text in English, write Facebook comments in English, think in English, dream in English. Do you get the idea yet?

Study partners

Who to prepare with? IELTS is commonly delivered in cities around the world. There are millions who take it. So, if you search around a bit, you’ll hopefully be able to find some others to prepare with. Before you make your work plan with someone though, there are some things to look out for.  Are they living close to you? Do you all have a time you can meet? Do you have a good place to meet? Are they responsible people? Do you actually like them? Is their first language the same as yours (be careful, speaking your own language might be a time-waster!)? Are they taking the same test, Academic or General? Do they have a similar test date? Before you commit to a group, make sure you have the right people!

Thought about employing a tutor?

Getting an expert language and test prep teacher is an excellent idea. Make it affordable by sharing the study fee with your study partner or study group. A good teacher will help you with so many things. He/she will keep you on schedule, point out your weaknesses, correct your work, keep you learning and motivated, and give you some great ideas on how to do well on language tests. They’re also a real person who is there to answer your tough questions. How could you not have a tutor, right?

The helpful critic

For all of us, being criticized by others can be hard. Who enjoys being told they made mistakes or are wrong about something? However, as we all know, this is an effective way to learn. When you are with your study group or study partner, open your mind. Make an agreement to point out each others’ weaknesses or mistakes. Also, and maybe more importantly, stay respectful, positive, and focused on the IELTS language skills.

Share your stuff!

If you are like most IELTS test takers, you are/ will spend a lot of time collecting prep materials. Practice tests, blogs, class notes, study guides, the list goes on and on. Like any major test, there will be good study materials, and bad study materials. Why not make a plan to share your best with your group. Take some time to introduce the materials and websites that work best for you.

Assigning tasks

Prepare and share! One great way to learn particular skills on the IELTS is to assign tasks to each group member. For example, if you have four people in your study group, get each member to present a practice task for each skill. So, Jack prepares a 30 minute writing exercise. Wong prepares a 30 minute speaking drill. Michelle gives everyone a 30 minute listening practice. Finally, Fatima delivers the 30 minute reading activity. There’s your two hour study session!

Group Member Preparation Focus 
 Jack Writing exercises
Wong Speaking drills
Michelle Listening practice test
Fatima Reading activity
Glossary
in order to do something  for the reason to get something
two heads are better than one  an idiom meaning two people working together is better than one person working alone
lose sight of something  forget something or become less focused on something important
 tough questions questions that are difficult to answer

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