If you’re a skilled worker looking to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry, you’ll need to achieve a high enough score on a language exam. The IELTS exam tends to be the most popular as it’s much more accessible around the world if you’re applying from outside of Canada and there is a lot more study material (many of it free) online.
As an immigration lawyer with many clients who are skilled workers, I took the IELTS exam a year ago in order to learn more about it. This post will cover my top 3 tips for getting a good score on the IELTS exam.
1. Know the format of the exam
This might seem obvious, but when I began preparing for the IELTS exam, the first thing I did was try a practice test without doing any research. While I scored okay, not knowing what to expect and how to approach it made it harder than it needed to be.
I then took some time to review the format of the exam, including the different sections, types of questions, how much each question was worth, and generally reading up on how it was structured. Not only did this make subsequent practice exams much easier, but being more comfortable with the exam will make you much more confident in your preparation and performance.
Takeaway: Do not just assume that because you’re fluent in English, you don’t need to read up on the exam format. Knowing the details, format and structure will go a long way.
2. Practice the questions and strategies without a timer first
One of the key aspects of the IELTS exam is that each section is timed. Because of this, I figured I should be timing myself any time I did a practice exam. This was a big mistake.
Because there are certain approaches, habits and strategies you should use for each section and you should focus on learning them first. If you jump right in without practicing them, timing yourself will just create unnecessary stress and you’ll rush through it without practicing good habits and strategies.
For example, the writing section is broken into two parts, but one of them takes longer than the other. If you jump right into a timed practice exam without knowing how long to spend on each one, you may spend more time on the wrong section and not have enough time to finish.
Takeaway: Spend some time learning the format of the exam, and the right approaches, habits and strategies for each section before doing any timed exams. It will improve the quality of your answers and then you can focus on timing after.
3. Include more english in your everyday life
If you follow my recommendation in tip #1 and review the format of the exam in detail, you’ll realize that most of the exam requires skills that we use everyday.
Listening, reading, writing and speaking a language are things we can easily do more on a day-to-day basis and is an easy way to fit extra practice into your schedule.
For example, I recommend:
Takeaway: Include more English in your everyday life in any way you can.
Bonus: Make use of the free resources! There are so many out there, including a recent video we did on IELTS writing tips here:
We hope you found these tips useful and that you’re ready to take on the IELTS exam. I also created a free PDF guide breaking down the format and including more general tips, and also specific tips for each section and free resources you can find online to do practice exams.
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