IELTS student 1

It is often said that IELTS is the window to the world! And indeed IELTS is one of the most commonly accepted English language tests in the world, both by universities and also when applying for scholarships or even getting a new job. So the need for IELTS courses is increasing.

Unfortunately, so many people still struggle to achieve their target IELTS score. So, here we’re sharing 10 fatal mistakes made by IELTS test takers. By avoiding these fatal mistakes, you will be one step closer to achieving your IELTS dream score!

10 fatal mistakes that IELTS test takers make

1. Not following instructions

This is one of the main mistakes that IELTS test takers make. They don’t follow the instructions properly. For example, the instruction might say something like: “Write no more than three words for each answer” but they write four or even more words! The instruction might seem simple but be sure to take your time to make sure you understand what is being asked of you in that particular section! Remember that IELTS grading system is very specific so follow the instruction as is, don’t do less, don’t do more!

2. Not reading the questions properly

Another common mistake that IELTS test takers make is not reading the questions properly. In Writing Task 2, the question might ask you to discuss view A and view B, as well as present your own opinion. For example, with the question ‘Some people believe that wild animals should not be kept in zoos. Others believe that there are good reasons for having zoos. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.’ You are asked to discuss three different opinions. It is important to address each part of the question clearly and completely. So here after the introduction, you might spend one paragraph on view A, one paragraph on view B and one summary paragraph presenting your own opinion.

3. Daydreaming

Focus is extremely important when it comes to IELTS, especially when it comes to listening. Each recording is only played once. Therefore, you must give the recording your undivided attention! Stay focused in the present and absorb the information! Make sure to read the questions before you listen to the recording as it can become very difficult to focus on both reading the questions while listening to the recordings at the same time.

4. Getting stuck on a question

Don’t fall into the trap of getting stuck on a question when you miss something as it can throw your focus off and make you lose valuable time. If you get stuck in the listening and reading modules, just move on to the next question after you have finished the other questions. And if you get stuck during the writing or speaking modules, just move to a different point or a different way of expressing the point you are stuck on.

5. Making ‘small’ mistakes

While these might seem insignificant, small things like spelling mistakes, forgetting to add ‘s’ to plurals, using the wrong punctuation, messy handwriting where it isn’t clear whether a ‘4’ is a ‘9’, etc can make or break your desired IELTS score. So make sure to pay attention to details and double check that you aren’t throwing away marks because of small mistakes.

6. Bad time management

Time management is key to succeeding in the IELTS test. So many people fail because they have bad time management. For example, in the reading test, you have 60 minutes to read 3 articles so you should spend about 20 minutes on each article. If you spend 30 minutes on one article, you won’t have enough time to properly complete the remaining two articles. The main module in which people lose track of time is writing. It is recommended that you spend 20 minutes on Writing Task 1 and 40 minutes on Writing Task 2. However, most people spend 25-30 minutes on Writing Task 1 because they get carried away. Not only are they penalised for writing too much in Writing Task 1, they are penalised for writing too little in Writing Task 2!

7. Leaving blank answers

In the listening and reading sections, try to answer everything! Because wrong answers are NOT marked down! So might as well try your luck and make a guess on the questions you don’t know the answer to, it might turn out to be correct! Just one or two correct answers can make or break your desired IELTS score so take a chance and just guess, never leave blanks!

8. Disorganised writing task responses

We all know how important grammar is when it comes to IELTS, especially in the writing section. However, structure and layout are just as important! Remember to have clear overviews for your writing sections and have clear points or ideas in every paragraphs. Remember to not overcomplicate your essay and ensure that your essay directly answers the question asked. Layout is very important so make sure that it is clear where your paragraphs start.

9. Panicking

It’s easy to start panicking during the IELTS test. The IELTS test is designed to move fast. So, don’t worry if you miss some things in the listening test. You’ll just have to reset your mind and move in. However, if you panic, chances are you will miss the next section too. There’s nothing worse than losing focus and getting confused or upset during the test. So leave any questions you missed, focus on answering the rest of the questions and at the end of each module, just go back and fill in the missing parts. The main thing is, stay cool and focused.

10. Speaking too much or too little

Say what?? You might be thinking “I can understand how speaking too little might negatively impact my IELTS score but how can speaking too much lose marks?” Well, it absolutely can! Don’t tell your entire life story when the examiner is simply asking for your name! After all, the more you speak the more mistakes you will make. And chances are, you’ll be going off topic and sounding less coherent. Of course, speaking too little will make it hard for examiner to accurately place you in terms of fluency. If you are shy, it might help to watch IELTS speaking videos so that you know what to expect during the test and be sure to do lots of practice so you can be relaxed and confident during your IELTS exam.

Do you want to achieve your IELTS target?

We just gave you the top 10 common fatal mistakes made by IELTS test takers. Avoiding these simple mistakes will help you boost your score! Of course, preparing for IELTS can still be confusing! So

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Anthony McCormick

IELC Managing Director