It is not uncommon for students preparing for IELTS to ‘plateau’, i.e. to reach a 5-6 range and then get stuck there. Here at OISE Oxford, we guide the students beyond this stage, towards the 7+ peaks they all dream of. Quite often students ask how to get a higher grade in this test, but maybe what they should be asking is what they should NOT do to improve their IELTS score. Here are some very effective tips if you’re happy with your grade 5 and want to keep it like that.
In the Speaking paper, the KISS principle definitely applies: Keep It Short and Simple. If you keep your answers brief and use very basic vocabulary, you won’t make any mistakes. Using fancy words and complex structures will only make you sound like a show-off. Make as little eye contact as possible and never smile: examiners hate that!
When writing your essay, keep the examiner guessing until the last paragraph what your stance on the topic is: a little mystery is always appreciated. Don’t include any arguments that oppose your opinion, that will only weaken your point of view. Just present a one-sided line of reasoning, no need for any supporting evidence or examples either. Make sure you include ‘I think…’, and ‘In my opinion...’, so the examiner is 100% sure of your point of view.
In the Listening part, try to understand all the words: they are all very important and you need them to be sure of the correct answer. Don’t bother with the instructions: they are always the same, and reading the task beforehand will only confuse you. Use the time you are given before the extracts to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Write your answers straight on the answer sheet, with no concern for spelling.
When doing the Reading paper, read every word in the texts carefully: one hour is plenty of time for the 3 texts. Be persistent: if you don’t find an answer, keep looking until you do. If you’re not sure between two answers, write both, the examiner might accept it. Your opinion is very important, so if you know something is true, don’t bother trying to find it in the text. Finally: leave your answer sheet till the last minute, transferring your answers takes no time.
If you follow all these tips, you are guaranteed to stay on that 5-6 plateau for a very long time. In fact, you’ll be lucky to get there! If, however,
your goal is to get a 7+, get in touch to learn more about our IELTS preparatory course.