IELTS Advice: 5 Things to Avoid on the IELTS Test

With so much material on how to prepare for the IELTS test, one aspect that’s often overlooked is what not to do on the test. Test takers fret over which words to include, how to phrase their answers, what details to pay attention to, and many other factors. In too many cases, test takers forget about common errors and other issues that could negatively impact their overall score. Here are 5 things to avoid on the IELTS test.

Memorized Words or Phrases

A common tactic is for test takers to memorize advanced or highly-academic phrases or vocabulary that they have found on a Facebook page, unofficial IELTS website, or even heard from a private tutor. Quite often these phrases are “guaranteed” to get the test taker a higher score. While this might seem like a logical approach, you risk misusing a phrase or word on your exam. When language is incorrectly used, it can change the meaning of your answer and land you with a lower band score. If the examiner doesn’t understand the meaning and purpose of your answer because of misused language, it won’t matter how advanced or academic sounding your response is.

Grammar That You Don’t Understand

This connects with the previous point, but is slightly more complex. To be clear, test takers are encouraged to use a variety of sentence lengths and styles (simple, compound, complex) on their Speaking and Writing Tests and that does mean using a range of grammar tenses. However, some advanced grammar subjects, especially to do with past and future speculation, can have similar structures and very different meanings. Here’s an example using the third conditional:

“If we had played tennis, I would have won.” This refers to a hypothetical past event. It didn’t occur, but the speaker is speculating about the possible past outcome. Now let’s say the test taker makes a mistake: “If we had played tennis, I would win.” By simply forgetting ‘have’ the meaning is slightly unclear. The examiner might not know if the test taker is speculating about the hypothetical past or about the future. This might seem insignificant, but consider if the test taker compounds this original error with two or three more errors. Eventually, his or her intended meaning could be completely lost and the examiner would then assign a lower band score.

Allowing Outside Factors to Impact Your Test Scores

Hopefully this goes without saying, but the night before your exam is not the time to stay out late having drinks with friends. Conversely, the morning of the test is not the time to sleep in or rely on arriving at the last possible minute. Check your public transit options in advance, or your route if you’re driving, and give yourself extra time in case there is a delay.

Using a Template

Security on IELTS and other English-language-proficiency exams is always improving and purchasing an online template may be viewed as a form of cheating. This could result in being banned from writing the exam altogether. It’s not worth it.

Going Over the Recommended Word Count

There’s a misconception among many computer-delivered IELTS test takers that if they write longer (often much longer) essays they will receive a higher band score. This is simply not true. There are no bonus points or increased chance of a higher band score for writing well beyond the recommended word count. Follow the guidelines on the test.

Remember these things to avoid on your IELTS test to ensure that you get the best score that you’re capable of. If you’re interested in booking the exam, please visit our IELTS Vancouver website.

If you have any questions, contact us now. We’re here to help.

By Bryan Candy