You know you have to complete an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam to study abroad, but you begin to wonder whether or not you should take a practice IELTS test beforehand. Our answer: definitely.
While you may have spent a lot of time preparing for the actual exam, there is absolutely no harm in taking a practice test. You will get a chance to familiarize yourself with the format of the exam, see how well you work under pressure and see if you’re in need of more practice in certain parts of the exam. Whether it’s reading, writing, listening or communicating — the more practice you get, the better.
Successfully completing the IELTS test opens many educational doors. You will not only be able to apply to international schools, but many employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies as well. IELTS is recognized as proof of English language proficiency by over 9,000 organizations in 135 countries, so it’s important that you practice before taking the real thing.
Here are five reasons why you should take a practice IELTS test before the real deal.
1. Calm your nerves
Naturally, you’re nervous. You’re worried you may fail even after practicing so much. You’re stressing because perhaps your reading capabilities aren’t strong enough. You may feel as though you are going through an emotional rollercoaster. It’s important to recognize stress and anxiety as a vicious cycle.
While nerves cause some people to do better work, it isn’t this way for everyone. For most people nerves inhibit skills and their thought processes. You stress, you can’t focus — you can’t focus so you stress. You can avoid this negative experience entirely by simply taking a practice IELTS test. By doing so, you know it isn’t “the real thing,” you get familiar with the format and what will be asked of you, and as a result, you’re less nervous because what’s there to be nervous about? You know how it goes and you don’t have to take it so seriously.
2. Practice, practice, practice
Practice is your best friend. It is essential to obtaining a good mark. Taking a practice IELTS test promotes the virtue of “practice makes perfect.” If anything, it will only improve your marks. While a perfect score may be tough to achieve, when you take a practice IELTS test, you get familiar with your level and know in advance whether or not you are qualified.
Further, you know where your areas of improvement are and can focus specifically on practicing those sections before taking the real exam. Finally, you don’t have to worry about re-doing the exam or wasting your time because you took the practice IELTS test and know what you’re capable of. You get the opportunity to review your test results and compare them with the model responses, or perhaps your last responses.
3. Improve your communication skills
Perhaps your communication skills need to be improved. When you take a practice IELTS test you choose to practice all sections of the exam, one of them being communication. This is your chance to hash out the challenges you face and to better understand how to communicate with others. As a result, come test day, you will have no problem communicating and will surprise those marking your test.
Communication is a tough one largely because many non-native English speakers lack the courage to speak in a language that isn’t their own. The only way to truly get comfortable with it is to communicate with others in person.
4. Refine your multitasking and time management skills
With a practice IELTS test, you can refine your multitasking abilities. The more you strengthen your communication skills, the better your listening skills, writing skills, and reading skills become. You learn to work all sections into one, begin to solve tasks altogether and avoid distractions. Further, you begin to understand how each section helps the other; how reading and writing, and listening and communicating go hand-in-hand.
With time management skills specifically, you learn to manage your time well when it comes to certain parts of the exam. You gain a better understanding of how long it may take you to write a letter versus an essay, and how much time you should delegate for each. In the grand scheme of things, this allows you to better allocate time for various general assignments in school, and even more, essay questions in an exam setting.
5. New perspective on the skills gained
Finally, you gain a new understanding on how certain sections such as reading and listening come in handy while studying in Canada. Some think only communication skills are necessary to have a successful experience abroad. However, when you arrive in Canada you will quickly realize reading is essential, especially since everything is written in English (and French).
Sure, you may have good communication skills, but if you lack reading skills you may have a difficult time getting around the city, reading instructions, studying English courses, etc. Similarly, if you lack listening skills this could ultimately inhibit your communication skills. It all comes full circle and each section assists the other — something you will realize at the end.
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