Sometimes it happens, you study hard, you know you have ”all your ducks in a row’, you are really prepared, motivated and ready for the exam but somehow, for some reason you don’t get the result you need and it’s a BIG BLOW.
Some of my own students have experienced this and I shared the disappointment with them, especially as I really knew that they had everything they needed at their fingertips to pass with the band they wanted. Something had gone wrong on the day and the task in hand now would be to do a post-mortem and then decide on a way forward.
So here’s my plan of action that you can put in place when your exam doesn’t give you the score you want.
1. Firstly, be assured that you HAVE NOT FAILED, you haven’t quite got your target score but if you have scored 6.5 instead of 7 then that is a VERY good score! Allow yourself to feel disappointed, angry, despairing, whatever emotion you feel – go through this – you have to get over the disappointment before you can move on. Talk to whoever you feel you need to talk to or hide in your room for 3 days if that’s what you need to do – get it out of your system!
2. After the initial hurt has passed you should feel more inclined to think about the exam – what happened? I think this stage is important as unless you address where you made the mistakes it’s very difficult to move on in a positive way. Ask yourself these questions:
was I really ready for the exam (did my teacher advise me against taking it, for example?), be honest
what happened in each paper; did you finish, did you say enough in the speaking, did you do something new or different, how much guessing did you do, were you too anxious, or even too confident – try to get an overview of the day
how did you feel about the questions were they straightforward, were they difficult,
how were you on the day – did you feel rushed, were you confident, too nervous, petrified etc..
try to get a picture
3. Now it’s time to ‘get back on your bike’ and try again – but with the knowledge and experience you have gained from this last experience.
4. From your analysis of your exam you should have an idea where you might have performed less than your best and this is what you must address while not allowing the other areas to drop.
work on these ‘problem’ areas in more detail
put a study plan in place
if you need only revise one area and the score was close, set a provisional (or actual) date for your next exam
if you had more than one lower score then you may need to go back to the drawing board and find out what is going wrong – perhaps get some professional help
if this keeps happening then you will have to change the way you are approaching your preparation – it could be that you are becoming an expert at a particular score and you need to ‘up your game’ to move away from this
5. Maybe you can’t work out what went wrong and you came away from the exam feeling very confident that it had all gone really well. It can be dangerous to be over-confident and it might be worth checking with a teacher that you really have the skills at the level you want. If this is confirmed then it was probably a fluke and you should keep up the practise but go back and take it as soon as possible (this is especially the case if all scores were very high except one e.g. if you got 3x band 8 and a 6.5 which was unexpected). If, on the other hand, your teacher thinks that your English level is below your desired band score then you need to get more English language practice and you MUST address this first.
6. Finally ‘don’t give up’. This is a setback and if you are on-track for the score you need you WILL get it. Keep focused, keep improving your skills and keep motivated. Every day you will be improving and IELTS is only the starting point for your future so none of the preparation you do will be wasted, it will all help you when you need to use the language day in, day out on your course or in your job.
Here are some other posts that might help you when you are feeling fed up and want to give up your IELTS dream:
Check out the IELTS category (on right of this page) for more posts on IELTS
Do you need help with your IELTS exam?
As a former IELTS examiner and with over 15 years of experience preparing and coaching people for the exam especially at Bands 7 and 8 I know what it takes to achieve these scores.
I work a lot with professionals (especially doctors) who need high band scores to move on with their careers.
Using my own Advanced English training site, Gapfillers and my own expertise in IELTS I can help you to get the score you are looking for.
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