I have worked with IELTS students for many years and over this time students have told me many things about the IELTS exam that I term ‘myths’.
The reason I consider them to be mythology is because they are mostly not true and secondly they can become a huge distraction to students who are preparing for the exam. At best they are harmless pieces of ‘folklore’ but sometimes they can actually be detrimental and act against good performance in the exam.
So here are 10 IELTS Myths (there are plenty more) all of which have been said to me by my students quite recently. I want to explain to you why you should ignore these and stick to the real work of preparing successfully for your exam!
In this post I would like to explode some of these myths and explain why IELTS candidates should ignore them.
So here are my top 10 myths:
You can get a higher band at X centre
When I was an IELTS examiner in London some years ago, this belief used to amuse me. I often examined with other examiners who attended various different centers. We would meet each other at different centres and so wherever students went for their IELTS exam the same examiners would be there! There are many more centres nowadays but examiners do still move around.
Secondly, examining the IELTS is standardised and all examiners do a lot of training to ensure that they are all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ i.e. all giving a standardised result. Wherever you take the exam you will get the same experience and chance.
Some examiners are stricter than others
If you take on board what I’ve said above then this cannot be true. All examiners have to give all candidates the same experience and they train rigorously for this.
All examiners want you to be successful and get a good score but they can only score what you give them on the day!
Only x number of candidates will get a high band at each centre
Every IELTS candidate has the same chance and if you perform well enough to achieve a high band then you will get a high band.
The way to make sure that you get the band you want is to prepare well, make sure that your English is at the right level and not waste time worrying about these things.
If I pause for more than 10 seconds in the speaking I can’t get a high band
This could be a very dangerous thing to believe because it means that you are counting time instead of thinking about how you perform in the speaking test.
I am quite sure that the examiner is not checking the length of your pauses. If they were doing that they would not be paying attention to what you say and then they would not be able to score you at all! If you think about this it is ridiculous.
It is true that if you hesitate too much then your speaking will not be fluent and that will affect your score. Instead of counting pauses though, make sure that you can answer the questions fluently. Counting the length of your pauses can only interfere with your communication and I am sure that it will end up being stilted.
Certain centres will not give high bands to candidates from x country
This is a new one on me. Examiners only check passports to see that you are the person you say you are. Their role is to test your English performance and not to make judgements about your nationality. IELTS examiners have no control or influence over visas – they are simply assessing your English.
I have to include these words (usually a list) in my task two or I won’t get a high band
Sadly I have seen essays that are ‘word-packed’ and often the communication is lost. The most important thing about the essay is that you answer the questions in a communicative and convincing way. You are at liberty to use any words and phrases you wish and,of course, if you use a range of good vocabulary that will hep you with your final score but throwing words at the essay just because you think they will impress the examiner is a dangerous thing to do. Using words appropriately and sensibly to give your essay some sophistication will get you marks but throwing words at your essay willy-nilly because you think they will earn you marks won’t help you at all.
It’s better to spend your time broadening your overall vocabulary and perfecting your writing style so that you are able to use new words in the right way.
I have to keep practising the IELTS practice test to get a good band score
This can be a very boring and limiting way of preparing for the test. While it is important to prepare for the IELTS and understand what is expected in each part of the test, you need to remember that this is a test of English and the better your English, the better your chances of doing well. Don’t limit yourself to IELTS tests use the great wealth of English language material on the internet to help you too.
IELTS is the most difficult English exam
IELTS is actually a very straightforward exam – there are no tricks. It tests your ability to use English in certain tasks at a certain level and that is all. There are many tests of English for many different purposes and if you are well prepared and have the right English level (this is very important – you need to be band 7 to get band 7) then IELTS is no more difficult than any other exam.
If the examiner doesn’t like my opinion I won’t get a high band
The examiner’s job in the writing and speaking is to see if you are able to present ideas and arguments in good English and to test that those ideas are plausible and backed up so that they are convincing. At no time will the examiner judge your ideas (as long as they are sensible and fit in with the question).
You are in control of your speaking and writing not the examiner. You should use this position to demonstrate your excellent use of English. If you are waiting for the examiner then you will not perform as well. Take the lead and convince the examiner of your opinions.
I have to give the examiner the answer they want in the speaking
This tallies with the above myth. The examiner has a list of questions that they will ask you but it is your job to take those questions and use them to demonstrate your English. The examiner has no idea what your answers will be and they also have no idea in their head of an answer that they want – that is your job. They will simply listen and mark you according to how you managed to respond.
So my advice is not to listen to these myths they will not help you. You should concentrate on what will help you and that is sustained, regular practice in both your English language and the IELTS exam preparation.
Do you need help with your IELTS exam?
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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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