Hello, and welcome to the first of many posts on our IELTS Pass blog. My name is Niels Kokholm Nielsen, and I’m a Cambridge examiner with more than 15 years of experience teaching English to people of all ages and from all walks of life. I have worked extensively with all Cambridge exams especially the FCE, CAE, CPE and IELTS.
In today’s short post we will address some common misunderstandings amongst most candidates I have prepared for the IELTS – the issue of to what extent it is better to focus on the test itself or to studying English.
There is of course no clear-cut answer to this question as is depends a lot on each candidates’s profile and previous study experience. However, what can be said is that no candidate has ever achieved a desired IELTS mark without having had sufficient English. (The issue of what sufficient English is will be discussed in detail in our IELTS Pass video tutorials coming out mid September, 2011). This said, a significant number of candidates I have evaluated in my career as examiner have broken their necks and scored poorly despite excellent English. The reason:
They had insufficient knowledge (if any) of the test itself.
It might come as a surprise to many, but several candidates decide to take the test having never laid their eyes on previous tests. Mostly, this leads to disaster. The areas where most fail are:
- Poor time management. (they simply run out of time and lose precious points)
- Difficulties in understanding the task provided.
- No or little understanding of what an IELTS report or essay should look like.
- Lack of discourse management during the Speaking Paper.
- They fail to correctly transfer their answers to the answer sheets (yes, it’s true)
It therefore stands to reason that you, the candidate, must strike a balance between studying English and doing mock exams. Depending on your current level and your profile, this can mean a bit more English or a bit more exam practice, but you cannot choose. You should do both!