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Vanessa Rusk, Student / Academic Advisor for Calgary English courses in the computer lab with IELTS on the screen

9 ways lessons can help you improve your band score on the IELTS test

People sometimes ask me if it’s really necessary to take IELTS test preparation lessons before taking the test. That’s like asking me if you’d like to jump out of an airplane without a parachute and without taking lessons before jumping. Probably not a good idea, right? 


And, if you take lessons before jumping out of a plane, shouldn’t they be from a qualified, experienced professional who knows what they’re doing? 

 

Yeah, but why lessons when it’s just an English test?

 

 

Vanessa with an IELTS Textbook

 

IELTS test preparation lessons give you tips and strategies on how to manage your time during the test

The IELTS test not only tests you on your English language proficiency level. It also tests you on how well you handle the English language under a time limit. 

 

Why is this you might ask?


Well, just think about how you use your own first language – sometimes you need to read and understand or to write something quickly, such as before a university lecture or for a meeting at work. 
And of course, it’s no different in English when you’re living in an English-speaking country. 

 

IELTS lessons can give you tips and strategies on how to manage your time, how to know when you need to skim and scan when reading, and when to read in detail. You’ll also learn how to deal with unknown vocabulary.

 

Lessons help you write more effectively and efficiently – essential skills for the writing part of the test. And, you get feedback from an experienced IELTS instructor who can tell you how to improve your band score.


 

group of students with IELTS instructor

 

You only listen once during the listening part of the test, which is a reality in life

I remember one native speaker of English who, after the test, said, “At times I didn’t know what they were talking about!” 

 

He said he hadn’t prepared for the test at all. I’m sure his English was excellent, but a big part of the listening section tests you on your skills of maintaining concentration during the tricky parts of the test. 

 

Tricky parts? It happens in real life. People say something, then contradict themselves by saying something else. Or, because you’re not super fluent in English you need to be comfortable with not understanding 100% of the language and still know what a person’s talking about.


IELTS lessons can help you feel comfortable and confident by giving you the skills to be prepared when you have the opportunity to listen only once.

 

 

Vanessa wearing a headset in the GV Calgary computer lab

 

When was the last time you wrote an essay?

You probably wrote an essay last in high school, college, or university, right?


Not all people are skilled at writing, especially an essay. Even native speakers of English have attended private lessons at our school to help them improve their band score in writing.


Grammar when writing is also important. So, even though your vocabulary is awesome, if you’re weak at grammar, it could bring your band score down drastically.


An experienced IELTS instructor can give you feedback on where you have difficulties in all aspects of your writing.
 

 

group of students

 

Why do you need lessons to help you write a letter for the IELTS General test?

I’m sure you’ve noticed native speakers of English are extremely polite. You bump into them and they’re the ones to say sorry. How does that make sense? It doesn’t really, but you need to keep this in mind when writing in English.


Have you ever made a complaint in English? Did you get what you wanted in the end? When writing a letter in English (or any language for that fact), “cultural transfer” is important. What does that mean? It means you need to use all those polite phrases and modal verbs when writing in English.

 

When I taught English in a country where the language was more direct when asking a company to replace a malfunctioning piece of equipment the students wrote, “I want a replacement.” They found it strange that in English it’s best to make a polite complaint by asking, “I would be grateful if I could have a replacement.” They found this too “wordy”, but interestingly effective.

 

IELTS lessons will help you learn how to write effective letters. And, isn’t this useful in real life anyway?
 

 

Vanessa supporting a student

 

Do you need to be an economist to handle all that data for part one of the Academic test?

An experienced IELTS instructor will guide you on useful vocabulary for describing trends for all those graphs, bar charts, and tables. And, how to organize your writing.


Oh, and of course, it’s also a good idea to get help with how to describe a process or a diagram for part one. Yeah, sounds like fun writing, doesn’t it?

 

An instructor can also let you know about what proper grammar to use, because direct translation doesn’t always work. For example, I had some students who used to tell me after the lesson break they went “on” a coffee. I then asked, “Oh, why did you sit on your coffee?” Of course they meant, I went “for” a coffee.

 

Vanessa shows a page of the IELTS textbook

 

How do lessons help you with the Speaking part of the IELTS test?

A student once told me he had to talk about his favorite plant, who he got it from, and so on. He didn’t have a clue how to handle it, because he’s not a botanist. And, he didn’t even like plants. This Speaking test experience finally made him decide to take IELTS lessons.


An experienced IELTS instructor will help you with what to do in this situation and also with how to organize and handle this short talk, and all the rest of the Speaking test. They would also give you feedback on where you’re going wrong (even with the grammar).


 

Vanessa behind a computer at IELTS test signup

 

Should you let friends or family members teach you, even if they did well on the test?

Have you ever had a family member help you with driving lessons? It probably wasn’t the best experience, right? 

 

I remember, when I started learning how to drive, a family member thought it would be a good idea for me to learn how to parallel park downtown during rush hour on the busiest street with loads of buses and cars behind me. Not a pretty picture.

 

 

An experienced IELTS instructor will know how to prepare you well, without freaking you out

An experienced IELTS instructor will have the patience required to teach you what you need to know, especially when things get frustrating for you.


You also need someone who knows everything about grammar, spelling rules, and all that tricky stuff that could come up during the IELTS test that you need to be aware of and be prepared for. You need someone that knows the ins and outs of the test like the back of their hand.

 

 

IELTS instructor

 

Can any English teacher be an IELTS instructor?

That’s like asking can any cook be the number one chef at a five-star restaurant.

 

Being an IELTS instructor is not for the faint-hearted. IELTS instructors are very experienced in teaching English and are similar to a coach or special trainer working with athletes. They’re teachers who are willing to go that extra mile and take pride in helping students achieve their goals.

 

I know because I was an IELTS instructor like it was my life purpose.


 

Former IELTS teacher besides the IELTS official test centre sign

 

Global Village Calgary has superstar IELTS instructors!

I can honestly say here at our school we have awesome IELTS instructors who I know very well; I respect them highly, and they’ve had excellent reviews from students. 


So, now ask yourself this question? Are you willing to take a risk and just jump for such a ‘high stakes’ exam? Or, would you like to try to do the best you can by being well prepared? And, meanwhile also learn something useful that can help you in real life anyway?

 


 
Find out more about the IELTS full-time test preparation lessons we offer in Calgary 

 

AND, we are currently offering LIVE virtual online IELTS test preparation lessons!
 

For information on our part-time evening or private IELTS test preparation lessons, contact us at our school directly: calgary@gvenglish.com