Debunking Myths and Misconceptions about IELTS

IELTS Myths vs Facts

Many misconceptions surround the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), leading to confusion among test-takers. In this blog, we’ll debunk some common myths and clarify the realities of the IELTS exam.

Myth: There is a passing or failing score.

Reality: Forget the pass-or-fail mindset! IELTS provides a score on a scale of 1 to 9, reflecting your true proficiency level. 

Contrary to some common misconceptions, IELTS does not follow a pass-or-fail system. Instead, it employs a scoring system, with individual Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking scores on a 1 to 9 scale. These scores are averaged for an overall band score ranging from 1 to 9. Rubrics associated with each band level detail the language abilities, providing a nuanced profile. This absence of a binary pass or fail approach allows for a more informed assessment of a test taker’s English proficiency, aiding decisions by universities, employers, and immigration authorities.

Myth: The more complex your vocabulary, the better your score.

Reality: High scores in exams like IELTS are not solely tied to complex vocabulary or ‘big’ words. Effective communication is key!

While diverse vocabulary is valuable in the writing and speaking sections, effective communication is key. Using overly complex language without considering clarity and accuracy can hinder rather than enhance communication. IELTS evaluates a candidate’s ability to express ideas clearly and accurately, valuing appropriate vocabulary use in context. Overly complex expressions, if misused, may lead to confusion.

Thus, test takers should strike a balance between vocabulary and accurate expression.

Myth: British English is the only accepted form in IELTS Writing.

Reality: Whether your pen follows the Queen’s English or dances with the Stars and Stripes, it’s about clear expression and grammatical finesse.

IELTS Writing embraces variations in English usage, including American English, prioritizing effective communication and grammatical accuracy.

In essence, while the IELTS test expects candidates to demonstrate proficiency in formal English, it does not penalize for minor variations in spelling, vocabulary, or grammar between British and American English. Instead, the focus remains on clarity of expression, coherence of ideas, and accuracy in language use.

Myth: You must have a British or American accent to score well on the Speaking test.

Reality: Accents don’t define your score! Whether British, American, or another variation, clear pronunciation is what matters in the IELTS Speaking test.

IELTS assesses proficiency beyond British English, recognizing global language diversity. This aligns with the test’s international nature, catering to diverse linguistic backgrounds. Thus, the test gauges comprehension and communication abilities, irrespective of specific accents, ensuring fair evaluation for test takers globally.

Myth: You cannot prepare for IELTS.

Reality: Preparing for IELTS is key to success! Familiarize yourself with the format, practice sample questions, and enhance your English skills for a confident performance.

Preparation is crucial for IELTS success. Understanding the exam format and getting familiar with sections, question types, and time constraints builds confidence. Practicing with sample questions helps develop effective strategies and improves time management. Enhancing English language skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking is integral. Exposure to accents, academic vocabulary, and writing styles contributes to proficiency.

Thus, reading literature, newspapers, or articles and engaging in English conversations is the key to doing well in IELTS.

Myth: It is better not to guess if you do not know an answer.

Reality: Guessing strategically on the IELTS maximizes scoring opportunities! Don’t hesitate to make an educated guess; incorrect answers carry no penalty.

In the IELTS exam, there is no penalty for incorrect answers, meaning that test-takers do not lose points for guessing. So, if you are unsure about an answer, it’s better to make an educated guess rather than leave the question unanswered. Guessing on the IELTS is strategic, as it maximizes scoring opportunities, potentially boosting the overall score.

Myth: The computer-based test is easier than the paper-based test.

Reality: Don’t let myths cloud your judgment! Both computer-based and paper-based IELTS tests have the same content and difficulty level.

Contrary to popular belief, both formats of the IELTS test have identical content and difficulty levels. The primary difficulty lies in the delivery mode, not the question complexity. Content, including question types, topics, and evaluation criteria, is consistent in both formats, so the difficulty level remains unchanged.

The key distinction is interaction—based navigation versus physical interaction in the paper-based version. While the computer format allows easy editing, it does not affect question complexity.

Understanding this reality is crucial for candidates choosing a format based on preferences and tech comfort.

Myth: You must speak for a specific time for each question in the Speaking test.

Reality: Express yourself naturally! There is no specific time requirement for each answer in the IELTS Speaking test. Focus on clear expression and effective communication.

There is no set time limit for responses; the focus is on expressing ideas clearly, coherently, and effectively. The Speaking test evaluates spoken English proficiency and communication skills across three parts with varied questions. The absence of strict time constraints allows candidates to express their thoughts naturally and engage in a conversation with the examiner, addressing progressively complex queries. This aligns with the broader IELTS goal of assessing language proficiency in real-life situations. Thus, candidates should prioritize clear expression, effective vocabulary, grammar usage, and effective communication skills instead of meeting a specific time requirement.

By debunking these common myths and misconceptions, we hope to provide clarity and empower test-takers to approach the IELTS exam with confidence and preparedness. Remember, understanding the realities of the exam is key to achieving success!

As India’s leading Study Abroad Consultant, Dilip Oak’s Academy offers a comprehensive suite of services, including GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, as well as GRE Self Prep. Furthermore, our admission counseling services can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. To enroll in our comprehensive overseas education consultancy services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-20-67444222.

What Happens if I Get a Low Score in the TOEFL or IELTS?

What is the Minimum Score Required?

Most American Universities regard a score of 80 (out of 120) in TOEFL, as an acceptable minimum score for admission. However, students applying to high-ranking colleges generally need a minimum score of 100 on TOEFL or, a score of band 7 (out of 9) on the IELTS. What happens if you get a lower score than you require? Does that mean that admission is not possible?

What if I have Less than the Minimum Score Required?

Low Scores in TOEFL/IELTS

For students, a low score does not necessarily mean an application reject. University admissions committees assess English proficiency based on other application criteria, apart from test scores. In case your score is less than the minimum required you may need to take an English Language course in the University, followed by a test. This course will have to be taken along with the regular curriculum and you will be required to pay an additional fee for it. The best thing to do is to retake the TOEFL and improve your score before joining the University. That way you can get an exemption from the remedial English course.

Good News for Indian Students

However, there is good news for Indian students. In 2011, the country average for India was 92 in TOEFL, much higher than the global average (which was about 68) and also the minimum requirement of 80 for American colleges. Institutions requiring an IELTS assessment, generally accept a minimum score of 6, which is also the present global average. Again, students from India fared marginally better than this figure with a mean score of 6.1. Hence, if you’re the “average Indian student”, you will probably do well on whichever English assessment test you take.

How Can I Improve My IELTS/TOEFL Score?

But, what if you have already done the test and have a low score? How do you prepare? (Find out about coaching for TOEFL and IELTS.)

Preparing for TOEFL

After you have done this preliminary work, take a diagnostic test to find out where you stand. If you still feel uncertain about whether you can get the required score, join our 3-week intensive online/classroom course that will equip you with all the strategies and tips required to achieve your target score. Further, the detailed feedback on your essays and one-on-one appointments with the faculty will help you overcome your weaker areas. Click to find out more about TOEFL coaching.

Preparing for IELTS

Read the following recommended books

  • Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy (Cambridge University Press)
  • Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings (Cambridge University Press)

After you have done this preliminary work, take a diagnostic test to find out where you stand. If you still feel uncertain about whether you can get the required score, join our one-month intensive online/classroom course that will equip you with all the strategies and tips required to achieve your target score. Further, the detailed feedback on your essays and one-on-one appointments with the faculty will help you overcome your weaker areas. Click to find out more about IELTS coaching.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we understand the significance of this journey. Thus, we offer comprehensive GRE coaching in Pune, both online and classroom, to support you in this crucial aspect of your academic journey. Further, our admission counseling services can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. To enroll in our comprehensive services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-020-67444222.

We offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and Canada.  

How To Improve Your Scores In IELTS Speaking

Everyone knows about the basic criteria that help IELTS candidates to get better scores in Writing and Speaking. There are, however, other factors that may indirectly aid test takers during their speaking tests. So, let’s explore the ways that will help you boost your IELTS Speaking score.

5 Easy Ways to Ace your IELTS Speaking

Keep your Body Language Calm

In the Speaking test, the examiner asks you several questions and you have to answer them. It is understandable that when you have so much in your mind it is difficult to relax. But if you think of it as a light conversation with a friend, the whole process will become easier for you. Remember that the examiner is not there to find faults in your language, instead he is there to observe your strengths as a communicator. Therefore, you can talk in a cool and calm manner rather than becoming a bundle of nerves. 

Speak in an Engaging Manner

No one likes to get bored to death, hence, deal with the questions as if you are excited about them. Examiners take several speaking tests in a day and the last thing they want is a dull conversation. Therefore, once you tempt an examiner into listening to what you say, he will be more interested in finding your positives than negatives, which will ultimately help you improve your score. 

Use Intonations to Break the Monotony 

Adhering to the four basic criteria of speaking is crucial, but presentation is equally important. It is essential to reiterate here that the IELTS Speaking test is more of a conversation than Q & A. Therefore, natural rise and fall in your tone is expected. Voice modulation aids in understanding of the listener and keeps the conversation spry, which helps you grab the examiner’s attention. 

Sound Genuine while Speaking 

Little bit of theatrics may come handy here! How? Well, it may happen that for some questions you have to borrow experiences from others or make up a story; however, while doing so it is important to sound convincing; the way actors do. This confidence will keep you composed and eventually help you establish control over the conversation. 

Avoid Using Fillers

Fillers like umm.., uhh…, so…, actually…breaks the flow of the conversation and makes it difficult to understand the content. Therefore, it is utmost important to eliminate fillers from your speech. Interestingly, you can change this weakness into strength by embracing the pauses and using them to collect your thoughts before we speak.

Coronavirus Lockdown: Tips for easy IELTS and TOEFL Prep at Home

As you are aware, most classes have been temporarily suspended and tests like GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS have been postponed due to Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown. Also, there is no clarity on when the classes will resume and situations will normalize.

To help you make optimum use of this lockdown time, we discussed in our last blog, a few tips that can help you to prepare for the GRE while at home. When it comes to TOEFL and IELTS, most of you are used to classroom practice and find it difficult to manage it at home. In this blog, we shall discuss a few easy strategies that will help you to overcome this hurdle and boost your prep even when at home:

TOEFL

  • Read news articles, story archives or any other interesting article for about 30 minutes every day and reflect on your understanding of it. While doing this, underline new words, write them down in a book, memorize them and try to use them while speaking. Some of the recommended reading sources are New Yorker, NY Times, Huffington Post, and TOI.
  • Listen more to native English speakers for getting a grip on pronunciations and speed. You can listen to FluentU videos, TED Talks, YouTube videos and podcasts, BBC Radio and NPR. Pause the audio clip after every few seconds and try to see if you are able to understand well and where you are falling short. For good lectures and conversations, go to Gothica on Youtube and practice.
  • For the writing section, pick the topics of your choice and practice timed writing for the essays. For Dilip Oak’s students, you can practice topics on Page 38 of the TOEFL book thoroughly.
  • For the speaking section, speak on any topic of your choice (timed for 45 seconds as per TOEFL requirement) and record it on your phone. For Oak’s Academy students, practice topics from Page 123 of the book, others can browse any topics online. Go back to the recording and check for fluency, grammar, pronunciations, clarity etc. Ask your friends or family to listen to your recording and get feedback. This will help you to improve more.
  • You can take a free practice test on the ETS official website.

 

IELTS

  • Read news articles, story archives or any other interesting article for about 30 minutes every day and reflect on your understanding of it. Read the National Geographic more since many IELTS passages are Science passages. For Oak’s Academy students, you can practice from IELTS Book 2.
  • For listening practice, go for TED Talks, FluentU videos etc. You can also access a lot of listening practice material on https://allieltsmaterial.blogspot.com/
  • For speaking practice, record a timed response (11-14 minutes) on your phone on any topic of your choice, go back and listen to it to know your mistakes and assess your performance. For Oak’s students, you can practice topics from Book 1.
  • or writing essays, Academy students can refer to Book 1 which has a pool of topics for task 1 and task 2. You can also write on any other relevant topic. For the initial one or two attempts, you may write an untimed essay. Once you get a hang of writing strategies, go for timed practice only.