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The Impact Of Covid 19 On The IELTS Exam

The Covid pandemic has had a wide-ranging impact on a number of events including the hosting of the IELTS exam. Both the British council and IDP have had to change the way in which they offer the exam. In this article we will take a closer look at these changes.

Like most other events the IELTS exam was greatly affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the exam being postponed for many months at the onset of the pandemic. At the time of writing this article some test centres that have resumed testing under strict Covid 19 protocols. However, many have remained closed until further notice.

Test Centre Covid-19 SOPs

All IELTS test centres that have reopened for testing follow a strict Covid protocol. This ensures that candidates can take their test in a safe and hygienic environment. These centres follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation and local authorities.

Some of these protocols include:

  • You have to sign a health declaration before you sit for the exam
  • Test takers and staff must wear a mask (in some locations you must wear a mask by law)
  • Hand sanitisers readily available
  • Every test room is regularly disinfected & deep cleaned
  • Additional spacing for test takers and reduced group sizes
  • Partitions in computer- delivered IELTS test rooms

IELTS Indicator

If in person tests have been postponed in your area, or you have concerns about physically going to a test centre during the pandemic, then you can take the newer online version of the academic IELTS exam at home. The owners of the exam (the University of Cambridge ESOL, the British Council and IDP Education Australia) have recently introduced the IELTS indicator test as a stand-in for an actual IELTS exam test result.

The IELTS indicator test is an online IELTS test which you can take from the comfort of your own home. The test can be taken on a laptop or PC and is very similar in structure to the computer delivered IELTS test. The same four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking are assessed. The timings are also very similar to the computer delivered IELTS tests.

You can check on the official IELTS website if your local British Council or IDP IELTS Test Centre is holding IELTS exam at the moment, or if you qualify to take the IELTS Indicator test. If tests are available in your area, then make sure you follow the IELTS COVID-19 guidelines to take the precautions you’ll need to enter the test centre.

How Do Avoid Panicking During The IELTS Speaking Test

The IELTS speaking test can literally strike fear into the heart of the average test taker. This is because of a myriad of untrue myths and assumptions floating around the internet, that give a false impression about what the exam is really like and what the examiners expect from you on test day. In this article, we will take a look at how to overcome IELTS speaking test day anxiety by clarifying a few things about the test and the examiner.

Know What To Expect

The most obvious way to ensure that there are no nasty surprises on test day is to thoroughly research the test format and question types. Get to know what is expected of you for each question, and how long your responses are supposed to be. This will go a long way to allaying your fears about the interview

Make Sure You Are Well-Rested

Students often experience a high level of test-day anxiety and this has a great impact on their speaking scores. It can be overwhelming to have to use a wide range of language skills under timed conditions and the observation of an examiner Make sure you are well rested before you sit for the exam. Get an early night's rest before your test and try to relax instead of studying frantically. You should also make sure that you have a good breakfast as you will have to sit for the entire test duration without any food items.

A Few Mistakes Are Only Natural

It’s common for even the most prepared students to make a few blunders here and there. However, this should not throw you off balance. Remember the speaking module is scored as a whole, and even if you make a few mistakes, you still have plenty of other chances to impress the examiner. Therefore, it is important to remain calm and collected even if you have misspoken.

Tough Questions Are A Good Thing

The examiner is not really allowed to give you any indication of how you are performing during the test. However, it is their duty to challenge your language skills to find the upper limit of your score. If the examiner feels that your answers are too simplistic, they will challenge you by asking more and more challenging questions. This means that they feel that you could do better and improve your score. So don’t assume that something is wrong if the examiner asks too many tougher questions.

As you can see the best way to avoid panicking is to be well prepared for the exam. Make sure that you thoroughly practice for the exam under strict exam conditions. This will help improve your stamina when it comes to answering questions in succession and you will become familiar with what is expected of you on test day

Preparing for the speaking exam is best done under the guidance of an IELTS professional. They will be able to guide you on how to improve your speaking skills and also give you feedback on your practice answers. This would be very difficult for you to do on your own.

IELTS Listening: Effective Note Taking Skills

There are many tasks in the IELTS listening test that test your ability to effectively note down to important information in a talk or conversation however, note-taking is not really a skill that most of us are good at. In this article, we will take a look at some affective note taking strategies.

Why Good Note Taking Is Such An Important Skill


During the listening test, candidates will have to listen to the recording, read the questions, and write their answers. This can even be more challenging since the recordings are in English which is often a candidate’s second or third language. To add to this the speakers in the recordings have native accents, which might be unfamiliar to test takers. To top it all of you only get to listen to the recording just once. This can get overwhelming for any test taker. You can avoid this sense of being overwhelmed, by training your ears to pick up the important information in an audio.

How To Practice Note Taking


1. Be An Active Listener

The first step would be to train to be an active listener. Try listening to YouTube videos and ted talks, where speakers are discussing one particular topic. Listen to the recording in full (or in small chunks at the beginning of your preparation). Try to note down the important points mentioned by the speaker. You could also try making a small summary of the important points. Go back and review the transcript of the video and compare it to your summary. Check if there were any major points that you missed.

2. Listen Out For Keywords

It is impossible to note each word you hear in the recording. Therefore, you need to be able to decide quickly about what information is key/important. You need to learn to simply focus on keywords and phrases. Your notes should only serve to reinforce what you are listening to, so make sure that you focus on listening and not on note-taking. This will help to clarify your understanding of what you are listening to.

3. Listen Out For Signal Words

The speakers usually offer clues, in the form of signal words, to help test takers understand that different types of information are about to be mentioned. For example, the speaker could introduce an example by saying something like “for instance” or they could signal the end of their talk by saying “to sum up” Understanding what these words mean or ‘signal’ will help you to anticipate what the speaker might talk about next. When you become accustomed to listening to these sorts of recordings you get a clearer idea about the signal words that you need to listen out, and which type of information is about to follow

You can easily practice your note-taking skills by taking full-length practice tests under exam conditions. This will help you to improve the speed at which you take notes as well as their quality.

Once you have mastered the necessary skills needed to perform well in the IELTS Listening Exam, taking regular practice tests will also help you to learn how to be fast enough to answer all the questions on time, without making mistakes.

The most efficient and convenient way to pass the exam is to take the counsel of expert online IELTS tutors and practice using authentic IELTS Mock tests.

IELTS Vocabulary: How Using Idioms Can Affect Your Score

If you are preparing for the IELTS exam, then probably heard about idioms is important when it comes to the speaking (and writing) test. However, most students have no clue about idioms to learn and how to incorporate them in a natural way into their responses. In this article, we will take a closer look at everything you need to know about idioms.

What Is An Idiom

An idiom (also called idiomatic expression) is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning conventionally understood by native speakers. This meaning is different from the literal meaning of the idiom's individual.

The use of idioms during your speaking and writing test can help you to sound more like a native speaker, but be careful, if you use them incorrectly, they might actually lower your score!

For example:

  • The test is a piece of cake.
  • I’d rather not jump the gun

When Should You Use Idioms


Idioms are an informal aspect of the English language, and therefore they should only be used during the IELTS speaking test. Since it is moral to mimic the conditions of an actual one-to-one English conversation.

When You Shouldn’t Use Idioms

Whenever a question requires a formal response, like for example an essay or a formal letter, it is unwise to use idioms to communicate your ideas. This is because idioms are a characteristic of informal speech. If you use an idiom for a formal answer, you signal to the examiner that you are unaware of the differences between formal and informal speech and this can negatively affect your task achievement scores.

Avoid Overusing Idioms


While it is good to show the examiner that you are comfortable with using idioms, it is important not to use them. Doing this will make you sound unnatural. You will end up focusing more on find idioms to use take than speaking and this can affect your fluency. Don’t use any idiom that you are not 100% familiar with.

Examiners can easily pick up when you use a phrase incorrectly and this will lower your score.

You can avoid this by making sure that when you learn new idioms you also practice how to use them in a natural way. Listen to how native speakers use these phrases in a conversation, and practice using them on your own by saying or jotting down a few sentences that indicate these idioms.

Hopefully, by now, You’ve learned a lot about idioms and the IELTS exam. If you have any further question feel free to leave a comment

Why The IELTS Writing Module Is So Tough

Ask any candidate what was the toughest module to prepare for and I guarantee that 90% of the response will say that IELTS writing module. When it comes to the writing module we have to flex skills that we might not have had to use in years. Like for example, when was the last time you had to write an actual letter.

It might not be the content of the writing test that is that difficult but rather that the skills needed during this exam are not skills that we use In our daily life.

The other three skills are somewhat incorporated into our daily routine. We often have to speak in English or listen to the other participants in a conversation, and thanks to the internet, we are definitely exposed to English text on a large scale.

Another reason why the writing test is hard to score well in is that it is the only module where you don’t have many opportunities to make up for a mistake. If you answer the question incorrectly during the Listening, Reading, or Speaking it is highly unlikely to affect your score in a substantial way

However, for the writing module if you fail to understand the question you might end up writing an entire essay that is off-topic, which will result in a low Task Achievement score.

Failing To Understand The Skills Needed

Another reason why students fail to score well is that they are unaware of which features, examiners, look out for in a good piece of writing. Candidates tend to focus more on having good ideas rather than how to frame their arguments in a logical and easy-to-understand manner.

Therefore in order to score well, it's important to familiarize yourself with public writing band descriptions. These will give you a better idea about the type of language skills you need to ace the writing exam. you can find these descriptors on the official IELTS website.

Time Constraints


Additionally, the writing module is tough due to strict time limits for the test. Test takers have to write a minimum of 400 words for both tasks, as well as brainstorm ideas, and have enough time to recheck their answers. If you are not used to writing under a time limit you could start to panic as the clock runs out, and this can affect the quality of your answer.

Formal Language


Both the essay and report of the IELTS exam requires the use of formal language. Even though a candidate may have a good grasp of conversation English, writing in a formal language requires the use of high-level language and phrases, which not all candidates make be comfortable using.

Now that you have a better idea about some of the trendier aspects of the IELTS writing module you can begin with your IELTS writing preparation.

What To Do If You Are Asked A Question About An Unfamiliar Topic?

The IELTS speaking test assesses a candidate's ability to produce natural-sounding speech, that is coherent, well structured, and easily understood by native speakers.

In order to assess these skills, the IELTS examiners ask a number of questions based on a set of common core topics like work, study, family, or travel etc.

To prepare for the exam most students learn words and phrases related to these topics as well as practice speaking about them, but what happens when you are asked a question about a topic that you are unfamiliar with?

In this article, we will deal with the issue and offer you some valuable guidance on what to do in such a situation.

Don’t Panic

Don’t panic, stay calm and collected. It is important to remember that during the speaking test you are not being tested on how knowledgeable you are on any particular topic, but rather on how well you communicate whatever knowledge you have.

Buy Time To Think

Buy time to think using certain phrases. It is not good to show that the examiner that you don’t know how to answer. Often when we are unsure we use pause or use fillers or pause for too long, and this can give the examiner the impression that you lack the vocabulary to answer the question. To give yourself time to think you can use phrases like:

  • That’s a difficult question, let me think for a second.
  • That’s a very interesting question, let me think.
  • It’s very difficult to know exactly, but I think/but I believe/perhaps….
  • It’s difficult to say, I think….
  • I don’t really know for sure, but I would say….

Alternatively, you could just be honest with the examiner and let them know that although you know very little about the topic, you will try your best to answer as best as possible. you should also explain why you are not familiar with the topic. Again, whatever you say will be assessed on how you say it, so make sure you use sufficient grammatical structures, a good range of vocabulary, and give well-structured answers.

Make Up A Good Example

If you really don’t have much to say you could always make up a related example or story. The examiners do not fact-check the validity of whatever you say during the exam. as mentioned before it's more about how well you express your ideas. However, if you are not comfortable with making up a story, then you might not end up sounding more nervous, and this would negatively affect your score.

An effective way to overcome this is to practice daily by speaking on a wide variety of topics, especially those that are outside your comfort zone.

Why Is The IELTS Test So Popular?

The IELTS exam is by far the most popular language proficiency test in the world, and it has been that way almost since its inception, way back in 1989. If you need to take language proficiency test for work or migration purposes and are deciding on which language proficiency test to take, read on to find out why thousands of students each year opt for the IELTS exam.

The IELTS Test Is Widely Recognized

One of the major reasons that the IELTS exam is accepted by so many institutions and organizations than any other language test. The IELTS exam is recognized by 140 countries and over 9000 organizations over the globe. This is because the test is run by three organizations that are known all over the world for their integrity and high standards the test thoroughly assesses a person's L, W, R, and S skills and is held under strict exam conditions during each stage of its development. This means that the scores obtained by a candidate are an accurate reflection of a candidate’s language skills and abilities.

Strict IELTS Test Security Measures

IELTS test centers are bound to follow strict security protocols such as biometric, and photographic identification as well as having security cameras record every test and take strict rules about what is allowed in the test room. This ensures that there is no possibility of cheating during the exams.

The IELTS test content is developed by an international team of experts and undergoes extensive research to ensure that the test not only remains fair and unbiased, but relevant in today’s world as well.

The methods in which the test is developed and graded mean that it remains fair and unbiased regardless of the nationality, background, gender, or lifestyle of a candidate.

Easy And Secure IELTS Registration Process

Candidates can easily book their test online and pay using a credit or debit card. The process is simple and almost effortless.

IELTS Test Availability

The IELTS computer delivery test is available 365 days of the year, except for public holidays at a growing number of locations. Test results are available after 3 to 5 days of taking the exam. this fast response time is also a key factor in the IELTS exam’s popularity since many candidates need their IELTS results in order to proceed further with their visa applications or university admission.

By now you’ve released the IELTS exam is synonymous with integrity and fairness having a good IELTS score, indicates to institutions, immigration authorities, and even prospective employers that you have superior and valuable English language skills. You can view your IELTS score as a badge of honor, and a getaway to a wealth of opportunities all over the world.

Will Wearing A Mask Affect My IELTS Speaking Score?

Due to the Covid pandemic, all IELTS test takers are required to wear a mask by law before entering any test centre. Although wearing a mask, is an effective way to stop the spread of the disease, it’s not exactly comfortable to wear, especially during a 3-hour test. I’ve heard a number of concerns from students, who were worried that wearing a mask would somehow affect their speaking score. In this article, we will debunk this myth.

What Happens During The Speaking Test

Unlike other popular language proficiency exams, the IELTS speaking test is a one on one, in person interview with a human examiner. The test is not delivered through any piece of computer equipment and the scores are based on the judgment of actual people and not an algorithm. The examiner will ask you a series of questions, that are separated into 3 specific sections. Your responses will be based on the examiners assessment of a predefined set of criteria for the test.

Why A Mask Won’t Affect Your Speaking Score

The IELTS examiners are English language experts, who are trained to base their assessments of candidates on clearly defined, publicly available criteria. To add to this, they themselves are regularly assessed to make sure that they main the quality and integrity of the speaking exam.

These examiners are therefore able to are able to distinguish subtleties of the English language and linguistic features necessary for effective communication, even when you wear a mask, and they will be able to let you know if your mask is affecting, the way your responses are understood. You can also request that an examiner repeat or reword a question, in case their mask hindered your understanding of what was asked. This is not possible with an algorithm or microphone as used in other language tests

This all works together to ensure that all speaking scores are fair and that an issue like wearing a mask is highly unlikely to affect your score. This all means that it is highly unlikely that a mask would somehow hinder how your responses are received.

How Can You Overcome Being Uncomfortable While Speaking With A Mask?

I particularly feel flustered when having to speak for long periods of time with a mask on. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be to do so under exam conditions. Unfortunately at the moment, it is extremely necessary to do so. One of the ways to get around this issue is to include practicing for the speaking test while wearing a mask. You could even try recording yourself and listening back to the audio to determine how clear your responses were.

Get An Outside Opinion

For the speaking module, in particular, getting expert guidance is the key to success. Even under normal circumstances, it is really difficult for second language learners to objectively assess their own weaknesses and practice responses. A trained professional will be able to provide you with valuable feedback and keep you up to date with all the IELTS Covid changes.

What Does It Mean If The IELTS Examiner Interrupts You

I often have my Singapore students tell me that they were upset, because they felt as if the examiner did not let them finish there speaking answers, and kept interrupting them. Their biggest concern was this somehow affected their score or that it meant they were doing something wrong during their test. In this article I aim to dispel the common misconceptions about the IELTS speaking test and examiner interruptions

When Can The IELTS Examiner Interrupt Candidates?

The main reason that examiners interrupt students is due to limited time. Remember that the speaking test lasts for 13 to 15 minutes and around 14 questions have to asked and answered during this time. Most often the examiner just wants to make sure that there will be enough time for you to complete all the components of the test.

Another reason that the examiner might cut your answer short is that they feel you have already provided enough information about your language skills for that particular question, and the examiner wants to assess you on a different topic or skill.

The only time other time that the examiners can interrupt you is  if you are completely off topic and it’s clear that you did not understand the question, in that case they will clearly let you know the reason for the interruption.

Why Examiner Interruptions Can Be A Good Thing!

Another point to note about part three interruptions, is that if the examiner interrupts you during a part three answer, it is most likely a good thing! It sounds strange but it’s true. Part three of the speaking test is the most challenging, Basically, the examiner will decide on whether you should stay at the score you are at, based on your performance in Part 1 and Part 2, or whether they should improve your score.

If the examiner feels that your answers are too simplistic they will challenge you by asking more and more challenging questions. This means that they feel that you could do better and improve your score. That is why many students find this part a little bit more demanding than previous parts.

How Do These Interruptions Affect Your IELTS Band Score

Examiner interruptions will not affect your score. However, these interruptions can throw you off and make you lose your train of thought. This is especially true if you are unprepared for the speaking exam, and have no idea what examiner interruptions really mean. The best you can do is be confident and make sure that your answers are related to the question.

By now you should know that examiner interruptions are not a bad thing at all, and they do not affect your speaking score. In fact, as we have seen, they can even be a good thing!

How Long Will It Take Me To Reach My Required IELTS Band Score?

It’s common for students who have just started their IELTS preparation to ask how long do they have to study before they see any improvement in their score. If you have a similar query, then this is the article for you. We will take an in-depth look at how much time you need to improve your score by at least one band

Why Is This Information Important

If you know how long it will take you to reach a certain level, you can plan in advance for when you need to take the exam, and how much time you need to make sure the requirements for your applications for university admissions or visa applications can be submitted.

How Quickly Can Your Score Improve

The amount of time it takes for you to prepare for the IELTS language proficiency exam depends greatly on your individual circumstances and level of English language capability. Some people might have the skills to take the exam in a week while others who are at a lower level might need a few months to prepare. In addition to that, you also need to consider your current level of proficiency, how much you need to learn, and how quickly you learn new skills. Some people have a natural aptitude for languages, just like how some people are naturally talented at maths. In such cases, you might be able to improve your score in a shorter amount of time.

The Next Factor To Consider Is How Much Time Have To Dedicate To Your Preparation

Most IELTS students are also full-time working professionals or students with busy daily routines. They often find it difficult to set aside sufficient study time to prepare for the IELTS exam, but unfortunately, if you want to ace the IELTS exam then discipline is the key.

In the past, IELTS released a study that suggested it takes around 200 hours of productive course study for a person to improve their band score by 1. In other words, a student should study around 5 hours/day for 2 months to improve his/her band score by 1.

However, this refers to five productive hours of study every day, which can be difficult if you are new to the exam and have no clue about where to start with your preparation. this is why it would be best to join an IELTS course under the guided supervision of a professional teacher. Try finding a course with a fixed and intensive curriculum, so that you can focus on the areas of English language skills that are actually important for the IELTS exam.