IELTS Preparation: Understanding the task types

ielts preparation

There is clear evidence that learning the various task types in IELTS is the quickest and most effective way of improving your band score. We recently conducted research on over 100,000 British Council candidates using Road to IELTS (our official IELTS preparation product) to do just this. We found that after using the program for just six hours, candidates’ scores in the Reading module activities improved by, on average, 64%.

Clearly, in six hours there can be no significant change in their level of English; their improvement came from learning how to answer the questions. This can be achieved in a relatively short period of time.

How do I know if I understand the task types?

First, let me ask you some questions:

  • Do you really understand the difference between “Yes”, “No” and “Not Given” in the Reading test?
  • Do you know the kind of questions you should expect in Part 3 of the Speaking test? And do you know how to answer them to gain the maximum number of marks?
  • Do you know which tenses to use when you are describing a graph (Academic), or writing a letter (General Training)?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you are not yet properly prepared for your IELTS test.

What can I do?

If you do nothing else, you really must understand how the test works. This means becoming familiar with the question types and task types in each of the four skill tests. It will take the stress out of the experience. It will save you time in the test, and give you the best possible chance of achieving the band score you need.

And my advice to you? Start your preparation with Road to IELTS, which describes all the task types and gives you a lot of practice. If you register for IELTS with the British Council, you will get a Last Minute version free of charge. You should also consider subscribing to the full version here. It could make all the difference to your band score.

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How to prepare for the IELTS

IETLS tips

What is accepted world-wide by more than 9,000 organisations as a means of measuring language proficiency — any guesses? Yes, we are talking about the world’s proven English language test — the IELTS! IELTS is jointly owned by IELTS Australia, British Council, and Cambridge English Language Assessment Test. It has over 900 test centres in over 130 countries. The registration fee for the test is INR 9,900 currently.

Just last year, we heard that 2 million students flocked from all around the globe to take this test! It makes you stop and wonder what all the big fuss is about, doesn’t it? Keep reading and we’ll tell you.

Why the IELTS?

Universities and also employers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the USA take the IELTS into consideration. If you want to be flying to any of these destinations for your higher studies anytime soon, it’s time to take the IELTS seriously. Taking the IELTS could really open doors for you all over the world!

Interested to know how to get started with your IELTS prep? Here are a few pointers for you…

Know. It. All.

As the very first step of your IELTS prep, we suggest you learn all about the test itself. Go online and visit their official website and read up.

The test is divided into four modules that will test your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Each module will fetch you a certain band score as per your performance. One interesting must know fact for you — when it comes to the IELTS, there is no pass or fail! Your results will be reported on a 9-band scale and will be valid for a period of two years… How cool is that?

Now, a little bit about the modules you will be taking:

  • Listening: This 30 minute-module has four sections and will basically have you listening to an audio recording and have you answer questions from a booklet.
  • Reading: This 60 minute-module comprises 40 questions that will test you on a wide range of reading skills include reading for main ideas, skimming, reading for detail, and understanding logical argument. It is divided into two versions: the academic and general training versions.
  • Writing: This 60 minute-module has two versions: academic and general training. The academic comprises two tasks, in short — one: describing a chart or a diagram; two: writing an essay in response to a problem or argument. The general training also comprises two tasks – 1) writing a letter in response to a situation; 2) writing an essay in response to a problem or argument (this one may be a bit more personal than the first one).
  • Speaking: This module may last from anywhere between 11-14 minutes and assesses your spoken English skills. This will be nothing but a conversation with a certified IETLS examiner.
  • The Listening, Reading and Writing modules will come one after the other on your test day. Your Speaking module, however, may be on a different day — mostly either seven days before or after your actual test date.

Time to Go Shopping!

Research online and make sure you buy yourself some top study guides fresh from the market. You will not regret investing your money in these, we promise.

Paint Yourself A Clear Picture!

We recommend you to get your prep on at least three to six months ahead of time, if not earlier. We know that you want to obtain a certain IELTS Band Score that you have in mind, which is great, as long it is an achievable and realistic goal. Bear in mind that this test is an overall test of your proficiency in the language so it requires you to be more than just a book worm (you heard right!). Stay 100% dedicated to your prep and sharpen your language skills in all methods possible.

Practice Away!

As you start with the prep, how many hours per day do you plan to spare for all four subtests?

Regular practice is key, but do give yourself a breather; a day off of your hectic prep in a week won’t do you any harm. They don’t say that slow and steady wins the race for no reason! Long intervals are not a good idea though!

As you take practice tests, you will notice your areas of weakness that you may need to put some extra time into. Don’t get carried away and put too much time into your weak areas alone though. Make sure you cover and work on all areas.

How Fast Are You?

Many a times, we hear that candidates are unable to perform as well as they had hoped to, because time ran out fast in the reading test or their tape was so fast in their listening test. If you are unable to finish your test, it is not the end of the world, as you will only be measured on a scale from 0 to 9, where 0 is for those who did not attempt it. Focus on getting yourself to your best pace in the test — be fast, attentive and sharp. This way you will minimize your chances of running out of time.

All Ears!

When you are taking the listening test, keep in mind that the tape is played only once — so it pays to remember what you hear. Pay close attention!

Talk, Walk & Breathe in English!

For acing a test like the IELTS, we strongly recommend you to use English as much as you can in your everyday life. Here are a few simple things you could do that could make a difference:

  • Read up journals, articles, and newspapers and be informed of current events and issues, which may very well turn out to be a topic for the speaking or writing module!
  • Switch on your TV and tune in to CNN and BBC; British movies — that will help!
  • Get yourself used to the various English accents from around the world — the Australian, American, British, New Zealand, and even Canadian.
  • Practice thinking and also speaking in English as much as you can with your buddies and your family.
  • Write emails and letters to practice your written skills and — who knows — you may make a pen pal or two in the process!

Fake Accent!

What’s important is your pronunciation, not the accent. If your pronunciation is wrong even with a stylish accent, it will still cost you marks here. Stay away from mispronouncing and that’s all you need.

Who Says?

Heard that the IELTS would be a more difficult exam in comparison with any other? Don’t believe everything you hear — there are quite a lot of myths about the test! The test does not pose any more difficulty than any other exam you would have to take for higher studies abroad. The IELTS has questions that are straightforward to assess your English language skills — so don’t get all worked up. Losing your cool isn’t going to do you any good here — trust us and focus on your prep!

Rest before D Day!

The three tests: Listening, Reading, and Writing Tests are usually held on one morning and with no break — so in other words, you really have to be at your best for quite a considerable amount of time here. This is why we strongly advise you to eat well and get some good sleep before your big day — your mind should be fresh and ready.

Results!

You will receive your test results 13 days post your test date. Your test centre will post your Test Report Form to you and some test centres may offer you text alerts and an online results service as well.

Retake?

Are you disappointed with your results? Well, you can retake the IELTS test if you are looking to do better. There are no limitations on how many times you can retake the test but you must apply within six weeks of the test date. There are no limitations as to how many times a person can retake the IELTS.

IELTS Training

To help you further with your test preparation, Vatslya provides IELTS training classes in its offices in Delhi and Chennai. In-class training sessions, as well as online classes, are available for students. The classes, which are held six days a week, are conducted by experienced tutors who are qualified English language experts.

Conclusion

Based on the programme and institution where you plan to study, you will need to secure an overall IELTS score ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. Now that you have read this article, we hope that you have a clear plan to crack the IELTS now? If you have anything to add to this, feel free to drop us a comment! In case of any other assistance with your study abroad plans; get in touch with us. We’d be happy to hear from you!

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Reading test advice

ielts coaching

Make the most of your Reading test:

  • look out for the title, headings and any special features such as capital letters, underlining, italics, figures, graphs and tables
  • make sure that you understand the questions and follow instructions carefully
  • pay attention to timing; do not spend too long on one passage or question
  • do not try and read every word; remember, you are reading for a purpose
  • if you do not know the answer to a question, attempt it but do not waste time; move quickly onto the next one
  • do not panic if you do not know anything about the subject of the text; all the answers can be found in the text
  • the word(s) you use must be taken from the Reading text; you must not change the form of the word(s) in the text
  • do not worry if there is a word that you do not understand – you may not need to use it
  • check your spelling
  • be careful to use singular and plural correctly
  • focus precisely on what you are asked to do in ‘completion’ type questions
  • if the question asks you to complete the note ‘in the…’ and the correct answer is ‘evening’, just use ‘evening’ as your answer; note that ‘in the evening’ would be incorrect
  • pay attention to the word limit; for example, if you are asked to complete a sentence using no more than two words, if the correct answer is ‘silk shirt’, the answer ‘shirt made of silk’ would be incorrect
  • attempt all questions; there are no penalties for incorrect answers, so you have nothing to lose
  • check your answers

for more information visit: http://vatslya.com/

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How Can You Help Yourself in IELTS?

IELTS tips

When you plan your higher education abroad, you must have to work on your English language communication skills before applying. To achieve required score in IELTS is must if you are seeking admission in an English speaking country. You start classes for guidance and attend seminars related to IELTS to get better insight and ideas about how to get maximum score.

There are a few things you should be doing to help yourself for obtaining desired bands in the test.

1. The best time to study IELTS is 3 months before the exam. That keeps the learning fresh as the practice has improved you   language ability.

2. Involve ‘English’ in your daily life by reading English newspapers and magazines, watching English movies and having conversations in English.

3. Keep up with current affairs and other human interested stories as writing task is based on general interest. You should have ideas and sufficient vocabulary to express them when you write an essay.

4. Practice every day what you learn. Practice of all four modules can be done in routine with your friends. Discuss the new words, movies and books. Make sure you use only English.

5. Understand well when your teacher is providing exam instruction. Follow it when you prepare for the test. Stick to word limit, completing task in particular time, how to answer correctly, what to use and what to not while speaking, etc.

6. Work on techniques. Speed up with time schedules of the exam. Practice writing paragraphs in lesser time before exams. Appear for mock tests and observe where you lack. Work on the weak points to be your best in the test.

For more information regarding foreign education, IELTS coaching and student visa, visit nearest office of  Vatslya Education Consultancy.

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Top 10 IELTS Misconceptions that stop students getting a high score

IELTS tips

Tips how to get IELTS Good Score

If any student spends enough time while preparing for IELTS test, they would come across few misconceptions about this test.  These misunderstandings are not only false, but they are dangerous too.

A good part of doing well in this IELTS test,  apart from the high level of English language and better tests skills, is getting educated about how this test works and knowing what the examiner expect about this test. If any student who is looking to Study Abroad and preparing for this test and if they lack accurate information, they are most probably going to make many mistakes and lower your band score.

Below are the leading misunderstandings with regards to IELTS test that stop students to a get good score. And they are as follows:

There is only one correct answer in the speaking test

Many students who take the test before going for Abroad Higher Education think that speaking test in IELTS is similar to mathematics than English. But in reality, there is no correct or wrong answer, the examiner just want to evaluate a student on four areas that such as Pronunciation, Grammar, Verbal Resource and Fluency and Consistency.

Students can give different replies to a query and they all could get a high score. Many schools teach their students since the young age that there is one way to reply a query and one answer only. But this is not the case in IELTS Speaking and Writing test and there are many correct responses.

The examiner should agree with my opinion

IELTS is not an opinion test or a knowledge test. It is a test for the English language. The examiner can personally disagree with each view you have and you could still get a score of 9. The reason is that the examiner is adjudicating your speaking and English writing abilities and not agreeing or disagreeing with you. In the IELTS test, a student who wishes to Study Abroad can speak or write with regards to what they feel about, without worrying about the examiner’s view or feelings.

Again this fear has come from schools at a young age where students often agree to what their teacher had told them. But this is not the case in IELTS test.

Few testing centers are easy than others

All the testing centers have similar standards and they mark the test takers with same criteria. Test takers have the exact similar chance of getting the score they deserve in every center. IELTS is the standardized English language test and it is similar in every center across the globe. This is one of the key reasons that IELTS is widely accepted by the world’s leading universities.

Few examiners are more generous than others

Many students who take this test as part of their Abroad Study plan often complain that they didn’t get a high score as their examiner was not friendly with them. Their job is to provide you with the accurate score. They just have to do their job.

Studying IELTS to get a good score

Students who are planning to Study Abroad should learn and practice more about IELTS test. Their ability in the English language is also important. If any student is not getting the score they require, they require enhancing their English before taking the test.

Students are required to work on their English language before preparing for IELTS test. And if their English is at the required level, they could enhance their skills and study about the test.

Generally, test takers would require completing almost 200 hours of guided education to enhance by one band score, though there are always many potential students who could do it much faster.

Learn big words and insert them in writing test

Often test takers insert difficult words in their writing as they think it would make an impression on the examiner. Doing this looks unnatural and it their cohesion and coherence would suffer. Test takers are required to display a range of vocabulary but they should do it properly. Learning few difficult words and then writing them in the essay without knowing the actual meaning would create a big problem.

Can’t ask the Examiner in the Speaking Test to repeat the question

Speaking test is not the listening test and students can ask the instructor to repeat the question if they are not able to understand. Test takers can ask the examiner to explain the meaning of any word.

Need to have UK or US accent for doing well in the Speaking Test

Many test takers interested in Study Abroad who do not have these accents are also getting 9 in the speaking test. It is not about the accent, it is about how easily one has understood. It is also about clear speech and utilization of pronunciation.

Having a wide range of grammatical structures

In IELTS writing test, test takers are evaluated on two things when we talk about grammar and those two things are test taker’s ability to use many structures and ability to write error-free sentences. The problem is that the more structures a student use the more they are likely to make mistakes. Test takers should use only those structures that they feel they are comfortable with.

It is better for students who take the test to Study Abroad to use grammar they are comfortable using and minimize the mistakes they make, rather than inserting tenses and structures. Mistakes would bring their score down. But if they also focus more on other areas of test they could score well in their test.

If you are looking to take IELTS Training, it is recommended that you go with a company that has got years of experience in providing training in IELTS and other tests. Global Tree is one of the Best Education Consultants in India that helps you to crack your IELTS exam.

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Understand the Speaking test of IELTS

IELTS tips

The Speaking test is as close to a real-life situation as an exam can get.

You will talk to a certified examiner in the IELTS Speaking test. The test is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get. A variety of accents may be used, and the test will be recorded.

The content of the IELTS Speaking test is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills.

The examiner will want to see how well you can

  • communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions
  • speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language
  • organise your ideas coherently
  • express and justify your opinions
  • analyse, discuss and speculate about issues

Make sure that you relax and talk fluently. You will need to speak naturally.

Timing

The IELTS Speaking test takes 11-14 minutes.

Three sections

The Speaking test is made up of three sections:

Section Duration Information
Part 1 Introduction and interview 4-5 minutes The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.
Part 2 Individual long turn 3-4 minutes The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking. The examiner will then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 3 Two-way discussion 4-5 minutes The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Marking

You will be assessed on your performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners.

You will be marked on the four criteria of the IELTS Speaking Test Band Descriptors:

  • fluency and coherence
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy
  • pronunciation

Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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Understand the Writing test of IELTS

IELTS tips

Write clearly, organise your ideas and use a varied vocabulary.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Writing test is designed to assess a wide range of writing skills, including how well you

  • write a response appropriately
  • organise ideas
  • use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately

This is the case for whichever version of the IELTS test you are taking.

Timing

The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2.

You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

Two tasks

There are two tasks in the IELTS Writing test. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Writing tests

The content of the Writing test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

IELTS Academic Writing test

Write in a formal style in the IELTS Academic Writing test.

In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should find the issues interesting and easy to understand.

IELTS General Training Writing test

The topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest.

In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.

Marking

Your Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner.

Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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Timing and word length in the writing module

IELTS tips

The writing module contains two compulsory tasks, namely Task 1 and Task 2. In Task 1, you must summarise and compare information from a graph, chart, table or diagram, or a combination of these, and Task 2 is a topic on which you have to write a discursive essay. The topic may be in the form of a statement or a question.

Task 1 tests your ability to analyse data objectively without giving an opinion, whereas Task 2 usually requires a subjective piece of writing on a fairly general topic. In addition, it is worth noting that the exam is not testing knowledge of English language, but rather competence in using English. In other words, it is not testing memory. Awareness of this might help reduce some of the problems that many candidates have in the IELTS exam.

In the exam, the minimum word limit for Task 1 is 150 words and you need to spend about 20 minutes on this part of the test. Task 2 must be at least 250 words, on which you need to spend about 40 minutes. In both Tasks, there is no upper word limit.

Many candidates frequently exceed the minimum amounts by a very wide margin, which creates several problems. Rather than concentrating on producing a good essay, candidates write beyond what is necessary, thinking that there are extra marks for writing more. This is usually not the case.

It is very important that you try to keep the word limits, and perhaps write just a little more. You could write between 150 and 180 words for Task 1 and 250 and 300 for Task 2. If you write too few words, you will lose marks. While practising for the IELTS exam, count the number of words you write per line and then work out how many lines you need to reach the 150/250 word limit. It may surprise you how little you have to write! You could draw a line to mark the word limits when you are writing your homework. This will help train you to keep to the limits and help you to focus on where you are going and what you are aiming for.

One important reason for writing just a little more than the word limit is to give yourself enough time to check what you have written. During the actual exam, you should spend 6-7 minutes analysing the question, about 30 minutes writing your essay, and 3-4 minutes checking your essay for mistakes.

Task 1 or Task 2 first? Students frequently ask whether they should do Task 1 first or Task 2. This obviously depends on the individual. It is probably wise, however, to do Task 1 first. From the psychological point of view, it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you have finished it.

Note that the value of the marks given to each Task is reflected in the time. There are twice as many marks for Task 2 as for Task 1. The marks are combined to produce one Band Score from 1 to 9 for the whole test. Note also that if you write less than 150 words for Task 1 and less than 250 for Task 2, you will lose marks.

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Reading task type one: summary completion

IELTS tips

Task description

The input for this type of question will be a summary of all or part of the reading text. The summary will contain a number of gaps. All of the information in the summary will be contained in the reading text, although the words used will be different. You will also be provided with a list of words to use to fill the gaps. There will be more words than gaps. These words have been chosen so that only one word will be suitable for each gap (the answer) but other words may appear suitable (distracters).

Your task is to complete the summary using one word from the list for each gap. Because the summary is a paraphrase of the reading text (rather than an edited version), you will need to have a good understanding of the overall meaning and main points of the section summarised, rather than a detailed understanding of the text.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • skim the text for information
  • paraphrase the original text

Sample task


Complete the summary below. Choose your answers from the box at the bottom of the page and write them in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.

NBThere are more words than spaces so you will not use them all. You may use any of the words more than once.

passengers happy float advanced
lifeboats confident dangers ocean
worried inadequate enormous excitement
fast handbook water float
record fast procedures orders
drown size sink safety

The Finest Ship Ever Built
The North Atlantic Ocean crossing on the Titanic was expected to set a new standard for oceantravel in terms of comfort and safety The shipping industry had an excellent safety record on the North Atlantic Crossing over the previous forty years and the Titanic was the finest and safest liner ever built. The Titanic combined the greatest technology of the day with sheer size, luxury and new safety features. The Titanic’s owners were confident that even if the Titanic were letting in watershe would float indefinitely until help arrived. In hindsight we know that the Titanic was not unsinkable and that technology alone could not save lives when facilities were inadequate and humans did not follow safe procedures whether because of arrogance or ignorance.

How to approach summary completion questions


Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Note that in this case you have to choose your answers from the words provided. Also note that in this case you can use any word more than once. Remember though that every IELTS test is different. So make sure that you read the instructions carefully even if you have practised the type of question before.
Step 2: Skim through the summary to get an idea of the topic. In this case the summary refers generally to peoples’ views about the Titanic in terms of safety.
Step 3: Decide which section of the text the summary covers – in this case mainly paragraphs A and C. In some cases the summary may cover the whole text.
Step 4: Read through the summary, referring to the list of words each time you reach a gap. Select one or more possible words from the list to fill each gap. Reject any words that do not fit grammatically, even if the meaning seems correct. Confirm your choice by referring to the relevant sections of the text.
Step 5: Quickly read through your completed summary to check that it makes sense.

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Some Tips that will assure a High Score in IELTS Exam

IELTS tips

The IELTS exam is an important prerequisite for candidates who need to study or work in countries where English is the medium of communication. Designed to test English language skills across four modules (reading, speaking, writing and listening), this Exam is recognised by Universities and employers in many countries.


Across the globe, professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies accept IELTS scores as a benchmark to determine proficiency in English language skills. Candidates who wish to go for higher education must write the Academic IELTS Test, whereas those who wish to go for a career abroad write the General Training IELTS Test.
As with any Exam, there are certain techniques that must be followed to achieve success. You will be able to learn basic rules of grammar and vocabulary at a good English course.

 

Here are some tips that you should follow, to avoid mistakes in the exam.

1. Time: Please stick to the time constraints mentioned for each section. If you overrun your time in one section, you may need to leave questions unanswered in other sections and will lose marks.

2. Read the question carefully: if an answer is to be written in ‘not more than three words’, do not write four.

3. Number of words: Again, if you need to write a paragraph of 250 words and you only write 225, you will lose marks. Be careful with your numbers! Longer essays may lose you marks as the chance of making mistakes increases when your answers are too long.

4. Stick to the topic: Do not stray off the topic, or elaborate on matters that are not strictly to the point.

5. Understand the topic: The examiners are looking for specific topics. If you write on something else you will not be marked at all.

6. Plagiarism: Some students try to memorise essays. This never works, as examiners can easily find out if your standard is not consistent through the exam. If your essay is brilliant (as it is one that has been learnt by heart!) and the rest of your work doesn’t match that standard, it becomes obvious that your essay is not original and you can be penalized harshly.

7. You are required to express your own view. There are no right or wrong opinions, and you will be able to express your thoughts better if your views are those which you yourself believe in.

8. Keep your sentences short and crisp. Avoid unnecessarily long sentences, which can lead to more mistakes.

9. During the Speaking test, your accent does not matter, as much as the coherence of your speech and your ability to make yourself understood. If English is not your native language, they will understand that you may have an accent. The examiner will usually be someone who is familiar with your accent.

10. If you wish to save time, use shortcut keys on your computer, such as Ctrl+ C = Copy. Check online to find a list of the most common shortcut keys that will work for your system.

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