Tips and tricks enable high IELTS scores, but the real test awaits

Updated at: 2 April, 2024

“When I studied on my own, my IELTS results were disappointing. Now, it’s different. With the tips and tricks provided by training centers, 7.0 score is not that hard anymore.”

This is what I got from an education expert, who expressed her concern that many Vietnamese students were choosing to learn the tips and tricks at English centers in order to get a higher band score.

As someone who has done both – self-study as well as attend IELTS courses at English centers – I could not agree more with her view.

In fact, my own results were not as good as expected when I studied on my own compared to enrolling in IELTS classes. Since I was confident in my ability to understand English in a variety of accents (standard British or American accent to Chinese and Indian), I could not figure out why my IELTS results were so underwhelming. I really believed that my vocabulary was on par with those who had received IELTS scores of 7.0 or higher.

Then, I decided to take up an intensive IELTS course at an English center to find out why my overall band score was so low.

The teacher pointed out the problems I had that prevented me from scoring higher. Then I understood why many test-takers got high scores of 7.0 to 7.5, while their actual capability in using the language in real life was not as good as mine.

IELTS centers often teach students “tricks” to achieve high scores, despite the fact that their actual ability may not match that level. In the writing test, for instance, you will be instructed on what words or phrases to begin with, how the second paragraph should be organized and in what direction will the ideas be developed, or how the third paragraph can be structured to maximize your score.

Or in the listening section, you only need to “hear the right keyword” (you don’t even need to understand what people are saying), and there are also strategies for recognizing keywords. Therefore, even a poor listener can correctly answer the questions with just a few small tips.

With regard to the reading section, the centers will offer you a list of common test formats and explain how to achieve the highest possible scores in each format without spending too much time reading and comprehending the entire article.

And on the speaking test, you are not required to pronounce every word perfectly. All you need to remember is to develop sufficient ideas in accordance with the IELTS speaking band descriptors.

With the provided tips and memorized sample answers, one can rest assured that one can ace the exam and achieve a score far beyond one’s actual English ability.

Although test questions are constantly changing, band descriptions are always accessible online. So long as you complete the test within the “safe zone” of a band, you are guaranteed to receive that band’s score. IELTS centers will allow you to be frequently exposed to questions similar to those from actual tests so that you can memorize the answers to the most frequently asked topics. And with this method of study, a score of 7.0 IELTS is practically within reach.

It is true that one needs to have a basic English foundation in order to pass the IELTS. But I contend that it would be a subjective exercise to rely solely on IELTS results to evaluate the test-takers’ proficiency in English. It’s not hard to practice exam questions and land high scores.

Are such high scorers well equipped to handle real-life English fluency tests at higher studies or at work? The simple answer is: No.

There are no tips and tricks to acing real life tests. No short cuts. Just sustained diligence.

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