Tips & Best practices for the IELTS language test

One of the mandatory requirements for people applying to the Canadian PR from a non-english designated country is to take the language test (like IELTS - https://www.ielts.org/what-is-ielts/ielts-for-migration/canada)

General Tips & Guidance

1. Practice is the key! Do not take it lightly, have seen quite a few people great in everyday English falter in the test either because of over-confidence or lack of understanding of the test format

2. Do the mock tests diligently & honestly, learn from the mistakes you make in practice. Mock tests can be found at https://www.ielts.org/book-a-test/prepare-for-your-ielts-test

3. Time Management! Planning yourself mentally to tackle the different sections is key to doing well & avoiding mistakes

4. Reach the test venue sufficiently ahead of time to settle down the nerves. A relaxed mind is half the process to doing well!

5. If you are a family applying for the PR, weightage of the Language score of the Primary applicant is higher.

6. Watch for mistakes while marking answers in the answer sheet. It is very easy to mix up and write answer for 5 - 8 questions in the boxes 6 - 9 & then disaster would strike!

7. Know the weightage per section (Reference - http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/crs-tool.asp) - 

Section Highest Score range Tips
Listening 8.5 - 9 Very thin margin for error; hence pay more attention to this in practice, and more so on the test day. Also one of the toughest sections and requires highest concentration during the test.
Reading 8 - 9 Slightly lower range, hence look to get atleast 8. Should be prioritised second during practice.
Writing 7.5 - 9 The spread is good, hence no point trying to aim for a 9 since you get the same value as when you score a 7.5; prioritise preparation accordingly
Speaking 7.5 - 9 The spread is good, hence no point trying to aim for a 9 since you get the same value as when you score a 7.5; prioritise preparation accordingly

Let's break out specific tips for the 4 sections (that are part of the test) as follows - 

Listening

1. DO NOT try to write down everything from the audio clip, you are likely to miss something ("Lost in Transmission" wink); and once you miss something, you have no going back. Instead try to note down keywords and points only.

2. You are given 5 mins to glance through the questions before the audio starts. Use this time wisely to understand the context of the audio & pay attention to snippets from the audio that help answer the questions.

3. Pay attention to the Instructions sheet for phrases like "No more than 2 or 3 words". No brownie points for being a smart aleck!

Reading

1. This section can be time consuming; so plan effort on this & keep track of time.

2. Watch for questions that twist phrases, do not try to out-guess or over-estimate the question.

Writing

1. Essay carries more marks than the Letter, hence do not spend too much time on the Letter (recommend finishing it within 20 mins).

2. You need to write with a pencil; hence practice writing with a pencil if you are out of touch.

3. Limit the length of the letter and essay to the number of words mentioned (Example: 250 word essay). You don't get extra marks for lengthy answers!

4. Ensure your essay has a good structure - Introduction to the topic, Statements backed by facts, possible reference to personal experience followed by a good closing statement.

5. Pay close attention to Grammar and Spelling (not to forget punctuations).

6. Use connectors effectively, and do not repeat statements.

Speaking

1. Confidence is the key, present yourself well & don't make a conscious effort to impress.

2. Greet the examiner with a broad smile; always make eye contact while speaking. 

3. Understand question correctly; do not hesitate to clarify in case you did not understand. Last thing you want to do is talk something irrelevant to the question asked.

4. The more you talk, the better are your chances.

5. Use phrases like "In my opinion", "According to me" to indicate that you are reflecting on your thoughts.

6. Be loud and legible, so the examiner understands all your words. Also talk slowly especially if you are a speed talker in daily life.

7. For task 2, you are given 5 mins to jot down points. Ensure you jot down key points only to talk instead of full sentences.

Conclusion

We hope you are successful in your Language test as part of the CRS Express entry program (http://www.newinottawa.com/immigration/pr/7-express-entry-pr). Do let us know in the comments section if these tips were useful to you. Best of luck!