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Why do good students get low band scores in IELTS?

Here are a few reasons why some students do badly on the actual day of the IELTS test:

1) Nerves! Even the most mature student can get nervous before and during an exam and it’s very easy to understand why. With IELTS there is often a lot at stake! For example, someone who is taking the test and must get band 7 or above in order to get into their dream university or work abroad in their chosen profession is under a lot of pressure. Or a student who has already invested a lot of money on books, courses and previous tests will understandably be desperate to pass.

2) Memorising answers! In some countries, memorisation is seen as the best way to pass tests. Students will learn numerous answers to speaking and writing tests with the hope of just repeating them. Unfortunately, the questions are not likely to be the same as the ones they prepared for. This means if they get asked something they don’t know, they either get confused and give an incomprehensible or illogical answer or panic and are unable to give any answer at all.

3) Bad time management! This is often the case in the Writing test, where candidates often run out of time before successfully completing both writing tasks. Or they try to save time by starting to write their first task immediately without reading the question carefully, thinking about their answer and planning it accordingly. This also happens in the Reading test where candidates fail to skim read each text before they approach the questions before they think it will save them time. It doesn’t!

4) Lack of effective exam techniques - An English exam is more than just a test of your English vocabulary and grammar. You need to know the exam structure, the timings of each part, how to proceed through the test, how to approach different types of questions and how to answer them effectively. You can’t achieve this just from doing practice tests.

5) Using Band 6 language - There are quite a lot of IELTS test takers who want band 7 or 7.5, but forget that they need to demonstrate good use of language and that mistakes in spelling, word formation, sentence structure and verb tense errors will lose them points. Or sometimes the opposite happens and candidates try to include unfamiliar vocabulary that is more advanced but it is inappropriately used out of context which won’t contribute to a higher band score.

So, what is the solution?

At iPass, we recommend guided practice with an experienced tutor who can tell you where you are making mistakes, but more importantly how to avoid them with effective exam techniques and appropriate use of language. Also, practising your speaking and writing with an IELTS professional will give you the confidence to perform well on the day of the test.

Check out our online tutored preparation courses to avoid any more disappointing results due to nerves and lack of preparation!!

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By Jenny Bedwell on 2015 11 16

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Sofia - Italy

Sofia - Italy

I found the IELTS Lite course very useful and well structured. In particular, it helps students to understand the exam, its structure and what the examiner really wants from you.

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