Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What should you do when you receive your IELTS results?

After two long weeks of nail biting and bated breath, your IELTS results were released.

With dreams of 7’s, or even 8’s, you opened the envelope, or clicked on the appropriate link, and your face fell.

No 7’s.

Maybe a 6 or two, but definitely not the scores that you need to send in to the immigration agency, the admitting committee for your university, or the overseas job recruiters.

I know this is not ideal, but there is good news! You can still reach your target scores!

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Analyze your strengths

You got your results, and, hopefully, they’re not all bad!

Perhaps you scored a couple 6’s, maybe in the Reading and Writing, but you still couldn’t get beyond that 5.5 for Speaking, and Writing was maybe a 5.

Chin up!

The good news is that you have nowhere to go but up!

So, start by being positive.

List your strengths for each section of the exam.

For example, in Speaking, you feel like your fluency was actually ok, but you know that you need to learn a wider range of vocabulary.

You can use your strengths and weaknesses to help you improve, for example, even if you feel like you are an introvert, and you believe this inability to be gregarious is holding you back, use it to your advantage!

We did a podcast on this specific topic, analyzing your personality type and using it to help formulate your study plan.

The fact is that you most likely do have a strong base of English skills, and you can build on that.

You just need to right guidance from a IELTS professional.

Analyze your weaknesses

If you’re reading this article, you probably didn’t hit that target score in every section of the IELTS exam.

Good news! You can still get there!

Remember that almost nobody hits their target score on their first attempt, and, if this is your second, third, or even eighth attempt, it’s time to change the way your are preparing.

This video is a good place to start: Why Do I keep Getting a 5.5?

See the full video lesson below.

You cannot keep doing the same methods of preparation, the same IELTS prep class at the local language school, the same Cambridge practice test book at home, and expect to get different results.

If you are strong in fluency, for example, or vocabulary, but you still can’t get beyond that 6 in Speaking or Writing, maybe you need to focus on pronunciation.

Most likely, if you are a good student who simply cannot reach the score you need, even after preparing, you are just missing some key information about the test that your teachers and your books aren’t giving you.

In fact, unfortunately, some teachers are actually passing on the wrong information to their pupils, directly hurting their scores.

On our podcast, we’ve heard many cases of this, where a teacher is claiming to be an ‘ex-examiner’ in some cases, charging higher fees, and actually sabotaging their students’ preparation.

Learn how to improve in the areas you need.

You cannot teach yourself what you don’t know.

You must admit that there are areas for improvement, and find a teacher who can bring you up to the level you need to be for the exam.

There are strategies that only a real IELTS professional can teach you, for example, which numbers the examiners wants to see in Writing Task 1  or what the examiner wants to hear specifically in Speaking Part 2

For Speaking and Writing, the fact is that you cannot improve those areas by yourself.

You need to learn from someone who knows, intimately and in great detail, what the examiner is looking and listening for on the writing and speaking tests.

That’s why in our course 3 Keys IELTS, for example, every piece of advice stems from the descriptors that the examiner uses to give you band scores.

Likewise, Reading and Listening skills can be practiced at home in your room, but, you still need an IELTS professional who can teach you the simple strategies you need to feel confident on test day.

On our podcast, we discuss some of these specific reading and listening strategies.

Make a study plan

On our podcast, we are firm believers in plans, lists and organized preparation.

When we have a huge goal before us, like passing the IELTS to get our Masters degree and bring our skills home to improve our town and support our family, we cannot expect to reach any of those targets without putting in the work.

However, at the same time, you don’t want to just start ‘working’ when you’re actually wasting your time with the wrong resources.

In this episode,, we explain how to start forming an IELTS study plan for yourself so you don’t waste your time and money.

The video below also provides some valuable advice on how to create a study plan.

In short, you know you have to work hard, but you’re not sure what exactly that looks like in terms of IELTS preparation.

In 3 Keys IELTS, we have 30 day and 60 day study plans, which outline two activities you can do daily which strengthen every English skill for the exam and give you all the strategies that you need.

Basically, if you need to improve by half a band score, make a 30 day plan.

If you need to improve by one band point, try a 60 day plan.

If you need more improvement than that, allow yourself 3 months of preparation before you retake the exam. (Of course, if you are not working, or studying something else, and have lots of time to practice, you can reduce this.)

Schedule a new IELTS test date

After analyzing your strengths and weaknesses and making a study plan, you know that you will be ready for the test in 1-3 months, depending on your situation.

Don’t wait to schedule your next exam, though, because many test centers are booked up months in advance.

Find out when IELTS is testing again in your area.

Refer to this blog post for dates and advice on scheduling.

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