They are not the same thing!
This is my first blog article for Al Dar University College about IELTS. Because it is my first one, I want to start with what I think is the most fundamental question when it comes to exams for English proficiency: What do you need to do to succeed? This may sound like a very simple question, but it is important for understanding how you can get the marks you need.
At Al Dar we meet lots of students who need IELTS. Most of them need to score 5.0 so they can do a Bachelor's degree in UAE in English, but we also see some who need higher scores for Master's degrees or to move overseas. With these students, I often face two kinds of problems. Both problems come from the student not really understanding what IELTS is and what they need to do. Let's take a look at each of them.
IELTS, IELTS, IELTS!!!!!!
The first problem is the student who hears he needs to pass IELTS and wants only to study for the exam. He does not care about his overall level of English; he just wants to do our IELTS prep class. With some students who already have a good level of English, this is fine. But, some others are just not ready - their basic level of English is not good enough. The result here is sad and easy to predict: the students fail. No matter how hard they practice the IELTS, they just don't understand and they do not get their mark.
In the past, I have done classes with students who insisted on doing an IELTS class without improving their general English. It was hard work for both me and the student. I had one student - let's call her Houda - who was not even able to understand the instructions to the Listening section, never mind the actual test. We worked hard together. We practiced in class and I set her piles of homework. But, she failed. She never had a chance. It does not matter how good the IELTS teacher is - and I am pretty great, ha ha - if the student's level of English is too low, they won't get their mark.
So, what should we do to help you get the mark you need? Let's look at the following steps:
Test your level: The first thing is to know how good your English is. Are you ready for IELTS classes or do you need to improve your overall English first?
Pick the right class: If your test says you need more English practice ... Do it. Don't sign up for IELTS if you are not ready. Do an English class and then an IELTS class.
GOOD ENGLISH IS NOT ENOUGH
"My English is pretty good, Paul, I am confident I will pass". These words were spoken by a student who didn't pass. He did speak great English. In fact, his English was much better than other students in his class who did pass IELTS. So, why did he fail? That's a good question with a simple answer. He failed because (a) IELTS and good English are not necessarily the same thing, and (b) He didn't practice exam technique.
Simply put, if you do not know what you are going to see in the IELTS exam and you have not prepared, you will fail. There are many techniques - that I will discuss in later blogs - to help you improve your IELTS score. If you know them and use them, you can overachieve. This means you can get a better score than your overall level would normally give. This is the purpose of an IELTS class. That sounds great, right? But, sadly, the opposite is also true. If you don't know the techniques, you will get a worse score than your level would normally give.
To pass IELTS you need to pay attention to both your overall English level and IELTS technique. Without both, it is much more difficult to pass.
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