Learning to Pass IELTS With Flying Colors
This tutorial is all about practical IELTS study strategies. It is especially for students who are preparing for the exam by themselves. Follow this tutorial and you’re heading for a Band 7 pass.
In this episode you will learn:
- How to develop IELTS study habits and strategies for success
- Why goals are meaningless without systems
- How to make your IELTS preparation effortless
This is a really valuable tutorial if you are planning to take the IELTS exam in 2020.
IELTS Preparation Takes Time
You can’t study for IELTS in a matter of days. Those who have claimed to, must already have had a high level of English and spent the massive study session learning the necessary exam skills needed to get a good pass.
There are students who claim IELTS success after attending a five or ten-day IELTS course but these are students who have already immersed themselves in the English language. They already regularly watch TV in English, read the English newspapers and books and listen to the radio so they’ve already got quite a profound, deep knowledge of the English language. They just need to finish it off by learning some exam skills and then they’re ready to go.
Here are some tips that will help you yield the best results for your IELTS Preparation
1.Make English a Habit
Think about it. An improvement of just 1% each day could take you from a 6.5 to 7, possibly even 7.5 or 8. So, if we can establish this habit, we can make a big difference to the score.
Study for ten Minutes a day: It’s not going to take a lot of your time and the key here is setting the habit. The goal at this stage is not to learn English or to prepare for IELTS. The goal is to establish the habit. Once we develop the habit of doing just five minutes each day, we don’t have to think about it, we just do it.
So, maybe we write essays for ten minutes every single morning. Once the habit is established, we can push it to fifteen minutes and then slowly over the next couple of weeks, push it to 20 minutes. The key here is to start small, make it easy and just keep it routine.
Another important point, along with compounding of your habits, you need to change your self-talk. Self-talk (no prizes for guessing) is how you talk to yourself. Negative self-talk is not a healthy habit and it can compound. So, quit saying; “6.5; I’m such a loser. Why am I so dumb?” If you say this often enough, you’ll start to believe it.
Transform your thoughts: The key here is to catch yourself saying it and transform it into a question or make it the complete opposite so that your self-talk becomes positive and you compound good thoughts and positivity rather than negative thoughts of failure.
3.Push Through the Valley of Disappointment
I recently read a book by James Clear, Atomic Habits. In it he mentions the valley of disappointment. This describes how you feel when you start a project and what you think should happen is not actually happening. So, maybe you practice your English for two hours every day for the first week and you see no improvement and then it continues again for the second and third week. This is called the valley of disappointment.
Pace yourself : This is why it is not a good idea to take test after test after test. You’re wasting your money. You’ve got to give yourself time to push through this valley of disappointment. You must get to the point where you can see measurable and realistic improvements in your score for your IELTS writing or speaking before you take the test.
4.Goals Versus Habits
James Clear says in his book you do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. To explain this, he gives a nice analogy about the Olympics.
In the Olympics, pretty much every athlete has the goal to reach gold. Every single one of them has the same goal and the only ones that do actually get the gold are the ones who’ve prepared the best and who are best on that day. How they got to be best on the day was to have a good system in place.
This means that the athletes who have prepared themselves adequately mentally and physically the best preparation systems. Those are the people who will achieve the goal. To repeat: You do not rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems. This absolutely applies to IELTS students because if you have a bad study habit, then you can expect a bad IELTS result and vice versa.
So, what systems do you have in place? What system are you going to put in place to achieve a band 7 in the next two months or in the next 30 days?
Set-up a simple system : A simple system could be to write an essay every single day. Without feedback, it might not be the best preparation, but it’s better than doing nothing. Secondly, you could do a practice test every day. This is very useful for listening or for reading because you get feedback. You’ve got the answers somewhere probably at the back of the book that you use. You may choose to learn 20 new words every day to improve your vocabulary? Could you translate 20 new words from your native language into English and do that every single day?
These are systems. Many students become frustrated with their inability to achieve their goals. They think that they are stupid or that they are inept but it’s not you personally. It’s your system.
If you’re not getting that band 7 you need, you should go back and review your system. You must fall in love with your system. You must fall in love with the process and develop this strong habit. This is how we progress. This is how we get results. This is why in the online course we’ve got a system in place. You’re writing the essays, you send them in, you get feedback, and you improve.
5.Think About Your Identity
Your identity and how you see yourself is key to your progress and improvement in the English language and how well you do in IELTS.
Here’s an example : Imagine that two smokers who are trying to quit is each offered a cigarette. The first one says no, thanks. I’m trying to quit and the second person says no, thanks. I’m not a smoker. Can you see? The difference here is subtle, but the impact is massive. How can we apply this small change of identity?
We all have choices in everyday life. We can go out and socialize with friends or we can write an essay. Now, the change in identity comes into place when we can ask ourselves the question what would a band 9 student do in this situation? Would they go out and socialize with their friends or would they write the essay?
So, this is why it’s really important to think about your identity. This goes back to the self-talk. For example, if you say I’m not good at English, you are reinforcing or reestablishing this identity of yourself whereas if you say I’m a confident English speaker, you’re bound to get a much better return on investment or return on that action.
We can also say that the goal is not to pass IELTS, the goal is to become competent in English. This is my identity. I’m an extremely competent person when it comes to the English language.
The goal is not to study 20 hours at the weekend. The goal is to become competent at self-organization or at self-study organization because once you’ve done that 20 hours then what happens. Whereas if you achieve your goal of becoming competent at organizing yourself effectively, then you could probably do 20-30 hours every single weekend. It’s probably a bit much, but the goal is not to study for any number of hours. The goal is to become a better-organized self-study student or a more effective self-study student.
The way that we get this identity to stick is to perform band 9 IELTS student study habits, the more we perform these habits, the more likely it is to stick. So, the more we perform a behavior, the more we reinforce that identity.
I’ll give you an example. After my first podcast, I didn’t consider myself a podcaster. I didn’t consider myself an IELTS online audio tutorial maker, but after 300 episodes, I do now. The reason is because I’ve done almost 300 tutorials.
This goes back to what we said at the beginning. It takes small steps and eventually, they compound and we reach our goals. So, first, we decide on the identity we want to achieve. I am an IELTS band 7 student. I am an IELTS band 9 student and then we prove it to ourselves with small daily wins.
If we start small, it’s easier to get started and getting started is key. It is easier to get started if you remove the friction. So, if you join a gym that you have to pass every day when you go to work you are more likely to use the gym than one that is across town. Even if you don’t like exercise you might stop on your way home from work.
So, applying this to IELTS, you may write an essay every time you wake up or you may read an English newspaper every time you have your morning coffee, or learn 20 words over your lunch every day. Remove friction by putting your phone in another room or switch off the Wi-Fi until you have accomplished your task.
Small habits are important. If I start the day with a healthy breakfast, when it comes to lunch-time I will think twice before eating fast food. I’ll think well, I started off healthy. I am a healthy person, so I’m going to choose some healthy food now. You see? It sets the tone for good decisions.
7.Make It Easy to Support the Habit
To make sure that habits stick you want to make it as easy as possible. This is why you should start off with a five-minute study target or just writing down three words. It sounds ridiculous, but then once the habit is established and we’ve done 10 or 20 days it becomes much easier to expand the habit.
The key here is to keep the activity below the level where it feels like work. You want to make it easy to get started and you want to make it satisfying. So, there are a few ways you can do this.
For example, if you really enjoy coffee, you make a rule where every time you have a coffee, you do 30 minutes of IELTS active study. So, you read a Guardian article or a Wikipedia article or whatever and you start collecting high-powered vocabulary while you drink your coffee.
We combine what we enjoy with a more productive habit such as researching for vocabulary. This point is basically making a habit satisfying, making it enjoyable. This is why when you get your essay back, we’ve not only demonstrated what is wrong, we also take the time to tell you what you’ve done correctly.
Perhaps you should buy a calendar or you get an app. Your goal is to actively work on improving your English every single day. So, you’re going to write an E in the calendar or an I if you’re going for IELTS. It’s inevitable that you’re going to miss one day. Life gets in the way. You’re traveling. You’ve got a 14-hour flight, but the key here is never to miss twice.
So, as soon as you slip, you need to get right back onto it because it’s not the first mistake that ruins it. It’s the second. It’s the third. It’s the spiral. It’s losing the habit. So, it is important never to miss twice and as the book says, missing twice is the start of a new habit.
My last point is accountability. If you can make a promise to a friend that you’re going to study every single day and you’ll give them £10 or $10 for every day you miss you have a powerful incentive not to break the habit.
You can download or listen to the audio version here: