Getting motivated to Re-Take the IELTS Exam
After taking the test a few times it’s pretty easy to throw in the towel and change course.
It’s tough, after all why would you carry on spending money?
Well here are a few thoughts, strategies and videos, to jump start your motivation and get back to it.
Implement the 5 a day rule.
This is a really simple technique that I have used in the past.
If your goal is to get a Band 8 in IELTS you decide to take 5 action steps towards that goal every day.
For example, one step could be to directly copy a Band 9 essay, use a pen and paper and write it down word for word. Then -depending on your level- try and reproduce it.
LOOK, COVER, WRITE.
Another possible step could be the famous, ‘look, cover, write’, technique, whereby you look at a sentence, cover it up with a piece of paper, then write it.
Going through a whole essay like that will definitely help you, and save you some money in the process.
NO MORE PREPOSITION PROBLEMS
Another possible technique is to go search for ‘CLOZE TEST CREATOR’ (http://l.georges.online.fr/tools/cloze.html).
You can ruthlessly practice your prepositions, articles etc for free.
You just copy paste some text then it automatically removes certain words, then you have to fill them in. Like a gap fill exercise, but you choose the difficulty. The advantages here are that it’s free and you have the answers.
A PRACTICE TEST A DAY?
An even bigger step would be to do a practice test a day (scribd.com or Amazon), download some reading tests torrents, any reading test will do. Your main focus is to improve your comprehension skills.
FOCUSED STUDY TECHNIQUE
Another piece of advice is to study in 50 minutes blocks, switch of the phone (I use flight mode), use a timer (www.timer-tab.com/) and do a solid 50 minutes.
After 50 minutes the brain usually wonders and a re-set is needed, in this case go for a walk, drink a cup of tea, then get back to another 50 minute session.
For the speaking, you could do a mock test by your self, listen to the previous podcasts and try and simulate what you would say.
TAKE MASSIVE ACTION
The main point is to take action, TAKE MASSIVE ACTION. Without even deciding that you’re going to take this step it’s difficult. So write it down in your diary. MASSIVE ACTION TO PASS IELTS.
Then start with doing 5 tasks a day.
A word of advice here is that it is better on focusing on habits rather than discipline. Why?
Well discipline is extremely difficult, whereas if you get habits under control they become automatic and most importantly, repetitive. And we all know that language learning is based on repetition. So to install a habit, it is usually best to start with a small objective, for example:
For the next three days I’ll do the 5 a day rule.
This way it is easy to commit to. After three days, extend by another three, then to ten days and so on. Incidentally, if you are writing everyday then the Sentence Guide can work with you because you get your essay corrected and back to you in 24 hours. Awesome.
Once under way and momentum has been built, you can adopt the 100% rule. This is basically saying the tasks will be done 100% of the time.
If you decide on 100% then there is no excuse, it has to be done, no debate. 100% is 100%. THE END.
Let go of every excuse.
Compare that to saying I’ll spend the next 3 months studying IELTS, all day every day.
This goal is ambitious but it’s easy to fall off because there are no numbers, no tick boxes, no guarantees, also it’s tricky to get into momentum, unlike the objective of gaining a habit.
Visualize getting the Band 7, jumping online and logging in to your IELTs account, and seeing all your band 7s and 7.5s.
But you have to visualise a lot for it to work, and actually get so obsessed that you start working like crazy to attain it.
To do this effectively, I’d recommend at least three months of rock solid no excuses preparation.
Another useful tool for getting motivated is actually seeing yourself preparing, try and see your self sitting down at the desk and working. This technique is great for jump starting a long working session.
If you decide to implement all the above and would like guidance and instruction as to your next step then click here.
All the above information fits perfectly with the online course, for example if you implement the Rule of Five, you can watch five tutorials every day.
Basically, it easier to pass the exam with help, support and feedback to help you improve. Adopt a technique from above then click here and we can pass IELTS together!
You’re now listening to the IELTS Podcast.
Hello there podcast listeners and future successful IELTS students. In this episode, what we’re going to do is look at different ways of getting motivated to do the exam.
I decided to do this episode because I got a lot of emails from students (from you) saying that they’re finding it hard to get motivated, to find the energy, to keep on doing this test. Because it’s quite common especially nowadays for students to fail the exam and then have to start all over again from what seems like zero. To start all over again and start the preparation, start studying, doing all the practice exams. And it can be quite a pain.
So this podcast is going to look at techniques to get motivated, to organize your time, and strategies to keep yourself motivated, and how to get the momentum and really move things along.
So the first one that I want to explain is called the 5-a-day. And what this means is very simple but it’s rather powerful. And what it means is that you, everyday you decide to do 5 small tasks that are going to get your closer to your goal.
For example, one task could be that you directly copy with a pen and paper, a Band 9 essay. You go online, find a perfectly written essay, with all the good examples and everything, and you just write it down. Pen and paper, you write it down. That could be one task.
Another task could be to do the look-cover-write. Where literally you just look at the sentence, cover it up, write it out, and then check. Yeah, I think it’s look-cover-write-check. Something like that. And you could do a whole essay like that. And that could be your second task of the day.
Now another technique. The first couple are for writing. There’s some for speaking as well, so don’t worry. Another technique would be to go online and you can find what’s called a “closed test creator.” And what you do is you copy a piece of text, maybe an IELTS essay, then you paste it into this box into the website, and you choose which one to eliminate from… You choose whether to eliminate articles, prepositions, “th” words, “wh” words, whichever. And then you get a gap fill exercise and you have to go through, putting in all the correct articles or all the correct prepositions.
This is another task. And the idea is that each day in your diary or in your phone, you tick off these 5 tasks that you’ve done. Okay? And doing this everyday, taking these small steps, is a lot easier and a lot more solid preparation than going crazy a week before the exam, studying like mad. Because like we know, language is all about repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
And this is a steady way. It’s not that difficult to start because it’s quite kind of a small task. And it’s basically about getting momentum. And if you do this all month, that’s 150 single tasks you’ve got. And 150 tasks will definitely get you closer to passing the IELTS.
Now, I’m going to give you a few more tasks. And by the way if you go to the website you’ll be able to find the “Getting Motivated for IELTS” post. The actual text there. And in the actual text you’ll see all the links to the resources. I’m talking about the closed test generator, and all the rest of them.
Another piece of advice, another task you can do is you can use a timer. Go to timertab.com or something like that, and you can set the timer for 50 minutes, 55 minutes, whatever… but usually somewhere between 45 and 55 minutes is the best period of time. And you can work on a solid block just entirely on focusing on one of those tasks that we’ve just mentioned.
And working on blocks like this with the phone switched off, is a very good way to just completely focus and channel your energy, making that 45 minutes (or 50 minutes) much more productive than it would have been if you’re just there with the tele on in the corner, you’re texting on the phone, and then you’ve got an IELTS practice exam in front of you, for example.
What you do then is you work solid for 50 minutes. Then you stop, have a cup of tea, go for a walk, and then you come back after 10 minutes, set the timer again… after 10 minutes go back and just do another 50 minute block. This way you can get a lot more done. Trust me.
Now, a very interesting point which I think you’ll definitely agree with is to… It’s a concept called “taking massive action.” So what I want you to do is take massive action to pass the IETLS. And to get the ball rolling in this… Because like we said, it’s difficult just to… It’s not difficult to say “I’m going to pass the IELTS this month. I’m going to go crazy. There’s no options.” It’s easy to say that but in reality it’s often difficult to get started. After 2 or 3 days you can get burned out.
So my advice, which I strongly recommend, is not to go for a massive… sort of like “I’m going to get it. I’m going to go crazy for this score.” My advice would be to do something that relies on habits. And do this 5 tasks. Start off with 5 small tasks, make it into a habit, and if it becomes a habit then it’s much more likely to be followed through and maintained.
Whereas; if you are just relying on self-discipline it’s much easier and a lot more emotional if it doesn’t come through. Because if it doesn’t come through you think “Aw man, I’m a failure. Why… I can’t do anything.” Whereas; if you just take the small steps, get the momentum, start with these 5 small tasks, later you can cruise the size of the tasks as you get closer to the exam. But getting to the habit of doing 5 a day. 5 small tasks a day and you will start.
Now the good thing about this is if you are going to… If you do decide, for example, to write out an essay, one Task 2 essay a day, well you probably want to get it checked. And if you’re sending them to me, if you bought the Sentence Guide and you’re working through it, that’s good news because you probably… well, you’re more than likely get your essay back in 24 hours. So that fits in well with the 5-a-day. And getting to a habit and taking small steps and just moving forward.
Another thing I should mention about the Sentence Guide is that every time you send me an essay and I review it and then send it back, there will always be some encouragement and some motivation there. Some recognition as well for writing the essay, for taking the initiative, for implementing what you’ve learned.
And more than anything, it’s just I know what it’s like when you’re doing this. When you’re studying and it seems like a battle, and you get in feedback. And we can get a little bit sensitive about the work. You know?
One student the other day, said “I got my work corrected and the teacher said I was using language from a High-school or High-school level language.” And when you get comments like that, it doesn’t really help.
What I’m trying to say is that you get recognition, you get some encouragement which may seem like… It doesn’t may seem like very little but trust me, it does make a massive difference when somebody recognizes your work and pushes you in the right direction.
The idea is, you take massive action. You commit to doing 5 tasks and then eventually build it up, and maintain it. There’s no point in doing 2 hours of… 2 days of 18-hour study days and then nothing for the rest of the month. It’s much more effective if you do an hour/two hours a day for 20 days. And it’s the repetition, it’s the momentum, it’s getting the habit and maintaining it.
One way to really compound this, one way to make this stick is called the “100% Rule.” The 100% Rule states that you will do it no matter what. No matter what happens.
For example if you just decide “Okay, I’m going to commit to this 5-a-day rule.” It means you’re going to do 5 every single day. And it doesn’t matter what the tasks are (preferably they’ll be more meaningful and more substantial tasks of course) but you’ll commit to doing them 100%.
So you’re lying in bed and you think “Ah, I should have. I didn’t write out an IELTS Task 2 essay.” Okay. Jump out of bed, bang, bang, bang. And write it. 100%.
This is a powerful rule. Because with this rule there’s basically no debate. There’s no battle in your mind whether you are going to do it or not, or whether you can put it off until tomorrow. It’s 100%. And if you’ve made a promise you can just move forward and just do it. You’ve committed. 100% is 100%. So that’s the 100% Rule.
Now the final rule may seem a little bit out there. But I used this tool a lot. And there’s two different levels of using this tool. The first one is for big picture. It’s to maintaining and getting into the motivation… into a motivated mindset to maintain the 5-a-day for 3 months or for 4 months. And basically what it means is just getting obsessed. Getting obsessed with this and working yourself up into a frenzy and getting so obsessed with this, that you’re just doing it all day and you’re thinking about it all day. And you’re moving towards it.
One technique for getting yourself so crazy obsessed over something, is to start visualizing it. Start visualizing yourself opening up your computer, logging in to your IELTS account and then seeing all the Band 7s, and 7.5, and Band 8s for each different discipline. And then imagining that you’ve got it. Imagining that you’ve finally overcome this hurdle.
Doing this almost programs your brain. And you start thinking about it. And the more times you can recall this future event that you’ve created in your mind, the more motivated you will get.
This is what professional athletes do as well. They imagine themselves lifting up the gold for the Olympics. They go through the whole race, the whole event, and imagine themselves doing it. Honestly, you just need to go do a search for it. “Visualization, pro athletes,” or something like that. And you’ll find millions and millions of pages all dedicated to doing this.
It’s a strong and powerful technique but once again, it takes a while to implement it. So maybe you can include it as one of those tasks.
Now, the final tip is a much more practical one. For example, use this one when you know that you’re going to have study and there’s a possibility that you might sack it off, or that you might not actually do it and you find something else to do. You’ll just push your study aside.
This technique helps you avoid this because what you do is visualization again. Say if you’re walking home, what you can do is visualize yourself sitting down at the desk, working hard. Actually see yourself in your mind sitting down, writing out an essay doing a look-cover-write-check exercise, doing these tasks.
And then like feeling… Well, I can’t image visualize yourself feeling well. But you can visualize yourself with a smile on your face and getting through it, working towards your goals. And doing this will make it more likely that when you do get home you’ll follow through and you’ll do the actual tasks.
It’s a good way to get yourself motivated into doing these kinds of tasks. Just imagine yourself sitting down and working. And then when it actually comes to it, it makes it much easier.
Now if you actually go to the website, go to IELTS Podcast and search for this actual podcast and the actual texts that accompanies it, you’ll see a few motivational videos there that will definitely help. And a few of them you can just plug into your… You can go to mp3ripper or whatever, or vidtomp3 and get the mp3 (because they’re from YouTube these videos). You can download the mp3 and put it on your mp3 player, or into your mobile, or whatever. And start listening to it a lot.
And yeah, there’s one by CT Fletcher. That crazy Afro-American gym dude. And then there’s one from… I think it’s from a sports advert… I’m not so sure, but it’s really good. And it will get you motivated. Trust me. It’s just one of those things that you listen to and you can’t get motivated.
So have a look at the website. And remember, the only way you’re going to get through it is by taking the first step and just continually moving forward to your goal. And this is why the 5-a-day is such a powerful but simple technique to move you forward, get the ball rolling, and to get you on the path of passing IELTS.
You can either do this alone, or you can either go to a center. The centers I find are a little bit expensive, and the quality of the teaching is a bit 50/50, to be honest. I mean sometimes you get and experienced tutor but none of them will put their neck on the line. None of them will guarantee it. Okay?
So if you do need a guarantee and you do find that you would work better with somebody looking at your essays and helping you out there, well, send me an email and ask me about the Sentence Guide.
Ah, yeah. By the way, sorry, I almost forgot. Now, the Sentence Guide is covering Task 1 essays as well. So you’re going to do about… I think you write about 10 essays in total. There’s 3 which are self-study essays (which you do). And then after that you start writing essays which I send you, and then you send it back to me and then I correct it. But also, now there are Academic Task 1 essays included for the same price.
So not only are you going to get the Task 2 completely under control, you’re also going to get valuable feedback which will help you improve a lot. And you get the valuable feedback which will help you with Task 1, whether it’s General or Academic.
So have a look at that if you’re having a bit of a tough time with your writing. And also check out the new IELTS resources section as well. There you’ll find links for proofreading, for getting your CV checked, for lots of different other services that might be of value to you.
Okay. Well, all the best. Keep going forward. Remember to check out this podcast (the actual post) so you can get all the links, so you can get the full benefit. And keep going, really. It’s a matter of persistence over any other quality. Just persistence, repetition, moving forward.
And one final thought: When you were born, you didn’t know how to speak a language. And you’ve learned it over time. So if you’ve learned one language, it’s definitely not going to be difficult to learn another language. And do it now because as you get older, learning anything gets more difficult.
Okay. All the best.