One of the most overlooked, yet useful strategies, that should be employed by candidates studying for the IELTS exam is studying using topics and themes. In fact, IELTS frequently reuses topics and ideas. Studying these subjects will not only give you a heads up, this will also give you much needed confidence on test day.
IELTS Topics for Reading and Listening
Test takers will find that subjects used on the reading and listening sections of the exam will become progressively less familiar. On the listening section for example, Parts 1, 2 and 3 will involve everyday situations related to work, socialising, or education. Part 4, however, involves an academic topic that you won’t really know anything about beforehand. Your ability to correctly answer questions about unfamiliar subject matter will show a higher level of language proficiency and will result in a much higher band score.
The reading section is much the same in that the content progresses from more regular pieces of text that involve common types of readings into more scientific articles. The Academic and General versions of the exam are different due to the fact that the reading skills needed for Academic purposes are different.
Topics for Speaking and Writing
Luckily, the topics selected for the speaking and writing sections don’t tend to involve as many academic subjects, as it can be hard to talk at length about these types of things if you aren’t familiar with them. Also, there are lots of clever ways that you can tell the examiner that you don’t have much experience with the subject. This will prompt the examiner to move on to a new point, allowing you to better demonstrate your language skills.
For students, the fear of receiving a task involving a topic that they are unfamiliar with can be a major roadblock in becoming confident enough to attempt the exam. While IELTS exams are fully created to ensure that each and every test taker with excellent language skills can do well, those with lesser abilities can benefit by preparing strategically according to commonly used topics and subjects.
Download the Top 15 IELTS Themes Handout
Preparing for IELTS the CIBL Way
Our Clearly IELTS Online Preparation Program has been created with this often overlooked aspect of studying in mind. Lessons are grouped into common IELTS themes so that students can explore the topics fully in order to be fully prepared to receive them on the exam. This includes trying sample tasks related to the subject, learning new vocabulary and gathering ideas for the speaking and writing sections.
IELTS exams are modern and take into account relevant social issues. Depending on how politically engaged you are, you may not have considered how you feel about these issues, and you may not have many examples to bring to the table during a discussion with the examiner or when writing an essay. Sadly, this lack of knowledge will not reflect well on your language skills.
Instead, candidates should review commonly employed social issues on the IELTS exam so that they are aware of problems that exist, how they may be solved, and consider how these issues relate to their own lives and situations in their home country. With this, a 250 word essay will flow with ease!
Strategically Build Your Vocabulary
Another major problem that IELTS candidates encounter is that they simply do not have the language to discuss more complicated topics in detail, or, to understand a lengthy written article. Certainly, you can’t study every word in the English language, but you can study key terms and phrases related to subject matter that you are highly likely to encounter.
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What to Do if You’re Not Familiar With the Subject
As the exam is designed to do this, candidates can expect to encounter something that they are not familiar with on the exam, however, following these pointers will ensure that you stay strong and don’t lose confidence or waste time.
- Take a guess and move on: keep in mind that some questions are designed to be nearly impossible to answer. This is how exam writers ensure that band scores accurately reflect your language abilities. Use your time on questions that you’re more likely to get right.
- Look for clues: oftentimes you can learn more about an unknown word by looking at the language used around it. Is the unknown word a noun or verb? Is it descriptive? Does it sound positive or negative?
- When you encounter a task that uses a difficult subject for you, be confident and know that the text will explain the subject matter enough for you to answer the questions.
- Look at the questions first so that you can focus on finding the answers and not understanding everything about the text.
In conclusion, while the most difficult questions are designed to challenge those with high-level language skills, candidates with average skills can score higher by reviewing these types of subjects as part of the preparation process.