Get a good night’s sleep before the exam. Researchers at the University of Bristol’s sleep centre have found that for 85% of us, eight hours sleep is enough. Lack of the required amount of rest will drastically affect your ability to think clearly and operate at the most efficient level. You might think it’s a good idea to stay up late reading IELTS test papers the night before but this might do you more harm than good.
- Eat the right thing. There’s long been links to intelligence and food, even as far back as the Romans it was thought that eating sheep brain would make you smarter. Today, some scientists think oily fish will give you more brain power, a cup of coffee will allow your brain to work quicker in exams and chewing gum will help you concentrate more. Whatever the popular fad, just make sure that you’re not hungry when you sit down to do your IELTS exam.
- Know where you’re going. On the day of the test you might be travelling to a new city or a new part of town, make sure you know where you’re going. Ask someone where to go or find the address on your computer or smart phone using Google Maps. If you’re getting the bus or the train make sure you allow plenty of time to get there. If you’re late, the test centre might not let you in!
- Know what to expect. On the day of the exam you’ll be shown to a room in the test centre. Here, you’ll do the listening, reading and writing exams one after another. Then, you’ll be given an appointment for the spoken element of the test which might take place later on in the same day or even the next day. If you’re not sure what happens at the test centre, ring up and ask or email and ask!
- Develop strategies to keep calm. For some, exams are synonymous with stress and worry and if this is the case for you with the IELTS exam, then it’s worth learning some ways in which you can help yourself stay focused. Breathing deeply can be a real aid to remaining collected, take long deep breaths. Count up to 4 while breathing in, and count to 4 while breathing out. If you do this several times you’ll find that you completely calm down. Try to remember that if you don’t get the score you want on the exam, you can always do it again. Failure in the IELTS exam is by no means the end of the world!
- It’s good to reflect on the questions you were asked in the exam and think about where you did well and where you went wrong, but try not to worry about this too much. There’s nothing you can do about the exam once it is finished and the best course of action is to wait a fortnight for the results. If you achieved the grade you wanted, great, if not, you can always do the test again and the next time you will be better prepared.
Check our Richard L King’s great book for more help with the IELTS reading exam.