How IELTS really feels on the day?

Hi, my name is Somya. I took my IELTS exam on the 8th of July this year at a hotel in Chandigarh. I was very pleased to get a band 7 score.

It was the academic module and I was very nervous about my performance because my admittance to Cardiff University (in the UK) was riding on it. I took the UKVi test, which I had heard was even more difficult and secure than the IDP test. Great!

I reached the venue three hours before the test. And I am glad that I was on time as the registration was a very lengthy process. The reporting time was 11am even though the test only started at 1pm! No one was late. The whole place had an air of seriousness and there was no time for small talk with the students. We were asked to submit our cellphones, bags and even the water bottles we had bought along. Our stationery was also stripped of its brand labels. Fortunately the staff was very cooperative and helpful, which put me at ease.

There was a room for registration where the authorities check our passports very carefully. Then a biometric test was done, along with our photographs. There was no smiling – as it was all very serious.

After the registration everybody was shown through to the examination hall. The paper had four sections. Three were done back to back which was really tiring – plus there was no loo break between papers, so don’t drink too much water before hand! The speaking section was done the following day. All the sections had to be completed in the designated time and not a single extra minute was given.

The first section was listening. I had practiced a lot so I that I was prepared for the different accents. However, I found that the answers were quite hidden in the speech so I had to be very attentive and quick thinking throughout the test. I wrote my answers directly onto the question paper and used the checking time to move on and read ahead to the next question. It really helped to read the questions before hand so that I knew what to listen out for.

The second section was reading. This had three passages. I skim read the passages quickly and then spent time reading though all the questions before starting. Again I wrote my answers directly onto the answer sheet, I’m glad I did as a found the passages quite dense and even scanning for the answers was time consuming, I found I did not have any extra time at the end.

The last section of the day was writing. There were two questions. I did the essay question first then had to describe a graph, although I was prepared for a range of options. I was conscious that I needed to try and vary my vocabulary through out my answers, which was tough as I was getting tired towards the end of the paper.

By the time I had finished day one I was glad that the speaking test was the next day. Again we had to be there quite early as the registration process was repeated. I was then taken through to an examiner who was seated in a separate room. I had not realized but the whole test is recorded and reviewed by an invigilator, so the person who you actually talk to does not grade you.

The test started with the examiner recording my name and candidate number. It lasted for 15 minutes in total. There was not a single extra or an irrelevant word exchanged, not even common pleasantries at the beginning of the test! He stuck to the questions like glue and kept a straight face, there was no reaction to my answers, nor did he offer any explanation if I did not understand a question, he simply repeated it or if time was a up moved onto the next question. I am glad that I had rehearsed plenty of general topics, such as ‘what’s your favorite movie and why’ so I did not have to think too much at the beginning of the test, this helped settle my nerves.

In hindsight I am really glad that I took the IELTS classes as they definitely prepared me for the test itself. You really need to know what you are doing on the day, as there is no time to think “how should I approach this?”

I took this exam after my 12 grade. I realized that even though I had been taught in English IELTS was different. This test was more creative. The classes made me practice exam technique and helped me manage the time well. My IELTS teacher also gave me handy tips on how to approach each section and different types of questions.

My top tips for the exam day would be
1. Arrive on time
2. Stay calm
3. Do not drink a lot of fluid beforehand, especially on day one.
4. Mange your time well as you will not get an extra minute and there is no time in between papers
5. Practice real papers a lot because this paper is different from anything you will have been taught at school!

Good luck!

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