How to Identify Good IELTS Preparation Sources

IELTS grammar

You probably know already that the internet is teeming with IELTS preparation sources. A quick internet search will reveal a vast amount of information on IELTS preparation. Of course, free access to near-unlimited information comes with serious risks; much of this information is either misleading or simply false. It’s important that you know how to identify good IELTS preparation sources, so that you maximize your chances of success. Here are some points to think about on your IELTS journey:

Overblown promises 

We often have students point us to IELTS preparation sources they have located in the blogosphere or on YouTube. Some of these are less scrupulous than others. You can usually tell what you’re dealing with by paying attention to how these products and services are described. In particular, look out for the language of sales and spin: “We guarantee you a band 8 in 8 weeks!”. Unless that’s a money-back guarantee, this kind of language should make you suspicious. It is appropriate for an IELTS preparation source or coach to help you design a study program aimed at achieving a certain band score. If the coach is competent, he or she will be able to help you to make appreciable gains in your band score. However, anything that minimizes the amount of work that you are going to have put in, or exaggerates the value of the coaching, is unlikely to help you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Memorization is not a Good IELTS Preparation Technique

Apart from sales language, another giveaway that you should avoid a particular source is the suggestion that you memorize speeches, letters or essays. This is very bad advice. The IELTS exam tests your ability to communicate. It is not a memory test. Furthermore, you have no way of predicting the topics in your speaking or writing tests. Memorizing a chunk of speech or text will be useless, at best. At worst, it will decrease your band score.

Out of date IELTS preparation sources

No two IELTS exams are the same. This is because a dedicated academic team is constantly researching and developing texts and questions. While the test standards remain constant over time, the materials from a decade ago have a different flavor to the material you will face in your exam. You should only trust sources that have enough experience of the test to be able to adapt their materials to keep pace with developments in IELTS.

Good IELTS Preparation Sources Don’t Offer “Formulas”

Another aspect of many IELTS preparation sources is that they peddle formulas and “quick tricks”, such as:

  • Using 8 different tenses in speaking will give you a band 8
  • Using 10 unique linking devices will give you a writing band 9
  • Lists of obscure, archaic words that will guarantee you a 9
  • Dividing part 2 of the speaking exam into “past, present and future”
  • Subheadings in task 2 of the writing exam

This is a partial list of the more egregious falsehoods that you can find on blogs and YouTube channels. There is no mechanical formula that you can use to beat the IELTS exam. You have to work on improving your skills, particularly the areas in which you might have weaknesses.

Good IELTS Preparation is Tailored to Your Needs

A competent IELTS coach should be able to identify your particular weaknesses and adapt his or her services and products to cater to those. After all, people have different learning styles and different needs. If a content provider or coach is trying to lock you into a full program that encompasses all four tests, but you only need to improve in one of these four, that is an indication that what you are being sold is a packaged product and not a meaningful service.

What a Good Source Looks Like: Reasonable Claims, Accountability

While you are preparing for the IELTS exam, you should only consider IELTS preparation sources that have the following features:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the test in its current form and implementation
  • Expertise in linguistics and language training
  • A variety of products of services
  • A process of assessing you in order to help you pinpoint your needs
  • Reasonable claims, backed up by evidence and results
  • Efficient administration, oversight and feedback

Highway IELTS has developed tools that save you time by identifying your particular needs first. That is the only sound basis on which to make recommendations and chart the way forward. Attend our Discover IELTS Workshop in Durban or Johannesburg or check out some of our self-study development courses designed to help you achieve your goals.

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