This is a question I so often get asked not just by my readers and followers, but my students as well. Asking this question does not only show some curiosity in understanding trying to pinpoint which areas the candidate need to work on to perform better, it also shows a genuine interest and keen motivation for self-improvement. Apart from the usual “Practise! Practise! Practise!” answer, students who work with me are able to easily identify which specific tasks they need to work on to do better in the IELTS test.
So, in answer to this question for those who are preparing for the test on their own, these are the steps you’ll need to take.
- Step 1: Identify which area you are having issues or problems with.
- Step 2: Use the SMART method
What does SMART mean?
- S = Being specific about which area you want to focus on. Is it IELTS Reading, or Speaking? What about skills? Is it reading quickly or working on pronunciation. Be specific about which area you want to work on.
- M = Measure how much you want to work on. Is it listening to one interview or three? Are you going to read three articles or seven?
- A = Make sure that your goals are attainable. With the time that you have, how much work can you manage? Go back to M. Measure if you have the time to listen to three lectures or one. What about speaking? Can you practise speaking for 20 minutes or 1 hour? Be realistic about your expectations.
- R = How relevant is your study material? Are you going to be listening to a singer being interviewed about her career? Or will you be listening to someone talking about the effects of the ozone layer on the climate?
- T = How much time can you give to your IELTS preparations? Are you going to read four articles in one week? Or four articles in one day? Give it a deadline or a time limit for your study goals.
Example of a SMART method:
I am going to read four online news articles on climate change by the end of Friday.
- Specific = Read news articles
- Measurable = Four articles
- Attainable = Four articles (not ten!)
- Relevant = Climate change (not latest novel!)
- Time-bound = By the end of Thursday
You can also use the example from the downloadable worksheet below.
Listen to more information about this below!
Until next time!