Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Time Management Tips for the IELTS Writing Exam

The IELTS Writing test is more than just an English composition assessment. It is essentially a time management exam. Test takers must wisely use the given one hour to accomplish two tasks, which vary depending on their chosen format.

The IELTS Academic test requires examinees to interpret and summarize a chart, graph, table, or diagram and to compose an essay explaining their viewpoints about a general topic. The first task requires at least 150 words in 20 minutes while the second item requires at least 250 words in 40 minutes.

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On the other hand, the test takers of the IELTS General Training exam must write a response letter based on a given situation and create an essay to substantiate their opinions about a specific subject. Examinees must write at least 150 words in 20 minutes for the first task and write at least 250 words in 40 minutes for the second task. 

As an IELTS examinee, you must use your time wisely and finish all the given tasks within the allotted time.

Many competent test takers failed this exam component due to inefficient time allocation. To avoid committing the same mistake, practice writing essays and other compositions under a time limit. You can train on your own; however, it is recommended to do so under the guidance of IELTS review center specialists. Instructors of the IELTS review center in Makati, for instance, can monitor your progress and provide mock tests. They can also coach you on the other components of the exam.

To help you make the most of your given time, here are five effective time management strategies that you can apply during the IELTS Writing test:

1.    Set the Maximum Time Spent for Each Writing Stage.
To compose the most cohesive outcome possible, it is highly recommended that you follow the three basic stages of the writing process: planning/outlining, writing and revising. You can use the suggested minute allocations below as a guide.

For the first task, use no more than four minutes to outline your ideas and at least five minutes to check your work’s quality. Meanwhile, give five minutes at most to plan and no lower than five minutes to review your composition for the second task. Keep in mind that you do not need to follow the mentioned time allocations to the letter. In addition, determine your limitations before the exam and practice.

2.    Create a Content Outline.
Planning is the key to fast and cohesive writing. Test takers who skip this stage often produce unbalanced compositions regarding content and flow.

Start organizing your ideas from the get-go. Immediately group related concepts while you brainstorm. Assign a heading to define each set, determine their connections to each other and arrange them cohesively. Make sure that you take thought transition and content flow into consideration when you establish your outline. Do not waste time tweaking your plans during the writing stage. For the essay task, remember to include an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

3.    Focus on One Idea per Paragraph.
Elaborate one concept per paragraph. It lessens not only possible transition problems, but it also prevents content disorganization. For each paragraph, your goal should be to state an important idea and provide supporting details.  Avoid copying phrases or sentences from the question. It is only helpful in reaching your word count expectation as you can gain no extra points for your effort.

4.    Pay Attention to the Word Count.
Word count is a requirement you cannot afford to miss. Your band score automatically suffers if you fail to reach the set number.

Do not waste time counting your words. When you practice time-bound writing at home, familiarize yourself with how your handwritten compositions look like at 150 and 250 words. Use A4 paper when training as it is the standard IELTS answer booklet size.

5.    Allot Time for Proofreading.
Never forgo proofreading in the IELTS writing exam. The time pressure often affects most test takers’ subconscious linguistic filters.  To summarize, here are the most common mistakes that you might overlook while writing your composition:

•    Misspelled words 
•    Misplaced or missing punctuations
•    Misuse of articles (a, an, the, )
•    Incorrect subject-verb relationships
•    Other grammatical errors (dangling modifiers, fragments, etc.) 
•    Inappropriate word choice
•    Usage of jargons and informal language
•    Inclusion of unnecessary information

Not everyone can adjust to the exam’s time restrictions on the spot. Practicing to improve your planning skills and writing speed is necessary to get a high band score. There are IELTS review centers in Makati, Manila, Cebu, Davao and Baguio that can guide you through your training. Instructors of these IELTS review centers not only help you prepare for the Writing exam, but for the remaining three test components as well.

In summary, the strategies mentioned above positively contribute to successful time management. These techniques include setting personal time limits, following an established outline, elaborating one idea per paragraph and being aware of the set word count requirement. Saving time to recheck your final output is also crucial to filter out overlooked content and grammar mistakes.

Integrate these practices into your preparation practices and boost your chances of getting an excellent IELTS band score.

“IELTS Energy 20: How Time Flies on the IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2.” All Ears English. March 19, 2015. Accessed December 06, 2016. http://ielts.allearsenglish.com/ielts-writing-time-strategy/#

“Tips for how best to use your time in the IELTS Writing Test.” Best IELTS Online. July 14, 2013. Accessed December 06, 2016. http://www.bestieltsonline.com/tips-how-best-use-time-ielts-writing-test/

“Writing test advice.” British Council. Accessed December 06, 2016. http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/test-day-advice/writing-test-advice

Lee. “IELTS Writing Exam Time Management Strategy For Writing Task 1.” The IELTS Coach. July 30, 2015.  Accessed December 06, 2016. http://theieltscoach.com/ielts-writing-exam-time-management-strategy/

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