How Do I Know my Test Day English is Improving?
Self-assessment, reflection, improvement, progress… Do these words remind you of anything? Maybe they’re the words that you think of just before a test. How can you know that your English has improved? You’ve done so many practice tests. You’ve done more grammar activities than you can count. You push yourself every day to speak English and only watch TV in English. But is it helping? Is your English really improving? Sometimes you may feel like you didn’t learn anything this year. Other times… it’s like, “I am 100% and IELTS 9!” But how do I know?
It can be frustrating, right? This is a part of learning. Sometimes we have to stop and check. We have to get some numbers. We need some grades. We need to really answer the question, “Did my English improve enough to do better on the IELTS?” Below are seven approaches to this question.
Look at Your Old Work
Do you have some old notebooks from past English classes? How about some old assignments, quizzes, and class notes? You can also check your email history for old assignments and letters. Now, time to look carefully. Are the notes really easy to understand now? If you did the same assignment, class, or test again, could you do better? If these old notes look really difficult, you might need to start reviewing. If they seem super-easy, congratulations! You’ve improved.
It’s a fact that teaching the language helps you to really learn the language. When you teach English, there’s nowhere to hide. You truly must know what you are talking about. It forces you to understand details from the bottom up. Try and explain the simple past to a new learner of English. It isn’t really simple when you have to help someone learn it! So, why not volunteer to teach or to tutor? You’ll help someone and help yourself. Everybody wins!
Although a good HUMAN English teacher can never be replaced, there are some excellent ways to learn by yourself. There are a lot of English language learning programs out there. Many of them will tell you exactly where your weaknesses are, instantly. Is your grammar accurate? Do you have a large range of vocabulary? Can you pronounce a word correctly? So, go out there and find some software that will assess all your English skills. This will never replace a real teacher, but it will give you a good idea where you need to improve for your next IELTS test.
Ask a Pro What IELTS is Looking For
Sometimes you think you have improved from an IELTS 6 to an IELTS 7. But how do you really know? There are lots of great ways to learn about exactly how IELTS is marked. Getting a tutor who knows IELTS is one way. You could also research IELTS blogs, learn about how IELTS is scored, or take the highly recommended IELTS Masterclass instructed by an IELTS expert.
Have you ever studied psychology, the study of the mind? In psychology, a neuron is a nerve cell that sends messages to the brain and the body. So, neuropsychology is the study of how our messages are formed in the mind. The basic fact is this, the more times we send messages, the stronger the connection becomes. So, if you practice English, your brain physically becomes stronger at English. It is like going to the gym, but you build neuropathways, not muscle. So, maybe you don’t think you have improved, but if you are giving your brain a language workout every day, you probably are getting much better at English.
As with many skills, the more you improve, the faster you are. So, while you are studying and practicing for your IELTS test, why not use a clock? Record your times and your scores. Maybe your score stays the same, but your time improves. This is an improvement in your English. Also remember, timing is very important in IELTS. If you can’t use your English skills quickly, you might waste time and lose points. Check the times below for how long each test section is:
Relax and be Confident
Many of us doubt our success. We question ourselves and our abilities. Some people say it’s just being modest. However, don’t fool yourself. You’ve studied and practiced English for thousands of hours. You’re awesome! You do well on the practice tests. It’s a fact that confident students do better on exams. Go get the IELTS score you need! You can do it!