Realistic Grammar Goals
Perfect grammar is the goal. However, this can be a frustrating and tedious goal to try to achieve. Many IELTS candidates and ESL learners extensively study different grammar rules, yet struggle to master them and often receive lower IELTS scores because of this. When thinking about grammar and the IELTS test, you have to be R.E.A.L. about your skills and your goals.
Realize your strengths and weaknesses
Grammar is a major part of the IELTS test, and you’re scored on your grammar in multiple sections. You need to ask yourself how strong your grammar is, especially in your speaking and writing. Review the basics to see what you know. You will be able to assess whether or not you struggle with grammar or if you have a good handle on it. If you believe that you have problems in grammar, you need to be specific with your problem areas. Do you have problems with:
- Articles (a/an/the)
- Prepositions (in, on, from)
- Regular vs. Irregular verbs
- Tenses (Past, Present, Future)
- Countable/Uncountable Nouns
Once you have honed in on your weaknesses, you can focus on trying to improve those areas. On the other hand, if you don’t have issues with certain grammar points, such as punctuation, don’t focus on it.
Evaluate yourself often
You need to evaluate yourself or have someone else evaluate your grammar to see if you have improved. You can do this through tests and quizzes or through someone who knows the grammar points well, such as a teacher or tutor. Once you have read about a specific grammar point and you have studied it, practiced it, and used it frequently, test yourself. If you find that the problem is no longer an issue, focus on another skill. Mastering one skill may help you enough to raise your band score.
Achieve attainable goals
The best point to remember when trying to improve your grammar is that you can’t fix everything all at once. When candidates are trying to practice before the IELTS test, they try to fix all of their problems at the same time. This usually results in no issues being addressed or conquered.
If you struggle with multiple grammar points, you need to be realistic about what you can learn. Learning grammar takes time and time may not be on a candidate’s side. If you are one of these candidates, you need to decide what grammar points will be most beneficial to learn and improve. Some of the most common grammar mistakes made by IELTS candidates and ESL learners that stick out to native English speakers are:
- Past vs. Present Tense
If you struggle with these grammar points, choose one and work to try and improve it. Once you have learned the rules, the exceptions to the rules, and have used the chosen grammar point correctly, move on to another point.
Learn in a variety of ways
There are a variety of ways to learn grammar. Try different methods as you will be able to see what works best for you. This will also help make learning grammar a little more interesting, as sometimes it can get boring.
There are endless books that teach and review all the grammar rules. This will allow you to brush up on what you’ve already learned and also show you what you need to work on.
There are also websites that teach grammar. You can find online seminars as well as take grammar tests and quizzes.
Any grammar practice where you need to use your speaking and writing skills is beneficial to the IELTS test. You can do this in an English class or with an English or IELTS tutor.
Being realistic about your grammar skills may help you break the barriers to a better section on the IELTS test, or even better, a higher overall band score. Learning grammar is a long process, but if you tackle it in the best way, the benefits will pay out in the long run.