1. Lack of preparation:
    1. Many students assume that having a good command of English will mean they will do well in the exam. This is simply not true.
    2. The stress and tension of the exam environment will diminish a student’s ability to do well in the test.
    3. Simulating the test environment is essential. This will ensure you can learn to read, think and process information in the time supplied.
  2. Incorrect spelling
    1. Spelling mistakes account for a large proportion of reductions in IELTS scores.
    2. Many IELTS testing components contain words that are not used very often, particularly in the academic stream of testing.
    3. Boosting vocabulary and familiarity with a very large body of words – especially words with low frequent daily use – is essential.
    4. It is essential that you check spelling of all written work. Casual and lazy mistakes could mean the difference between a 7 and a 6.5.
  3. Poor time allocation:
    1. Many students fail to achieve a higher IELTS score because of poor time allocation. They simply spend too much time on some questions or difficult words, and do not keep an eye on the clock. In the end, examinees sometimes find themselves rushing to finish and thereby making costly mistakes in spelling or poor grammar.
    2. Poor time allocation results in spending too much time on the hard parts and not doing the easy parts quickly and efficiently. Do the easy parts first, then go back to the difficult parts when there is time remaining.
    3. This pitfall can be addressed by doing lots of practice tests in the required time, for example 20 minutes. Be disciplined when doing practice tests and strictly keep to time limits. This will train you to think and respond with time limitations in mind.
  4. Lack of mental preparation:
    1. The IELTS test follows a particular format. It involves English language competency and skill within tight time frames. There are often background noises and distractions and examinees can often be intimidated by the testing environment.
    2. To be better prepared mentally and emotionally it is essential you get a good night rest prior to the test. Try relaxation techniques and attempt to enter the testing room with a calm, relaxed disposition but a highly focused mind. Cramming vocabulary and phrases prior to an exam tend to add to a sense of desperation and anxiety, so try to find something that relaxes your mind and helps you to stay sharp and focused.
  5. Poor use of vocabulary and expression:
    1. Examinees often achieve lower scores because of poor or incorrect use of vocabulary and diction. This is a costly mistake as the examiners often fail to understand the point being made by the examinee, both in writing and speaking tests.
    2. Whilst undertaking a test, it is very important you use simple language to express what you think. Do not try to use words that are long or difficult in order to impress and try to achieve a higher score. If you use a word incorrectly, then it will result in a lower score. Simple words you are familiar with will enable you to express clearly what it is you want to say or write. This will result in a higher score.
  6. Sloppy mistakes in recording answers:
    1. This is a common problem resulting in many examinees to achieve lower scores than expected. Stress, lack of attention, being too rushed or plain old carelessness can result in the wrong answer being recorded on the answer sheet.
    2. It is essential you check your answers in the time remaining. Attempt to finish at least five minutes before the set time so that you can quickly go over your answers and check they are all recorded correctly.
  7. Distracting non-verbal actions in speaking tests:
    1. Poor non-verbal communication during speaking tests results in some students failing to achieve their potential for a higher score. Slurred or mumbling speech, lack of eye contact, fidgetiness, restlessness, sagging shoulders and poor seating posture distract the listener and result in an overall lower assessment of communicative competence.
    2. To remedy this problem, ensure your body language is communicating a confident and competent person. Look the examiner in the eyes and speak clearly, slowly and with as much clarity and concision as possible. Remember to use simple language to express your ideas in a clearer way. This is sure to give you a higher score in your spoken test.
  8. Assumption of good English competency:
    1. Whilst many examinees have good English proficiency on the street or in social situations, this is different in an exam situation. As this assumption is made, many examinees do not do adequate preparation and therefore achieve a much lower score than their potential.
    2. To address this issue, be sure to do plenty of practice tests and keep to the real exam conditions where possible. Do not assume you will automatically achieve a high or desired score becuase of your proficiency outside the classroom. Remember that IELTS tests cover a wide range of topic areas and there could be one or two subjects for which you have had little preparation. Read and study extensively in order to be better prepared, and in so doing you will surely achieve a much higher score.


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