IELTS Examination Tip  Timing YourselfIELTS Examination Tip Timing Yourself

While the IELTS Examination is carefully monitored by proctors, no one will tell you how to use the time you are allotted for each section of the test. Watch your watch, or the clock in the examination room, closely. The examiners time each portion of the test very strictly. It's important that you monitor your own progress carefully, so you don't leave portions of the test unfinished ? or even unstarted!

The IELTS Listening test is more or less self-timing, in that the tape is played without pauses. Even so, making the wisest use of your time makes a difference.

- At the end of the Listening test, you are allowed 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. That's more than enough time to accomplish that.

- So, instead of putting your answers directly onto the separate answer sheet, put them in the question booklet you are given. Not going back and forth between the booklet and the answer sheet can prevent you from getting lost, which is one of the worst things that can happen in IELTS Listening.

- If you are unsure of your answers, you can note your best guesses in the question booklet and make your final decision at the time you are transferring your answers to the answer sheet.

- The IELTS Reading test consists of three readings and about 13 questions about each, all of which have to be finished within 60 minutes. Monitoring yourself here is of critical importance. If you spend too much time on either of the first two readings, you may not have time to complete the third ? and you will have lost one-third of the points toward your reading band score.

- So, even though the readings become slightly more difficult over the course, limit yourself to 20 minutes for each. Once you get into the rhythm of the test, you will start working faster, which will compensate for the increasing difficult of the readings.

- If you finish early, you can always go back and work on questions from earlier readings about which you are unsure. In contrast to our recommendation for the IELTS Listening test, we suggest that you write your answers on the answer sheet as you go along.

- You can always change them (the answer sheets are hand-corrected) later, and it saves time ? and keeps you on schedule ? to record your answers directly.

Timing yourself is perhaps most critical in the IELTS Writing tasks. The test is in two parts, Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2. You should write the Writing Task 1 report first, timing yourself strictly to a maximum of 20 minutes. Then you should write the Writing Task 2 essay in the remaining 40 minutes.

- It probably will not feel like enough time for either task. However, since the band score given your Writing Task 2 essay counts more heavily toward your overall Writing band score, you must make sure you give it at least 40 minutes. Most candidates find completing the essay in that amount of time difficult anyway.

- You probably will feel like you need more than 20 minutes to write a complete Writing Task 1 report, too. Just do the best you can in 20 minutes and then finish the report and move on to Writing Task 2.

- Remember: By writing concluding paragraphs to both writing tasks, beginning them with ?In conclusion,?? and then repeating the information summary (in Writing Task 1) or the Thesis Statement (in Writing Task 2), you technically have completed the task.

- In the IELTS Speaking task, timing yourself is important only in the central section, called the Long Turn. In it, after one minute's preparation (which the examiner will time), you are to speak, unassisted, on a topic for a minimum of one minute and, ideally, two minutes.

- If you feel you are running out of things to say on the topic but are unsure whether you have spoken for an entire minute, look at the clock or your watch to see. Make sure you reach the one-minute mark at least, or there will be a lowering of your band score.

- If you speak beyond the two-minute point, the examiner will give you some indication, probably a hand signal, that you should conclude your remarks in this section.

by Svend Nelson
References and Bibliography

Svend Nelson is a university lecturer and Internet entrepreneur. He is director of UniRoute Limited, a Hong Kong based company with offices in Bangkok and London providing IELTS preparation and a free online application service to study abroad including courses like tourism management. Svend lived and worked in various countries across Latin America, Europe and Asia before settling in Thailand.

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