This is supposedly the easiest skill but it is not easy. To be successful, students need a high knowledge of English and a good knowledge of the specifics of the test. The listening is divided into four parts and each part follows a specific format. Spelling, grammar and vocabulary are all important. Continual practice with proper IELTS material is mandatory for success.
Reading is a particular difficult task and in IELTS academic it is often overwhelming for beginners. Students often feel that English proficiency tests should focus on English but the reading portion of the test also tests your speed, deductive thinking, and ability to make decisions based on context.
There are 3 passages and 40 questions in the academic and up to 5 passages and 40 questions in the general test. The questions are often difficult. Again, it takes knowledge of the test and knowledge of English to excel. Vocabulary by itself is not a solution. Skimming and scanning skills by themselves are not a solution. It take a combination of skimming, scanning, reading, deductive thinking and speed to get a high score.
Writing can be very rigorous. There are two writings in the academic test and two in general test. In the general test, students must write a letter and an opinion essay. In the academic test, students must accurately describe a chart, a table, a process, a map or a graph and do an opinion essay.
These skills are not natural for most students. Specific instruction is required to set students on the path of success. General knowledge of society and the ability to support concepts are important in the opinion essay. The use of model answers and having someone to correct your errors are important. Grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and sentence structure are huge keys in achieving a good score. It generally takes a lot of work to be a proficient writer.
Speaking is the last skill we will impart on you. The speaking portion usually lasts about 15 minutes and is done face to face with an examiner. The first portion is 5 minutes long and is about familiar topics. It may sound easy to talk about sports or your home, but to achieve a high score,you must be accurate and use appropriate lexicon. The second portion takes 3 minutes and you must speak for two minutes. Test takers must describe something in detail for two minutes. Finally, the third portion varies to some degree but it tends to be an interactive discussion with the examiner. Abstract questions are common in this part. Most students need continual practice and error correction to excel in speaking.