How to stay calm in your IELTS Test

How to stay calm in your IELTS Test
How to stay calm in your IELTS Test

How to stay calm in your IELTS Test

We all know the IELTS exam is a high-stakes exam: it’s often the only barrier that stands between a student and their new life. Test-takers spend a lot of time and effort preparing for the exam and, as a result, exam day can feel very high-pressure. Plus, IELTS is expensive! Nobody wants to pay those fees more than once! But, one of the most important things you can do on exam day is TRY TO STAY CALM.

Tests are challenging, and yes, tests can be stressful.  Even for the most prepared amongst us, an exam like the IELTS can be intimidating.  Don’t let that pressure trip you up.  Keep calm and carry on with these three tips.

Know What You Are Going Into

Prepare yourself.  Know where your IELTS testing center is.  If it is in an unfamiliar part of town, maybe even drive there the week before your test on a similar day and time and time it so that you have a good idea exactly how long it takes you to get there. 

Arrive early to your testing center so that you have time to use the restroom and refresh yourself before going in.  Be comfortable with the IELTS test format.  Make sure that you are well-rested, fed, and hydrated.  Remember, there is no break in between sections and you don’t want any distractions.

Manage Your Time Well

Pace yourself.  Sit somewhere you can easily glance up at the clock occasionally.  Know how much time you have for each section and how many questions that you have.  If, for example, you are on the reading section know that you have sixty minutes to answer forty questions and plan accordingly. 

If there is one question that is hanging you up just calmly pass over it and go on to the next.  You can always come back to it later.  It is better to have gotten to every question and not been able to answer a few of them than to have never have gotten to the bottom of the test where there were questions that turned out to be quite easy for you to answer.

Remember that on exam day, you have almost no control over what will happen. You can’t choose what type of essay you will have to write, you don’t know what topic you will get in your speaking exam, you have no say over how many T/F/NG questions you will be given in the reading test – SO STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT.

Whatever you are given, you will do your best – and that is all you can do. The IELTS exam is a great test of your level of English. It is rare that students truly underperform. Just trust your preparation and do your best.

If you find your heart-rate rising during the exam, or you start to panic, then try the 4, 7, 8 breathing technique: Breath in through your NOSE for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Breathe out through your MOUTH for 8 seconds. Try to stay calm during the exam. 

Seriously, this technique is a wonderful way to control your nervous. It seems to work like magic on me when I am stressed. I always used it before I played in a big golf competition and even though my heart was still racing, I definitely felt calmer and more in control.

When you enter the exam tomorrow, take a look around the room at the other candidates – they are in the same position as you. You are not alone! I find this very comforting in an exam.

EVERYONE is nervous. It’s OK to feel scared, but you are not the only person in the room feeling that way.  I always take great comfort in feeling part of a group – even if it’s a group that’s feeling stressed and under pressure!

Finally, and this may sound hard to accept, but if you don’t get the result you need, the world won’t come to an end. Life is full of opportunities. You can probably apply to take the test again or find a different path to your future.

The IELTS exam might seem big, but it is only a small part of your life. Whatever your result, it won’t define you as a person or stop you achieving your goals a few weeks down the line. Putting the exam into perspective can really help. 


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