Author Archives: CollegeWeekLive

How to Make a Good IELTS Prep Timeline This post originally appeared on the Magoosh IELTS blog.

An IELTS prep timeline shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. After all, there are many IELTS test dates to choose from! There are benefits to making your own personal plan. Today, I’ll give you some tips on how you can make your own IELTS prep calendar.

Step 1: Figure how much study time you’ll need

Before you start to make your IELTS Prep timeline, take an IELTS practice test. Ideally, you should take an official IELTS practice exam, either from one of the official websites or one of the official IELTS books from Cambridge. If at all possible, you should also find a tutor or teacher to give you scoring and feedback for your IELTS Speaking and Writing.

Once you’ve got an IELTS practice test score (or maybe two practice test scores), compare your score to the score you actually need.

Basically, the farther you are from your target IELTS score, the more you’ll need to study. If you’re only half a band below your target score, you won’t need that much study time. However, if your score is too low by one band or more, you’ll need a longer IELTS prep timeline.

Step 2: Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses

When you look at your practice IELTS scores, it’s easy to just see the numbers. And it is important to look at your section scores, whole-test band, and the number of answers you missed. But these numbers don’t tell the whole story. You need to also look at the types of questions you’re missing. If you’re unsure what that means, review our complete IELTS guide for a breakdown of test sections and question types.

Maybe you’re weaker at multiple choice, or spelling, or perhaps you’re stronger in these or other areas. Your weak points tell you what you’ll need to spend a lot of time on during our study schedule; you may need to spend more time with vocabulary, or spelling, or essay writing, for exmaple. Your strengths represent opportunities to save time. If you’re already good at the IELTS Speaking interview, for example, you won’t need to devote much practice time to that (and if not, then check out this video for extra help!).

Step 3: Figure out how many hours of study you need

Once you’ve taken a practice exam and identified your strengths and weaknesses, you should do a little studying without a timeline (possibly a day or two of study). The idea here is to get a sense of your own IELTS studying style. Most importantly, you want to figure out how long it takes you to study a certain amount of practice material.

Based on the amount of material you cover in your first study session or two, estimate the total number of study hours you’ll need. How many hours will it take you to be truly IELTS-ready? Be sure to incorporate study tools like practice interview videos and practice for both IELTS Writing Tasks 1 and IELTS Writing Tasks 2. Once you’ve got that estimate, then look at how many hours you have for study time each week. This allows you to know how many weeks long your IELTS prep timeline should be.

Step 4: Make the actual IELTS Prep Timeline

So, now you know what you need to study and how long you should study. From there, you can make a full study plan. Your study plan can be weekly or daily. But remember to give yourself some flexibility. Some parts of your study plan may take longer than expected, while other parts may be completed more quickly than you originally planned. Be ready to make some changes to your IELTS study schedule as it progresses.

This final step can sometimes feel overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start, check out some example IELTS prep plans.

About David Recine

David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent. Currently, David lives in a small town in the American Upper Midwest. When he’s not teaching or writing, David studies Korean, plays with his son, and takes road trips to Minneapolis to get a taste of city life.

Attack the SAT: What to do when your score plateaus By Allyson Evans

You’ve been studying for weeks and you’ve taken multiple practice SATs. You saw improvement on your first couple of practice tests and were feeling great! Then, you scored your most recent practice SAT and your score stayed the same (or even went down a little). What a bummer.

 

The good news is that you are not alone! At some point, almost all students see their SAT score plateau or even dip a little. So, take a deep breath, know that you’re not alone, and read the tips below to ensure your score starts going up again!  

Don’t give up.

You’re going to have ups and downs when you’re studying for the SAT. It’s inevitable. Some days, everything will just click and you’ll get more points than ever! Then, the very next day, you might miss ten questions in a row. That’s totally normal. The thing that’s going to get you ahead of the competition is your perseverance.

 

Take a day or two off to rest, and then get right back to your SAT study schedule. Follow your One Month SAT Study Plan to make sure you are covering all the topics you need to and in the right order.  While you might be tempted to deviate from the plan, now more than ever you need to stay on track. This SAT study plan was designed to help you learn everything you need to in time for the actual SAT when your score really matters.

 

Also, remember to keep your personal motivation in mind. For most students, that’s thinking about their dream colleges and the scores needed to get into those schools. If you’re not sure yet what your dream school is, check out the average NYU test scores or Georgia Tech scores to give you a sense of what some top schools want. Start by reviewing NYU Scores: What You Need to Get In and Georgia Tech SAT Scores, and then start thinking about the school that would be best for you!

 

Now that you’re back on track and holding your head up high, let’s look at a couple of specific steps you need to take to ensure your next practice SAT score is higher.

Analyze your SAT practice test results.

To keep making progress, you need to know exactly what’s working and what’s not working for you. The best way to determine what’s working is to set aside a few hours and review your most recent practice test or two. Go through all of the answers—right and wrong—to make sure you understand what you did for each question. Even for the questions you got right, you need to comprehend your approach so you can do it again next time.

 

For the questions you got wrong, take the time to understand why you got the questions wrong. Did you miss all the Algebra questions? Or did you miss the meaning of vocab questions? By noticing these patterns, you can start to see what you should focus on for the remainder of your study time. You don’t want to keep trying the same approach—now is the time to really hone in on your weaknesses and strengthen them! Find a solid SAT ebook, like the  Complete SAT Study Guide, and be sure you’ve reviewed all the best strategies and tactics for your weaker areas.

 

Also, if the pattern you’ve noticed is that you’re always short on time, the next tip will be crucial to raising your SAT score.

Pick up the pace.

To keep seeing your SAT score increase, you have to work through most, if not all, of the questions efficiently. It doesn’t matter how many times you can get a data interpretation question right if you have thirty minutes. You have to learn how to solve each question in the allotted time you are given. If your score has plateaued, you need to do some timed practice.

 

Set up your timer and try one section at a time in the allotted time. If you’re really struggling to get through all of the questions, keep an eye on the timer to help you remember how much time you have left. (Once you develop a good sense of the time you have for each question, you won’t need to look as often.) Remember to move on when you get really stuck on a problem, you don’t want to miss an easier question down the line because you got tripped up early on in the section. With a little timed practice, you’ll start to notice your efficiency increase and, no surprise, your SAT score, too!

Recap

When your SAT score plateaus, it can definitely be discouraging. Keep your chin up and stick to your study schedule. Once you’ve analyzed your strengths and weaknesses, spend a little time increasing your speed. If you do all of these things, your SAT score will start climbing back up in no time!

 

 


About the Author:

 

Allyson Evans earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her JD from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been teaching and tutoring the LSAT since 2007, and loves helping students achieve their goals. She currently practices law in Austin, Texas. When she’s not helping students conquer the LSAT, she enjoys traveling and camping.