Pitfalls in IELTS exams

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author Akumbobe Adombire Robert
  • Published October 4, 2023
  • Word count 2,149

Examination forms an integral part of any educational system in the world. It is usually used as a way of measuring an individual's strength when it comes to the attainment of skills, knowledge, understanding or even physical fitness in relation to the content of the curriculum to which the candidate is being assessed.

IELTS is a testing system which is used to determine one's proficiency in a language. It stands for "International English Language Testing System". 

The IELTS is developed to determine the proficiency of individuals in the English Language. This testing system is the initiative of the British Council which is in conjunction with two major  educational organizations namely the IDP Education of Australia and the Cambridge assessment English.

Who qualifies to take an IELTS test?

An IELTS test is to be taken by students who wants to further their education at a higher institution of learning abroad.

This test should be taken especially by candidates seeking to study abroad at an English speaking country like the United Kingdom, United States of American, Canada, Australia just to name but a few.

Those individuals will take IELTS academic test. The IELTS academic test is written by those seeking to study in a higher institutions of learning either for an Undergraduate or a graduate program.

Those seeking to study at the PhD  and MBA levels will also have to write the academic test of the IELTS.

The areas that the candidates will be assessed in the IELTs academic test include testing your suitability to operate in an  academic setting.

The academic test also seeks to find out if the individual is ready to start studying using the English language as a medium of communication and expression.

The second part of the IELTS test is the general test.

This specific IELTS test seeks to test the individual's potency in the use of the English Language  in his or her everyday life or how the individual practically expresses himself or herself with the language.

As a test which seeks to find out your proficiency in a language, it covers broad areas like reading, Listening, writing and speaking.

Broadly speaking, the reading aspect of the IELTS seeks to find out how well you can read in the language and at the same finds out how well you understand or comprehend what you are reading.

The best way to learn is to listen and this part of the test assess your ability to listen to others or conversation and learn from it.

Your writing prowess will be brought to question under the writing part of the IELTS test. You will be asked for example to write a letter describing an incident or a situation or you can also be asked to narrate any incident that has happened to someone who was not there.

What are the levels of proficiency in the IELTS test.

The IELTS test has categorized the level of Proficiency in the English language on a scale of 1 to nine.

The lowest level is what the called  "IELTS band 1" which talks about those who cannot use the English language at all except in few words.

The Band 2 which is the next higher band after the 1 refers to those barely speak and write in the langauge.

Those who have few or knows the general meaning of the language are classified in as in band 3.

If you have a basic understanding of the language but not complex user of the language, then you will be placed under band 4.

Modest users of the language that can communicate but prone to making mistakes are those in band 5.

Band 6 which is accepted by certain Universities for admissions are those who are described as being competent or can only understand under certain situations. If you can handle complex aspect of the English Language, then you are described as being good and will be in band 7. Bands 8 and 9 refers to those who are very  good and excellent in the language.

Pitfalls in taking an IELTS exams.

Now that you know what an IELTS exams is all about, those who are suppose to write it and the levels of proficiency categorized under it, we will now go to look at the mistakes that people make as far as sitting for the exams is concern.

IELTS has been a stumbling block to many students who sought to access higher education of learning abroad.

It has cut the dreams of many short  and will continue to torment many in many years to come.

Many have given up their dream of pursing their education at most prestigious universities because of IELTS.

Is it because the IELTS is a very difficult exams? The answer is a big no. The  main reason why people  are failing to make it to the right IELTS band is because  they failed to shine where many failed.

Life is a journey and those who make the most out of it are those who avoid the mistakes of others. That is why we are putting this together so that you will not become part of the statistic of those failed their IELTS exams.


The number one pitfall in taking an IELTS exams is time. It is said that time waits for no man and your time in an IELTS exams room does not wait for you.

The most expensive commodity in an IELTS test is time as the exams is time bound. Each section of the test is time bound and if you do not pay close attention to how you use your time when taking an IELTS exams, then you will have yourself to blame.

You spread your time so that you have enough time to tackle each question. If you allocate more time to a particular question to the neglect of the other, then the tendency of getting that question wrong is very high.

You must also strategic with the use of your time. It pays to start with easy questions as they require less time so that you will have enough time to tackle those that may appear difficult for you.


The second pitfall in sitting for an IELTS exams is fear. Exam phobia is a the number cause of failure in exams.

What is it?  It is the fear of taking an exams and it often lead anxiety which may finally lead to low marks if it is not checked.

I remember that I was to supervise students for a re-sit exams. The students had not reported early for the exams and only came in their numbers when the exams were just minutes to starting. They had to make a long queue so that we can search them to see if they are carrying foreign materials.

There was this particular student who remarked that next year, he will report early so that he will not have to queue.

This was a student who was yet to write this re-sit paper, yet he thinks he will fail it and have to retake it the year to come.

This was a student who was expressing fear. He had failed the exams in advance before it is due.

As I indicated earlier, IELTS is a tough exams and there is always fear and anxiety among students when they are sitting for it.

In a very competitive exams like IELTS, the Fear of faring badly, the desire to set high bar for oneself and comparing themselves  to other students are but a few of the causes of the fear of taking the exams.

The only fear to defeat fear is to have that intrinsic motivation which will tell you that if others can do, you too can also do it.

I always tell my students that if something is difficult for you, then it is equally difficult to the one sitting in-front and behind you.

You will have to compose yourself during that instance and give it your best shot.

I also remember a Mathematics exams that I took during my undergraduate level. I read through the questions and realized that I had no or little idea about them. Panic set in and I began to sweat. I could see failure stirring me in the face.

I spoke to myself that in my other colleagues could write and pass, then I can also pass too.

I kept myself together and gave it my all. Surprisingly when the results were released, I made an grade A and was among the few who made grade A.

If I had allowed that fear, it would have ruined and I would have failed the paper.

Kill the fear and go for the ultimate in your IELTS exams. I can see you making it in your IELTS exams and don't allow fear to ruin that.

Lack of Concentration/Focus

It is the third pitfall that you have to work to avoid if you want to make it to the right band in your IELTS exams.

Focus is very critical when it comes to the listening and speaking session of the exams. In the listening session, you will be required to listen to an individual speaking or two people in a conversation.

You will have to pay close attention to the speech or the conversation as you will only hear the conversation once.

Focus will be key here and the failure on your part to remain focus will lead to make unpardonable mistakes.

Understanding is also crucial here. Understand what is being said before attempting to answer.

If you try answering along with the conversation, you will get to a place where you will be locked up and you will miss it together. But if you understand what is being said if the conversation, you can be able to respond to the questions after the tape has stopped.

Some people make the mistake of trying to memorized all that is being said, this is a bad idea as you will be able to get only a few of the points. This will therefore weaken you when you get to the part where you could not memorized.

When it comes to the speaking, you will have to speak in a face to face interview which usually take between four to five minutes. You will also be require to answer questions from the card which will be given to you. You will have to speak about two minutes after the card is given to you.

This where you will have to be careful with your pronunciation.

Mispronunciation is a key pitfall. Your accent will not be under consideration as this is not your mother tongue.

It is the mispronunciation that they will score against you. Try to pronounce the words clearly and in full.

You will have to work on words during your practice session.

It has also been discovered that most IELTS candidates fails to speak out for their examiners to hear them out.

You have worked hard and prepare for months and you must confident enough to speak clearly and confidently for the examiners to hear you. Avoid  speaking to your self and face the examiner by maintaining eye contact as you answer boldly.

Also try to make it as friendly encounter as you would have done with a colleague with having to smile when the circumstance demands while not forget to lose focus by keeping that vital eye contact.

Remember to keep it within the conversation without going outside the topic under consideration.

You can avoid this if you always understand the question well before responding.

To prove that you have the vocabulary, you must avoid repeating words by using their synonyms where there is a temptation to use a word again.

Spelling errors.

It has always been said that to err is human, but to forgive is divine, but errors in an IELTS exams will not be overlooked.

That is why you will have to work on your spelling mistakes. Working on your vocabulary is another way to correct misspelling.

If you are to spell a word that you are not conversant with, it is advisable to use its synonyms instead.

When completing the written portion of the IELTS exam, it’s important to review your spelling. The most common IELTS mistakes include spelling and it’s one of the easiest ones to avoid by simply reviewing! If you’re unsure of the correct spelling of a word, avoid using it. Instead, find its synonym. It’s vital to remember many words in the English language are spelled similarly but mean different things.

With spelling errors comes poor vocabulary. You can build your vocabulary by reading more and writing down the words you’re reading. This will ultimately help with your spelling too! You must have a good vocabulary to succeed in the English language. Without it, you’ll face many challenges whether it’s reading signs, speaking to others or listening.

I am a Mathematics tutor and an Education news blogger. This is my website fullyfundedschorlarships.com. I write about scholarships, jobs and and anything about education. I write about canvas logins for the various Universities and how to apply and get admitted to your dream university.

You can contact me through this email:bodadombire@gmail.com

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