CourseOnHigherScoreViaPositiveImage.pdf - IELTS­Blog.com presents How to get a higher IELTS score by building a positive image in the examiner’s mind

CourseOnHigherScoreViaPositiveImage.pdf - IELTS­Blog.com...

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Unformatted text preview: IELTS­Blog.com presents: How to get a higher IELTS score by building a positive image in the examiner’s mind This series of lessons was prepared by Donna Millen especially for the readers of IELTS‐Blog.com. The lessons are brilliant and will do amazing things for your IELTS score if you study and implement them. You will learn: Lesson #1: How to create a positive, psychological impression on your IELTS assessors. Lesson #2: How to write a Task 1 report that will impress your assessors (Academic Module). Lesson #3: How to write a Task 1 letter that will impress your assessors (General Training Module) Lesson #4: How to write a Task 2 essay that will influence your assessors positively (Academic and General). Lesson #5: How to improve your Speaking test score by connecting with your assessor. Lesson #6: How to optimize your performance in the Listening and Reading tests. Donna Millen, co‐author of the Centre for English Language in the University of South Australia’s IELTS on Track series of books (ieltsontrack.com) talks about what may create a positive psychological impression on assessors who may be scoring the Writing and Speaking (interview) components of your IELTS test. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com More recommended resources The following books are a great source of practice material across the four test skills plus a variety of hints and strategies, and grammar and vocabulary exercises to help with IELTS Writing. IELTS On Track Test Practice Academic (with audio CD) Visit IELTS on Track website to view details and order: IELTS On Track Test Practice General Training (with audio CD) Visit IELTS on Track website to view details and order: To learn more about Donna Millen and her co-author, a former university professor and IELTS researcher Stephen Slater, visit ieltsontrack.com. Lesson #1: How to create a positive, psychological impression on your IELTS assessors Imagine these IELTS test situations: Situation 1 You are sitting outside the IELTS interview room. It is hot, the air conditioning is not working properly, the IELTS assessor has already interviewed 10 candidates, and you are number 11. You are tired of waiting; the interviewer is tired too. Situation 2 Your IELTS Writing Test paper with your responses on it is at the bottom of a pile of others. There are 20 in the pile. The assessor has just had to spend 30 minutes looking for a parking space. Situation 3 An IELTS assessor is giving test scores to a candidate they have just interviewed. The assessor is reading the assessment criteria but is still very undecided and is having great difficulty deciding which way to jump on two of the criteria – go up to 7 or leave the scores at 6? Although the actual IELTS assessment criteria are confidential, the official IELTS website does give some indication of what they contain. What the official IELTS website doesn’t contain, however, is any sense of those aspects of a candidate’s test performance that have some impact on the assessor psychologically. In other words, what can candidates do to make an assessor feel more positive towards them. This may be important, because if the assessor is in any serious doubt about your score, the more positive they feel towards you psychologically, the more they may choose the higher score. Let’s try to identify one or two possible, general factors. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com IELTS WRITING TEST – TWO general factors Handwriting and layout The first thing the assessor sees is your handwriting. If your writing is difficult to read, has many things crossed out, no paragraphs or punctuation to create a sense of organisation and structure, then immediately the assessor knows that your writing is going to be more challenging to read, and that you have not shown that you value the assessor (your reader), and have not valued the reader‐writer relationship. Maturity of expression and ‘voice’ There is a difference between writing simple, clear English and writing English that is too simple. The IELTS test requires writing that reflects a mature way of thinking, so if your writing seems ‘babyish’, then the assessor can’t view it so positively. What makes writing ‘babyish’? Of course, if you don’t know many expressions and can’t control the grammar very well then this may be part of the problem. Another feature of this babyish writing, however, is writing which is not very precise or with ideas that are not developed enough. Compare these sentences: 1) People should do less work and spend more time with their family. It is better. 2) It would perhaps improve the quality of family life if people with busy, demanding jobs could find ways to spend more of their non-work time with members of their family, especially with children or elderly parents. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com Perhaps it is difficult for you to achieve the level of English grammatical complexity in sentence 2 under the pressure of time in a test, but in IELTS you might try to move your writing in that direction in order to make it seem more mature. In other words, try to make your writing contain more detailed and more precise expression of thoughts and ideas. This precision and evidence of thought are communicated in a psychologically positive way to the assessor, not just because of correct grammar but also because they reflect an adult way of thinking, a way that knows that understanding and discussing life issues in the social world is complex rather than simple. At the same time, if you can be more detailed and precise, then you create your own written ‘voice’, which means your own unique style of writing. This means that the assessor can feel you as a real individual, not just as another IELTS answer. This helps to connect the assessor to you, and creates a significant relationship between reader and writer, which is usually a positive thing. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com IELTS Interview –TWO general points Every meeting between two people creates a relationship Imagine you are in a coffee shop and a pleasant person at the next table starts to talk to you. You will probably see yourself as equal to that other person – because you are both in a coffee shop and both drinking something. This helps your confidence and helps you to feel in control both of your emotions, and of what you choose to say. When you enter the IELTS interview room it’s a good idea if you can create that same feeling – it is a meeting and you have an opportunity to connect with the assessor as a person, at the same time as doing the interview. If you connect with the assessor and present as a pleasant, confident adult, rather than as a school student sitting with a teacher, this helps the assessor both to see you positively as an equal, and to relate to you more positively. You are an equal not an IELTS victim. Your body language needs to be natural and relaxed, not stiff, you should make eye contact pleasantly and confidently. You can choose to talk at a relaxed speed, rather than too fast. You can try to use intonation to show how you feel about what you are saying – this communicates your personality, your uniqueness. You might try to find the rhythm and timing of each section of the test and reflect it back to the assessor – this shows the assessor you are cooperating in making their job of getting through the test sections in 11‐14 minutes easier, almost like you are the assessor’s co‐worker. All these things communicate your personality and create a positive social atmosphere. This makes the assessor feel more comfortable psychologically too. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com Help the assessor to get a stronger sense of YOU and your personality. In the IELTS interview there are many opportunities to talk about your own life and culture. Even if the assessor’s questions seem a bit mechanical, you can still try to answer them as if they are part of a friendly conversation in which you are helping the assessor to know you and your country a little better. You can be a sort of teacher, a window on your life and culture. This shows confidence and helps you to emerge as a real person, a unique person, not a stereotypical voice of your own language and culture, repeating just a set of ordinary answers. Just like you, the assessor is hoping to meet a unique and memorable individual, and hoping to get a sense of your uniqueness, even though they are also formally assessing your spoken language. YOU can help the assessor to see you positively as a person and can help the assessor to feel comfortable with you. You have some control over the relationship that is created in that situation and can thus influence the psychological wellbeing of the assessor. But, it must feel and be natural, not forced. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com To summarise Life is essentially a social experience. Taking IELTS is part of that social life. Even though it may not seem that way, you are in brief social relationships with assessors when you do the IELTS Writing and when you are interviewed for the IELTS Speaking test. It is important for you to manage those relationships as well as you can, in order to influence the assessor’s psychology positively, even if this is not officially a component of the stated assessment criteria. Influencing an assessor positively but genuinely and naturally may lead to better scores when an assessor is in doubt and is weighing up whether to give you a higher or a lower score. If you are viewed by your assessor as a mature, professional adult with a pleasant , natural and unique personality, and as someone who can inform the assessor about interesting things in a careful, precise way then this may leave a positive impression of you, in contrast to some of the other twenty or so candidates with whom the assessor may have interacted that day, and who may have either faded quickly and anonymously away, or worse, left the assessor with a feeling of frustration or irritation. NEXT TIME, I’ll talk about some of the specific things that may influence IELTS assessors when they read and score your answer to the Task 1 report in the IELTS Academic Writing test. © 2009 Donna Millen and ieltsontrack.com This article is copyright to ieltsontrack.com, and may not be reproduced or copied without the permission of ieltsontrack.com The design and layout of this series of lessons are copyright to IELTS­Blog.com and may not be reproduced or copied without the permission of IELTS­Blog.com © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com Lesson #2: How to write a Task 1 report that will impress your assessors (Academic Module). Before beginning Lesson #2, here is a short summary of what we learned last week. Summary of Lesson #1. In the IELTS Writing and Speaking tests you have some power to: • influence the impression that you make on the assessor • build a positive, psychological impression in the assessor’s mind of the sort of person YOU are. In the IELTS Writing test you can impress the assessor by: • presenting your writing neatly and in a well‐organised way • writing sentences that express ideas maturely and with precision • avoiding ‘babyish’ simple expressions. In the IELTS Speaking test you can impress the assessor by: • behaving as an equal • expressing your personality in a friendly and open way • telling the assessor interesting things about your life and culture (when it is relevant to do so). Now let’s move on to Lesson #2. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com Important background issues Before looking specifically at this week’s lesson on IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, let’s explore one or two important background issues in the Writing test. Don’t become a ‘clock victim’ The IELTS Academic Writing test puts every candidate under a great deal of time pressure. Candidates know that they have to respond to two tasks by writing a 150‐word, and then a 250‐word answer in only one hour. Under such conditions, it is easy for candidates to see themselves as powerless ‘clock victims’. What is an IELTS ‘clock victim’? Candidates who spend too much time either counting words, clock watching or being over‐ anxious about time can be described as ‘clock victims’. Cut down on word counting Avoid losing time by counting words too frequently. Instead, work out the approximate, average number of words you normally write on a line, count the number of lines you have written and multiply them together. A full IELTS Answer page has about 20 lines. If you normally write about 10 words on each line you will write about 200 words on a full page. What to do to prevent feeling so anxious in the IELTS writing test To help to manage feelings of anxiety you need to: • see yourself in a more positive way so that you can increase your ability to control this challenging writing test situation. • become better at organising your written text. HOW? Create a suitable ‘test persona’ for the IELTS writing test It is important for test takers to create a suitable ‘test persona’ (a sort of test identity) with which both to manage their test performance and to build the confidence to connect positively with and make a positive impression on the assessor. Being a ‘panicky test taker’ is not a suitable test persona. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com What might be a suitable ’test persona’ for the IELTS Academic Writing test? Imagine this context: You are working with a senior, university lecturer on some social research. This lecturer has asked you to present them with a brief report on some data and to give some outline views on a social issue as background material to be taken to a two­day, academic seminar overseas. The lecturer is flying overseas for that seminar at lunchtime. Time is important also in this imaginary context, but it is important in this case because of your colleague’s schedule, so you are helping someone. Also an academic context is a professional context in which you would be expected to write in a mature, considered, clear, precise and professional manner. This ‘professional and academic test persona’ is a more suitable one for you to imagine yourself in than just being a ‘test candidate’; it establishes a much stronger sense of relationship between writer and reader, and this gives your writing a stronger social purpose. But I’m taking an IELTS language test, not working for a university…. Perhaps this is what you are thinking right now. Perhaps you think this idea of a ‘professional, academic test persona’ is a little bit crazy. OK, then think about it this way. Even if you are not trying to do so, or not aware of doing so, almost everything you write to another person carries an impression of YOU within it. If, for example, your writing is disorganised, looks messy, is off the point, offers inaccurate information, then all of these features tell the reader something negative about YOU (the writer) as a person. The reader starts to imagine what YOU are like from how you write, not just from what your language is like grammatically. This means your writing has the power to influence the impression you make in many different ways. So you need to try to communicate positive impressions of yourself in your writing. How else can anxiety or panic be managed? © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com Planning before writing Often candidates receive their IELTS writing test paper and then begin writing their answers almost immediately. Why? Because they are so scared of time. A professional person, in contrast, learns how to plan and manage time in the most effective way in order to achieve the goals they have established for writing. Planning is essential to a professional approach in working life. If you go to meet a business client you prepare the night before so that you are clear about what you want to achieve and the best way to achieve it. The same is true in IELTS Writing. One of your prime goals is to get a better IELTS score by building a positive impression in the assessor’s mind. In IELTS, planning time (even 2‐3 minutes) is effective because it helps you to develop a systematic and well organised answer, and this creates a professional impression of YOU in the mind of the assessor. Imagine this: Let’s say you did some research and made a video recording of two people of the same English level answering the same IELTS Writing task 1 BUT: – one person spent about 3 minutes planning the answer – the other spent no time planning. My guess is that when you play back the video of the one who didn’t plan, it will show that this candidate stops to think, or stops to cross something out, more often during the twenty minutes than the candidate with a plan…….perhaps even 3 minutes more! In other words, it may be just test anxiety which causes you to think that every possible second has to be used as writing time. It may also be a mistake to believe that the best Task 1 answers are from candidates who have written non‐stop for 20 minutes. Someone who plans and organises well is showing that they care about: • being systematic about organising the content of what they are writing • helping the reader of their work to read it as easily as possible. This act of planning demonstrates an important basic validation of the reader‐writer relationship, which is important even in a language test situation. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com Creating a good impression in your WRITING – ACADEMIC Writing task 1 Academic Writing task 1 involves responding to a graph, chart, table or other diagram. The assumption is that you are writing a sort of summarising report which draws out and compares key features and presents them in a clear and professional manner. To build a positive impression in the mind of the assessor there are many things you can do when choosing the language to use while building your Task 1 response. 7 Tips to Writing a Successful Report 1. Take care with the accuracy of information Whatever the material and data presented to you in Task 1, you need to study it carefully and look at each category or number carefully so that you report on them accurately Why do it? Accuracy creates a good impression of you as a professional report writer. 2. Write about the most important patterns and trends not about everything Why do it? An appropriate selection of key information shows evaluation skills, and this is a professional style. 3. Avoid ‘shopping list’ writing, which means just listing obvious figures one after another. Instead, try to identify key trends and compare and contrast patterns, don’t just repeat lists of facts Why do it? Comparing/contrasting shows more mature evaluation of material, which is more professional. Remember, too, that language used to connect ideas at the beginning of a sentence can signal this comparative writing nicely. (For example: ‘Similarly’, ‘Conversely’, ‘An exception to this trend is…’, Compared to…’, ‘This pattern changed from…… to….’) 4. Don’t make personal comments about the statistical material Why do it? Being professional when you report on data requires you to be factual and objective. © Donna Millen (content) ● Web: Design & layout by IELTS‐Blog.com ● Web: ‐blog.com 5. Use a systematic layout Have an introduction to your report on the data and include in it perhaps a very general statement about the most dominant trend in the data. Create and arrange other paragraphs logically. Why do it? Remember in terms of your ‘tes...
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