Are you feeling anxious about your IELTS test?
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Are you feeling anxious about your IELTS test?

Feeling nervous before taking a test like IELTS is very natural.  Many students worry about getting the score they need, if they have enough time to prepare, or if they can meet the expectations of someone else (e.g. a parent). You may really want to get a high score to start a university course, get a better job or move to another country. Feeling anxious can be positive; it can keep you motivated and focused on your goal. However, if you’re feeling very anxious or you don’t know how to manage your worry and nerves, it can affect how well you can prepare and how well you do in the test itself. So, if you’re worried about how anxious you are, read on… Are you too anxious about the test? If you’re feeling some or all of the following, then your anxiety about the IELTS test is probably having a negative effect on your preparation and will probably affect your performance on test day. (Click to enlarge) Constant worry and negative thoughts, for example, can prevent you from concentrating on or completing study exercises or test questions. Not being able to do tasks that require deep thinking (e.g. categorising vocabulary) will limit what you can learn and remember. Low self-belief may result in you deciding not to take an IELTS test at all! So, if you’re experiencing any of these, here’s what you can do to feel less anxious. How to manage test anxiety The good news is there’s lots you can do to manage your test anxiety before and during the IELTS test. While you’re preparing for IELTS, you can… become familiar with the format of the IELTS test so you know what to expect when you take the test learn strategies for how best to approach different question types and how to overcome problems (e.g. if you’re asked a difficult question in the IELTS Speaking test, ask the examiner to repeat the question to give yourself some thinking time) learn in ways that you prefer, e.g. on your own or with others replace negative thoughts like ‘I’m never going to get the score I need’ with positive ones like ‘I can do this. I’m putting effort into my preparation. I’m improving’ understand what’s making you most anxious and look for ways to turn that into a positive experience, e.g. if you’re worried about not having enough time to prepare, adjust your goal or schedule so that you have more time use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to music, taking a walk or doing activities you enjoy make time to eat well, sleep well and see friends reflect on why a previous test experience didn’t go well and what you can do differently this time During the test, you can… replace negative thoughts like ‘I’m going to fail’ with positive ones like ‘I can do this. I prepared well. I know what I have to do’ focus on what you’re doing not what others in the test room are doing  use the strategies you have learned to answer questions and overcome problems, e.g. if you didn’t hear a question the examiner asks you in the IELTS Speaking test, ask them to repeat it manage your time, e.g. only spend a maximum of 20 minutes on the first IELTS Reading section/passage before moving on to the next one If you do all of these, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of approaching the IELTS test with confidence and performing your best on the day. Get your anxiety to a manageable level and then use it to stay motivated and focused on your preparation! Listen to my podcast episode on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test: Pete

Pete Jones

11 January, 2021

Are you feeling anxious about your IELTS test?

Are you feeling anxious about your IELTS test?

Feeling nervous before taking a test like IELTS is very natural.

Many students worry about getting the score they need, if they have enough time to prepare, or if they can meet the expectations of someone else (e.g. a parent).

You may really want to get a high score to start a university course, get a better job or move to another country.

Feeling anxious can be positive; it can keep you motivated and focused on your goal.

However, if you’re feeling very anxious or you don’t know how to manage your worry and nerves, it can affect how well you can prepare and how well you do in the test itself. So, if you’re worried about how anxious you are, read on…

Are you too anxious about the test?

If you’re feeling some or all of the following, then your anxiety about the IELTS test is probably having a negative effect on your preparation and will probably affect your performance on test day.

Signs that you're too anxious

(Click to enlarge)

Constant worry and negative thoughts, for example, can prevent you from concentrating on or completing study exercises or test questions.

Not being able to do tasks that require deep thinking (e.g. categorising vocabulary) will limit what you can learn and remember.

Low self-belief may result in you deciding not to take an IELTS test at all!

So, if you’re experiencing any of these, here’s what you can do to feel less anxious.

How to manage test anxiety

The good news is there’s lots you can do to manage your test anxiety before and during the IELTS test.

While you’re preparing for IELTS, you can…

  • become familiar with the format of the IELTS test so you know what to expect when you take the test
  • learn strategies for how best to approach different question types and how to overcome problems (e.g. if you’re asked a difficult question in the IELTS Speaking test, ask the examiner to repeat the question to give yourself some thinking time)
  • learn in ways that you prefer, e.g. on your own or with others
  • replace negative thoughts like ‘I’m never going to get the score I need’ with positive ones like ‘I can do this. I’m putting effort into my preparation. I’m improving’
  • understand what’s making you most anxious and look for ways to turn that into a positive experience, e.g. if you’re worried about not having enough time to prepare, adjust your goal or schedule so that you have more time
  • use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to music, taking a walk or doing activities you enjoy
  • make time to eat well, sleep well and see friends
  • reflect on why a previous test experience didn’t go well and what you can do differently this time

During the test, you can…

  • replace negative thoughts like ‘I’m going to fail’ with positive ones like ‘I can do this. I prepared well. I know what I have to do’
  • focus on what you’re doing not what others in the test room are doing
  • use the strategies you have learned to answer questions and overcome problems, e.g. if you didn’t hear a question the examiner asks you in the IELTS Speaking test, ask them to repeat it
  • manage your time, e.g. only spend a maximum of 20 minutes on the first IELTS Reading section/passage before moving on to the next one

If you do all of these, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of approaching the IELTS test with confidence and performing your best on the day.

Get your anxiety to a manageable level and then use it to stay motivated and focused on your preparation!

Listen to my podcast episode on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test:

Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

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