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How to stay motivated during your IELTS preparation

To be as prepared as possible for your IELTS test, it’s important to stay motivated and focused during your preparation. But how can you do this when you find IELTS difficult, when you experience setbacks along the way or when you’re busy with work or family commitments? There’ll almost certainly be times when you don’t feel like doing what you need to do, make excuses or find ways to avoid doing any preparation. For those times, it helps if you understand why you’re taking IELTS and have some strategies in place to keep your motivation levels up. What’s your main motivation for taking IELTS? There are many different reasons for taking IELTS. You may be taking IELTS - so you can go to university or move to another country, or it may be less about the reward and more about how you feel when you’re preparing for IELTS. (Click image to enlarge) From my personal and teaching experience, I know how difficult it is to stay motivated over a long period of time, especially if your main motivation is about a reward (or punishment) and you experience challenges or setbacks. When things get difficult, you can lose sight of your goal as you start to doubt whether you’ll ever reach it. It’s much easier to stay motivated if your main motivation is related to how you feel. So, to find your motivation when you lose it, or to supercharge the motivation you already have, here are 5 strategies you can use. 5 motivation strategies to keep you focused on your IELTS preparation If your reason for taking IELTS is related to getting a reward (e.g. going to university) or avoiding a punishment (e.g. a low-paid job), try using some or all of the following strategies to stay motivated. If you’re taking IELTS for enjoyment or for the challenge, the third, fourth and fifth strategies will probably be the most useful. Keep sight of your goal by having inspiring pictures around you that help you visualise your future and why you want it, e.g. pictures of the country you want to live, work or study in.   Break up your goal into small steps and reward yourself when you achieve them. A small step could be anything from starting a vocabulary notebook to creating a motivational goals board. A reward could be a break, a treat or doing something you enjoy.   Check your progress often by comparing what you can do now with what you could do before. You may, for example, be able to get more answers correct when you do some IELTS Listening practice or understand more when you listen to the news.   Make yourself accountable by sharing your goal, and progress towards your goal, with other people. It’s often easier and more motivating to do your IELTS preparation if the alternative is having to explain to someone else why you didn’t do it.   Use motivating materials at the right level for you by answering the five questions on the We Love IELTS Resource Finder  How to avoid distractions while studying Of course, even if you’re motivated, it’s still easy to get distracted while you’re preparing, so try this exercise to help you stay focused for longer. Keep a notepad or piece of paper beside you the next time you do some IELTS preparation, e.g. doing some IELTS Reading practice.   Each time you have a distracting thought, write it down and continue your preparation. Distracting thoughts can be: remembering something you need to buy or someone you need to call, worrying about something happening in the future, panicking about not having enough time to do everything you need to.   ​​​​When you’ve finished your preparation, read your distractions list and schedule a time to do anything that requires action – e.g. call John at 5pm. To reduce the number of distracting thoughts you have, repeat the exercise each time you do some IELTS preparation until you’re able to maintain your focus for longer. How are you going to stay motivated and focused during your IELTS preparation? Pete  

Pete Jones

8 September, 2021

How to stay motivated during your IELTS preparation

Someone climbing a ladder

To be as prepared as possible for your IELTS test, it’s important to stay motivated and focused during your preparation. But how can you do this when you find IELTS difficult, when you experience setbacks along the way or when you’re busy with work or family commitments?

There’ll almost certainly be times when you don’t feel like doing what you need to do, make excuses or find ways to avoid doing any preparation.

For those times, it helps if you understand why you’re taking IELTS and have some strategies in place to keep your motivation levels up.

What’s your main motivation for taking IELTS?

There are many different reasons for taking IELTS. You may be taking IELTS - so you can go to university or move to another country, or it may be less about the reward and more about how you feel when you’re preparing for IELTS.

Reasons to be motivated

(Click image to enlarge)

From my personal and teaching experience, I know how difficult it is to stay motivated over a long period of time, especially if your main motivation is about a reward (or punishment) and you experience challenges or setbacks. When things get difficult, you can lose sight of your goal as you start to doubt whether you’ll ever reach it.

It’s much easier to stay motivated if your main motivation is related to how you feel.

So, to find your motivation when you lose it, or to supercharge the motivation you already have, here are 5 strategies you can use.

5 motivation strategies to keep you focused on your IELTS preparation

If your reason for taking IELTS is related to getting a reward (e.g. going to university) or avoiding a punishment (e.g. a low-paid job), try using some or all of the following strategies to stay motivated.

If you’re taking IELTS for enjoyment or for the challenge, the third, fourth and fifth strategies will probably be the most useful.

Images of New York

  1. Keep sight of your goal by having inspiring pictures around you that help you visualise your future and why you want it, e.g. pictures of the country you want to live, work or study in.
  2. Break up your goal into small steps and reward yourself when you achieve them. A small step could be anything from starting a vocabulary notebook to creating a motivational goals board. A reward could be a break, a treat or doing something you enjoy.
  3. Check your progress often by comparing what you can do now with what you could do before. You may, for example, be able to get more answers correct when you do some IELTS Listening practice or understand more when you listen to the news.
  4. Make yourself accountable by sharing your goal, and progress towards your goal, with other people. It’s often easier and more motivating to do your IELTS preparation if the alternative is having to explain to someone else why you didn’t do it.
  5. Use motivating materials at the right level for you by answering the five questions on the We Love IELTS Resource Finder 

How to avoid distractions while studying

Of course, even if you’re motivated, it’s still easy to get distracted while you’re preparing, so try this exercise to help you stay focused for longer.

  1. Keep a notepad or piece of paper beside you the next time you do some IELTS preparation, e.g. doing some IELTS Reading practice.
  2. Each time you have a distracting thought, write it down and continue your preparation. Distracting thoughts can be: remembering something you need to buy or someone you need to call, worrying about something happening in the future, panicking about not having enough time to do everything you need to.
  3. ​​​​When you’ve finished your preparation, read your distractions list and schedule a time to do anything that requires action – e.g. call John at 5pm.

To reduce the number of distracting thoughts you have, repeat the exercise each time you do some IELTS preparation until you’re able to maintain your focus for longer.

How are you going to stay motivated and focused during your IELTS preparation?

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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