We will be running FREE IELTS Introductory seminars in May 2015:

May 11-15, 2015, Mon-Fri: 11-12 pm ⁄ 6.30-7.30 pm

at our Glen Waverley College.
187 Coleman Parade,
Glen Waverley, 3150

Please contact Kathy  to register your place in our seminar: "Successful IELTS Preparation"

9562 5388 (office), 0412 301 401 (mobile)

We offer expert tuition and training in preparation for IELTS in both the General and Academic Modules:

  • one to one tuition

  • small classes (day and evening)

  • online webinars

  • specially designed packages for the writing and speaking tests for self-study students

For more information PLEASE CLICK HERE



+61 3 9562 5388; + 61 0412 301 401

To register for the full program or a FREE introductory webinar CLICK HERE

The PDFS of online versions of these modules are also downloadable here.

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MICE IELTS Listening.pdf MICE IELTS Listening.pdf
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The following guide IELTS 2 SUCCESS is based on a proposed 12 week program of 3 cycles of 4 weeks each of 2-3 hours a day minimum. As we advise, a 3 month preparation period is about the minimum a student requires to prepare with some chance of first-time success. Success at a repeat test might be possible in a shorter time frame (eg. 4-8 weeks). However, we consider two elements are absolutely essential for IELTS 2 SUCCESS:

  1. Daily time on task/s (for example: one session with a tutor of two hours a week is only useful if you are also preparing every day by yourself).

  2. Expert assistance: spend some money on either one-2-one tutoring and/or join a class at least 4 weeks before the test. Join us at the Melbourne International College of English OR OUR ONLINE WEBINARS.

If you live in a place where there are no IELTS classes or tutors (or they may be too expensive?) at least try online to have someone check a number of your writing tasks and/or several Skype, for example, speaking tests.

INTERNATIONAL ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES [IEAP] offers several very competitively priced packages that can be accessed either face-to-face or by distance (including writing revision and online speaking tests):



There are a number of extremely useful and very competitively priced resources available on our website:

  • Essential Grammar for IELTS

  • Essential Punctuation for IELTS

  • 999 Need to Know Words

  • English idioms (and how to survive them)

  • History of Ideas

  • Hot Topics: Writing + Speaking

  • Interview with the Guru: Mr. Steven Thurlow (author of “Focusing on IELTS: listening and speaking skills”) http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4238182.Steven_Thurlow

  • 100 common mistakes in IELTS writing

Online Module 1 preparation

[watch online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buZIS6F-TM0]                                        

SLIDE 1: Welcome to the Melbourne International College of English’s IELTS TO SUCCESS on line program. There are 10 online modules and each module consists of about 10 slides. Each module is supported by the workbook that can be downloaded for free here: www.internationaleap.org.

SLIDE 2: The Workbook contains a number of exercises, a transcript of the voice over of the videos and fuller explanation of the points raised throughout the program. Links to all the modules can also be found here. The first module in the series is PREPARATION STRATEGIES.

SLIDE 3: As experienced IELTS trainers and examiners, we have identified several major problems students typically face as they prepare for their exams. Without doubt, the biggest hurdle students face in obtaining a satisfactory grade is UNDER PREPARATION. This is caused by leaving too little time before the test date or spending too little time over a longer period of time on preparation. Successful IELTS is about building up your momentum. This can only be achieved by solid, consistent, regular work periods. At least 2-3 hours a day, every day, for at least 3 months. Other problems include students simply taking test after test without careful and effective revision. IELTS isn’t easy: many poor quality schools tell you there are some easy tricks you can learn to get the grade you require. This is sadly not true. Also, too many students do not have a sufficient general knowledge and often know little about current affairs or history. Finally, students repeating the IELTS exam, often focus on those areas (eg. Speaking or Writing). Too often, their grade improves in this task area but ‘slips’ in an area (eg. Listening) in which they had obtained a sufficient grade previously.

When preparing to take IELTS – either for the first time or for a second, third or even fourth time – you must give attention to all four skill areas and all tasks within these skill areas. For example, in the Writing Tasks you will need to practise both Task 1 & 2. Often, that .5 difference between 6.5 and 7 in Writing can be attributed to a weak Task 1. In general though, here are some of the major weaknesses in students’ preparation:

  • SHORT LEAD IN TIMES TO EXAMS: minimum 3 months @ least 20+ hours per week required for (assisted) self-directed student

  • PRACTICE TEST ‘FEVER’: taking practice test after practice test is only useful at a certain point

  • IMPATIENCE: read and complete ALL the Introductory exercises in any of the materials you use (including this one!)

  • OVER RELIANCE ON TIPS & TRICKS: this also includes the ‘advice’ you might receive from friends and from online IELTS forums.

  • INADEQUATE GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: especially a problem in the Speaking Test


As we examine each of the skill areas individually in later modules, more advice will be provided about some of the typical or common areas of weakness (what to avoid). As well, the ‘good’ things ‘good’ students do will also be highlighted, especially in the Writing and Speaking tests. The next section examines self directed STUDY PLANS for the self-directed student in each of the skill areas.

SLIDE 4: A 4 week cycle is a good way to structure your IELTS preparation. We think the best way to think about your Test Preparation is similar to that of an elite athlete getting ready to compete in a major event. It might be swimming; it might be a short or long distance race. The point is to think about how an elite athlete would manage his/her preparation?

  • Are they likely to think they can start their preparation just a few weeks before the event? NO

  • Are they likely to think a couple of hours a week will be enough to compete at the top level? NO

  • Are they likely to think all they need to know are a few tips and tricks to win? NO

  • Are they likely from the start to be trying to swim or run their fastest? NO.

  • Are they more likely to build up stamina and strength over a period of time? YES

  • Are they likely to engage with an expert coach? YES

Finally, to be successful, is the elite athlete going to focus on the big race 24/7, organizing his/her preparation with great precision and method….OF COURSE. Our point is that IELTS 2 SUCCESS is no different.

  • In general, preparing for IELTS is almost a 24/7 occupation! Even an obsession...NO shortcuts.....

  • Plan your preparation around a 4 week cycle

  • Any time spent ‘thinking’ about IELTS will be beneficial: eg: ‘hot’ topics in writing; rehearsing possible speaking topics; practising new vocabulary

  • Do not simply rely on FREE materials either from the internet or from the library or even from us....

  • Structure your study routine & stick to it: this is what the best students do. They are methodical.

  • Have a clear idea what you want a tutor’s help with.

The following slides take each of the four skill areas and suggests some general preparation techniques and them some specific suggestions as to how best to approach your preparation for each of the skill areas and the different tasks involved.

SLIDE 5: If you think watching TV or listening to the radio from time to time is enough to prepare you for the IELTS Listening Test…PLEASE THINK AGAIN! It’s not entirely a waste of time, especially if you are catching up with current affairs or improving you general knowledge. However, if this is the total of what you for extra preparation for the IELTS Listening, then, yes, you need to rethink this strategy.


  • Listen AND read eg. news services that also provide texts of the broadcast; the transcriptions of the IELTS Listening Test dialogues; movies with the English sub-titles; ‘speaking books’ from the Library

  • Make sure you listen to a number of different accents in the preparation

  • Write down as many phrases and idioms you are unsure of in your practice listening

  • Don’t always listen through headphones to practice materials


Maximum of one listening test per day. Please follow this procedure:

  1. Take the first few tests at your pace: stopping the CD/recording if required, rewinding. In weeks 2 and 3 apply test conditions.

  2. In all instances in weeks 1-3, carefully check your results.

  3. Read the transcripts for the test and identify why any answers were incorrect.

  4. RETAKE the test until you get 100% in weeks 1-3.

  5. Collect any new words and phrases and ‘bank’ them.

  6. Listen again to the recordings while reading the text.

  7. Do this with EVERY test.

We simply cannot stress this enough: simply taking one Listening test after another is not of much use and wastes your IELTS resources and may even destroy your confidence! The secret is to ‘squeeze’ as much out of every Listening test as you can. Remember the elite athlete. Well, here’s what our extensive experience tells us is best:

  1. At the beginning of your training program, it’s useful to assess your level. Take four practice tests under or as near to test conditions, check answers and average your result. This allows you to ‘benchmark’ your progress.

  2. Do not examine the explanations for your incorrect answers on these four tests. Return to these tests at the end of the four week cycle and retest yourself on these Listening Tests.

  3. In the next 3.5 weeks or so, no more than one listening test per day, following exactly the ‘specific tips’ listed 1-7 above.

  4. Return to these tests at the end of the four week cycle and retest yourself on the Listening Tests you commenced with and check the average.

  5. Start the cycle again and continue through until your test date.

SLIDE 6: Effective preparation forthe IELTS Reading Test is quite similar to preparation for the Listening Test. There are however some important differences. At the beginning of the 4 week cycle, benchmark by taking two reading tests under


  • Words, words and more words: again simply reading widely is not enough to prepare you for the Reading test

  • You must begin to build a specific and prolonged word-bank

  • You must employ the Cover-Copy-Check technique to test your knowledge of the meanings of the new words

  • Avoid taking one test after another

  • Access and complete many True/False/NG exercises


Maximum of one reading test per day at the start (after you benchmark).

  1. In weeks 1-3, after Benchmarking, DO NOT take any tests under test conditions

  2. Take your time and check your results…working out why any answers were incorrect, according to the guidelines in the practice test materials.

  3. Collect any new words and phrases and ‘bank’ them and practice using the CCC technique.

  4. Do this with EVERY test. In weeks 1-3.5

  5. Test yourself under test conditions with two new tests at the end of Week 4.

SLIDE 7: in weeks 1-3effective preparation for the IELTS Writing test is quite straightforward: a great deal of practice writing, revision by a tutor and then rewriting.A tried and tested method to improve the grammatical accuracy of your written English expression is the Copy Technique whereby you either (1) simply copy up to 2 x150 word passages, a different two every day from the Reading Tests (academic/general depending on what module you are taking) and/or (2) copy excellent models of both tasks (again at least one each day) from IELTS books and the samples we will provide for you.

The Copy Technique really works. Think of it like exercising with weights or jogging or practising your scales as if you were learning a musical instrument. I have seen a student improve .5 of a band in one week using the Copy Technique. You can achieve similar results if you:

  1. Do it every day.

  2. Do it for a long period of time (ideally, at least 3 months)

In our experience, it is possible to make quick progress in the writing for the IELTS Test. The secrets are to practice copying excellent examples of good English (but NOT fiction or articles from the newspaper!), research and write 5 model task 1s and 10 model task 2s, and, finally, have your writing checked by an expert and then rewrite, check and rewrite until PERFECT.

In Week 4, write several task 1 and task 2 tests under test conditions (two tasks in 60 minutes without notes or a dictionary etc). Have these tasks checked and graded by an expert. These will then be a useful benchmark for the following four week cycles. Much more extensive advice and examples are provided in the Writing Modules 7 & 8.


  • Copy, copy and copy!

  • Copy 2 x 150 word paragraphs from the reading tests (General or Academic)

  • Copy highly rated samples of both tasks for your module

  • Find a good tutor/native speaker who can correct your grammar and provide advice on word choice and structure


  • Find a good tutor!

  • In weeks 1-3 write 5 typical task 1s under non-test conditions

  • In weeks 1-3 write 10 typical task 2s under non-test conditions

  • Check out “hot topics” list for suitable essay topics

  • After your tutor revises your writing tasks YOU MUST REWRITE AND REWRITE UNTIL PERFECT

SLIDE 8: Preparing for the Speaking Test is probably the most difficult of all the skills for a number of reasons:

  1. Non-native speakers often have what linguists term “fossilized” errors in their second language (English) that are quite difficult to overcome.

  2. The structures/syntax of an IELTS speaker’s first language can be quite different from the structures of English.

  3. The basic sounds of an IELTS speaker’s first language can be quite different from the basic sounds of English.

  4. The Speaking test is face-to-face and this can be quite awkward for many people and there is more stress in a ‘live’ situation.

  5. The topics for the second part of the Speaking test can be a subject with which the speaker has little familiarity, also causing increased stress.

  6. It is difficult to effectively mimic or reproduce the actual conditions of the Speaking test with a tutor.

Alternatively, there are some advantageous features of the Speaking test also:

  1. It is the part of IELTS that you (the student/candidate) has most control over.

  2. There are several well established and effective strategies that can be learned and applied in the Speaking test (see Modules 9 + 10).

  3. There are several well recognized ‘mistakes’ many students/candidates make in the Speaking test, which can be avoided with practice (see Modules 9 + 10).

  4. Learning to speak any language is a human behavior that we develop naturally through trial and error, through listening and practice.

Probably the best preparation you can do for the Speaking test is to seek the advice of an expert tutor and conduct and record several diagnostic practice tests. Once areas of weakness have been identified, and as these will vary considerably from speaker to speaker, you next will need to search through the IELTS support materials for methods to address your individual weaknesses. Of course, your tutor should also be able to help here. In Modules 9 + 10 of the main program we will discuss several of the most typical challenges students display and suggest methods and techniques to address these.


  • Speak English as much as you can…

  • Try and avoid non-English speaking situations eg. At home with flatmates

  • Ask non-native English speaking friends to try and chat in English

  • Find pronunciation resources and practice as much as possible

  • Broaden your general knowledge of a wide range of areas as suggested by the sample topics


  • Rehearse the speaking test ‘in your head’ whenever and as often as you can.

  • Use the dialogues from the Listening as practice speaking models.

  • Find recordings with texts and ‘shadow’ the speakers, stopping and practising difficult words and phrases.

  • Find an expert tutor.

  • Learn specific strategies for Task 2 topics in particular.

SLIDE 9: Presents a summary of this Introduction to your successful preparation for the IELTS exam:

  • Give yourself enough lead-in time to your IELTS exam to prepare thoroughly

  • At least 2-3 hours a day is required to build up the ‘momentum’ you require for IELTS to SUCCESS

  • Self-directed IELTS preparation can be very effective as long as you are disciplined and methodical

  • You will probably require some expert help at some stage

  • Endlessly do practice tests can be a waste of time and resources

The next nine modules are available to view/download from our website:


to access please register HERE










Online Module 3 IELTS listening notes

[also watch online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imqCWuUIpWE] or [https://www.movenote.com/v/OntENSpLj4LCG]

What NOT to do in your preparation…..

  • Simply take one listening test one after another, check your results and then start another one

  • Take all your preparation tests under test conditions: in the first few weeks – after benchmarking – build up to taking a round of tests under test conditions at the end of the first four week cycle

  • Simply watch TV, movies or listen to the radio to help “tune” your ears to English

  • Only listen to practice tests through earphones. The real test is broadcast through speakers and you must become familiar with this audio quality

  • And then on exam day….try NOT to…

  • Excessively underline ‘keywords’ in the questions/instructions of the possible answer choices

  • Quickly choose the first answer that sounds right…IELTS does intentionally try to trick you…if it’s too easy or obvious an answer then it’s probably not the correct choice.

  • Forget to include quantity measures (eg: kgs/gms) with the answers that require them

  • Write more words than the instructions allow/ask for

  • Inaccurately copy your answers from the question sheets to the answer sheet (this does happen often!)

  • Miss the start of the recording’s broadcast as you are too busy reading ahead and/or underlining keywords

 What to do in your preparation…..

  • At first, take four practice tests under test conditions and average out your result (eg: 28/40 = band 6). Do not check why any answers are incorrect! Be patient.

  • Take the next four practice tests slowly trying to get as many answers correct as possible…stopping the recording if necessary…rewinding…learning the tricks of IELTS Listening tests!

  • Read the transcripts and explanations for the correct answers, especially those you answered incorrectly

  • RETAKE the test until you obtain 100% correct answers; then move on and repeat this procedure with the next practice test.

  • In the final week of the four week cycle, retake the first four tests, score the test and compare with your first results on average: was there any improvement?

  • Finally, take two more tests under test conditions: what’s the average result?

  • Listen to a variety of English-language materials (not only TV/movies). ‘Speaking books’ are good, as are online texts that have the transcripts available…listening AND reading is the best additional practice.

And then on exam day….try to…

  • Focus in from the very start of the recording broadcast

  • Listen for “switch” words in the speaking (eg. However, but, on the other hand…)

  • Listen for “change of mind” indicators (eg. “ummmm …well… you know…)

  • Listen for changes of stress/emphases in the speaker’s voice. Quite often (but not always!) the correct answer is actually emphasized by the speaker.

  • Listen out for adverbs of degree and frequency (eg. mostly, mainly, typically, often, rarely)

  • Be patient…even if the speaker appears to give the answer quickly, stay tuned for any changes of mind that might occur.

  • Guess any unanswered questions!

The overall key to IELTS Success in the Listening Test is the way you approach your preparation. As I have stressed above, just about the WORST thing you can do is simply take one practice listening test, one after the other and all under test conditions! With methodical and careful preparation according to the IEAP program, IELTS TO SUCCESS in the Listening Test is very possible!

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