“Should I get professional help?” is a question that bugs everyone who is preparing for an examination that will shape their future. This question is valid and is one where there really is no correct answer. But given the probability of you scoring a band 8 or 9 in IELTS, we suggest you take all the help that you can get, professional included.
Now, the question shifts to how do you find a mentor who will guarantee a band 8? The fact that there happen to be so many so-called counselors out there it becomes easier for one to get stuck in a raw deal. But worry not, there’s help! Below we try to tell you not the answers but the right questions that you must ask yourself and your probable mentor.
Q1. Do you need an IELTS mentor?
The first step to solving a problem is to be sure that there is a problem indeed. So what problems can a mentor solve that you may not be able to by yourself?
To have a paper solving strategies – You may be getting the right answer most of the times when giving your mock exams, but how likely is it that this will translate to a band 8? A mentor can help you develop a sound strategy around your strength and weaknesses which will work every single time. For example, in the listening section, the answers are always chronological with no option to repeat a clip. A mentor can help you to make this task easier by telling you the key information to look out for and what the gap is between each of the answers. The same applies to other sections in IELTS, especially reading where you are not expected to mug up the whole article but only retain the important information. A mentor can help you identify what really is the important information in the passage because for most sections it is no less than 500 words.
For writing the best possible answer – The writing section in IELTS is one where you cannot hide or cover up for the lack of skill by any means. The examiners in IELTS have a matrix of evaluation that each candidate is put through. Even if you identify the matrix, what are the chances that you actually know where you are lacking since the parameters are fairly subjective? A mentor can help you develop a flow with your thoughts and also with how you translate those thoughts to paper. A cohesive and fluid pace with breaks in paragraphs revolving around a central idea is a skill that can only be developed over time. A mentor can help you with an analysis of your writing style and how well it fits with the IELTS format.
For speaking like you’re at home – As much as you love chit chatting with your bestie from college or ranting on about your day to your folks, we are sorry to tell you it isn’t the most relevant practice. Getting a trainer will be like having a really good listener but with the right qualifications to correct you. A trainer can you help you stick to topics that you may expect in the exam. They can also tell you that famous quotes or metaphors or similes can, in fact, get you a negative score when used in the wrong context. A mentor will also help create an interview like scenario which can wash away confidence and all the practice in a matter of seconds.
Q2. How to decide if your mentor is the right mentor?
When you are paying to get professional help the default assumption is that they must know everything. We suggest you do not fall into the assumption trap and question your mentor’s capabilities that will help you choose one that can guarantee you a Band 8.
Ask them –
- How will you train me in the writing section? If your mentor promises to turn you into Charles Dickens overnight, then in all probability it’s a hoax! Your mentor should have concrete knowledge of each “band descriptor”. A good trainer would know the four band descriptors even in sleep. If this information is missing and the answer leans towards something generic like ‘I will make you good’ or ‘yeah, I know someone who knows someone in IELTS’, we suggest you hang up and never call back.
- What are band descriptors? When you ask your mentor this question, you must have your basic research in place. Each section has a different scoring format. Writing and speaking have a set of parameters against which you will be measured whereas in reading and listening you get scores for the correct answers you give. Now if your mentor starts talking about the last Pink Flyod album or is generally unaware of how to describe the scoring patterns to you with clarity then you will probably end up in the wrong bands… errr… we mean hands.
- How will you help me be coherent and cohesive? When you ask your mentor this question, it will do two things. It will help you understand if your mentor possesses the vocabulary to understand what you just asked and also help you understand if he knows that this is an important evaluation parameter in the writing and speaking sections. If you hear a long pause and your mentor is secretly typing in google to search for the meaning of the words, then you need to stop the conversation and find someone who isn’t fumbled by big words.
Q3. How to make most out of your mentor?
After running helter-skelter and finding your dream mentor, you begin training but then, a nagging question follows. Am I getting all that I can from this relationship or what should I do to make sure my mentor is as invested as I am in my success. Here are some tips that will help you get more bang for the buck:
– Try the flipped classroom approach. Hang on! Before you flip out and start googling flipped classroom approach, here’s what it means – A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content. This basically means no spoon feeding. If a mentor is constantly telling you everything that needs to be done instead of giving you exercises that teach you how to get it done then you need to stop the aeroplane from entering your mouth and grab the spoon and insist on being taught how to eat.
– The trainer must focus on your errors. We all know the general Do’s and Don’ts for IELTS but is that knowledge sufficient for you to score a band 8? A trainer will help you with your personal faults as painful or exciting as that sounds, depending on where you are in the spectrum. You should be able to do a line by line evaluation of any of the sections to help you focus on what you do not understand instead of sit in a class and waste time listening to redundant questions.
– Remedials: The trainer must be giving you additional remedial reading and practice material every day. We cannot emphasize the importance of practice anymore, we’re sure you’re saturated with it. But your mentor should actually create assignments every day to help you rectify the cracks in your foundation.
– Line by line essay evaluation: Do a lot of essay evaluations, discussions and speaking mocks. Unless you’ve not just fixed the cracked in your foundation but also varnished the woodwork in the house, it will never be perfect. For a confirmed band 8 pick up the sandpaper, smoothen the edges and aim for that glorious shiny finish on your score.
Q 4. What will a 30-day training with a personal mentor change in you?
The values mentioned above will not become a part of your system overnight, the 30 days training period will help you make these skills work like muscle memory. At the end of this 30-day period you can expect the following to have happened in the natural course of your training period:
- Most of your mistakes will already have been identified and corrected.
- You will possess a lot of confidence in speaking, with so many mocks done in exam like conditions.
- You will not waste time making a map for yourself in the labyrinth called the internet. You will have immediate access to relevant content with a mentor, helping you waste practically none of your time for free content and answers on the web.
- A mentor will help you have a very well-planned approach to the exam in general.
To find an IELTS mentor who can guarantee you an 8 band, browse our courses page