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English teachers don’t usually sit an English language proficiency test, right? They’re the people teaching others the intricacies of writing, reading, listening and speaking in English. So, what happens when experts do IELTS?

We’ve already spoken with Jay and David. This time, we’ll share Alex’s experiences. She was an IELTS examiner for 10 years and has been teaching IELTS preparation for about 15 years. Alex currently works at E2Language developing resources and courses primarily for our IELTS students. Before that, she was Head Teacher and Assistant Director of Studies at a language college.

Given how little we write with pen and paper these days, I also found the writing section much easier to manage time-wise. It was easy to edit, cut, move things around and proof-read. Alex, English teacher from E2Language

Alex’s IELTS experience

How did you find the overall journey from walking into the door at the test centre until the end of your test?

The atmosphere in the IDP centre is completely calm and comfortable. There’s a video playing for some last-minute tips, water and fruit, toilet easily accessible and a generally welcoming vibe. Other candidates were either chatting with each other, listening to music or podcasts, doing some final cramming with their notes or just sitting quietly. The test room was quiet and the staff were attentive and helpful. A few people went out for toilet breaks but otherwise, I barely noticed the other people in the room.

How was your experience with computer-delivered IELTS?

I was a bit anxious about doing the reading test on the computer as I like to use my pen a lot when I’m reading on paper. I found, however, that the highlight function really helped me to focus and also find my way back to where I left off easily as I dealt with the questions. Given how little we write with pen and paper these days, I also found the writing section much easier to manage time-wise. It was easy to edit, cut, move things around and proofread. Having earphones on throughout was also a good tip to block out any distractions. With only around 20 people in the room, it was very quiet anyway…

How was your speaking test? Or your Speaking examiner?

This was a weird experience to be on the other side! I was very conscious of presenting my ‘best’ language and not just relying on being a native speaker. My examiner was very sweet and I think that knowing exactly what to expect helped me to relax. If candidates don’t know, for instance, that an examiner may interrupt them, it can throw them off their game a bit.

The benefits of IELTS on computer

Ok, so what’s it like doing IELTS as a teacher?

Even as English language teachers, sitting a test might still be stressful. How were your stress levels?

I did feel a bit of stress; as a former examiner and current IELTS teacher, it’s important for me to prove myself! I did a lot of positive self-talk and deep breathing before and during the test, and that helped!

Did you learn something during the test today that you can use for your students (any tips or tricks)?

The highlight function is a vital tool, I feel. I used it just like I would use my pen in the paper test. I also used the pen and paper we were given to plan my writing and also to make notes of questions I needed to return to in the reading section.

At IELTS we advise everyone to prepare for their test, even if they are native speakers. Did you prepare? If so, how?

It’s so important for candidates to know what to expect. In writing and speaking, they need to deeply understand the criteria. If they don’t know about the importance of ‘position’ in Writing Task 2, for instance, this can be disastrous for their score. Even in the listening test, knowing exactly what kind of audio and questions you’re going to get takes a lot of the pressure and panic out of it. Having been an IELTS teacher, I’d prepared for years I suppose by doing all the practice tests but before the exam, I also reviewed recent writing topics and practised some Writing Task 1 graphs – my least favourite part of the test!

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