The classes I took at All-English taught me how to take the IELTS test. I'm not going to lie here: my general English ability was already pretty good, and All-English didn't do much to improve it. What it did instead was to teach me how to take the IELTS test.
In listening and speaking, I practiced, well, listening and speaking. But more precisely, I learnt tips on how IELTS exams operated, and how to take advantage of the test format. For instance, the listening tests always present the answers in the order of the questions. That, I didn't know when I started out. I did some listening tests before, but I've never known this before then, so I distributed my attention to all questions then. That may have been the reason for me to get a few questions wrong. Of course, the practice tests also helped me greatly in training to anticipate when answers would appear, and how to understand words spoken in horrible accents. There weren't any extreme accents in any of the official IELTS tests, of course, but there were a few that threw me off.
Practice in speaking was also very beneficial. I've always been a bit shy to those that I don't know. I'm much better with people that I'm a bit familiar with. "Familiarity breeds contempt" and all that, though "contempt" could probably be replaced with something far less... offensive, shall we say. More than that, I simply didn't have any practice speaking English, which is essential for actually knowing how to speak to people in English with any degree of fluency. I knew quite a bit of English, but actually conversing with something other than books was what taught me how to use my knowledge in actual speaking. I also learnt how to answer the questions the examiners would ask - how much detail to give, what to say. Mr. Simon’s lessons using videos about various subject matter such as education, capitalism and psychology managed to interest me and gave me experience in dealing with weird subjects in the speaking test.
Reading and Writing was also very helpful in teaching me how to write essays that fit the expected answer the most. Though the lessons on comma placement and sentence construction didn't really benefit me in any way, the practice exams helped me understand what it was I needed to write in the exams. The lessons on paragraph structure were also very helpful in teaching me how to efficiently plan out what to write for the exams – the required format was a tad different from that of other writing tests that I’d taken before. Apart from that, there were also the different kinds of answer different kinds of questions demanded. Even though the amount of words required wasn’t that much, knowing the type of answer the essays demanded made it far easier to know what I needed to include.
I also prepared a bit for the IELTS test on my own. I did more than a few timed mock exams myself, and each time I learnt where my pitfalls where and how to circumvent them or to supplement my deficiencies with skills that I did possess. Besides that, the vocabulary book given by Mr. Simon supplemented and corrected a few words that I didn’t know or was mistaken about their meaning. Besides that, I also took up reading lots of English materials, to refresh the structure of essays.
My advice for improving English would be to read. There is no real substitute for an actual knowledge of English, and that is only gained through using the language. Reading is one that is the most easily accessible. It does not require anybody else, or anything that requires the participation of other people save for your own time. Apart from that, practicing writing things other than just essays are also very good for learning how to write. Essays demand a particular structure which makes their content somewhat rigid, but writing other things – fiction, or anything else that would demand other kinds of content – helps greatly in expanding the repertoire for writing, since doing so forces the writer to experiment and learn.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the staff at All-English for being helpful; for coming up with ideas to teach in interesting ways; for putting in the effort to design tests that evaluated my ability in English; and last, but not least, for teaching me how to take the IELTS test in a way that I attained such a high score.