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Press Review – 101 Helpful Hints

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A review by a Senior IELTS examiner...

101 Helpful Hints for IELTS:  Practice tests and hints for IELTS, by Garry Adams and Terry Peck. Adams and Austen Press, Sydney 1995

After a slow start, authors, particularly in Australia, have woken up to the fact that the ever increasing numbers of candidates for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) warrant a ready supply of supporting textbooks. Both previous issues of the EA Journal have included reviews of home produced, but not homespun, books focused in IELTS preparation. Now, Terry Peck and Garry Adams have published a remarkably useful, compendious volume of practice tests and test-taking strategies.

The 168 pages are divided evenly into four practice tests and '101 Helpful Hints'. Following the table of contents, (the authors) list seven steps under 'How to use this book'. The reader is advised to do the tests one by one, then to use the 'Help' section to review any mistakes. The hints are arranged under the macro-skills, corresponding to the IELTS sub-tests of listening, reading, writing and speaking. These are preceded by a section entitled 'Basic Hints'. All the advice is sound and bears the hallmark of teachers well-versed in exam preparation techniques.

The layout of the book lends itself to a Test – Teach – Test approach. Practice Tests Three and Four are rated more difficult than One and Two, The authors painstakingly refer the reader to what they consider the relevant 'Helpful Hint' at every turn in the practice tests. As these hints recur in each respective sub-test, students become familiar with the strategy being taught.

The book concludes with an appendix of tapescripts, an answer sheet, answer keys, a score interpreter, further reading list and glossary. There is an accompanying cassette with two practice listening tests.

In scope, this book goes well beyond most collections of practice tests, whose authors are content to provide a set of test look-alikes. There is a wealth of material for IELTS candidates to improve their performance in the test. The comprehensive treatment of the writing and speaking sections points to the writers' awareness that students too often under-prepare for these sub-tests. After all, it is easier to do and score practice listening and reading tests. In fact, there is so much exam-focused material of a thematic, structural and lexical nature, that IELTS will soon become an achievement rather than a proficiency test!

101 Helpful Hints for IELTS is an important addition to the resources available to both IELTS teachers and students. Highly recommended.

Reprinted from the EA Journal (Winter 1996 Vol. 14 No. 1.)