OK. Let me start by saying, IELTS is hard. For some students, it is not a journey that takes weeks, but months or even years. So, it is totally normal to feel sometimes that you want to quit, or at least return to a life that doesn’t involve spending all your free time studying. But, like anything hard in life, it’s in these dark moments that you need to dig deep and find some extra motivation 💥
That’s what today’s blog post is all about. Think of me as the hand on your back pushing you forward ✋. Or the supporter standing by your side cheering you on 🗣️. Yes, IELTS is hard, but you are strong and determined and can get this job done! So, here we go with my Top 5 Tips for getting back your lost motivation for IELTS!
1. Look how far you’ve come!
Think about all of the things you’ve learned since you started studying for IELTS. I am sure that if you think about it, you could list LOTS of new skills that you have learned. Yes, there are still more grammar structures to study and new lists of vocabulary to memorise, but you have already come a long way. You should celebrate your achievements so far! 🎉
Just take a moment to look back at all of the notes you have made, or the practice activities you have completed, or the understanding you now have of this strange world. I bet a few weeks or months ago, you had no idea what coherence and cohesion were, let alone how they can make a different to your writing! Take a moment to pat yourself on the back and say
“Yay me! I’m not at the end of the road, but I am a lot further down it than I was at the beginning” 🚶♀️🚶♀️🚶♀️
2. Stop focusing on your score and focus on the steps that will take you there
Thinking about the final score you need can make you feel tired, especially if it is 8777 and you are currently at 6666. The key to overcoming this is to focus on the small steps you are making today that will eventually take you to that goal. That means you have to commit to doing something every day. You aren’t going to jump a band score overnight, but if you do a little bit today and then a bit more tomorrow, you will definitely get there soon.
Now, before you scream “I don’t have time“, let me tell you that everybody has time to do SOMETHING every day. Sure, you might not be able to sit down and write an essay or tackle a difficult grammar point, but you definitely do have time to listen to a podcast, or spend 10 minutes reading a news article, or simply practice one speaking part two cue card. I work with thousands of students each year and those who progress best are the ones who make sure they study consistently.
3. Reward Yourself!
What’s the best way to make sure you will do something every day? Rewarding yourself!!!! Nothing motivates me more than a potential reward! So, set yourself a goal for today – maybe it can be learning some new vocabulary, or practicing your subject/verb agreement, or writing an essay, (or all three) – and then decide how you will treat yourself if you hit that goal. It doesn’t have to be anything big – maybe you could watch a film 🎥, or spend some time with your family 👪, or have a nice big slice of cake 🍰 – but it must be something that you would really like to do. Then, when you are feeling tired, focus on the goal for motivation.
If you can’t think of a good reward, then maybe you can use negative motivation. Tell your best-friend what you want to achieve today, and then give them £5 (or £10, or £20, or however much it takes). If you hit your goal, your friend has to give you back your money, but if you don’t hit your goal, they can keep it 💰. Clever, huh? If a positive reward doesn’t work, maybe the thought of your best friend spending your hard-earned money will!
Did you know that we ran a 30-day motivation challenge on our podcast? It is never too late to join! Find out more by clicking play:
4. Focus on the Future
Why are you studying IELTS? Is it so you can go and study abroad? Are you hoping to migrate? Do you want to register in the UK as a doctor? Whatever your goal, I’m pretty sure you aren’t taking IELTS for fun! So, when you are feeling tired or down, close your eyes and actually imagine what your future life will look like once IELTS is behind you. Where will you be living? What will your day to day life be like? How happy are you going to be once that new life starts? Let the answers to those questions be what motivates you 🌴.
Do you know how long it took me to create the video lessons in My IELTS Classroom? Two years!!! That was much longer than I expected and there were some months when I felt totally hopeless. I honestly felt that no matter how much I worked, I would never get the course finished. And I’m not going to lie, there were even a couple of times when I wanted to give up. But in those bleak moments, I always hung on to the idea of what my life would be like when it was finally finished. And do you know what? My life today is actually even better than I imagined, and I’m sure yours will be too. You just have to keep going.
5. Take some time off!
However, if you try all of these mind techniques and still feel tired, it’s time to take a break. When you are completely exhausted, any learning you do will be a waste of time as your brain won’t be able to process the new information properly. The human body is not designed to cope with high levels of stress over long periods of time.
If you have been working solidly on IELTS for a few weeks, or even months, then it is probably time you took some real time out. And, when I say take a break, I mean take a break. Allow yourself to spend at least a week or two IELTS-free.
- Do not open an IELTS text book!!! ❌
- Do not have a “quick look” in a Facebook IELTS group!!! ❌
- Do not “just watch” a video on Youtube!!! ❌
You have to 100% disconnect to give your poor brain cells a chance to rest and recuperate, and the only way you can do that is focusing on something else for a while. The ideal way to do this would be to go on holiday. But if you have to stay at home then visit friends, go for a walk or even just sit and home and binge-watch TV.
The key is that you should not think about IELTS and you should definitely not feel guilty about not thinking about IELTS!!!
Give your brain some proper time off and then, when you have more energy, you will be able to come back and start preparing again with the energy you need to succeed.
So, these are my 5 Top Tips for getting back that lost motivation for IELTS.
- Remember how far you have already travelled on your IELTS journey! You might not be at the goal now, but you are a lot closer than you were when you started.
- Stop thinking about the score you need and focus on the small steps you are going to take to get there. Students who practice regularly get to the finish line faster than people who want to study everything in just a few weeks.
- Reward yourself! There is nothing wrong with bribing yourself to study! You might not want to sit and practice T/F/NG questions, but you may still want to eat a slice of cake if you do!
- Focus on the future. None of us are studying IELTS for fun. Your life is going to seriously change once you pass the test and that would be the best motivation you have for keeping going!
- Take a break! If you are truly exhausted, it is better to take some real time off than try to force yourself to keep going. You will achieve a lot more in the long run if you take some time out to look after yourself now.
I always feel that my job as a teacher is 50% about teaching and 50% about motivating. If you want to join a school that cares as much about your well-being as your IELTS score, then come and join me in My IELTS Classroom. 🚀