If you are preparing for IELTS, there is a good chance that you have searched the internet for the latest IELTS questions and topics. In fact, this seems to be an obsession and many websites regularly post lists of recent questions for the speaking and writing tests.
Today, I want to give you three reasons why you actually don’t need to worry about the latest IELTS questions and then just one reason why they might help you.
Why you don’t need the latest IELTS questions
1. You probably won’t encounter those questions
Let’s say that you have an IELTS exam on Saturday and you find a Facebook group or blog that tells you the questions someone encountered on Wednesday. Do you really think that you will get the same questions?
It is true that IELTS exams do not always feature entirely unique questions. IELTS has been around for several decades, so that would be a lot of questions to write! However, they don’t just produce a limited number of questions and then reuse them over and over and they certainly don’t use the same set of questions every day of the week.
Think about it: If they had a task 2 essay question on Wednesday, of course someone would go in, memorise it, and then sell that knowledge to people who had their test over the next few days. Everyone that had an exam coming up could just prepare an answer for that question!
Thus, logically, there is no reason to study recent questions in the hope that they will be repeated. There is no greater chance of that than a question from five years ago.
2. Recent questions are rarely remembered accurately
I often complain about fake IELTS questions and there are various reasons for these being so bad. One of them is that IELTS candidates often remember their questions from the exam, then either tell them to a tutor or upload them to the internet themselves.
The problem is that they seldom remember the questions accurately, resulting in ungrammatical or illogical questions. When you study from these, you learn incorrect English or faulty logic.
For this reason, it is far better to use real questions or at the very least ones that have been made by professionals or ex-examiners.
3. These questions limit your focus
IELTS candidates often become obsessed with finding out the latest IELTS questions or recent topics that have appeared in the exam. They do this because they want to predict future questions and topics. However, as I have explained, that is simply not how IELTS works.
There is another problem – if you obsess over these questions, you will not think broadly enough to prepare for the ones you might actually encounter. Remember that IELTS is an English exam with a wide array of general topics. You could be asked about technology, books, the environment, and much more.
When you fixate upon shortcuts, you tend to ignore the important stuff. When you prepare for IELTS, you really ought to work on improving your general English and learning some of the most common topics. Don’t think that putting all your energy into just a limited field of “predicted topics” will help.
Why recent IELTS questions might be helpful
1. There are sometimes small changes
The IELTS exam undergoes very few changes and those changes that do occur tend to be very minor. For example, they sometimes change the name of certain parts. What does not change is the general structure, requirements, or content. At least, not in any important sense.
However, there are some small changes that take place and these are worth paying attention to. According to MyIELTSClassroom, a new type of line graph was introduced with Cambridge IELTS 15. One of the letters in Cambridge IELTS 16 was also so unusual that I assumed it was a fake when someone first reported it to me!
However, you’ll notice that these are recent official questions, rather than simply ones posted online. And, even though some small changes have been introduced, they are very minor. You would not have missed anything by overlooking the latest questions and studying old ones. That’s because IELTS is fundamentally the same as it was five or ten years ago.
You absolutely do not need to fixate on recent IELTS questions in order to succeed in any part of the test. Whilst there may be some small changes in how questions are written, these are very minor. The topics covered are basically the same, as is the style of question. If you have a brilliant grasp of English and practised with the questions in Cambridge IELTS 10, for example, you would be in a better position to succeed than if you focused intently on the latest questions.