The motivation for the study on which this paper is based came from several concerns regarding the consistently poor performance of Fiji candidates in the IELTS Reading and Writing modules. There are several factors that could account for this poor performance, with a major factor being inadequate test preparation. In this study, we carried out an initial assessment of English language skills (in the form of a pre-test) of a sample of potential IELTS candidates. These candidates participated in 30 hours of intensive preparation classes focusing especially on the General Training (GT) Reading and Writing test modules. A
t the conclusion of the preparation program the candidates did an exit test (the post-test), provided written feedback on the program, and gave oral interviews. The pre- and post-test performance and interview data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The findings revealed that there was significant gain in the scores of candidates in the Writing module. The gain in the Reading module was not as dramatic. The researchers highlight the influence of several factors such as time, motivation, anxiety and the nature of the skill itself on the candidates' performance during the preparation program, and in the actual IELTS exam.
This paper raises issues related to candidate perceptions, the impact of intensive course preparation, and the implications of such preparation on pre-test English language competence.