English, IELTS, EAP

A good IELTS score is key to getting you into your chosen university so it is crucial that you do not underestimate the importance of attending English classes and committing time to continually improving your English

  • About
  • Meet the Director of Studies
  • How to pass your IELTS exam

St Andrew’s College, Cambridge has been welcoming students from all over the world for the last 20 years. We understand the challenges of studying in a second language and a new academic environment and offer a range of English support classes to help prepare you for success at university. The type and number of support classes you have will depend on your level of English when you start at the college. This will change as your level increases.

The Importance of IELTS

It is paramount that international students do not underestimate the importance of their English classes. The more competent you become in English, the more you will understand in your academic classes and this will hopefully lead you to better academic results. Remember that all good universities will require an IELTS score of 6.5 as an entry requirement and some may request a higher score. If you are committed to attending lessons and to doing additional study in your own time as well as immersing yourself in English as much as possible, you can expect to improve your score by 0.5 every 3 months.

IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It is now the most commonly used formal assessment of English and is required for Tier 4 General visa applications to enter the UK to study. IELTS has 9 bands that identify levels of proficiency in English. The lowest band is 1 (non-user) going up to 9 (expert). For our A Level and Foundation Courses, we require a starting level of 5 (modest user) for courses starting in September.

EAP is English for Academic Purposes. It teaches students to use language appropriately for study normally in a higher education setting such as university.

Jo is the Director of Studies for ESL at St Andrew’s.

About Jo

Jo has been teaching English since 2006. In addition to Cambridge she has lived and worked in Bath, Brighton, Edinburgh, Prague and Bratislava, as well as teaching on short courses in various places in Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Serbia and Japan. Through this she has gained a wide range of teaching and management experience which she uses in her current role.

Jo grew up in Bristol and then studied Russian Studies at the University of Sheffield, spending a year living in St Petersburg and Moscow as part of the course. Having worked and studied abroad herself, Jo is aware of what it is like to live in another country and can offer advice to students on this.

To develop her teaching and management career, Jo completed the Cambridge DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in 2011, and the English UK DELTM (Diploma in English Language Teaching Management) in 2016.

How Jo can help you

In addition to teaching IELTS classes, Jo is available to offer students advice and help preparing for the exam. Along with our experienced IELTS teaching team, Jo arranges the following support.

  • Regular IELTS classes taught in small groups
  • Additional group and one-to-one IELTS classes for students requiring extra support.
  • A monthly IELTS newsletter with advice about studying for the exam. This includes self-study information as well as topic and skills focus.
  • A vocabulary app. We regularly update our college class on Quizlet to help students study topic-based vocabulary in their own time.
  • Testing every half term. This gives students exam practice and helps us to plan future lessons to support students’ specific needs.
  • Tutorials every half term. Each student discusses their progress with their IELTS teacher and sets objectives for the next half term.
  • Drop in sessions. These are twice a week and give students the opportunity to get further support with their IELTS.
  • Assistance booking IELTS exams
  • English Testing for future students
  • An IELTS handbook with information and advice about the IELTS exam and the support offered in the college.
  • Our EAP course is designed for students who have already reached the entry requirements for their chosen university. The classes will help you to develop the language and study skills you need to follow a degree course at a UK university

Preparing for your IELTS exam: Advice on how to pass your IELTS exam


Listen to your teachers! All our teachers are experienced in helping students prepare for their IELTS exam, so they can give you useful advice which is personalised for your specific needs. We are happy to help.

Be realistic

Be realistic about how long it will take to get the IELTS score you need. The average person takes around 200 hours of lessons to reach the next level. We have 5 class levels at Select. A1, A2, B1, B2 and C1. You can find information about how your class level relates to your overall IELTS score here: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/find-out-about-results/understand-your-ielts-scores/common-european-framework-equivalencies. The time it takes to improve your IELTS score depends on a number of factors, for example, the number of hours you study, your initial English level, your age, your first language, how much you use English outside of the classroom and if you have taken the IELTS exam before and are familiar with the format.

Vocabulary Notebook and Word Cards

Vocabulary is important in every part of the exam. If you want to improve your IELTS score, you need to understand and be able to use more vocabulary. Keep a vocabulary notebook and write new words. You can also make vocabulary cards. Write the new word/ phrase on one side and the meaning on the other. Look at the meanings and try to remember the word/ phrase. Turn the card over to check.

Record Language in Context

Don’t just learn long lists of words. You need to learn new language in context, so that you know how to use it correctly.

Use English Outside of the Classroom

Your English will improve more quickly, the more you use it. By using English as much as possible outside of the classroom, you will widen the range of vocabulary that you are able to understand and use, and become better at expressing yourself in English.

Talk to other students

Many students are in the same situation as you and need to take the IELTS exam. If you study together, you can help and motivate each other. For example, you could test each other using your vocabulary cards.Also, you will meet other students at the school who have already taken the exam. They can give you advice about what to expect.

Practice guessing meaning from context

Don’t rely on your dictionary too much. You won’t have your dictionary in the exam so you need to practise working out meaning from context. When you find a new word, look at the whole sentence/ paragraph and try to guess what it means.


Practise noticing and using paraphrase. This is when something is repeated using different words. IELTS listening and reading test your understanding of paraphrase because the questions often paraphrase something in the text. So if you can recognize how things are paraphrased, you can find the answer. For example, when preparing for the listening, use the tapescript. Underline where the answer is and also which key words they relate to in the question. You can do this for the reading part too. Note examples of paraphrase and synonyms in your notebook.


Pay attention to the time when you do practice tests so that you are used to completing each task under exam conditions.

Monitor your progress

When your teacher corrects your writing homework make a note of any common errors you make. The next time you do a writing task, look at the list and check that you haven’t repeated the errors. You should also note examples of good language you have used to help you remember it.When you do practice tests, make a note of your scores for listening and reading. Note which parts were more difficult and do some extra practice in these areas. Your teacher can give you advice about how to improve.

Do your homework

Your teacher will give you regular homework. Students who do regular practice over time usually do better than students who don’t do extra study until just before the exam.If you want to do extra practice, you can borrow a book from our library in Kate’s office. Kate, Jo or your teacher can advise you on which book is best for you.

Use Apps


Use the academic word list

The academic word list contains the most common academic words. So, these words are useful for your IELTS exam. You can find the list as well as tests on the meanings here: http://www.examenglish.com/vocabulary/academic_wordlist.html You can find more useful advice here: