As an IELTS marker, I was astonished at the number of individuals who failed or got below desired band scores simply because they did not follow instructions. Having not only marked, but previously did the bookings and invigilated the test before, I noticed that this failure to follow instructions usually doesn’t start at the point of writing the test. It starts way before, during the booking stage and on the test day pre- test preparation.
To book the test, individuals are required to submit ID or passport copies alongside their forms. You would think that someone who paid around R3000 for a test would have no problem submitting a copy of their ID to secure their booking, right? Wrong. Despite making it clear that no one will be allowed to write without providing a copy of the said ID, we spent countless hours chasing down ID copies.
On the test day, one of the biggest challenges was getting candidates to follow instructions. A list of instructions would be sent out prior the test to minimize glitches but there would always be the handful that either did not read the memo or simply chose to ignore it. As a result, we had candidates who failed to take the test because they did not bring the relevant ID as requested in the memo or came late as instructed not to.
Fast forward to the actual test; it is replete with instructions directing where, when and how to answer questions. As a marker, I could pretty much determine how a candidate would fare just by looking at how they filled in the personal details panel. If they failed to fill in the panel, filled it incompletely or wrote details in the wrong slots, this was a clear indicator that the candidate was failing to follow instructions. If someone was failing to fill in their details properly, they were most likely going to fail to follow instructions on word count and answer format. I encountered numerous scripts where the candidate failed because of not following instructions. In one case, a candidate ignored numerous reminders to transfer answers onto the answer sheet. As a result, they ended up with a 0 mark.
Follow instructions if you plan to pass your IELTS.