Which Is Better for IELTS Review: Active or Passive Learning?

Everyone has their own learning style. There are those who prefer passive learning, wherein the student relies solely on their teachers to provide and explain unfamiliar concepts; and there are those who prefer active learning, wherein the student takes a more hands-on approach to comprehend and explore new information.




While you may favor one over the other, you must think strategically during your IELTS review. Which one should you use during your IELTS online review to get the best results when you take the high-stakes exam?

To answer this question, let us take a look at the techniques involved in the two learning styles.


What Is Passive Learning?


Students are passively learning if they rely solely on the information from the instructor or from study materials (e.g., books, videos, audio, etc.) provided, making no effort to explore unfamiliar concept on their own. In this learning approach, teachers operate on the assumption that their students know nothing about their topic.


Passive learning strategies include:


  1. listening to the instructor
  2. taking notes during a class lecture
  3. rewriting lecture notes for review purposes
  4. reading textbooks and other study materials
  5. watching informative videos
  6. listening to informative audio materials


Passive learning is a good study technique if you are cramming for a test scheduled the following day. It will allow you to memorize large amounts of information in a short period of time. Unfortunately, the good points of passive learning end here.


Passive learning does not reinforce information to your long-term memory. In most cases, passive learners tend to forget what they learned days after memorizing it. You will only retain a superficial knowledge of the topic.


Thinking of applying this technique for your IELTS online review? It will be a gamble: there is a huge chance that you will get a high score, and a huge chance you will forget most of what you learned.


What Is Active Learning?

Active learning is when students actively participate in the class discussion or engage with the study materials. In this learning approach, a give-and-take relationship between the students and the instructor is established. The students can ask questions and give their ideas about the topic while the instructor can answer them and adjust his or her teaching style for the benefit of their student.


Active learning strategies include:


  1. participating in the class discussion
  2. asking valid questions about the lecture
  3. seeking clarifications
  4. challenging and evaluating new information
  5. researching more information about the topic
  6. formulating your predictions about the topic
  7. analyzing the relationships of the concepts within the topic
  8. analyzing the similarities of the topic to other subjects
  9. revising or summarizing lecture notes
  10. answering practice examinations


Active learning is the better study approach for exams that require critical thinking. It will help you store more information in your long-term memory and hone your comprehension skills. The only setback in using this technique is that it requires a lot of time and energy, both resources you could be short in supply.


So Which One Is better for Your IELTS Online Review?


Active learning is definitely the way to go if you want to make the most out of your IELTS online review. Remember, you are not studying English simply to pass the IELTS exam. You are studying English to prepare for your life abroad. If you become a passive learner, it is likely that you will forget what you have learned after taking the exam.


Maximize your IELTS online review program with active learning. Apply its study strategies to enhance your training and hone your English communication skills, not only for the IELTS exam but beyond it as well.


    Hahn, Brooke. “How People Learn: Active vs Passive Learning.” OpenLearning. October 14, 2015. Accessed August 18, 2017. https://www.openlearning.com/blog/HowPeopleLearnActiveVsPassiveLearning.
  • Heath, Elena. “Active vs. Passive Learning.” Prezi.com. November 06, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2017. https://prezi.com/oguxiz0h5hh8/active-vs-passive-learning/.
  • “Passive vs. Active Learning.” The Sourcebook for Teaching Science. Accessed August 18, 2017. https://www.csun.edu/science/ref/pedagogy/active-passive/active-passive-learning.html.