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Two strategies help Vietnamese student achieve IELTS Band 9 in Reading and Listening

Thành Đỗ Hữu is originally from Vietnam, but currently lives and studies in Australia. His Overall IELTS Band Score is 8, with two straight 9’s in Listening and Reading. When we asked what would his advice be to other test takers working to achieve similar results, he said:

“Basically, you need to do a practice test, then try to give a reasonable explanation for every single mistake that you made or problems that you have. It can be a group of mistakes/difficulties, for example something like trouble with choosing headings, leading to a huge amount of time consumed for just a few questions, etc. You need to come up with solutions for that problem, I googled my problems and found several good solutions online, most of which worked. Be selective though, try and find what works for you as everyone is different.

For the Reading: time your practice for each test and speed it way up, try to finish the first section in 12-14 minutes, the second in 15-18 min, and the last one in less than 25 min. I got around 10 minutes to go back and check my answers in the end, and was able to make one crucial correction (which could have cost me half a band). Also, try to summarise every paragraph that you read in just a few words, this will help you immensely in understanding the whole passage and make it easier to find answers.

Finally, if you’re looking to get a high score in reading, you must improve your vocabulary a lot. Tricks and tips can only get you so far, you need real ability to score high. To score above 8.5 you shouldn’t have more than 1 new word for each paragraph.

For the Listening: To be able to listen well you should be able to pronounce your words correctly, otherwise you will have a lot of trouble. My way of fixing my vocabulary and pronunciation was to watch TV shows with subtitles, and write down every single word that I mispronounce, as well as new words, with their pronunciation, meaning, and example, and review the list every single day (this is necessary or else you will forget most of them in 24 hours). It may sound like a lot of work, but nothing worth having comes easy.

After being able to score above 8 in practice tests consistently, you can focus solely on test taking skills. To go from Band 8 in my previous test to Band 9, I fixed my plural/singular form problems (by checking and listening for plural form in every expected noun in answers) and multiple choice questions with massive amount of info to read by spending time reading and preparing ahead. I was preparing for my third task, when the recording was waiting for everyone to prepare for the second, this had to be complemented by fast reading skill as well.”

Getting IELTS Band 7.5 can be as simple as this:

Different people will tell you different things about IELTS – some think it’s hard, others say it’s quite easy, but everyone tends to agree that it’s NOT the kind of test you can just pass without studying.

Nathaline Onek Aparo, a test taker from Uganda, got Band 7.5 and here is what she thinks can help YOU achieve a similar result:

“First of all, those who intend to take the exam should identify a study partner where you can can access learning materials and get help. I recommend IELTS-BLOG.com because it helped me exceeding abundantly.

Secondly, practice for the exam non-stop. Use past exam papers, watch news, read newspapers. Generally, being informed about current affairs will be to your advantage. Time yourself as you practice so that you simulate a real exam situation. Time presents a major challenge to most candidates.

A word of caution: do not give more attention to some particular sections while ignoring others. Give all the sections equal yet serious attention.

On the day of the exam, arrive on time at the test venue. This will help you relax and have time to get acquainted with the environment.

Lastly, you need confidence, especially for the speaking test.

Wishing you all the best in your exams. Go make your dreams come true!”