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A few suggestions from a Band 8 IELTS scorer

Dikshit Soni took the IELTS test for the first time, and walked away with Band 8. How did he do that? As a winner in our monthly IELTS results competition we invited him to share his tips with other test takers, and here is what he said:

What I Did:Band 9 in IELTS

The only preparation I did for my exam was to read through the tips and techniques on www.ielts-blog.com. I believe keeping it simple and uncomplicated is the key to achieving a good score. Here is what helped me crack the 4 modules of IELTS.

Listening

I usually involve myself in watching a lot of English movies, Sitcoms and listening to songs in English. I feel it is a great way to understand the nuances of various accents.

Beginners may start watching with subtitles and then gradually disable them as they progress.

Complete a self study book and CD if you receive one from your IELTS center upon registration for the exam. Make sure you complete the sample test in the stipulated time frame and free yourself from distractions while doing a mock IELTS test.

Reading

By far, this is the easiest of the 4 modules, and potentially the highest-scoring. Listening module doesn’t allow you to revisit your answers since the voice over is only heard once. However, 40 questions in 60 minutes in Reading is a breeze. I managed mine in just over 20 minutes.

I have heard so many people are not doing well in Reading because of time running out. The tip here is go one question at a time. I don’t suggest reading the whole passage once before going through the questions. This inadvertently leads to precious time being wasted leaving very little time to re-analyse your answers towards the end.

The best approach here is to read a given question, seek out the context in the passage, answer it, move on. Period!

Certain questions in Reading require to be answered as either TRUE/FALSE/INFORMATION NOT GIVEN. Such questions always tread on ambiguity. Therefore, it is imperative to manage your time and double-check your answers to these questions before submission.

Speaking

Reading and culling out new words which can be substituted in a conversation is a frequently heard advice, so I won’t repeat the obvious.

Many people lose their confidence feeling the examiner was very cold with them, or he/she didn’t particularly seem very interested in what they had to say. Please understand that the examiners are specifically trained and required to maintain that poker face and not let out any feedback through their expressions. So don’t assess yourself or lose focus through their expressions or reactions.

Ask someone to give you a certain topic to speak on, give yourself 5 minutes, record your speech and take feedback from your peers/teachers. Hearing yourself speak would help you analyse and understand more about your language skills and help you map out areas for improvement.

Writing

Time Management: 20-25 minutes for the first question (150 words), 35-40 minutes for the second (250 words).

Try and use a ball point/gel pen. Less friction would help you write faster as compared to writing in pencil.

I believe this is the least practiced module due to complacency. Most people taking the GT IELTS are professionals and have not written a letter or essay using pen and paper in years.

Computers and smartphones auto-correct our mistakes, MS Word underlines grammatical and spelling errors differently. The sudden change of not having this luxury when using pen and paper can be a game changer for many aspirants.

Therefore, I suggest to practice a lot in writing within the given time frame. Assess your work for spelling errors, grammatical errors, use of CHAT language where ‘You’ becomes ‘U’, ‘We’ becomes ‘V’ and so on.

For the basics, read a lot – for example newspapers, online articles, movie reviews, sports coverage. Understand the way various writers string different words into sentences and try and implement the same.

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