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Exam tips for Band 8 from IELTS veteran (Listening and Writing)

We are happy to share more tips from our IELTS results competition winners. Today Dimitris Lazos, who got 8.5 in IELTS shares his methods of achieving this score.

Dimitris says:

I can be considered an IELTS veteran, since I have taken both the Academic and General Modules and scored quite high bands in both (8 and 8.5 accordingly). Let me share some of my secrets that helped me achieve such good results.

Having a strong background in English might be sufficient to get a band 7 result, but in order to push towards the highest bands you need to understand perfectly the format and requirements of the IELTS test.

Listening

Preparation

Familiarize yourself with the possible types of questions. Usually there is a mix of filling in the missing words, multiple choice questions and completing a form or a map. The best preparation for listening test is of course to listen to English as much as possible.

If you don’t have the chance to converse with native English speakers in real life, then watching your favourite movies and shows without subtitles is the best practice! Many of my friends were asking me why I prefer turning off the subtitles when watching something in English, but do this long enough and you will get familiar with the paces, pronunciations, idioms and accents of English speech.

Test Time

During the test, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the recordings. The invigilators always make a sound test, so if you cannot hear it clearly enough just say so. The quality is also pristine since the recordings are played from a CD.

The questions are split into small sets of 5-10 questions and in between them you have time to quickly read what is expected of you. This is the most critical moment, so try to identify what exactly you should be waiting to listen for. The questions are almost always in order, so this gives you an idea of what to expect next. If you miss one, do not panic – leave it blank or write your guess and then focus to the following ones. Also it is very important to read the instructions of each question carefully!

Writing

Preparation

First of all make sure that you know what your writing test includes depending on the module type. For the general module, you have to write a 150 words letter and a 250 words essay about a social topic, while for the academic module, a 150 words analysis of a figure and a 250 words essay – usually about an academic topic.

Try to learn how to make your writing structured, using introduction, main paragraphs and conclusion. There are many examples in IELTS blog and other sites around the internet that can help you with this. Also memorize some fixed phrases, particularly useful for letters, introduction and conclusion statements. And of course vocabulary is very important, as long as you use it in a correct way. Practice as much as time allows and try to cover a broad range of topics, since anything is fair game in the test.

Test Time

The writing test is the one you can easily slip off time limits. You have to be much focused and work in an efficient manner. Spend about 3-4 minutes to make a quick plan of what to write first, it saves much time later on. Counting the words is not really a luxury you can afford in the time frame given, so what you must do is test on average how many words you can fit on average in a single line beforehand and use that as reference. Counting lines is much faster than counting words! Always try to catch the word limit.

Also don’t waste too much time trying to make your handwriting perfect, as long as it’s legible you get full marks and the examiners know that you have to write fast anyway. Regarding the essays it is safer to take a neutral approach usually, highlighting the features of different sides and balancing the good and bad points out.

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