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Exam tips for Band 8 from IELTS veteran (Reading and Speaking)

Today we are sharing the rest of the tips by Dimitris Lazos, who achieved Band 8.5 in IELTS.

Reading

Preparation

Reading books and other publications and of course any type of websites or the dialogs in your favourite game is a very efficient way to practice. Try and master the technique of getting the general idea of a text by scanning through it, it’s really helpful and saves time in the test. Again your preparation is only limited by your time; the test covers all sorts of topics so try to read from a variety of sources.

Test Time

While some people disagree, I think it’s always a better idea to quickly read through the passage first and then check the questions, instead of looking at questions and try to answer straight away. You don’t have to understand and pay attention to every detail, so once you have a general idea of what the text is about and what information is given at each part of it, you can then focus on the parts they ask you to.

As in the listening part, the questions are in order. Don’t waste too much time if you get stuck on a question, leave it for the end. Power of deduction is very useful in some questions, so don’t panic if the correct answer is not obvious straight away, just try to cancel out the ones that are clearly wrong. And again pay extra attention to the instructions; it’s a shame to lose marks because you wrote your answer in a wrong way!

Speaking

Preparation

Speaking in IELTS is quite different from speaking with anyone in the real world, since in IELTS you should know what you are expected to do. There are several examples of questions online which are often repeated especially in the first section of the interview. So what you should do is try and practice answering as many sample questions as you can.

It might look difficult at the start, but with experience you should become able to answer straight away even in questions you haven’t given much thought about, and that’s the key to the speaking test, answering without hesitation and making sense. You should try and practice giving long and detailed answers and use as many structures and words as possible. Also recording yourself in a webcam is quite useful while practicing, not only you can listen to how you sound like but also check if you are doing any weird gestures while speaking and correct them.

Test Time

Try to calm down before the test, the examiners are very friendly and will treat you in a professional way. If you have the chance to engage in small talk beforehand, do so it relieves the tension! When the interview starts, try to talk as much as you can, but always in a clear and normal pace – remember it’s not a race, you won’t impress anyone by speaking very fast.

If the interviewer stops you in order to proceed to the next question, it’s a good sign; after all they want to see if you are able to make a long and reasonable conversation. So this is the time to be as talkative and opinionated as you can, don’t hold back! Giving examples in your answers is also a very desirable trait that can earn you extra marks. If you don’t know about something the interviewer asks you, ask politely for a different topic, they want to examine your use of English not your general knowledge. And don’t forget to thank them and smile in the end, being kind and courteous might give you a slight edge!

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