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IELTS preparation advice from high scorers

Shortly after congratulating our competition winners and sending out their special certificates we’ve heard back from two of them: Srihari Venatile (IELTS Band 7.5) and Sylviya Todorova (IELTS Band 8). These delightful people were ready and willing to share the methods that enabled them to score high, so that other test takers could try and replicate their success.

Srihari’s IELTS tips

“Thanks for choosing me as the winner for this month’s contest. I would like to use this opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas that helped me succeed in IELTS.

Always believe in your potential:

I did not take any coaching or special materials to prepare for IELTS. All I had was sheer will and a positive mind to make it happen. “Target Band 7” and the IELTS-blog.com site would be excellent source for preparation. I came to this site after the examination. I would have scored better if i knew about this website prior to the exam. My advice for all those who are going to write this exam is very simple.

Relax and keep the head cool at all times. Watch and listen to the English programmes on the television.

Start writing anything that strikes your mind. Try to find out the grammatical mistakes and correct them every time. I didn’t have a friend to help me, but if any of you have don’t hesitate to call them and prepare few questions for you from any audio conversation that you listen to. I would prefer it to be from those programmes that ignite an interest.

Last but not the least, consider this exam as an opportunity to test your potential and not your confidence or pride. My best wishes to everyone!”

Sylviya’s IELTS tips

“First I would like say to say to all IELTS test takers to do the IELTS exam according to the right strategy and technique.

For the listening module the recording is played only once and there are no repetitions, so don’t let your attention wander. When listening for the answer to a question, be aware of the following questions. That way, if you miss the answer to a particular question you are more likely to notice when the answer to a later question is given and you are less likely to find yourself lost.

After each section you are given time to check your answers. As soon as you have done this, make use of the time remaining to start looking at the questions for the next section. This will give you a head start.

In the reading module be as concentrated as possible. Stay with sharp mind as the questions are ambiguous. The key to doing well in this part is practice. Read newspapers, magazines and books. Try and improve your reading skills and speed. Do the practice tests in all Cambridge books.

In the writing part be aware of the following:

Don’t try to pad out your script by copying the rubrik from the question paper. If you do, it won’t be included in any word count made by the examiner.

Don’t try to memorise a ‘model’ answer before the test. It is unlikely that you will have a task on the same topic and scripts that are memorised or plagiarised are easily detected by the examiner and will be penalised.

Write clearly. Although you won’t be penalised for untidy writing, if the examiner can’t read your script it will be marked down. Poor spelling, however, will be penalised.

When writing your script remember that it will be marked by an examiner who is looking to see if you have fulfilled the requirements of the task, that your writing is coherent, that you can use the appropriate vocabulary and have a good range of sentence structures. The examiner will be looking to see how accurately you can manage these things.

The speaking part will be easier if you look at it as a normal chat. However, always try to give full answers (instead of just Yes or No answers).

Do not worry about your accent, everyone has an accent when they speak English. The important point is that you enunciate the best you can so the examiner can understand you.

Use descriptive words. Don’t use boring words like good, bad, nice, or okay. Use exciting words that covey emotion. Practice using higher level words for every simple word you know – such as thrilled instead of happy, or depressed instead of sad. Do not use slang, you have 11 minutes to show the examiner your best usage of the English words and expressions. If you make a mistake and use the wrong word or verb form, then just say “sorry” and correct yourself.”

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