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Case Study: From Band 6 to Band 7.5 in 3 Weeks

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Nikonian, an IELTS test taker and a photography hobbyist, says:

“I’d like to express my gratitude to your contribution on the book titled ‘Target Band 7‘. Briefly, it is a fantastic book and the best summary about how to beat IELTS I’ve ever read!”

Background

Nikonian (who asked us to use this nickname for privacy reasons) is a young man from Vietnam. Since Nikonian works full time, making room for IELTS preparation in his busy day was a challenge. Yet another challenge was raising his IELTS score from Band 6 to Band 7.

Objective

Nikonian had 3 weeks to prepare, the pressure of keeping a full time job, and a requirement of scoring Band 7 or above overall, and no less than 7 in each section (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking).

Strategy

Being unable to take a standard IELTS preparation course because of working long hours Nikonian decided to study on his own, using the book ‘Target Band 7‘, to achieve his goal.

Execution

Nikonian began studying 3 weeks before his IELTS exam. He was reading the book and practicing for 3 hours a day on most days.

Advantage 1: Nikonian’s Writing score increased from Band 5 to 6.5 in the first exam attempt, and from 6.5 to 7 in his second attempt (both with ‘Target Band 7′). At the same time he doesn’t think his level of English changed.

How:
He began to manage his time better, avoided writing too many words, and thus was able to make time for proofreading his work at the end of the Writing section. He learned how to convey the same number of ideas in a more compact essay. In his latest exam he had 10 minutes left after finishing both writing task 1 and task 2. This enabled him to find and correct all the spelling and grammatical errors before the examiner saw them.

Advantage 2: Nikonian’s Listening score increased from 6.5 to 7.

How:
Even though the two exams were equally difficult, in the second attempt Nikonian was able to do better, because he did not panic (in fact he was much less nervous), and because he could concentrate better. Thanks to his new awareness of distractions he was able to block them and concentrate more effectively on the recording.

In the first attempt Nikonian lost the initial 10 minutes out of 30, his panic and lack of concentration caused him to lose the easiest answers in Section 1 and Section 2. In his second attempt he was able to identify almost all of the easy answers, and as the recording progressed the clues he learned about helped him identify the answers to the more difficult questions.

Advantage 3: Nikonian’s Reading score increased from 6.5 to 7 – regardless of the fact that in his second IELTS attempt the Reading texts were much more difficult compared to the first.

How:
Amongst other methods, Nikonian used the “mapping” technique that helped him orientate better and faster in the text. He understood better the main idea of each paragraph and that enabled him to find the answers quicker – because he was looking in the right places straight away.

Results

The improvement: from Band 6.0 to 7.5
IELTS preparation case study

Nikonian wrote to Simone:

“Dear Simone,
I’d like to express my gratitude to your contribution in the book titled ‘Target Band 7′. Briefly, it is a fantastic book and that is the best summary about how to beat IELTS I’ve ever read!

Previously, I took IELTS two times, but I never got 7 for any section (ashamed!) Since I read your book, I immediately scored 7 overall, but it was not enough for me with the requirement of all bands 7 (my writing was 6.5). I took another exam on the next available date, and my overall score was 7.5 with all bands 7!

I did not attend any IELTS preparation course. I also didn’t have much time for preparation because of my full-time working commitment. I had only 3 hours per day within 3 weeks for my preparation between the last two exams.

So, I can say my knowledge of English was not much improved by that time, because the interval between exams was too short (theoretically, we can only improve 0.5 IELTS band within 10 weeks of intensive preparation course). Most of the time I just read your book. And I made it! Thank you very much.”

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