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Katherine’s IELTS Writing score jumped from Band 7 to 8.5 in two weeks – here’s how.

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Katherine M. is a lovely lady from Europe who needed a high IELTS score to get the maximum points for her visa application. She isn’t a typical IELTS test taker because English is her mother tongue, yet after two IELTS exams Katherine saw that her Writing score remains stuck at Band 7, despite straight 9′s in Listening, Reading and Speaking. Unfortunate? Yes. Unfixable? No!

Being the smart lady that she is, Katherine decided to seek help because it was clear that excellent command of English alone isn’t enough to get her Band 8 in writing. The first two exams she went into without preparation, but the third one she wasn’t taking any chances with. Here is what Katherine says about her third (and last!) IELTS exam:

Band 9 in IELTS“As a native English speaker, it is clear that I have some major advantages in terms of what areas I need to focus on in order to pass the General Training module of the IELTS exam. Two previous attempts had left me with three band 9′s and a band 7 in writing, I needed a minimum of 8 in each section for immigration purposes and by now, I was both frustrated and anxious.

This time, I would revise, I would learn how to pass this exam, I clearly needed to know the structure and how to avoid pitfalls. Simone Braverman’s third edition of “Ace the IELTS: How to maximise your score” helped me immensely and assisted in my transition from a Band 7 to an 8.5 in the writing section.

Thanks to simple practical guidelines, this book will help you breakdown the different types of writing questions asked. This is key to knowing how to answer in the format expected by the IELTS examiners. In just a few days, through great tips and strategies, varied scenarios, ‘smart’ words and some basic connecting structures; and with the help of concrete examples, full IELTS-like practice test and many links to web-based tests, you will most definitely improve.

Tips for both the Listening and Reading tests are very useful and will help you reach a Band 7 should you apply them through practice. The speaking section is very complete in terms of examples and scenarios although difficult for me to assess as I have no need to work on this area.

In my opinion, it intended more for lower-level English speakers. The English used is simple and the grammatical variation and sentence structure could be more complex; equally, more emphasis could be placed on the ever-so important connecting words. For me, it was an essential stepping stone to more complex publications that took me over the Band 8 level. And should you be aiming at a high Band score, it should not be used alone.

However, it rapidly builds confidence, is easy to read, is well structured and provides pocket tips that helps summarise all the essentials. Importantly, it is also affordable as there are many very expensive options out there and is therefore, a great starting point.

I used IELTS Success Formula to deepen my knowledge and undoubtedly, that is what put my band score at 8.5 along with the IELTS-Blog advice and that found on IELTS whom I also found very helpful.

Good luck to all, this exam can be conquered, that is for sure!”

Stay tuned, as we are going to share Katherine’s notes on how to write high-scoring IELTS essays and letters soon.

Maryna’s advice for IELTS test takers to follow her path to Band 9

Band 9 in IELTS is not impossible – however, it’s quite rare. Even though thousands of IELTS candidates visit our website every month, we don’t get to see people who scored the perfect 9 in IELTS very often. Luckily, we met Maryna Teplova, an educator from Ukraine, through our monthly IELTS results competition, and in her winner’s interview she had some great tips for everyone:

Band 9 in IELTS“My basic recipe for success is if you want to master a subject, start teaching it! Of course, it takes a lot of time to achieve proficiency level, especially if you are a non-native speaker like me. Yet, for me, taking IELTS this year was a matter of professional necessity, as well as a proof of my proficiency. As an educator in ELT sphere, I’ve trained a lot of students who received high scores in IELTS Academic.

On a more practical note, my advice to the prospective candidates who are going to take IELTS is simple: surround yourself with as much academic level English as possible, on a regular basis, especially in the 2-3 months preceding the actual exam. For this, I always recommend my students (and do it myself, ‘walk the talk’, so to say) to watch 15-25-minute TED talks on the topics found in IELTS, for instance, Education, Environment, Technology, Health, etc. Then, during the class, I give students the opportunity to report on the talk of their choice, highlighting the academic-level vocabulary and identifying the key ideas. In this way, TED gives us a powerful foundation, and allows practicing reading (in the form of easily available transcripts), listening and speaking. Furthermore, you can also combine all these activities with an engaging follow-up writing task, choosing the essay which is aligned with the topic of the TED talk.

The reason I am such a strong adherent of TED is because I believe in the value of fundamental exploration of a topic, its key vocabulary, ideas before we start putting anything down on paper. Reading newspaper materials, watching TED talks, listening to podcasts on major media websites – all this should create the foundation (through passive language practice) for the productive stage, that is, speaking and writing on a given topic. Of course, all this should be done concurrently with doing practice tests (reading and listening, in particular) regularly as this is also a must on your way to success. In Russian, there is a good expression for that, which can roughly be translated as “hitting your hand” in an activity, it means to become so experienced and used to it that your hands do it almost automatically. So, you should ‘hit’ a lot of practice tests to acquire that inner feeling of confidence and composure that will serve you well during the exam. Just don’t forget to keep track of your progress, marking the scores every time you do a test. Later, as you look back at your notes, you will see the increase in the number of the correct answers, as well as the impressive amount of testing completed, which will be an additional boost and motivator before the exam.

I hope each aspiring learner visiting will find my advice helpful and will benefit from it!”

Maryna Teplova,
Assistant Professor at the English Department, Dnipropetrovsk National University.



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