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A few suggestions from a Band 8 IELTS scorer

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Dikshit Soni took the IELTS test for the first time, and walked away with Band 8. How did he do that? As a winner in our monthly IELTS results competition we invited him to share his tips with other test takers, and here is what he said:

What I Did:Band 9 in IELTS

The only preparation I did for my exam was to read through the tips and techniques on www.ielts-blog.com. I believe keeping it simple and uncomplicated is the key to achieving a good score. Here is what helped me crack the 4 modules of IELTS.

Listening

I usually involve myself in watching a lot of English movies, Sitcoms and listening to songs in English. I feel it is a great way to understand the nuances of various accents.

Beginners may start watching with subtitles and then gradually disable them as they progress.

Complete a self study book and CD if you receive one from your IELTS center upon registration for the exam. Make sure you complete the sample test in the stipulated time frame and free yourself from distractions while doing a mock IELTS test.

Reading

By far, this is the easiest of the 4 modules, and potentially the highest-scoring. Listening module doesn’t allow you to revisit your answers since the voice over is only heard once. However, 40 questions in 60 minutes in Reading is a breeze. I managed mine in just over 20 minutes.

I have heard so many people are not doing well in Reading because of time running out. The tip here is go one question at a time. I don’t suggest reading the whole passage once before going through the questions. This inadvertently leads to precious time being wasted leaving very little time to re-analyse your answers towards the end.

The best approach here is to read a given question, seek out the context in the passage, answer it, move on. Period!

Certain questions in Reading require to be answered as either TRUE/FALSE/INFORMATION NOT GIVEN. Such questions always tread on ambiguity. Therefore, it is imperative to manage your time and double-check your answers to these questions before submission.

Speaking

Reading and culling out new words which can be substituted in a conversation is a frequently heard advice, so I won’t repeat the obvious.

Many people lose their confidence feeling the examiner was very cold with them, or he/she didn’t particularly seem very interested in what they had to say. Please understand that the examiners are specifically trained and required to maintain that poker face and not let out any feedback through their expressions. So don’t assess yourself or lose focus through their expressions or reactions.

Ask someone to give you a certain topic to speak on, give yourself 5 minutes, record your speech and take feedback from your peers/teachers. Hearing yourself speak would help you analyse and understand more about your language skills and help you map out areas for improvement.

Writing

Time Management: 20-25 minutes for the first question (150 words), 35-40 minutes for the second (250 words).

Try and use a ball point/gel pen. Less friction would help you write faster as compared to writing in pencil.

I believe this is the least practiced module due to complacency. Most people taking the GT IELTS are professionals and have not written a letter or essay using pen and paper in years.

Computers and smartphones auto-correct our mistakes, MS Word underlines grammatical and spelling errors differently. The sudden change of not having this luxury when using pen and paper can be a game changer for many aspirants.

Therefore, I suggest to practice a lot in writing within the given time frame. Assess your work for spelling errors, grammatical errors, use of CHAT language where ‘You’ becomes ‘U’, ‘We’ becomes ‘V’ and so on.

For the basics, read a lot – for example newspapers, online articles, movie reviews, sports coverage. Understand the way various writers string different words into sentences and try and implement the same.

Strategies that helped Vandana get Band 8 in IELTS

Vandana is a lovely lady and one of the winners in our monthly IELTS results competition. When we asked what strategies were responsible for her beautiful score (Listening 9, Reading 8.5, Writing and Speaking 7, Overall Band 8), here is what she said:

Band 9 in IELTS“I am delighted to know that I have been chosen as a winner in the IELTS competition. I would like to extend my gratitude to www.ielts-blog.com for keeping me updated and motivated for the test. The experiences that students shared on your site were very helpful. I also found useful the writing task samples with estimated scores. They were very informative and I learnt the key tips about how to convert a normal 6 band writing task to a 7 or higher band one.

A piece of advice for the test takers:

1. Reading test

I would like to recommend the strategy that I followed – one should read the topic of the passage, then get a gist of it by reading the first line of each paragraph and thereafter switch to questions to understand what exactly he/she has to find while reading the complete passage thoroughly. Secondly, one must carry out exhaustive practice of reading IELTS test targeted passages to acquire the required speed of surfing through paragraphs and understanding the overall picture as well. The more you practice, the more you recognize what type of mistakes you are prone to, and thereafter you can try to overcome them. FOCUS or CONCENTRATION are the keys to success in the reading section while speed and analyzing ability are additional essentials. I scored 8.5 in Reading by following this strategy.

2. Listening test

Listening tasks are easy but tricky at the same time. Watch English movies which involve different accents and listen to as many practice audio tests as possible. If you neglect this section thinking that you are too cool to practice in listening to English then you may have doomed yourself to a poor score. This is because this section tests your concentration, attention and accent comprehension, simultaneously, as a listener. Practice all different types of questions and identify your weak spots. For example I faced problems with picture or diagram questions as I used to lose track of the recording and get confused. One should try to behave as a person who doesn’t have his own brain and just follows what is being said because sometimes your own extra thoughts make you miss answers and harm your chances to score higher. I scored a perfect 9 in the Listening and I believe the main reason was a calm mind where no other sound but the audio recording voice echoed. One must be very attentive and sorted enough before starting the Listening test. The questions are fairly simple but mostly lack of self-concentration causes errors. So, prepare smartly!

3. Speaking test

Again, watch some good English movies. Rectify your pronunciation and develop enunciation! Try not to fumble too often or repeat sentences. Stay calm and confident. Answer and speak naturally. Sometimes people try to be pretentious and then mess up with questions giving senseless answers. Of course, they do not test your intelligence but definitely your sense of understanding, analysis and ability to convert thoughts into words. While good VOCABULARY, versatile description of ideas and fluency are three most important things to remember, confidence and convincing naturalness are the plus points. Moreover, if you make a mistake in understanding a question or replying to it, don’t hesitate to correct yourself as soon as you realize and move on without any tension. It happened to me, but I was happy to know that I still received a Band 7.

4. Writing test

For this section, I would say www.ielts-blog.com writing samples are beneficial! They have organised the answered sample tasks well, grouped by Band score, which helps you to compare your own writing abilities and predict your current score. Thereafter, one can see the answers of higher band scores to find what is missing in his/her style of writing and improve accordingly. I had practiced very little for this section but ielts-blog.com helped me to fetch a decent score of 7. Vocabulary, diverse ideas and extensive expressiveness are vital to be incorporated in your writing skills. Fluency and grip of the topic are also equally important. In this section, one should try to understand the topic first, then frame points to be written in the answer and then build up systematically the full body of passage in a step-wise manner. Read as much sample answers as you can and pick useful ideas. Again, concentrate on main ideas of the questions and try to mention all key points while explaining your context. Support your answers with suitable examples and comparisons wherever necessary and be very descriptive as well as convincing with profound thoughtful reasoning.

Rest, PRACTICE hard, Stay COOL and DO it!”