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Here’s what helped Ruying get IELTS Band 8.5

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Band 8 in IELTSRuying is a lovely young lady from Singapore, who got Overall Band 8.5 in IELTS (with a straight 9 in Reading!) and won the first place in our monthly IELTS results competition. In her winner’s interview Ruying shared the following, very practical and quite easy to implement, tips that helped her get this amazing score:

Reading test

Out of the entire IELTS exam, I feel like the reading test was the easiest to score well in. How I went about it was speed-reading all the passages, and then quickly answering the questions I was 100% sure of. I would advise not to spend too much time on questions you’re unsure about, as this not only wastes time, but also slows you down a lot. Go back to questions you were unsure about later and always always check your work to make sure you didn’t misread any questions or miss anything out! And also, I spent more time on the final passages as they’re usually trickier than the ones at the start.

Listening test

I’m lucky to be surrounded by English speakers, so listening was never much of an issue for me. I would advise to just tune in to BBC Radio, and watch the daily news casts. Listening and getting used to the British/American/Australian accent may take a bit of time, but if you do this daily for over a month, you’ll start realising that it’s not that hard to catch on to, if you try! Oh, and because they only play the recordings once, I would recommend to pay FULL ATTENTION to it, and not try to read/check previous answers or do anything else. During my exam I made the mistake of rewriting one of my previous answers while the recording was going on, and missed out one answer. If this happens, just make an educated guess and hope for the best!

Writing test

I would say this is the hardest part of the exam, but if you go in prepared, it shouldn’t be a problem. To prepare for the Writing test, I would recommend familiarising yourself with the answer structure for all the different question types. Know what is required and make sure you understand how and what you must write in order to achieve your desired band. The band indicators are online for anyone to see, so I practised essays based on those indicators. Also, reading model essays helps a lot. There are quite a few good model essays you can read online, and YouTube videos highlighting good vocabulary to use in your essays!

Speaking test

This could be the hardest or the easiest component in the entire exam, depending on your strengths and weaknesses. I went into this segment of the exam very confidently, however scored the lowest out of all the segments. This is because I think I may have gone slightly off topic, and because I paused during the cue card talk part. I recommend sticking closely to the question and to make sure you keep talking during the entire 2 minutes allocated to the cue card talk, to avoid losing points. The easiest way to improve speaking is to watch a lot of television (I’m not joking) and reading books. This widens your vocabulary, increases things to talk about and familiarises you with how the language is used. If you don’t feel like watching the news, you could watch shows that interest you, such as documentaries or even English dramas! As long as they’re in English, it’ll really help you a lot with your pronunciation. You can also google topics to talk about, record yourself and play them back to hear how you sound!

Self-preparation lead Ruchir to IELTS Band 8.5, clearing path to medical school

Band 8.5 in IELTSRuchir owns one of the best IELTS results of January 2016 (Overall Band 8.5!). When we approached him and asked for his best tips that would help others achieve the same level of success, he was busy taking medical school exams. However as soon as he got that out of the way, Ruchir wrote back and shared his methods of self-preparation. Here is what he said:

“As I begin recounting my experiences at this point in time, I perceive a great degree of nostalgia, because not too long ago I was in a very similar situation to you all. While I was in the midst of searching for preparation materials, past papers and what not, wandering around and hopping from one place to another with a sense of confusion and uncertainty, I came across the IELTS-Blog website. At the outset I had an instinct that it may not be an ultimate solution to my problems but as I started to reveal its invaluable contents, it ironically turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me.

You all must be wondering why I am telling you all this instead of firing advices regarding tips, strategies and techniques from the word go. The simple reason is to stir a sense of motivation in you and fuel your energy levels so that you can persevere and study smart and not necessarily hard. You might have varying levels of English ability, though English like other languages is learnt and not taught. will aid you in studying English at all stages in your preparation. Now that you have found, consider yourself at the door step of achieving the best scores.

Let us begin by looking at each component of the test separately. You must know the nitty-gritty details of these sections and so it’s much more important to focus on the crux of the matter.


- If you are new to IELTS then this is the section you should focus most on. Improving your ability to listen and articulate the English language is a key to performing better in other sections.

- Simply for the first few times just listen to the recording without writing anything down on your answer sheet. Try to understand what is being said and the types of conversations individuals or a group of people are having and just make a mental note of the instances when a particular fact or information is said. It goes without saying that these will be your answers.

- Now try attempting the questions block by block (i.e. each block has around 5-10 questions after which the recording pauses to allow you to ‘check your answers’). Focus on that block ONLY. Try predicting answers such as numbers, dates, names of persons, places etc.

- If necessary, keep the transcripts in front of you in the beginning as they really help you to gauge and acclimatise to the recording’s speed.

- Lastly, practice as much as you can and listen to English regularly through various media sources.


- It is considered to be a very difficult section but turns out to be the opposite of that, if right strategies are applied.

- The 15-20-25 minute strategy, skim-scan technique and identifying the topic sentences are just a few to name which are carefully explained in the Target Band 7 book.

- In a nut-shell, this section does NOT require you to read the whole passage. Your three step strategy which must be applied should be this:

1. Read the questions to understand the type of question asked
2. Read the first and last line of each paragraph and write a word or two next to each paragraph to explain what it is about
3. Simply ‘cut and paste’ your answers from the analysed passage to answer the question.

- This strategy is easier said than done. I strongly recommend practising this technique as much as possible for achieving a very high score.

Writing and Speaking

- I have purposely clubbed these two sections, because they are generally the toughest sections to do well in, as a non-native English writer and speaker. I give complete credit to the IELTS-Blog Target Band 7 book and their writing correction services which helped me in achieving a whopping band of 8.5 in each.

Nevertheless, skills you acquire from these resources and invaluable feedback provided by IELTS-Blog teachers must be implemented by yourself through dedicated everyday practice in conjunction with improving and learning from your mistakes. This golden tip will help you to achieve excellent marks regardless of your starting level of English.

Finally, I would like to convey my best wishes to all aspiring candidates out there. I hope you have a fruitful and successful learning experience with IELTS.



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