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IELTS test tips from people who got Band 7.5 to 8.5

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Band 9 in IELTSWe were hoping our IELTS results competition winners would come back with some great tips for everyone, and they didn’t disappoint! Today we will be sharing the advice we got from Shashank, Akinwale and Chidinma.

Shashank (IELTS Band 7.5) is 26 years old, he lives in India and speaks Telugu. Here is what Shashank thinks might help you do well in IELTS:

“My advice for this exam is to use extensive resources available online. Don’t try to depend on too many websites though, limit yourself to one or two good sites like and DCielts. Do as many mock tests as possible under timed conditions. Overall I would say that practice is key to success in IELTS exam.”

Akinwale (IELTS Band 8.0) is 25 years old, he comes from Nigeria and speaks Yoruba. He shared quite a few actionable tips in his whnner’s interview:

“Wow! Am I dreaming? April is just the best month I’ve ever had. Thank you to the whole IELTS-Blog team. Basically, I see myself as a native English speaker. I like to learn at least five words every day.

I actually started my preparation in October 2015, although it wasn’t intensive then. I also watched as many YouTube videos as I could, visited so many sites and noted down various methods to approach the exam.

During my preparation, a friend who has sat the test before me advised that I focus on my strength, to leverage it and that way compensate for my weakness. So, I found the listening module to be the easiest, followed by the reading. I tested myself with almost all IELTS practice tests from 1-9 and then became quite comfortable with types of conversation, reading topics, contemporary issues to write on, as well as the likely interview questions I may be asked.

In the exam hall, I relaxed my nerves. I assumed the position of an observer during the listening module, that made it easy for me to pick out answers to the questions – even though I did preempt them. There are basically two ways to approach the reading module: skimming and scanning, but I made an hybrid of those two, I would skim where the questions require finding words in the passage and scan when I’m asked for synonyms of words or similar meaning of sentences. It is worth noting that test takers should have a wide eye span as this will enable you to look at as many words as possible at a time.

People with fear of public speaking might have difficulty in the speaking module, this I don’t know the solution to, but otherwise all you need to do is be audible, coherent and respectful. Avoidance of vulgar language will surely be an added advantage.

For the writing module, Academic Task 1 requires no knowledge of the subject-topic even though you need to infer knowledge from the graph/chart. This inferred knowledge will help in making comparisons, identifying similarities and differences. Task 2 seems simpler to me, all you need is to find an appropriate response from your pool of knowledge and past experience. Finally, here you must be articulate and legible in your writing, and make your essay interesting to read.

In conclusion, I wish everyone who aspires to take IELTS all the best in your pursuit of a better life. This e-mail [from] came in when I was on my way to notarize a copy of my IELTS result, for admission to study in Germany. Thank you so much for the afforded opportunity.”

Chidinma (IELTS Band 8.5) is 34 years old, she lives in Nigeria and speaks Igbo. Here is what you can learn from her experience:

“My best advice to other candidates is not to take any aspect of the test for granted. Preparation is key to the kind of success one wants to achieve. Visiting helped me greatly, because I found a lot of useful material to prepare for the test.

For the Writing test, I read model answers of the IELTS score I wanted to achieve and noted the structure and construction of sentences to suit that purpose. In the Reading test, I made sure I understood the question especially in the True/False/Not given questions. The answer is always there in the passage. It is essential to be relaxed for the speaking test, this helps because once one is agitated, the tendency to falter is very high.

Best of luck to all prospective candidates!”

Here’s what helped Ruying get IELTS Band 8.5

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!



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