Today we’d like you to meet Hamid K., who took the IELTS test a number of times. His story is quite unusual: the first IELTS score he got was Band 8, and most people would be over the moon with happiness, but not him. Hamid was determined to get Band 9 – in fact, it was the last item on his bucket list!
Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No.
So if you are in a similar situation, trying to drive your IELTS score up, and perhaps thinking “Am I ever going to get there?” – read how Hamid did it, what difficulties he had, and how he dealt with them.
Simone interviewed Hamid and uncovered some very interesting details about his IELTS journey:
Simone: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself – where do you live, what do you do? Are you married, any children?
Hamid: I was born and raised in Tehran, the capital city of Iran 32 years ago. It’s a bustling metropolis, accommodating well over 15 million residents, including its surrounding areas.
I used to have an American roommate a couple of years back, but at the moment I live alone and I’m single.
As far as my education background, I’ve got my bachelor’s in English Translation and my master’s in TEFL.
I’ve dedicated my professional life to IELTS instruction, materials development and consultation since ’08, but overall it’s been 12 years since I chose teaching as my career path. I also hold a lecturing position at university, teaching undergraduate students studying teaching and translation courses. But before that, I worked at the ministry of foreign affairs as an interpreter, a liaison and a diplomatic protocol expert.
At the moment, I hold regular workshops and preparatory classes, both virtual and conventional, to help those aiming for high scores. So far I’ve managed to coach and instruct hundreds of candidates so they can achieve their desired scores.
Simone: Why did you need to take IELTS?
Hamid: Well, as an IELTS professional I’ve taken the test several times to evaluate myself and keep abreast of latest changes and developments in both the format and the difficulty of the test. I guess in any profession, in this case IELTS instruction, being fully aware of what’s happening out there cannot be overstated. But the driving force behind my decision to set off this arduous, yet sweet, journey was to be an examiner. A while back I realized that I had already accomplished everything, except being an examiner, which was the last item on my bucket list. As you know, in order to qualify for this position, you need to have teaching experience, relevant qualifications, not to mention an overall 9 in IELTS (academic module). So I summoned my strength and focus to make it happen.
Simone: When did you first start studying for IELTS?
Hamid: Well it goes back to 2008 when I started off as an IELTS teacher. I had never taken the test before. I wasn’t even familiar with the format, but I thought to myself, I needed to have first-hand experience, so I decided to get a foot in the door. In my 1st attempt I got an overall 8, with two 8.5’s in speaking and listening. That was the very onset of my career.
Simone: What is your target IELTS score? Why did you keep taking exams for over a year?
Hamid: To repeat what said earlier, as a reflective IELTS professional, I’ve always realized the importance of being up-to-date with the test and everything which has to with it, as you have to move with the times and make necessary changes and modifications in your teaching methods and materials you use in your instruction. Apart from this, over the past few months, I’ve completely set mind on a 9 not only to develop myself professionally but also to be qualified to work as an examiner. My documents are already being processed by two centers. Hopefully I’ll soon be working as an IELTS speaking examiner. Next stop: FOUR straight 9s!
Simone: What were your problems during this long IELTS journey? How did you feel about them?
Hamid: It’s been a tough, but rewarding experience. Not in terms of language itself, but rather in terms of psychological preparation. You know, IELTS is not about your language ability per se; it has a lot to do with your mentality. I mean whether you still have some doubts about your capabilities; whether you are mentally ready to see yourself getting a 9 and becoming an examiner. That’s the part, which I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. My advice to IELTS candidates: NEVER GIVE UP. If you’re on the right path, keep moving. Granted, the path might get tough at times, but never lose faith in yourself as psychological readiness is of the essence in having your best performance.
Simone: How did you make progress? How did you feel when your score moved closer to the goal?
Hamid: It’s ALL about developing a routine. Personally, everything in this world, in one way or another, is governed by our habits. If you manage to come up with a routine or study plan and then stick to it, everything will be achievable. Then you’ll only need patience and dedication to enjoy your results. As an example, try to make the most of your mornings. Instead of wasting your precious time and focus in the morning and tiring your brain by checking your emails and spending time on social media, READ! The best time to do extensive reading is mornings, as your brain is the most responsive. Read a couple of articles from sites like Psychology Today or Scientific American EVERYDAY. Make it your duty to listen to podcasts, which are valuable sources of authentic language (BBC, Here and Now, ABC news, among others). Make studying FUN. Try to pick a series that appeals to you and start watch it everyday religiously. Believe me, it works.
At the same time, I meditated and exercised. Doing sports helps your blood circulate faster, which in turn maximizes your focus and learning. In my case, I’ve been going jogging every single day, because it gives my peace of mind, which is what you need. I also spent hours convincing myself that I was good enough and my goal is within reach. Instead of spending hours aimlessly plowing through your materials, do something to regulate your “inner self”: try to reach the right state of mind and THEN start to study.
Simone: What kept you motivated during this whole time?
Hamid: The fact that you’re moving ahead is by far the best motivator. Before getting an overall 9, I’d already managed to get three 9’s which was quite an achievement at the time and one step closer to realizing my ambition. That’s what propelled me forward.
Simone: How did you feel when you finally achieved the goal?
Hamid: Actually I felt kind of relieved for the overall 9, but at the same time motivate to aim for four straight 9s. One point I’d like to mention here is that keep preparing yourselves and when you realize you are ready, sit for two or even three tests. Not only does doing so help reduce the pressure you experience while taking the test, it also gives you a second chance in case you preform poorly in one instance.
Simone: How will your life change now that you achieved your goal?
Hamid: Well, it has definitely been a change for the better, as I’ll soon be working as an examiner. As well as this, the feeling and energy you get when you accomplish something is priceless, which can be employed to move you further forward.