IELTS tips for high score from a successful candidate (Band 8)

Remember our recent competition winners? One of them, IELTS candidate from Malaysia Aikkum Heng, sent me a letter describing what he did to get the awesome Band Score of 8.0. Here goes:

I do not really have any secrets to success in IELTS. Languages is not something that we can learn and be fluent overnight. One has to learn over a long period and to be fluent and able to use a language effectively, one has to use the language constantly.

However for one who hails from a non English speaking country, but has some formal training in the English, preparation should begin at least 2 or 3 weeks before sitting for the test, preferably 3 weeks. The best preparation would be to practice the sample test papers published on IELTS-Blog website.

When writing in a test, we do not have the luxury of time. Time is limited and if we are not prepared, we panic and when this happens, we tend to make a lot of mistakes. The feeling is totally different if we have ample time to carry out a task, in this case writing the test. We do better when we are not under pressure.

No secret really, spend more time practicing the sample tests. Get yourself familiarized with the format. If we do not know the answer to one particular question, move on to the next. Write notes as you listen to the listening part.

As for the writing test which I did not do so well :

1. Write down the points of the topic
2. then arrange the points in the order we want to present
3. then elaborate on the points in the order we deemed best

And now it’s me again, Simone, asking all the high achievers out there – what are your best tips? What do you think it takes to get a high band score?

12 IELTS preparation tips from a Band 8 candidate

I receive many thank-you letters, which make me very happy, but normally I keep them to myself. This letter is different – it was meant for YOU, the people out there, working hard to get a good score in IELTS.

It was written by Shahriar from Iran after he prepared to IELTS on his own, in just 3 weeks and aced his test, receiving an awesome score of overall Band 8, with Listening 9!, Reading 7.5, Writing 7 and Speaking 8.5.

I asked Shahriar how he prepared and what would his advice be to other students, and here is what he says:

“Dear Simone,

You asked what helped me achieve such a high score? I think I could have done even better with more time to practice.

1. First of all, I did some basic research on the Internet and looked at other people’s experiences and suggestions. I gathered a good set of references to start and work with.

2. I subscribed to your newsletter.

3. I watched quite a few movies in their original English language in the last 6 months.

4. I had a good background in English (Studied Computer Science during 1978-1984 in the USA, and got my master of science degree). Although my English skills were pretty much rusty in some areas after a 25 year recess and not being in an English speaking environment.

5. I looked at the basic guidelines set out for clean, clear and organized ways of writing an essay. I tried to write a few (150 & 250 words) essays in the allowed 60 minutes time. I went back and saw my weaknesses in writing.

6. I gathered the results of the last 10 tests administered by the testing organization in my country and concluded statistically that on the average highest scores were achieved in Speaking, then Writing, after that Listening and the lowest were in reading. So to compensate I spent most of my time on Reading and then Listening.

7. I read “Ace the IELTS” book by you. Highlighted the important ideas and summarized it.

8. I extracted and summarized the questions asked on around 30 recent speaking tests (as published in your newsletters). I went over the questions and answered them out loud a few times the day before speaking test and up to one hour before taking the test.

9. I read “How to get a higher IELTS score by building a positive image in the examiner’s mind” by Donna Miller carefully and tried to implement the ideas.

10. I read “IELTS Secrets Your Key to IELTS Success” and tried to follow the suggestions.

11. I practiced all of the reading and listening tests presented in Cambridge official IELTS practice tests books 1 through 6, observing the time limits for each test. I started only 3 weeks before test date and I did a test every night.

12. I saved the test results and made a line chart out of it to see my progress. I looked at the answers to see the reasons behind my mistakes and tried to correct them when taking the next test.

Most of my reading tests were Academic, which made me perform even better on the General reading samples. I think this was the most effective component of my training.

If you ask me to summarize the whole experience in one sentence, it would be: Practice, practice and practice more.

Thanks again, you were definitely a major contributor to my success.

Yours sincerely,
Shahriar ”



  • Top 25 IELTS Blogs Winner Award
  • Best Australian Blogs 2014 Competition - People's Choice Winner


Online course

Practice tests

Site Search

New Services

Latest Posts: