IELTS band 8.5 achiever shares tips for success

I asked the winner of our IELTS results competition, Saiyeda Patel, what would be her best advice to the other students aiming to improve their score and she has kindly shared the secrets of her success. Here they are:

“I seriously believe that you need to have at least some command of the language to do well in your IELTS test. One can’t achieve a band score of 7 (which is the least a good University will expect you to have) overnight with just a brief period of practice. Developing a habit of reading books in English, conversing with friends and family in English, watching English media and using proper grammar and vocabulary while writing just about anything is very important.

Practicing for IELTS is then the next step to achieve a good band score. I was given some preparatory material (a book with various exercises) by IELTS test center. I practiced in solving the exercises from that book for about 30 minutes a day for 25 days.

I especially concentrated on the Listening tasks while solving those with my headphones on. I am not an attentive person, so losing track of what was being said was fairly common while practicing. I tried to tackle this weakness of mine by concentrating really hard.

As for the Speaking test, it is not the same as chatting with your friend. In IELTS, you are supposed to sound intelligible while framing answers to questions while using your vocabulary properly and being grammatically correct at the same time. Tough task! Therefore, asking a friend or family member to interview you regularly before the Test using the sample questions in your practice book will definitely help.

For the Reading Test I didn’t do much except for solving the exercises in my book and making mental notes about where and why I have made mistakes so that I won’t repeat those again, especially not in my IELTS Test.

Lastly, the Writing Test: I read the solved essays at the end of the book to understand the criteria of what constitutes a good essay – length, clarity, flow, etc. and tried to model my essays on those lines.”

10 IELTS tips that helped Leslie get Band 8.0

Leslie is a 22 year old student from Philippines. We “met” when she sent me an email with a couple of IELTS questions, and were keeping in touch even after her IELTS exam. Leslie got a very good score, 8.0 overall and her best skills were Reading and Listening, she got 8.5 in both. Being a kind and caring person, she agreed to share her way of preparation and the reasons for her success with the rest of us. Here goes:

1. Focus more on your areas of weakness. I had some difficulty with reading, which is why I devoted more time to it.

2. I also paid more attention to both the listening and reading skills, because they will be graded objectively. The writing and speaking are both subjectively graded, you may not know what you will get regardless how much you prepare.

3. Time is your greatest enemy. Practice answering the reading passages within the allotted time limit, because 1 hour may not be enough to answer 40 questions.

4. In the writing part, always do task 2 first because it bears more marks than task 1. Also practice finishing essays in less than 1 hour.

5. When doing sample drills, always train yourself to follow instructions.

6. Always build up your stamina, try doing a simulation exam, wherein you have to answer 3 modules (listening, reading, and writing) continuously within 2 hours and 40 minutes.

7. On the night before the test, have a good night’s sleep, for it can help you concentrate on the day of the test.

8. Eat your breakfast in the morning before the test; you might fail to concentrate when you are hungry.

9. The speaking test is the most difficult part for me, so try to do “one on one” with a friend or a mentor. Simulate what happens in sections 1-3 of the speaking test. It helps you build your self-confidence.

10. Lastly, what really helped me a lot in the speaking test was the feedback from other test takers. Gather some information on what came out as their questions, and try to formulate your own answers.



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