Skip to content

IELTS preparation tips from winners

IELTS high achievers share their secrets

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.

Exam preparation tips from Band 8.5 achiever

Today I have more exam tips for you. They are from a remarkable IELTS candidate, who got Band Score of 8.5 in his Academic IELTS exam. Amazingly in the Listening test he got 9.0, in the Reading and Speaking tests 8.5 and in the Writing test 8.0. With a score like this, no wonder he won our result competition in December 2008!

As always, I am interested in all kinds of success stories and Nikeesh kindly agreed to tell us about his way of studying. A little background first: Nikeesh is going to study in a university in Australia, he likes reading and watching TV, especially the documentaries on National Geographic.

Enough said, here is how Nikeesh prepared and aced his exam:

“Well my preparation for the exam was rather short. From your website I can pick up that students spend months in preparation, I didn’t. Sitting for this test was actually a requirement by Australian universities so I did it.

IELTS Speaking

Generally, doing well in speaking English is associated with a lot of factors. One should read a lot, also watching TV and talking with friends helps. I am not that big a fan of reading story books. I guess I watch a lot of documentaries, especially the ones on National Geographic. Also, I have spoken on a few occasions in public, so putting forward my ideas to the assessor with confidence was not a problem.

Oh! And I was reading through your website and found out one of the past winners saying that it is best you go for your speaking test in a formal wear – it has a profound effect on the assessor even before you speak. So I did dress formally (semi-formal is more like it).

IELTS Writing

As for doing well in writing – I guess we should realise that reading story books only enriches our vocabulary (to some extent) and shows the different ways of using words.

Academic writing is however, a totally different story. We need to read more of the literary criticisms or journals to enhance our understanding of formulating good sentence structures and how they should be varied in writing. Reading the works of lecturers and scientists as well as analysts gives us a wider perspective of the formal way of writing.

IELTS Reading

Reading, I have noticed after answering the sample questions in the IELTS book, is dissimilar from other forms of comprehension tests that I have done. The comprehension aspect is not taken to a greater depth. You almost never would need to read between the lines. So majority of the answers are directly in the passage. As I said earlier if you do a lot of formal reading, understanding the passages wouldn’t be hard.

IELTS Listening

I can’t say much for the Listening. Just follow the instructions and read the questions beforehand in the time given so that as you hear the speaker, you will be able to answer the questions at the same time. The last one is always difficult and you may notice that if the questions are in the form of matching then it would be best to hear the person out first before answering.

Good luck to all those who would be sitting for their IELTS test. Just trust yourself.