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IELTS preparation tips from winners

IELTS high achievers share their secrets

IELTS Success Story: How Dilyara Scored 7.5 Despite Life’s Challenges

IELTS High Scorer's Advice Band 8 Tips February 2024

Do you know why so many people take IELTS and don’t get the score they need? Two main reasons:

Reason #1: They are taking the test before they are truly ready.
Reason #2 They don’t seek feedback and therefore don’t know how to improve.

Take my student Dilyara for example. She had to take IELTS for her university application as she intended to further her education.

Dilyara’s situation was anything but simple – she moved to Australia with her husband and a 15-month-old baby and didn’t have any extended family to help out. Those of you with young children know how much time they need, and how little of it is left for study or work, not to mention how tired and sleep-deprived you are most of the time.

But even with these obstacles Dilyara has been able to achieve Band 7.5 in her first attempt. She got scores of 7.5+ in almost all the skills except for one – more on that later!

Do you know why? Dilyara didn’t rush to take the test. She took the necessary time to prepare and worked in a structured way. She used preparation materials that are similar to the real test, she practiced every question type you can get in IELTS and she got her ears accustomed to a variety of accents you may hear in the IELTS listening tests. She also had her speaking assessed and learnt what score she could get in the real test, why, and what she needs to do to increase it.

Regular writing correction and feedback helped Dilyara learn what to work on in her essays – vocabulary and grammar, in her case. One thing she regrets is not practicing for writing task 1 enough. Dilyara concentrated on writing task 2 and neglected task 1, which lowered her total writing score in the real test.

When Dilyara took the test, there were no surprises for her. She got:

Listening 8.0, Reading 7.5, Writing 6.5, Speaking 7.5 – Overall Band 7.5

With her permission, I will share the email she sent me about her wonderful success. In her email Dilyara explains how she prepared for the test, showing the simple yet effective methods she used:

“Hello Simone,

Thank you and IELTS-blog for the help you provided during my IELTS preparation!

I decided to take this test so as to understand my level of English before applying for my second higher education. My overall score was 7.5. I wanted to share how I prepared for the test:


My band was 8. I purchased 3 books from the High Scorer’s Choice series by S. Braverman and R. Nicholson (Sets 4-6). I found the listening recordings very helpful as they had different accents and I felt they were challenging enough to get me prepared for the actual test.


My band was 7.5. Again, practice test books gave me an excellent preparation for the actual test. The tests were both interesting to read and quite difficult so as I could better understand how to get a score over 7.


My band was 7.5. I believe that this section was one of the most challenging for me as I had no clue how to understand where I was in terms of my speaking abilities. I found IELTS-blog Speaking assessment method very helpful and convenient in my circumstances. Specifically, you can choose whatever test you want to do and record yourself at the convenient time. That was crucial to me as I have 15 months old baby so I was not available for any live speaking assessment.


I scored 6.5. I also used the writing correction service from IELTS-blog. I purchased three bundles and used all of them for writing task 2 and none for writing task 1. I believe that was my mistake as I didn’t understand my writing skills for writing task 1. For the future I will definitely have my writing task 1 marked too once I am ready for university application. My field of study requires minimum of 7 in this skill.


I faced a shortage of time for studying as I have 15 months old baby, who requires all my time. We have recently moved to Australia and I have no relatives to help out. I believe planning and tasks prioritisation helped a lot. For example, listening and reading I would do when he was asleep. However speaking would do while we were out for a walk, I would talk aloud to my baby. Finally, writing I would do while I am on the bus or waiting for a bus at a bus stop whilst baby is watching around and happy in the pram.

Thank you Simone and IELTS-Blog!

Kind regards,
Dilyara ”

Congratulations on your success, Dilyara!

Best IELTS test result February 2023

Avinash went from Band 7 to Band 9 in Listening, in just a month

IELTS High Scorer's Advice Band 8 Tips January 2024

This post is dedicated to an amazing person, Avinash, who faced a ‘do-or-die’ situation. IELTS Band 9 in Listening was the only thing that could save him from having to leave the USA and go back to India. It would give him an opportunity to live his best life in Canada.

His journey was nerve-wracking and looked hopeless at times, but… he made it! This is a story best told by the person who lived it. Hear it from Avinash, in his own words:


I was in an interesting phase of my life and changed my life for good. I wanted to emigrate from the US to Canada and the Canadian immigration needed a high score in listening (Band 9) to award the most points to high skilled immigrants.


No matter how many tests I took I always ended up with a band 7 in Listening. Test after test, the score would not move. Needless to say, my frustration was through the roof. I stopped taking Listening tests, instead I started listening to BBC podcast and other audio files that have nothing to do with IELTS.

A month passed by and I took one test and I was back to square one – no change in my score. Listening was the only section I needed the highest score and it was the only section I would score less month after month. I was willing to do anything to improve my score, my life depended on it. I was literally getting kicked out from the US due to visa issues. IELTS was my way in to another country, Canada. I was devastated!


A few days later, I summoned up courage and started with a Google search on how to improve Listening and with some divine intervention I stumbled upon The Listening strategies I read on it hit home for me. I read them over and over again until they registered in my brain. Before I was ready to take another IELTS listening test I practiced the strategies discussed on the blog. I have taken the High Scorer’s Choice Tests 1 – 10 and they are some of the best practice exams one can use to best prepare themselves for the real IELTS test.

Another month passed by. The stakes were high and I needed this to work. I took a mock test and lo and behold, it worked! I got a good 38 out of 40 in my very first attempt. There was nothing holding me back now and I took the actual test within a week. I can tell you these techniques work. Practice and witness the results yourself. I got a band 9 in Listening and all the credit goes to

Lessons Learned

My experience with IELTS was different from all the other tests I took in the past as a student, namely TOEFL and GRE. They were technical and required a lot of uncommon use of words/vocabulary. IELTS seems deceptively simple up to band 7 to 7.5 but to truly get a higher score one has to understand the test in intricate details. At the time I was working full-time and to realize that IELTS requires a certain style of preparation took me a long time. It was only after going through several of your blog posts that I realized the technicalities of the test and not just the language per se.

It is hard to commit yourself to a consistent prep time when you are working or juggling kids in everyday life, but, when read carefully, gives you the formula to crack the exam. As an engineer this appeals the most to me and sets apart this blog from hundreds out there. Being a non-native English speaker I always underestimated the knowledge of language I had whenever I got a lower score. However, I have realized most of us have what it takes to crack the exam, it is the hidden formula you need to know to get a high score.

Congratulations on your amazing Band 9, Avinash!

Best IELTS test result December 2023