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IELTS preparation tips from Nguyen Van Thoai, Band 6.5

“I am so glad that I won the competition in August, which I have never thought of. Here are my tips for the IELTS preparation:

Practice is the key.

I didn’t have any special tactics for the test. However, I practiced a lot before the test day.

As a student of informatics, I spend most of my time working in front of the computer, reading e-books, over 20 pages every day (these are all in English, certainly). I avoid using Vietnamese (my first language) while working as it interrupts my thoughts.

The best way to learn new words, in my opinion, is to learn in context. Previously, I read Vietnam News Daily but I switched to online newspapers for convenience. I suggest you use an aggregator (eg: Google Reader) and subscribe to CNN or BBC, which has a fine style and provide us with a wide range of vocabulary.

Being able to think in English would be helpful, especially after reaching the lower-intermediate level (I gained this skill since elementary level). This skill might take a while to learn yet it’s a rewarding experience to have. In the beginning, you can temporary say goodbye to your first language by mute reading books that suits you level without a dictionary, just leave the unknown words to look up later.

As soon as you finish the elementary level, forget the bilingual dictionary and switch to a monolingual (English-English) one. A good dictionary is irreplaceable but it is still better to study new words in context. If you are unable to guess the meaning of a word, go on with the WordNet before opening your Oxford dictionary.

WordNet is a large lexical database of English in which nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms, each expressing a distinct concept. It can be downloaded free of charge from

The writing skill, on the other hand, is my weak point as of now. I would like to get back to it some other day, perhaps when I reach 7 in it.

Gook luck to IELTS Blog and I hope that my tips would be of help to the readers.”

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