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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 ”

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