It is safe to say that English is a third language for Baris Arslan: he is a Turkey national who speaks German and needed to prove his English ability to study a master’s degree abroad. Life didn’t make it easy for him to prepare for IELTS – he had to study while working full time, on weekends and in the evenings – but that didn’t affect his score much, because he got Band 7.5 overall with an 8 in Reading.
When Baris took part in our monthly IELTS results competition and won, we jumped on the opportunity to ask him – how exactly did he do it? And here is what he said:
“I’d be glad, if I helped future IELTS test takers with my experience and strategies for getting a good IELTS Score.
Here is how I prepared for the exam:
The primary reason why I decided to take the exam was because I needed it for a specific master’s degree program outside my home country. The first thing I did after registering for the exam was to look more detailed into the exam structure and how answers were being evaluated by the examiners. I think that it is really important to get comfortable with the questions and each part of the exam.
Then, I began to do practice questions that I found online and realized that writing and listening were my weaknesses. Just to clarify my preparation began 2 months before the exam, therefore I had plenty of time to prepare myself for the exam (since I am working 40 hours a week, I had to study in the evenings and weekends throughout the 2 months of preparation although I got to admit that I did not study everyday… resting and relaxing is also very important and essential for productive learning).
Because I knew that writing and listening were my weaknesses, I started doing only those two parts and kept getting better over the next 3-4 weeks. For me the writing part was the most challenging one. What I did was reading all sorts of essays and reports and kind of memorized the structures that were being used in those tasks. Essentially, my writing skills remarkably improved. For listening I mostly watched documentaries (mainly by BBC and National Geographric) and all kinds of TV shows in English of course which really helped me to follow conversations a lot better. I also did practice questions that were provided by the British Council.
For the last 3-4 weeks I started doing exams under real conditions. By doing that, I noticed that everything went really smooth with a few inconsistencies here and there. For the exam day I recommend to get enough sleep and don’t get too excited and nervous about it.
My biggest fault in the preparation was to neglect the speaking part. I thought that my speaking skills were really good so that I did not prepare for that part at all and got 6.5. I’d suggest to search a speaking partner (either your friends, family or online) and try to simulate the speaking part as much as possible.
And by the way, the tips and samples on the IELTS Blog Website really helped me to get through my preparation. I am sure that it will help to better understand how IELTS works and how to get a good score.
To sum it all up:
- Get to know the structure of the exam
- Get comfortable with the questions
- Identify your weaknesses
- Improve your weaknesses
- Do practice exams under real conditions
- Get enough sleep on the exam day and don’t get too nervous
Good luck to you all!”
P.S. IELTS results competition runs every month, and everyone is welcome to participate. Learn how to enroll here.