Eileen is a charming young lady from the Philippines (a native Tagalog speaker). About 10 weeks ago she decided to go after a very ambitious goal – she wanted Band 8 in IELTS, and spared no effort to get there. Fast forward to March, and Eileen is a proud owner of an Overall Band 8 with an amazing Band 9 in Listening!
And here is how she did it, in her own words:
“About two months before my actual IELTS exam I placed myself in the “aim for IELTS Band 8” mindset to motivate me. I wanted a high score. I needed a high score. I took advantage of the available resources online such as videos and blogs that provided helpful tips on how to achieve the highest band score possible. My favourite were blogs (mainly www.IELTS-blog.com) that described real life experiences of ordinary individuals who reached their target scores. I got obsessed with searching online as many tips and techniques as possible.
And then about a month before my actual exam, I decided to enrol myself in an IELTS review class near my office to help me assess myself in a more realistic setting. I wanted to experience the whole IELTS exam feel as close to the actual IELTS exam scenario as possible. And most importantly, I wanted to have an honest assessment of how I would possibly fare in the actual examination, to know my strengths and weaknesses and to pinpoint what I most needed to improve on. That whole review month helped me brush up on my English skills and provided me with techniques to improve my speed in approaching each type of test.
During the review mock exams, I noticed that I regularly attain a much lower score in the listening test compared to all the other areas. It frustrated me because based on the many blogs and tips I had previously read, the listening test is supposed to be the easiest. I then realized that what kept me from achieving a high score was that during the actual test, I allow myself to get distracted by unnecessary thoughts and nervousness inside my head. That’s why on my actual exam, I focused only on my pen and paper, looked down the whole time and never allowed my mind to wander. I wrote everything I believed I heard on the questionnaire with an aim to do a speed edit afterwards which thankfully I was able to do. I got band 9 in listening which was surprisingly my highest score among the four areas.
Writing was probably the second item that I was most worried about. Normally when I write, I tend to overthink and would focus more on the technicalities and what I thought was the best answer for the examiners instead of focusing on the writing style and the tone best to use in the given situation. I was able to improve on this by reading sample IELTS writing questions and sample letter and essay answers online and in this blog for many hours daily. This helped me get rid of my bad writing habits and boosted my confidence in writing. Through this, I was able to use my time wisely.
As for the speaking exam, I prepared for task 1 in my head beforehand as this section was the most predictable part of the speaking exam. I had ready answers for the most common questions about myself, my job, my hometown and my hobbies and interests. Same as what I did in all the other tests, I never allowed my mind to wander. I focused on the questions, listened intently and gave answers that were mostly based on my personal experiences as this helped me speak more fluently and more naturally. “