Today I would like you to meet Farzam, a 25 year-old native Farsi speaker, who got Band 7.5 in IELTS. Farzam was very pleased with the result, and even more so when it made him a winner in our Results Competition. Here is what he said about his IELTS preparation:
“Firstly, I would like to say thanks to IELTS-Blog team and Simone Braverman. I couldn’t have succeeded without your help. I have to admit the biggest and most influential help came from www.IELTS-BLOG.com website and especially “Ace The IELTS” book.
Generally, if I had to sum up, my key to success was PRACTICE. I know it doesn’t sound like a shortcut solution that people are looking for, however, for a good IELTS score it is essential. Let me break it down. What I mean by that is that it is not enough just to read through the tips on the website or in the book and believe they are going to help with the score. The only way to improve IELTS score is to put all those tips into practice. As I was preparing for the test, I would write a new essay for every little technique that I read about that day. I would apply the same method to other exercises as well. As I was practicing more and more, I could use the tips and techniques subconsciously, so, it also helped with my speed which is one of the most important factors in the IELTS test.
Weak points training was another method which rescued me from getting the same scores over and over again in my exercises. I added much more practice time for the sections that I was mediocre at. For me it was my writing. The best way is to isolate the problem. Find out your weakness and start working on that rather than writing random essays or letters. If you are not good at writing business letters, don’t waste your time on practicing other things that you are good at, just because they make you feel better.
Other than many well known tips that helped me with my listening, I tried a different approach and pushed the boundaries a little bit. Listen to more complex English conversations and try to find audio files with accents that are difficult to understand. Then as you listening, pause the audio and write down everything you hear. After a while practicing this way, in addition to the routine listening exercises, IELTS listening exercises are going to be a piece of cake for you.
Working on academic reading exercises was probably the most helpful thing in my improvement. It’s true that there are differences between academic reading and general reading, but due to the fact that academic reading is a bit more difficult, it prepares you better for your general reading test.
Writing is very hard to prepare for because there is no one to evaluate your writing and tell you what you are doing wrong. So, I decided to look at the writing samples on the website and compare them to my own writing to detect my mistakes. Thanks to IELTS-Blog there are lots of samples available. Using this strategy, it becomes much easier to identify your weakness when you see how others wrote their essays and letters. After a while you can notice the reasons behind their good score and you will be able to apply them in your own test.
Record your own voice. To be honest, recording didn’t sound tempting to me at first either, but I have to admit, it made a huge impact on my speaking. As you listen to your own recording, you can hear every mistake you are making. Is it your pronunciation? Is it your vocabulary? Whatever it is, it becomes crystal clear. My last tip is to practice with somebody in front of you. There is a major difference between talking to your monitor and talking to a real person. Especially if you are a little shy like me.