Kalpaka is a 20-something, bright lady whose efforts resulted in IELTS Band 8.5, with a perfect 9 in Listening. No, she isn’t a native English speaker – her first language is Tamil and she comes from India. Kalpaka won the first place (GT) in our August IELTS results competition, and when we asked what tips she would have for other test takers, Kalpaka said:
I was using headphones for practising listening exercises. However, the day before my exam, I realised that the passages would be played aloud in the examination hall. I strongly recommend avoiding the use of headphones while practising. The key to scoring high in this section is to read the questions in the allotted time before each passage is played. Once you know what the passage is about and what needs to be answered, you just have to pay attention to the passage. For more complex passages, there is plenty of information to listen to and process. In such cases, it might be helpful to make some notes while the audio is played. Later you can use these hints to choose the right answer.
I found the sample essays on this blog very helpful in preparing for the writing test. The key to scoring well in writing is to answer all parts of the question. If it’s an argument, both sides need to be discussed before an opinion/conclusion is provided. There’s a word limit on both the writing tasks. So making some notes or writing a rough draft would be helpful before setting out to answer each question. Time management is also very important. If you are in IT like me and have not written with pen/pencil for long, I recommend trying to write down some sample essays to avoid writer’s cramps during the exam. Use of a good vocabulary could boost the scores on top of answering the question appropriately.
This section is probably the easiest to score well if you are comfortable conversing in English. Remember that the examiner is trying to help you score while trying to converse with you. Making the conversation interesting and informative will help score well in this test.
It would be really helpful to practice academic reading passages if you are taking up the General Training test because of the higher levels of difficulty in the academic exercises. Again, the key is to read the questions first and skim the passage for answers. Reading entire passages could mean running out of time. Personally, the trickiest questions are the ones where you choose true/false/not given. Assuming something is true or false based on personal knowledge will affect the scores adversely. See what the passage says about the subject in question before choosing the right option.