Today’s post is dedicated to the IELTS success of Samrat Chakraborty, a 31 year-old test taker from India. Samrat is a native Bengali speaker with an excellent IELTS score of Overall Band 8.0 (and a perfect 9 in Reading!). As a winner of our IELTS results competition Samrat wanted to share some very useful tips with everyone:
“Firstly, when you start out get a feel of the format of the test. Take a practice test at the outset to assess where your strengths and weaknesses are and then develop a plan. When I started out my weakness was Reading but in the end I turned it into my strength which reflected in my Reading Band Score of 9.
Although I have fairly good listening skills I made quite a few silly mistakes when I took my first practice test. The hardest part in this section for me was following directions on a map, that’s where I faltered and made quite a few mistakes. I then applied religiously the technique given in IELTS Target Band 7 book that recommends not to look at all the questions in one go, but instead divide them into groups of 4-5.This lets you focus on that part only but be sure to go through each part before the recording starts talking. Thus whenever a mapping question came I divided questions into groups of 4-5 and visualized them in order to get a grasp of what the recording was going to say. Gradually I improved and on the test day I think I got most of them correct.
When I just started, I was always getting 15-16 questions wrong in the Reading section. I soon realized that if this situation continues I would surely falter in getting a good score. After a few days after analyzing my mistakes in this section I understood that the real reason for getting so many questions wrong was the way I approached the passages. In most of the IELTS books and articles it is mentioned that you do not need to read the passage thoroughly and only need to skim through. This method didn’t work for me, I was spending longer on passages and wasn’t understanding them properly while going over them the first time.
What worked for me was reading the passage thoroughly and in detail the first time, while taking notes along the way for each paragraph. But before that I would spend 1-2 minutes going through the questions (before reading the passage) and trying to map the questions to the paragraphs as I read. This will also give you clarity later as you answer the tough questions and the technique proved to be a game changer for me. However, I would also like to mention that as given in IELTS Target Band 7 book that “15-20-25 rule” should be strictly followed and one should not get stuck on any particular question. Try to answer the easy questions first and get back later to the especially tough ones.
Writing and Speaking
I am generally good at writing and speaking, so these sections did not trouble me that much. However, in hindsight I think that I should have devoted more time since I could have scored 8 in both the sections, had I practiced harder.”