Today we’d like to share with you the story of a young man from Malaysia who prepared for IELTS and got Band 7.5 using nothing but free resources, mainly those on IELTS-Blog.com. Philip is one of our results competition winners in July, he took the test in Melbourne and did very well, scoring 8.5 in Listening, 7.0 in Reading and Writing, and 8.0 in Speaking.
Here is what Philip said about his exam experience:
“I’ve recently completed my IELTS exam here in Melbourne and I’m happy with my results. During my preparation, I stumbled upon your website and I found the information here very relevant and practical. As I did not go for any classes, I was relying heavily on my own revision and I have to say, your website did make my journey easier. I’ve used the sample writing topics to practice my writing skills and I’ve also found useful topics to talk about in my speaking section. Your website is a savior for many of us around the world and I would like to thank you for that.”
Once declared a winner in the competition, Philip prepared a summary of exam tips and advice to share with our readers:
“I did what many would do, refer to past examination questions. The resources online at your website was helpful in terms of writing and speaking. I did not focus much on listening or reading as I felt I could get by without much revision.
For the writing section, I took on topics from your samples and practiced writing over and over. I can sometimes get carried away when I write on a paper when there isn’t any “auto correct” to rely on. Then I realized I had to focus on my structure when drafting up a topic in question. There were a few late night study sessions during the final weeks, but practicing writing over and over definitely paid off. During the course of my revision I realized how some topics can sound very simple but when attempted, I found myself wasting time structuring my points. I fixed this, I realized we only need a handful of points and had to make sure it had the proper sequence with real life examples. I find linking back my points to real life situations do help reinforce the point I am trying to make.
Another problem I had was my spelling. Using computers every day, we have become reliant on spell checks and this was a slight challenge in my writing. Determined not to lose any marks, my solution was to use words which I’m familiar with and to make my sentences short and concise. In writing, we can easily loose marks by using long complex sentences.
The Speaking test seemed simple and straight forward at first. Put together the intensity and pressure, I found myself lost for words at times. This is where I found the existing topics on IELTS Blog helped again. I practiced talking about Language, Cultures, Someone I want to meet etc.
Also another useful tool was a recorder. I recorded myself in every topic I talked about and listened to my pronunciation. It helped me identify my weakness from an objective point of view. Recording yourself also gives you confidence and would prepare you for the eventual day of examination. Lastly, when you’re faced with your examiner, smile and try to break the ice a little. Loosen up before you start speaking, and it will be over in no time.
My listening exam was easy until they talked about 7-8 different dolphin types and their characteristics. Personally, I felt this section in listening was more of a memorizing test. Keep a pencil handy and scribble fast! This is where most people lose their points. Pay attention also to the answer sheets. Sometimes they request answers to be less than 2 or 3 words.
For the reading section, having a ruler is helpful. Another tip is to speed-read all questions before reading the passage. Reading the questions will give you many “aha!” moments and definitely saves time.
I guess this wraps up how I attempted to study and prepare for my IELTS exam. There’s no shortcuts even if you speak English every day. Pay attention to your structure, cohesion and spelling. There is enough information on IELTS-Blog if you are not planning to attend any classes like me. Also decide if you would want to use a pencil or a pen. I would suggest a pencil as you can correct your sentences as and when necessary.
All the best in your journey!”