Bahar Ranjbaran is a 17-year old Iranian lady who took the IELTS exam for the first time in her life, and … surprise, surprise – received Band 8.5 for her great performance. She won our IELTS results competition, and generously shared these useful tips that can help you, too, replicate her success. Here’s what Bahar suggests:
“Make a good first impression.
First and foremost, make a good first impression. If you prove to the examiner in the early parts of the interview that you possess an incredible English speaking ability, your score will definitely increase as the examiner will develop a good mental image of your skills in the very beginning and will continue to believe you to be a skillful candidate even if you make mistakes or are not as good in the next sections of the test.
Shape up your accent.
That and also your pronunciation count a lot. They have a huge impact on the way you communicate with the examiner as he/she will automatically assume your grammar to be perfect as well.
Maintain eye contact.
Even in a simple everyday conversation, making eye contact plays a great role in enhancing the quality of the conversation as well as boosting your confidence and encouraging you to speak better. Therefore, keep your eyes away from the recorder and the stopwatch as they not only distract you and make you lose your train of thought, but also make you more nervous and agitated, thus bringing down your band score.
Study different topics that are likely to come up in the interview.
There is definitely no need to study any field in great detail; the purpose is to just acquire a brief amount of knowledge about each topic to be ready in case the examiner asks questions relating to any of them.
Preparation is the key.
Your time is quite precious, but so is the need to prepare. Spend at least 20 minutes a day, if not more, reciting mock interviews with preferably real past exam questions containing a variety of topics. However, it is quite important for you to talk out loud and not just in your head. Your tone of speech, vocal cohesion and the way you express your ideas all fail to be developed or even detected if you only think about your answers and not speak loudly and normally as you need in the actual interview. It is wise to practice with a speaking partner as you both can take turns and interview each other. However, for some—including myself—it is more efficient to talk to oneself rather than being interviewed by friends or family members, since you have more confidence and are able to speak better and more easily. So it basically depends on your personal preference.
Talk to the mirror.
As ridiculous as this may sound, my experience has never failed to prove that this method of preparation produces significant results. Indeed, no matter what type of interviews I have had, practicing this way always gave and still gives me confidence and is very reassuring for me. I’m certain it will be so for you as well.
Be at ease.
Smile and act friendly. Your confidence does not possess a criterion of its own in your band score; it has no direct influence on the way you’re marked, but it strongly influences the examiner’s impression of you. It is natural to assume from a candidate’s self-assurance and esteem that they have good skills as well.
Eat something sweet before the interview.
Eat a bar of chocolate, before you begin your interview. By doing so, your brain activity enhances and you have a higher chance of receiving a higher mark.