Today we are sharing with you the story of Felix Moon, a young man from Korea who lives in Norway now. Felix is 18 years old and his first language is Korean. Here is what he did to achieve an Overall Band 8 in IELTS, in his own words:
“I went to an international school in Norway from 1st grade to 10th grade which really helped a lot. In addition to that, I do have a few tips for future IELTS candidates:
The best practice one can do is to listen to any type of English recording (news, IELTS listening samples etc.) and write down the main idea, and eventually answer the questions following the IELTS listening drill disc. When taking the real test, it is important not to go off track, meaning writing down your own predictions. The smartest thing to do is to literally write down what you hear, word by word. As far as I have understood, the people that mark the listening and reading part of the test are part-time workers that look at the answers, and mark your test according to the answer sheet. Therefore it is important not to write down your own thoughts, but to listen to what the recording says, and write down exactly what you heard.
For the reading section of the test, the best advice I can give you is to read a lot and write down the main points/ideas. Again, I cannot stress more not to write down your own thoughts. All you need to do is to look for the answer in the text, and write down exactly what you read (while staying under the limit to the amount of words you are allowed to use). What I did during the reading section was to read the questions first, and look for the answers in the text as it is easier to memorise the questions than memorising the whole text. When it comes to “true, false and not given” questions, DO NOT PREDICT ANSWERS! Simply read the text, and answer according to what you read.
Confidence is the key to success. If you are unsure on what you are talking about, there is no doubt that the examiner won’t notice this. The examiner is not looking for what is true or not, but simply grading your speaking skills. Therefore it is totally fine to make up things for the various questions. NEVER GIVE NEGATIVE ANSWERS! When given a question such as: “Do you enjoy reading books?”, do not say: “No, I do not like reading books”. It gives an impression that you are not interested in what you yourself are talking about. If you really must say no, then I would recommend saying something like: “I am not really interested in reading books because… But if I had to choose a favourite book it would be…”. The reason you need to make the sentence not only longer, but explain why you do not like books and choose (eventually make something up) your “favourite book” is because you do not want the examiner to ask “Why?” or “If you had to choose, which book would you recommend to others?”. If the examiner ends up asking this, it means that you have not given enough information, and is a sign of your grades being lowered. Moreover, I would like to say that the best way to practice is to talk to people in English. If you cannot do this for one or another reason, it is really easy to find sample questions for the speaking section on the internet. Prepare for any type of question, as you do not know what topic you will get. For part 2 of the speaking section, where you have to talk for roughly 2 minutes, try practicing with a stopwatch, and make yourself realise how long 2 minutes is. This really helped me a lot, as I spoke for about 1 minute and 50 seconds. Do not be afraid of going over time though. The examiner will stop you, and as I have heard, this does not lower your grades, unless you have talked about the same thing over and over again. You should obviously not talk for less than 1 minute and 30 seconds.
There are many people that are stressed out about this section of the test, I was stressed out as well. All you really can do is to write a whole lot, and if you look around the internet, you can find sites where you can send in your writings and get them graded, together with comments and revisions. As you do not have much time during the test, quickly read through the question, and start writing. There is barely any time to brainstorm, and if you do not finish within the given time, that will have a negative effect. The most usual questions on writing task 1 is analysing different diagrams (pie-charts, bar graphs, maps etc.) The main point is to pick out the trends and write a text consisting of 150 words. Writing task 2 will consist of various themes, where you will have to choose between 3 different topics. The word count limit is 250 words, meaning that you cannot write useless information. If you do have some time to brainstorm, jot down the most significant ideas, and start writing.
I would personally recommend practicing to write in PEEL format. PEEL is the abbreviation of
Point – this is your argument, which should be no longer than 2 sentences
Example – come up with examples to support your argument, no more than 2 examples
Link – go back to you point/blueprint and conclude your paragraph.
Try to use many academic vocabulary and transition words (additionally, moreover, thus, nevertheless and so on). DO NOT USE ABBREVIATIONS and try to avoid contractions (don’t, won’t, I’m, etc). These sound too informal, and it is better to use ‘do not’, ‘would/will not’, ‘I am’ instead.
I hope my advice helped a little, and wish you all luck on the test!”