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Maryna’s advice for IELTS test takers to follow her path to Band 9

Band 9 in IELTS is not impossible – however, it’s quite rare. Even though thousands of IELTS candidates visit our website every month, we don’t get to see people who scored the perfect 9 in IELTS very often. Luckily, we met Maryna Teplova, an educator from Ukraine, through our monthly IELTS results competition, and in her winner’s interview she had some great tips for everyone:

Band 9 in IELTS“My basic recipe for success is if you want to master a subject, start teaching it! Of course, it takes a lot of time to achieve proficiency level, especially if you are a non-native speaker like me. Yet, for me, taking IELTS this year was a matter of professional necessity, as well as a proof of my proficiency. As an educator in ELT sphere, I’ve trained a lot of students who received high scores in IELTS Academic.

On a more practical note, my advice to the prospective candidates who are going to take IELTS is simple: surround yourself with as much academic level English as possible, on a regular basis, especially in the 2-3 months preceding the actual exam. For this, I always recommend my students (and do it myself, ‘walk the talk’, so to say) to watch 15-25-minute TED talks on the topics found in IELTS, for instance, Education, Environment, Technology, Health, etc. Then, during the class, I give students the opportunity to report on the talk of their choice, highlighting the academic-level vocabulary and identifying the key ideas. In this way, TED gives us a powerful foundation, and allows practicing reading (in the form of easily available transcripts), listening and speaking. Furthermore, you can also combine all these activities with an engaging follow-up writing task, choosing the essay which is aligned with the topic of the TED talk.

The reason I am such a strong adherent of TED is because I believe in the value of fundamental exploration of a topic, its key vocabulary, ideas before we start putting anything down on paper. Reading newspaper materials, watching TED talks, listening to podcasts on major media websites – all this should create the foundation (through passive language practice) for the productive stage, that is, speaking and writing on a given topic. Of course, all this should be done concurrently with doing practice tests (reading and listening, in particular) regularly as this is also a must on your way to success. In Russian, there is a good expression for that, which can roughly be translated as “hitting your hand” in an activity, it means to become so experienced and used to it that your hands do it almost automatically. So, you should ‘hit’ a lot of practice tests to acquire that inner feeling of confidence and composure that will serve you well during the exam. Just don’t forget to keep track of your progress, marking the scores every time you do a test. Later, as you look back at your notes, you will see the increase in the number of the correct answers, as well as the impressive amount of testing completed, which will be an additional boost and motivator before the exam.

I hope each aspiring learner visiting will find my advice helpful and will benefit from it!”

Maryna Teplova,
Assistant Professor at the English Department, Dnipropetrovsk National University.

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