You may remember Pritam Kumar, who scored 8.5 in IELTS and took the second place in our monthly IELTS results competition in June. When we asked Pritam what helped him achieve this great score, he said:
Benchmark yourself – The first thing to do before taking up any competitive test is to benchmark your abilities against the requirements of the examination. You can do this by taking diagnostic tests and comparing your score, or generally be aware of what the test demands and where you stand right now. The more honest you are in your assessment, the more chances you have of landing up with a good score later on.
For IELTS, I discovered that I was already scoring well in Reading/Listening. Since Speaking and Writing were subjective, I took the help of others to judge me on those sections, and then I knew where I needed to alter things or think differently. Someone who has given the IELTS before or an IELTS trainer can help you here.
Start practicing (regularly) – Start working more on your weak/ambiguous areas but make sure this doesn’t hamper your score in your strong areas. I regularly used to take tests from the Cambridge Practice test book that was sent by the British Council, once I enrolled with them for the test.
Even if you find the test easy, keep on practicing regularly.
For the Speaking section, IELTS demands a structure more than anything. You need not speak fast, this is absolutely not required, but you should be clear and precise. Take your time to gather your thoughts and then choose the right words. I have seen friends falter on the day of the test, even though they speak very decent English generally. Remember the test taker doesn’t know you and he/she has just 15-25min (or maybe even less) to judge you and give a score. Pay particular attention to Speaking, as it is very subjective. Practice recording short monologues about your daily life/pet/weekend activity/wife/family/hobbies on your smartphone and make someone listen to those or listen at a later time and rate yourself.
Writing is easy as long as you follow the structure (salutations, paragraphs etc.). Never write less than the specified word limit. Also, read the topic carefully before you start writing. Don’t rush for the initial 5 minutes, at least.
Listening and Reading – I guess most people are fine with these sections, but if you find that you are weak in these, just practice as much as you can. Work out a pattern that works best for you as these are mostly objective questions and a lot depends on your approach.
Prepare yourself for the test – The test is also about endurance. Till I came to the Writing section, which was the last one, I must admit I was getting a little bit slow. And this is when you also need to use your thoughts and hands at the same time. Make sure you prepare yourself for the Writing section, and don’t let yourself slow down and think that you have time. In the test, time flies 🙂
Best of luck to all of you! The IELTS is an easy test if you follow the structure in each section. That is all that it demands.”