Today we’d like you to meet Natalie Cohen, a young lady in her 20’s from Germany. Natalie is studying in a university in Berlin, and her first language is German. As you may remember, she recently won in our IELTS results competition, scoring Band 8 Overall with a straight 9 in Listening.
Being a student in a final year is hard enough, but Natalie managed to prepare for her Uni exams, write her Bachelor’s thesis AND fit in IELTS preparation, all at the same time. When we asked her “What would your advice be to other test takers who need a high IELTS score?”, here is what she said:
I had to study for the test besides studying for Uni and writing my Bachelor’s thesis. So I did not have a lot of time on a daily basis. 2 months before the test I started to learn 5-6 days a week for 1-3 hours in the morning before doing anything else. I bought the official IELTS materials as well as the ‘Target Band 7’ book from your website. Using them, I gained knowledge about every part of the test and started doing the exercises.
The official IELTS book was only useful because it contained 7 mock tests. But to be honest, the rest of the book was not useful and I would not recommend buying it. However, I used the Target Band 7 book a lot. It has a study plan, which I used especially in the first weeks. There were also multiple examples and it taught me some basic things like using specific phrases, the structure of essays, etc. I would also recommend reading essays on the IELTS blog website, which were graded with an 8, so you can learn some phrases you can use in basically every single essay or report.
Besides the Target Band 7 book, I can only recommend using the writing correction service by the IELTS blog website. Especially at the beginning it is pretty hard to evaluate yourself.
After studying for a month, I realized that my reading and listening grades were pretty stable at 8-9 points and I decided to concentrate on the speaking and writing part. I wrote either an essay or a report every day and always handed it in for correction. I also talked to myself about every past topic that was used in IELTS. I do not think that there a better preparation for the speaking part than just talking about as many diverse topics as possible. However, one thing that I did not expect was that the examiner interrupted me a lot, so you should learn to get to your point quickly in 1-2 sentences.
The week before the test I did nothing else but studying for it. I did a whole IELTS test every day and researched as many topics for the writing and speaking tests as possible in order to have a general knowledge about everything that could be tested.
The preparation may sound extensive, but it was obviously worth it. As I started in time, it was not too difficult to spend 1-2 hours a day on studying for the test – and I have a pretty busy schedule. Just think about what your goal is 😉
It was also important to focus on the 2 parts that I was not very secure about. As I study in English and I read scientific articles on a daily basis, I managed to finish the reading test 20 minutes before I had to submit it. Listening is also pretty easy once you practiced a bit.
Finally, invest in the right tools: buy the Target Band 7 book, use the writing correction at least a few times and you can also buy exercises from the IELTS Blog website. In my experience, the exercises in the official IELTS book were way too easy and the exercises from the IELTS Blog were realistic or a bit more difficult.
For the test day, I can only recommend to stay calm and concentrated. The people at the test centre were all really nice and the test turned out to be easier than expected!”