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Student success: how Senthil prepared for IELTS and got Band 8

If you’ve been following for some time, you may remember Senthil Sarangapani from India, a winner of our December 2012 competition with an overall IELTS Band Score of 8. Senthil is a 32 year-old Indian test taker working in a financial services company. He took the General Training IELTS test in December last year, and here is what he said on the day his results were out:

“Hi Simone,Band 8 in IELTS

I scored band 8 in IELTS (GT) and much of the credit for my score goes to you and your book Ace The IELTS.

Your writing style is inspiring. I felt as if the best coach in town was sitting next to me and guiding me personally while reading your book. The strategies you have given for tackling each component of the test and the practical tips really came in handy while taking the test.

When I started my preparation I worried about the writing exercise, but at the end you really made me believe that even ‘a monkey could do it.’ Your assuring words boosted my morale and prepared me to face the test with confidence.

Thanks heaps!”

Today we would like to share the exam tips Senthil asked to pass on to everyone:

“The very first step in the IELTS preparation is to familiarize yourself with the question patterns in each module. My suggestion to all is to read the book ‘Ace the IELTS’ by Simone Braverman. It covers every type of questions that you might expect in IELTS along with the strategies to handle them and the traps to watch out for.

Take as many practice tests as you can in all the modules. Practice is the only way to score higher bands. If you are using practice materials from internet or CD, print them out and practise using the paper prints. While practising, adhere to the time limits of each module. Practise the listening, reading and writing modules consecutively without break to build your mental stamina. Download the blank sample IELTS answer sheet online, print it off and use it to write your answers while practising.

In the Listening and Reading modules, look for the instruction that tells you the number of words you should be using to answer the questions. As this number varies for each section within a module, check out the instruction at the beginning of each section before attempting to answer the questions.

Attention is the key to success in the Listening module. Keenly follow the speaker in the recording. If you have missed a word or a phrase related to the question you are attempting, do not startle or attempt to guess while the recording is being played. Move on to the next question and leave the guesswork till after the end of the recording.

In the Writing module, the length of your answer is as important as its structure. Too short will lower your score and too long will eat away at your precious time. Write down four to five lines of text in the sample answer sheet. Count the number of words you have written in each line. Assuming it is averaging nine words per line, you have to write approximately 28 lines to compose an essay of at least 250 words long. Set the length of each paragraph of your essay in such a way that when the lines of each paragraph are added up, it should come approximately to 28 lines. For instance, write an introductory paragraph of length about four lines long, then write three paragraphs, each of about seven lines long discussing the topic and then windup with a concluding paragraph of about three lines long. Thus, if you set the paragraphs length according to your handwriting, you would automatically control the length of your essay. You can follow the same approach while writing the letter as well.

Finally, if you have some time left at the end of each module, review your answers.”

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