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What did they do differently to achieve Band 8+?

Today’s post is about two IELTS test takers who aren’t any different from many of our readers. The reason they are in the spotlight today is their IELTS scores – Vasileios got an Overall Band 8.5 and Nadya Band 8 (remarkably, they both had straight 9’s in Reading and Listening). When they won in our monthly IELTS results competition in January, we asked them the big question – why they did so well in IELTS, and here is what we learned.

Band 8 in IELTSVasileios lives in Greece and his first language is Greek. He attributed his success to the following:

“I believe that what helped me the most was the fact that I always timed my practice tests and my essays, and I completed them on the official answer sheets that were used during the exam, which I downloaded here. Other than that it is a matter of knowledge and the ability to write and comprehend.”

Nadya lives in Russia and her mother tongue is Russian. She believes that immersing yourself in English, practicing as hard as you can and getting enough sleep does the trick:

“This was my second IELTS exam. First time I got Overall Band 7.0, now – 8.0. A huge part of this success goes to my English school, but I’ve also spent many hours preparing on my own. So my number one advice for all test takers is – don’t be afraid, you can do it even without paying to a teacher!

All you have to do is to surround yourself with English. You need to google something related to your job? Google it in English and read the corresponding Wikipedia article in English instead of your native language. Want to read a book? English, please. Listening to the music? You know what to do. You’re extremely tired and want to watch the new season of ‘Game of Thrones’ to relax? Guess what – watch it in English! Subtitles will help, if you have trouble with accents.

Another tip is to start with the hardest part for you and practice like crazy. For me it was writing. I wrote one essay every day, I got familiar with all the possible question types. Practice is really the key. Write, show it to somebody who can point out your mistakes, correct the essay, and write again next week. Same topic, different essay, most probably you will achieve a better quality of writing.

Finally, let me say it again. The examiner is not your enemy, never was and never will be. Their goal is to assess your knowledge rather than give you a lower mark. So try to see them as your friend, especially in the Speaking section.

And yes, give yourself full 8 hours of sleep the night before the test. Good luck!”

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