IELTS preparation for How To Get 8 bands
Learn about my IELTS preparation strategy that got me (a non-native speaker!) a perfect 8 score, and how it can benefit YOU.
What does it take to be an IELTS winner?
If you think that you need to be a native English speaker to get that perfect 8 Bands, think again!
In a recent experiment, native English speaking graduates in the UK were given the IELTS test, and guess what the average score was?
Only 7.5!! Taking my example, I am an M.B.A by education and have lived and worked in India. However, I still managed to get only a 6.5 in my first attempt!!
The point is that knowledge by itself is not sufficient to ace the IELTS exam.
In this Website, I have attempted to share my IELTS experience for your benefit.
Here are the details of how I went from 6 to 8 and my IELTS band 8 Study Plan.
The preparation Strategy that helped me in this process.
|Table Of Content|
|1) IELTS LISTENING PRACTICE TESTS|
|2) IELTS READING PRACTICE TESTS|
|3) IELTS WRITING PRACTICE TESTS|
|4) IELTS SPEAKING PRACTICE TESTS|
|5) WHAT I STUDIED FOR MY IELTS PREPARATION|
|6) MY IELTS EXAM EXPERIENCE|
IELTS LISTENING PRACTICE TESTS
I think most IELTS books available in the market nowadays offer a variety of Listening Tests but it is better to stick with authentic material that is Cambridge books. The reason being it provides questions like the one that comes in the exam and the way they come.
When I did my first listening test, I wasn’t aware of a lot of small details I had to take care. After doing few listening tests, these were the main points I noticed:
- Singular/plural answers: I had to take extra care to see whether my answers were singular or plural because many of my answers were wrong because I didn’t put an ‘s’ or I put an extra ‘s’ at the end of the sentence.
- Spellings: spellings were also a big obstacle for me as it has been a long time that I had actually written anything so I had to work on it diligently remembering the spellings and practicing it daily.
- A number of words: As I was preparing on my own, I was unfamiliar with the question types “no more than 4 words and/or a number”. I used to get confused between how many words I had to write and whether to write that adjective or not before the main word.
So to overcome these obstacles, I made certain rules when practicing listening.
- I used to use my full concentration during the listening test. This way I was able to hear singular and plural answers distinctly.
- To improve my spellings, I used to write words 10 times each day and then take a weekly test of those spellings.
- I also started reading questions when the time is given to read questions. This way I had an idea of what I have to write in each blank and also I was able t read questions carefully at that time.
- Getting to know how many words to write in a fill-up was a real obstacle. If I wrote “teachers”, the answer would be “chemistry teachers”; this would really confuse me. Then after practicing a bit, I realized that the adjective was an important part of the fill-up as it used to tell me the exact value. Without it, my answer was vague and general. So, I started writing thee adjectives where I felt the answer was incomplete without it.
- And lastly, I did a lot of practice. I practiced one listening test daily. And this way I found my grip on all kinds of questions.
IELTS READING PRACTICE TESTS
Doing a time-limited exam puts a lot of pressure on test takers like us and if one of your main problems in reading is being a slow reader, I would suggest that you start practicing how to skim and scan on some reading materials like magazines and newspapers. This will improve your skills in this area and are helpful when you do your practice tests until the real test comes.
One general skill that is needed in doing the IELTS READING TEST is your ability to skim and scan the reading passages. Reading passages in IELTS cover diverse topics. You may be familiar with some but most of the time the topics are new to you. Familiarity with one topic is not an advantage. This is one thing I learned when taking one of the practice tests.
I lost my concentration on analyzing the questions and answered too quickly because I thought I was right in choosing the correct answers based on my knowledge. After checking my answers on the ANSWER KEY, I got lower scores on topics I was most familiar with.
It is better to skim and scan over each passage whether you are familiar with the topic or not. This will allow you to analyze the questions before answering them. You will have better chances of answering the questions correctly based on what you have read and not because you are familiar with the topic.
The first thing I learned about IELTS READING TESTS is that the answers come in chronological order as presented in each passage. Every time a new set of questions is asked it is best to start from which part of the reading passage you last got your answer.
If the last question falls on the last paragraph or sentence of the reading passage and there are more questions to answer then I start going over the reading passage again from the beginning. It was a simple strategy that I found very effective in getting higher scores on my reading practice tests.
Most of the time, I go over the questions first before reading the passages and having an idea about the questions once I start reading and remember one of the questions I have read I can easily write down my answer. This technique helped me in saving time.
One thing I kept in mind is to remember the keywords. Keywords guide you through on the reading passages as well as on the questions. Questions about the main topic rarely come or usually come at the last. By this time you have already become familiar with the reading passage that you can get this one correct easily.
The most common types of questions you find in an IELTS Reading Tests are summary completion, matching headings to paragraphs, identifying the writer’s views (true or false), multiple-choice, selecting factors, table completion, matching causes and effects, sentence completion and short answer questions.
You need to develop the following abilities to be able to answer the questions as accurately and correctly as possible.
- skim the text for information
- paraphrase the original text
- identify the main idea of the paragraph
- identify opinions and attitudes
- make inferences
- understand the main points, particular points, and specific points
- skim and scan the text for details
- understand paraphrase
- understand inferences
- understand cause and effect relationships
- read for details
- understand paraphrase in incomplete sentences
- understand the focus of the question
- understand paraphrase in the question
These are the kinds of abilities that challenge your skills in the reading exam and if you learn how to develop these abilities you are right on track how to score above 7 in IELTS.
IELTS WRITING PRACTICE TESTS
The writing component was the hard part for me. I was never good at writing and it has been one of my weakest areas even during my studies. I can formulate all the ideas in my mind but putting them into writing was very difficult for me. I am a man who works with numbers and writing being my waterloo I needed to gather all my writing skills if I do have one. New Insights into IELTS was very helpful in developing some writing skills in me.
I learned to develop a strategy in writing wherein I came to understand how to describe all those letters the way the examiners would want to read them. Writing task two was not any easier but going through all the basic points of how to write down my ideas and all the words I can use I worked myself out through the writing practice tests pretty cool. These are the points I kept in mind while writing:
- Stick to the statement. Always read and reread the statement again and again so that you don’t deviate from the topic. After writing the essay, read it again and make sure each and every point and example is related to the question asked.
- Paraphrase. Knowing this technique is a must in the writing section. I used to pick random lines and change words to paraphrase them. I used to use synonyms and sometimes passive voice too. By practicing, I got a hang of paraphrasing. This helps a lot in the introduction as well as the conclusion of the essay.
- Examples. Be very specific n your examples. Don’t just write anything because you think it is so. Your examples should go with your point in the paragraph and they should be specific. For example, ‘technological inventions have made our life easier’ can be better written as ‘technological inventions such as mobile phone which has changed the way we communicate, shop, connect with friends has brought everything in the palm of our hands thus making our life easier.’
- Structure of the essay. It is quite important to writ at least 4 distinct paragraphs and each body paragraph should have one central point.
- Find a teacher. Writing is a module in which feedback is quite important. So it is better to get a teacher who can give you feedback on a timely basis and knows the Knicks and knacks of IELTS writing.
IELTS SPEAKING PRACTICE TESTS
This one was easy. When everyone is having all those jitters getting through a speaking exam I didn’t have any problem with it. I can talk about myself and any topic about my work as well as discuss a topic at length and put my ideas into words. I just needed to hone my grammar and speak more clearly as I tend to talk faster than I should especially when talking about my opinions.
- Whenever I didn’t have anything to say in cue-card after completing the points, I used to find a situation and talk about it. For example talking about an old person I respect, after completing the points, I talked about an incident with that person and explained it to cover my remaining time.
- I did not waste my 1 minute on choosing the best idea. I chose the first “good-enough” idea that came to my mind and started developing it.
- I always wrote points on how I am going to speak on the topic. This way, I didn’t need to think when I was speaking.
- To improve my vocabulary, I saw some you-tube videos and picked the simplest uncommon phrases that could make my answer look better.
- Again, in this case, too, the feedback was quite important so I took help from a speaking IELTS expert to get that feedback and work on it.
WHAT I STUDIED FOR MY IELTS PREPARATION
What I did was I went over the practice tests on Cambridge books being one the main partners in IELTS I thought it was best to start doing my practice tests using this book and how to get 8 bands in IELTS.
On my first practice test doing all the four components of the IELTS, I got a score of 6. It was not a good score as I needed 7 to get my job application to be approved.
It was a challenge I took on myself and went on doing the practice tests following the guidelines on how to answer the questions. There are easy and hard exams in all the books I bought and I practiced both. I gave more room for my study hours to allow myself to improve on all four components of the IELTS.
And my practice test scores started to improve.
MY IELTS EXAM EXPERIENCE
The day before the exam I did not do any more practice tests. I didn’t want to overdo it. Early the following morning before I went off for my exam, I went over my notes on the strategies and techniques I have learned during my review and did one writing test as I want to make sure I am doing well.
At the test center, I started getting the pressure and I was almost knocked out with my nervousness. I needed to score high in this exam. Everyone around me was as edgy as I was. At the time I was seated, my nerves started to calm after a few deep breathing exercises.
After receiving the booklet for the listening exam and going over the questions I forgot everything around me and my attention was all focused on the questions until the test started.
When the listening test was through we were in for a short break I felt I didn’t get much of it but I didn’t mind as I had other tests to attend to. Then for the next two hours, I sat for the reading and writing exams and everything went on smoothly.
My speaking exam was scheduled in the afternoon and I was glad to do it. I just wanted to finish my IELTS test on that day. Then I would have nothing more to worry about except the results.
There was no way of telling how you faired as there is no real gauge in knowing compared to other English tests.
Overall I know I did fairly well but until I got the results, I was speculating if I made it or not. A 7 overall band score is what I needed and that was all I was expecting. Getting 8 bands was a REAL BONUS!