How I Scored an Overall Band of 8 in the IELTS
Tips to Get the Best Possible Score in IELTS
I have attempted the IELTS exam twice. The first time was a blind test. The second time, I went in with a plan. I have always been good at English, so I did not have to study very hard for any English exam. I wanted to share my experiences and give aspiring IELTS candidates my advice.
My First IELTS Attempt
Overall Band Score: 7
Listening: 7.5 , Reading: 7.0, Writing: 5.0 & Speaking: 8.5
I attempted the paper version and this got exhausting. The writing test was the last part. I had not eaten a good breakfast as I had to travel very far to reach the venue and then the exam went on till evening with 15 minute breaks in between segments.
I was so exhausted by the end, I didn’t even know what I was writing and I couldn’t keep track of the word limit too well.
The hall was pretty noisy, with about 100 students attending the exam at the same time. So, the listening segment did not go as well as it could have.
The reading test went well. I was able to pin point the answers pretty well and I was satified that I had answered the questions to the best of my abilities at the time.
The speaking test was conducted on a separate day, that went really well, as you can see above.
Just because my writing score was not upto the minimum requirements for most universities, despite my overall band being acceptable, I had to retake the test. Which I am glad I did.
My Second IELTS Attempt
Overall Band Score: 8
Listening: 8 , Reading: 7.5, Writing: 7.5 & Speaking: 8
By this time there was a computer based test center in my neighbourhood, so I opted for it. The computer had a word counter, which was a huge help, so that I could quickly check if I had met the minimum word limit and then exceed it.
The liteneing test was the best. However, there was one question pattern which was not immediately clear to me. It was a table in which I was supposed to just click the correct option so that a tick would appear. However I initially thought I had to fill in the table and nothing appeared in it, so I was baffled and missed out the first 3 questions out of the 5 questions in this section. Then I finally figured it out and answered the last two questions correctly. The best part is there were only 5 students in the hall at any given time. We were also provided with noise cancelling earphones. So there was absolutely no disturbance at all.
Reading was smooth . No complaints there. I even scored 0.5 higher than my first attempt.
and this time in speaking I got 0.5 less then my first attempt, which I was a tad disappointed by, but it is alright.
My advice for IELTS Preparation:
- Watch good English tv shows, movies etc in which the dialogue delivery is excellent. Avoid english movies with excessive usage of slang terms.
- This will help you understand spoken English when you hear it, which is good for the hearing segment of the IELTS as well as help you with the correct pronounciation of English words for the speaking segment of the IELTS. Take note of how the actors pronounce each word and the context in which they use any words that sound new to you. Also try to repeat the same dialogue after them.
- Practice writing long essays and short essays daily, have someone who is good at English correct your work and point out the areas where you need work.
Note: You do not need to use big words in order to get a higher band. Use only words that you are confident with. If you use toomany big words, you risk making spelling errors or using the words incorrectly.
- Make a habit of learning atleast five new words each day along with their correct usage. In general this should be a habit that you incoporate into your daily routine for self improvement.
- Socialize with those who speak good English and try to have conversations with them entirely in English.
- If you have a hard time reading graphs. Practice reading a few test graphs.
- Read Classic Novels such as Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice etc.
My Tips to Follow During the Test
- For the speaking segment, make sure that you speak continuosly without the need to be prompted. I am a silent person by nature, so the evaluator had to prompt me a few times. However thanks to my accent and vast vocabulary, I got a band of
- For the listening test, mark your answers as the recording is played. They do just 5 questions at a time, so this is very easy to follow along.
- For the reading test, make sure that you read the questions first and then the passage, this way you know what answers you are looking for as you go through the paragraph.
- For the written part, start with a good opening line and end with a good conclusion. Add quotes only if you can remeber them correctly.
- For the short answer, especially if you have a graph, make sure to write about even the most obvious details. Otherwise you risk creating the impression that you missed out on the obvious details.
- I strongly advice you to opt for a computerized test as opposed to a written test.
Factors that Contributed to my Score:
- I have had the privilege of studying in the US when I was in primary school. This helped me learn conversational English from my peers. I had even developed an American accent without realizing it. I only discovered that I had an accent after moving to India, where the students would ask me if I was an American.
Note: You do not require an accent to get a higher band in the IELTS. Neither can you expect to acquire a natural sounding accent in a short period of time. If you try to fake an accent, you risk getting a lower band than if you just speak in your usual manner.
- As a child, my mother would read amazing English books to both my younger sister and I, till we began to pick out books by ourselves and read on our own.
- At home my family converses solely in English.
- I have grown up watching only English television programmes for kids/teens at home. I still enjoy Disney’s programmes for teens to this day.
In conclusion, your lifestyle does contribute greatly to your overall band. However, the little tips and tricks that I have mentioned in this article will help to give you an edge when you attempt the exam.