Hello, everyone, I took my IELTS Academic test on 26th August and I scored a band 8 in my first attempt.
I had to take the test a bit earlier than I had planned to apply for the January intake. So that left me with about 2 weeks to prepare.
I read Target band 7 and familiarized myself with the question pattern. My reading and listening were sorts of okay because I’ve been reading a lot of English novels for the past 2 years.
Nevertheless, I took about 10 listening and reading tests (from Cambridge IELTS and Official IELTS papers). I also had to work a bit to get used to the academic way of writing because I’m more of a narrative writer. My speaking was a bit rusty because nowadays I don’t usually converse in English because I don’t have anyone available to do so. So I spent a week reading Cambridge IELTS essays and polishing my speaking.
I’d like to tell everyone to get rid of nerves. I panicked a bit during the writing and speaking so that affected me a lot, I was blabbering through part 2 of the speaking test so I believe I might have lost marks for Cohesion. Hence it’s really important to stay calm and composed. Feel free to ask me anything, tips and stuff like that.
Some quick tips
- Don’t assume answers or draw conclusions. I used to do this at the beginning but answers are always in the paragraph, we shouldn’t over think.
- Look out for synonyms.
- Read the questions carefully to see how many words you should use and all that.
- For title matching, try to find the main idea of the paragraph and find an option which is closest to the main idea.
- For Multiple choices, try eliminating the wrong answers.
- I don’t think it’s best to read a paragraph, understand it and then go through questions as it consumes a lot of time. It is best to scan the passage and find answers.
- Don’t go below the word limit and don’t write too much. It is best to write between 150 – 200 words for task one and 250 – 300 words for task 2.
- Follow the format:
- Task 1 should have an introduction, overview, and 1 or 2 body paragraphs.
- Task 2 should have an introduction, 2 to 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- In task one, don’t give your opinion, just describe the chart. You should mention the main details and trends and don’t worry about including everything because that would be impossible.
- In task 2, there are 5 types of essays. You can learn about them here.
- Don’t overuse cohesive words like overall, moreover etc. Use them only when necessary.
- Use academic writing, no contractions and try to use synonyms. e.g. instead of using “big”, you could use “enormous”.
A vocabulary list I found really useful – https://www.ieltspodcast.com/ielts-vocabulary/lexical-resource.
- Listen carefully with full concentration. Don’t let your mind wander.
- Read the questions carefully when you’re given time. Identify keywords in questions and watch out for them. Also look out for synonyms.
- Read the instructions to see how many words are you looking for.
- Answer as you listen. And if you missed a question move on and focus on the rest.
- Watch out for traps, there will be lots of traps. Remember the last word counts. e.g. suppose you have a student and a coordinator. They have to fix an appointment time, first they talk about Monday but the student says he has his part time job, then the co ordinator says there’s Thursday. But the student has a presentation on Thursday, then he says his presentation is more important so he’ll miss work.
- When you copy the answers to the answer sheet look out for typos, in my listening test one of the answers were huge storms, and I did have a slight confusion if it was “STROM” or “STORM”, sometimes it’s the simple words which might confuse you.
Dhanya P. Saji
Doubts solved by the author
This part contains a collection of questions asked by people and answered by the author (Dhanya P. Saji). Thanks to Arnab Mukherjee for collecting, editing, and organizing them.
Q – My exam is in about 2 weeks… please help me; how can I prepare for my IELTS exam?
Ans – Well, first of all, how good are you in English? Everything depends on that
Q – I am better than average in English.
A – Try taking some practice tests in reading and listening and find your band score. I suggest that you do a lot of writing practice with a timer. We’re all different so find your weak spots and fix your mistakes, same goes for speaking. Try to speak in English every day and record yourself. Listen to it and notice if you make any mistakes in terms of pronunciation.
Q – Please provide me reading tips. I mean which book is the best?
A – Cambridge IELTS practice tests are the best.
Q – Can I ask you something, was your level good from beginning or were you in level B1, because I am at this level?
A – I think I am intermediate or maybe upper intermediate. My native language is Malayalam, and we use that at home, but I had my primary schooling in Bahrain in an English environment, after which we shifted to India and I didn’t use much English in the day to day conversations. I haven’t interacted with native speakers but I’ve read a lot of English novels, and I used to write fanfics (that helped in my vocabulary).
Q – Please guide for the beginners where to study, duration for prep, and from where to start?
A – Duration for the study depends on your level of English, also we all think in our native language so try to think in English as much as you can.
Q – Regarding writing task 2, how did you prepare for it?
A – I used books by Cambridge IELTS Consultants and Gabi Duigu. Also, the writing task 2 questions repeat themselves so go through some previous year questions also.
Q – What are the best book for self-preparation, please?
A – Target band 7 for the basic overview.
Writing task 1 – IELTS Writing Academic Task 1 – How to write at a band 9 level by Ryan Higgins
writing task 2 – Cambridge consultant books and essay writing for English tests by Gabi Duigu
Use Cambridge IELTS books and Official IELTS practice books for the sample test papers.
Q – 9.0 in listening is like a native speaker; Great! How you made it possible? 😍
A – Thank you, I just listened carefully. Also, I listen to a lot of English songs, that helped too.
Q – My problem is reading have not been able to cross 6 after 2 attempts
A – Do you run out of time or trouble finding answers?
Q – In my first attempt I had trouble finding answers and in the second one I ran out of time.
A – I used to practice my reading test with a timer set for 45 minutes instead of 60. That helped a lot during my exams. you could try it too
Q – Sir may I ask you…Are you a native English speaker?
A – I’m a girl and no I’m not a native speaker.
Q – I read Your tips, so in writing part 1 you started with a paragraph which introduced the graph and an overview of the main trends. Then you commented the opposite and similar trends in two separate paragraphs. You didn’t write a conclusion.
Did I understand right? Please reply, because I also need a 7 in writing.
A – In writing task one, you write an introduction. Then an overview of the main trends, like overall x increased but y remained constant. I did not give any specific numbers in the overview. The number of body paragraphs depends on the type of graph. If you get one single diagram you can write one body paragraph but if you get two graphs then it’s best to write 2 paragraphs. It all depends on the type of data.
Q – Do you have any good resource or website to study task 1 from academic IELTS?