(This post was originally published on 2nd Nov 2015. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer. Thank you, Dr. Sami Raed, for allowing me to add your post to this blog)
Dear colleagues, I have passed IELTS with 7.5 overall: Reading 8.5, Listening 8, Speaking 7, and Writing 7. I got questions from several dear colleagues so I thought of publishing this post for everybody, thereby I could help and save some time for them.
ELTS test depends largely on how good you are in English right now. However, it is never more difficult, not even close to the level of difficulty for medical tests, so relax, you have seen worse exams already. I have wasted some time researching for the proper material to study for so I hope that my experience would help other colleagues. I suppose that you speak decent level of English as we all are graduates or about to graduate from medical schools. First of all and before we go through the sections of the examination, I would recommend studying (Cambridge Grammar for IELTS). It is a fantastic book that would help you with your grammar and give you a solid foundation on using the language academically. Besides, it gives you the skills and confidence to build your phrases in speaking and writing. You MUST read it.
a. I started with the writing because it was the most challenging for me, especially Task I. I studied the (IELTS Advantage. Writing Skills) Excellent book for Task 1 and Task 2. In addition, (Simon’s Ideas for IELTS) is an excellent source to enhance your thoughts and save time on the examination because some of us are not familiar with the topics that will be discussed on the tests.
b. For practice, I printed the examination paper formula from http://www.ielts.org/PDF/114184_IELTS_Writing_Answer_Sheet.pdf and practiced writing on all topics I could have everyday under time limits similar to the examination conditions, i.e 20 minutes for Task 1, 40 minutes for Task 2 and my friend checked it (she was well-versed in English). In the beginning I took longer than that of course, but eventually I nailed it.
I went through the (Cambridge Official Guide for IELTS) to check how to organize my speaking. After which, I searched over the net about the most popular topics that could be asked about in the examination and used to practice daily with a friend. That helped me hugely and improved my self-confidence. Alternatively, one could record videos of him/herself speaking (it feels silly but trust me it works).
Listening was the easiest part for me, (Cambridge Official Guide for IELTS) along with the Cambridge Practice books are very enough. However, some of us might feel a bit uncomfortable listening to some accents so I would recommend watching/listening to some British/Australian/American media to obviate that issue.
I studied (Cambridge Official Guide for IELTS) is very enough to master the technique of the exam for reading. Also, I have spent 2 hours daily of active reading of articles on http://www.theguardian.com . By active reading I mean sitting with pen and paper and taking notes of the structure, the vocabulary and the eloquent phrases. You may use any source for reading, but make sure it is a formal with proper language. For example BBC, Aljazeera, Reuters etc. That took my language to the next level, not only with reading, but with all sections.
More important than all of the above, PRACTICE QUESTIONS WITHIN TIME LIMITS. This is crucial. Repeat with me: PRACTICE QUESTIONS WITHIN TIME LIMITS.
Cambridge series 1-9 are excellent for that, I did 9,8 and 7 only.
P.S: I also loved that website: http://www.engvid.com. It’s wonderful and helped me big deal. All teachers there are amazing.
Now you are ready, go nail it champ!