(This post was originally published on 19th June 2016. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer. Thank you, Dr. Housam M. Haider, for allowing me to add your post to this blog)
For the first attempt, I studied from Cambridge books, I went across some online tips, YouTube videos and I used IELTS-blog correcting service. However, that kept my score in 6s as I did not score above 7 in any section.
I will tell you about what really improved my score in the 3rd attempt because the first two were nearly the same.
Approximate study time for the last 2 weeks was about 3-4 hours a day – one hour for each section.
My score improved from 7 to 8 PRACTICE is the key. All listening tests are similar. The point is that I needed to improve my ability to understand the speech. I practised only the tests in three books:
- Vocabulary for IELTS advanced – Pauline Cullen (practice tests only).
- The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS (8 practice tests by the end of the book)
- IELTS trainer.
The best one of the above was IELTS trainer. The format of the exam has been changed recently especially in section 3 and 4. IELTS trainer was very similar to the real exam.
My score improved from 6 and 7 to 8.5 For this part, I was reading the passage first and this was absolutely wrong. It was a WASTE OF TIME.
The best strategy is to read the answers quickly and to circle some information (names, dates, actions, impressions) then to read the passage (also with circling the same type of information). While reading you will come across the information you just circled and your brain will match. Once this happens, start reading carefully and answer questions while reading. Most of the time, answers are IN ORDER and they are GEOGRAPHICAL.
The only two exceptions for this strategy are NAMES MATCHING (I always left this to the end) and PARAGRAPH HEADINGS (I used to find the heading for each paragraph once I finished reading it).
Following the above I had about 10 minutes extra time.
The most helpful reading tests were in IELTS trainer book
My score improved from 6.5 to 7.5
All online correction services are useless, they all care about money. My advice is to seek a professional teacher who can assess your writing. I did this with a teacher here in London and her effect on my writing was significant. In the same time, I worked on strengthening my vocabulary.
During the exam, I started with Task 2 and spent about 45 minutes in it. I revised it many times and changed some words and sentences. Then I turned to Task 1. Task 2 is always more important than task 1. I scored 7.5 without even revising task 1.
In my first two attempts, I used some weak expressions (nowadays, on one hand, on the other hand, to sum up, to conclude) and I noticed that my score has changed when I replaced them with more academic and formal ones. Also, PRACTICE is the key.
My score improved from 7 to 7.5
To be honest, I did not prepare too much for this section because it was only improved by engaging with the community. I read about the most popular cue cards to get familiar with some common topics.