(This post was originally written for my blog on 18th February 2017. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer, for which I thank them. The writer chose to remain anonymous)
IELTS is an easy exam to some people, and difficult to others, for me (my native language is Arabic and I was totally a way from English since 2007. And from 2001 till 2007 I only used medical words in the college period) so IELTS for me was nearly impossible. But my family always said to me you can do it. So I began my journey in 1/2015 and I got the score in 1/2016. Through that year, I sat the test 3 times, between each exam and the other were around 3 to 4 months. I started my preparation from scratch, from studying an English book, which was a basic book in my country secondary schools.
Let us begin with these points:
1. Do not sit the exam when you are not fully ready. I know many students who prepare themselves in one or 2 months and sit the exam, and they did not get the score. They ended up taking the exam ten times.
2.In the first trial you will get an idea about your weakness. In my case it was the writing part. So you can focus on your weakness during your next preparation. In my subsequent exams I allocated 90% of my time for writing and only 10% for the rest.
Do not be disappointed by those who post their result on Facebook, stating that they got the score on their first attempt. They are special cases and circumstances. Never ever look at them.
Listen to other people’s strategies in preparing themselves for IELTS. Go for the strategy which suits you best. Because every one has their own way of studying. I tried 3 or 4 ways for practicing reading and listening part. Then I chose what was more suitable to me.
Just practice the Cambridge series (the ten books) and that’s it. Start from book 1,2,3 and go up. It increases in the difficulty level with every new book. The listening style in the recent exams is similar to the style in the last 3 books, so when you practice the listening in the first 7 books, it is only for your warm up and to make you ready for the last 3 books, which are similar to the new exam style.
Practice as much as you can. I practiced the speaking part from the Cambridge series and searched the YouTube for new speaking videos. I used to check any Facebook post regarding the speaking part from the previous exams.
There are many ways to cope with this difficult part. I usually read the questions first, and then return to the passage and search (by skimming through the passage) for the word or its synonym. When I used to find it, I used to begin to read slowly the following lines in the passage and try to find the answer to the question. When you try to find the word at the beginning you have to skim, not read. Skim through the passage or scan it, but do not read it thoroughly.
This part of the test is a time challenge and you have to manage your time. I practiced only the ten book again. If the question asked me to find a title for a passage, I solved it at the end of the task and solve other questions first. Because I used to get an idea about the passage from the other questions.
Writing has two parts. For the first part, I used to study from the book, IELTS Advantage. And I tried to practice again by using the ten book again. For the second part, I studied Simon’s notes first and then Rayan’s notes for writing from Google and YouTube. Then I began to practice the ten books. However, I believe you need an expert to correct your writing.
In my case, I found teachers of English, who were experts, and corrected about 20 writing samples that I wrote them (I wrote 4 samples in each session and they corrected them for me. Then I wrote 4 more and so on …). I used this method in my final IELTS attempt. And it helped me in achieving my target score in writing.
In my first and second attempts, I got the score in all the parts except for the writing part. For my third attempt, my teachers’ feedback helped me a lot. Without their help, I could not have achieved the target score.
First, try to see the YouTube videos that give a general overview of the exams. The ten Cambrdige series books are of equal difficult for the listening part. Use a notebook to write down all your writing tasks in one place.
Before the exam, sleep well. You need to control your nerves during the exam.
I’m sorry for my writing mistakes. This was written in a hurry. Thank you! Best of luck to all!