(This post was originally written on 15 June 2017 for my blog. Thank you, Dr. Syema Auburn, for sharing your experience)
Finally, I have managed to achieve my required IELTS test score:
I seriously started my prep for IELTS at the end of March 2017 and did achieve my desired score on 02/June/2017. However, I had completed my M Phil this year in the UK meaning I was already exposed to English.
Practice is the key. The more you practice the better you get. If you are in the UK, you would probably need to practice listening tests without headphones because that is what I found a bit tricky here. My key practice materials were Cambridge IELTS books 6 to 11 and also I tried to do the online practice tests provided by British Council. Before the exam, I had also practiced the 2 free mock tests of Road to IELTS provided by British Council. In addition, I used to hear BBC 6 minutes English quite often, watch English news, movies and tv series which also enhanced my topic related vocabularies and listening skills. In the test, I always used to or at least tried to underline the key words before the audio script was being played.
Here again, the key is to practice a lot. The key practice materials remain the same as listening. Besides this, I had to read loads of journals and articles for the writing up of my thesis which definitely did have a positive impact on my reading skills. I also used to follow some well-known news portals, for instance, the Guardian, Telegraph and BBC. In the test, I used to underline the key words, for example, name of the scientists, dates and years so that I could find my answers with ease.
I found writing as the most challenging section and because of that I took the help of a teacher, who not only checked my writing to identify my weaknesses along with the scoring in each sections (TA, CC, LC, GR) , but did also provide some sample examples to help me out even further. Her name is Andrea Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) and her service is quite reasonable (£25 to mark 10 pieces of writing). She is very kind, helpful and responses quite promptly. If it was not for her, I don’t think I would be able to get through the writing section. I also did follow the website of Simon, IELTS buddy and IELTS advantage to get the basic idea of the different essay structures, topic vocabularies and also topic related ideas.
To be honest, I didn’t do much for this section. As I have mentioned that I am already residing in the UK for my studies, I have an exposure to English and need to communicate in English on a regular basis. However, before the exam day, I watched some speaking videos of the Band 8-9 Candidates on YouTube. IELTS Simon is one of my favorite websites for all of the four sections.
Before I finish, I would like to mention some unusual topics that I or other candidates have encountered in the recent Speaking tests (Part 3) – Intense gratification leads to invention & Robots.