Miraculously, I somehow managed to get an 8.0 on my first attempt at the IELTS Academic exam with just three weeks of preparation! I had such little time to prepare because I registered for it around that time and didn’t realize it is going to be a difficult test. So many people told me that it is not so hard of an exam and anyone can get a 7 in it. Believing them, I didn’t bother that much initially.
However, when I started to find out more information about the exam formats and their scoring methods, I did get a little intimidated. Even then, I could not start studying right away because of some work pressure. So I eventually started the preparation around 7th August when the exam was going to be held on 1st-4th September!
Here are the steps I followed even though there wasn’t much planning involved.
1. Started with Reading
Since reading seemed to be the most challenging part of the test, I started my preparation with it. In this part, you will have to read three paragraphs in total and each of them will have a subsequent questionnaire. Usually, two of them are relatively shorter, and one is quite long as well as a bit more complicated.
I mainly solved the question papers from the book 101 IELTS Reading Past Papers with Answers 2019. Even though this online version of the book came with many printing mistakes, it still did help me with my preparation. It has 34 papers in total and I solved all of them by 2nd September (2 days before the 3-part IELTS exam).
2. Moved on to Writing
After 2 weeks of only focusing on the reading part, I moved on to practicing Writing. I started by only doing Task 1 questions from different sites and attending some free online webinars for IELTS writing. I got to book the webinars for free on the website IELTS Online Tests. I think you can also solve practice papers there, but I didn’t have the time to do those. If you want to see what kind of webinars they are, you can check out my screenshots from two writing webinars here.
I was not that worried about Task 2 because I am used to writing long articles in my job of content writing. But I still decided to check out the band descriptors for this task since I didn’t want to lose marks for trivial mistakes. After seeing the descriptors, I basically focused on appropriate paragraphing and proper progression throughout the essay. That means, talking about a single idea or point in a paragraph and proceeding from point A to B sequentially instead of scattering the arguments.
3. Talked to friends about Speaking
I was panicking a lot about the Speaking test since I wasn’t sure if I can answer the questions briefly and accurately. But after talking to friends who attended IELTS exams before, it seemed like the test will be very easy and casual. For example, they will ask you about your favorite book, inspirational figures, if you like picnics and even something as random as furniture! So I didn’t bother preparing much for it.
4. Listening in the last 2 days
After my IELTS speaking was done, I only had two days until the main 3-part exam is held (4th September). Since I had an idea of the reading and writing parts, I focused on the Listening part these two days. I mainly watched videos on YouTube where an entire IELTS Listening test audio is played, along with photos of the question paper on the screen.
Test Format in Brief:
|Speaking||Interview, Cue Card, Discussion||15 minutes|
|Listening||3 paragraphs, 40 questions||60 minutes|
|Reading||3 paragraphs, 40 questions||60 minutes|
|Writing||Task 1 – 150 words, Task 2 – 250 words or more||2 hours|
The Two Days of Exam
Location: Penston Institute (British Council)
Things to take: Passport, Passport Photocopy, Stationery (optional)
1. Speaking – 1st September, 4pm
My speaking test did not go well at ALL! The questions asked were much more difficult than I had anticipated. They progressed like this:
- Do you like your house? What kind of house do you want?
- Do you like traveling by car?
- Which NEW law should the government impose to protect the environment? [cue card]
- Rules are “especially” important in which kind of jobs?
- Do you think workplaces should only allow specific dresses?
- Do you think the development in technology will remove criminals completely in the future? Can you please ELABORATE?
I was pretty shocked and kind of overwhelmed by the end with these questions. I was struggling to find any good example for the last question after the examiner asked me to elaborate. So I was very disappointed with my performance on this test and regretted being so nervous. If I wasn’t that nervous, I probably would have an even better score, since my lowest score of the four parts (7.5) was on this one.
By the way, before the exam took place, we were given a student code by Penston and our photos were taken as well.
2. Listening, Reading and Writing – 4th September, 1pm-4:30pm
We were told to be there by 11:30am though many candidates came later. Each of us had to submit our passport photocopy with our signature and was asked a basic question like our date of birth to ensure our authenticity. To uphold the Covid19 precautions, we all got our temperatures checked and our hands sanitized. We were then directed to our respective seats one by one, and were given a water bottle and some stationery items on each table.
The exam started at 1pm with the Listening test. All of us were provided with a headphone and it was tested three times before the exam began. Although the exam venue gave us stationery items in a bag, I still chose to write with my own pencil since that’s what I was comfortable with.
All of us got an answer sheet where one side was for listening and the other side was for writing. We also got the question paper where the questions were given with blanks or spaces to write in. We had to write our name, student code and other information on both of these documents.
Each listening paragraph was played only once and I did get distracted for a few seconds. So I had to just assume the answers for those particular questions. After each paragraph was over, we were given 10 minutes to transfer the answers to the main answer sheet.
The reading test was held the same way. Its last paragraph and the respective questions were very confusing though.
On the writing test, we were given a completely new answer sheet to write both tasks. However, I ran out of it very soon and asked for another sheet. Most candidates did the same thing. Even though I originally planned on using a pen, I ended up using a pencil after thinking about cleanliness in the answer sheet. That was a good decision since I did make many mistakes and could easily fix them after erasing them. When I was revising the essay, I replaced some words with better ones to enhance its overall vocabulary. This was also possible because I decided to use a pencil instead of a pen.
Since my essay topic was argumentative (Intelligence is the most important quality for a leader), I structured the paragraphs like this:
1. Introduction – argument topic and my stand on it – 1 paragraph
2. Why Intelligence is important for a leader – 2 paragraphs
3. Example depicting the importance of intelligence in a leader – 1 paragraph
4. Why empathy and morality are equally important – 2 paragraphs
5. Conclusion – summary of my argument – 1 paragraph
I was not expecting much from the test score since I panicked during my speaking part, got distracted in the listening part and got confused in the last reading paragraph. I was only happy with the writing part.
But my test score was actually really good! I was very surprised and ecstatic at the same time.
For all of you who are preparing for IELTS, hope this post helps and best of luck!
Extraordinary score! Your next steps will be easier for this score, surely. I was also so close to an 8.00. Unfortunately got a 7.5 for a bad day in Speaking test.
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Oh, it is such an unpredictable test! My friend got the same score for the same reason! 7.5 is still pretty good though 😀
That’s a brilliant score. Thanks for the resources😀
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You’re welcome! ^_^