How I got band 8 in IELTS Academic exam with only 3 weeks preparation

How I got band 8 in IELTS Academic exam with only 3 weeks preparation

So this is basically my first post in my first blog so I’m gonna write a bit randomly here.

I wanna make a note first that I’m a 24 years old who has always lived in non-English-speaking countries but I’ve always admired learning new languages.

So to get into it, I first took the IELTS exam in September. I can’t say I prepared for it except for watching a couple of random youtube videos about the exam structure. The exam questions came as shock to me as it was very clear that more than half of the content did not test your ability to speak English rather than testing you upon your characteristics as a learner. Multi-tasking, memorizing, analysing and extreme focus (especially for the Listening test) are all essential requirements if you wanna get a good score in this exam.

Of course, the results came out very surprising and devastating too:
Listening: 7.5
Reading: 7.5
Writing: 7
Speaking: 7.5
Overall: 7

A lot may argue that 7 is a good band score and I agree. But in my case, a person who has always been fond of languages and practising them, I was gonna have a hard time making peace with this score. So eventually -after waking up from the shock- I decided to take the next exam which was on November the 3rd this time and I had 3 weeks to prepare for it.

First of all, I realized I needed rich and comprehensive materials. You can’t prepare for any test using random topics from here and there and still be organized in your mind. So I spent a whole day searching for the best options available and I came down to these:

Listening: Solving YouTube real Listening exams.
Writing, Speaking :
Reading: I won’t prepare for it.

I started off by preparing for the Listening exam. You can see a whole bunch of listening exam samples with the key answers in YouTube. I spent 1 week intensively solving every exam I could manage. I solved a total of 42 Listening exams (and that explains my score in it at the end :’D )

For Writing and Speaking,  I needed to organize my thoughts and to get a hold on the best structure I can manage. I needed example topics in order to practice and develop my vocabs. Now I can’t stress enough how much that site has helped me. It’s a vast on-growing website that has topics about all the 4 categories you see at IELTS. All her lessons are free except for very few of the advanced ones (which I doubt you need since she does a very good job in the free ones). I studied for 2 weeks for basically the Writing exam since my score in that was the lowest, and I managed to read some of the Reading exam topics every 2 days or so during that period. I won’t talk more about Liz’s website because you can go ahead and discover it yourself with a quick navigation.

For the Reading test, I realized there’s no point in preparing for it as it depends on your strategy as a whole and you can’t get new skills from practicing it (except for learning a few new vocabs which weren’t worth my time). So I solved one exam only in order to just remember how I should manage my time during the reading sections.

Throughout my study. I made 2 clipped paper stacks. One was for new vocabs, and the other was for highlighting the mistakes I’ve made in the listening/writing practise tests. I read those the day before the L/R/W exam.

In the Speaking test day, I couldn’t sleep cuz I had other dues and I showed up an hour late for the exam because I was confused with the arrival time (they wrote 9 on all official docs but you actually have to come an hour earlier for the photo/finger print which they only mention in the text message they send you on your mobile and the IELTS official catalogue which you don’t read in the first place). When they finally decided to let me in, I was panicked, sleep-deprived, stressed, hungry and thirsty to my core. I came into the interview room, spoke very fast and random but talked so very naturally because I was too tired to try to impress the interviewer with my fancy vocabs and gestures (which came in handy in the final score)

The results came out only yesterday; hence I decided to write about my experience. And they were the follows:

Listening: 9
Reading: 8.5
Writing: 7
Speaking: 8
Overall: 8

Writing score is easily noticeable since it’s the lowest, but I’m totally okay with the score I got and it’s almost always your lowest score because the assessing process of the writing exam depends on a large range of factors plus the time dedicated for it is very restrictive.

As you can see, I got 8.5 in the Reading exam with almost zero preparation which explains my point regarding it up there. I believe I could get a 9 in the Speaking exam have I not had those incidents on that day. And finally, solving the 42 Listening exams were obviously not a waste of time!