Attention! If your level of English is below Upper-Intermediate, I afraid this post is not for you.
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First of all, I want to thank Gulnar Qasimova for such great help in my
IELTS Preparation. I would not be able to achieve that score without her 🙂
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What Books To Use ?
I have noticed that a lot of students are trying to practice with non-official IELTS materials that are not as effective as official ones.
Keep in mind, you should get used to an Official IELTS Test Format, learn all structures by heart (by practising) and get to know what type of questions exist.
So, let me mention the all books that I have used throughout my preparation period :
- Cambridge 6-15 Practice Series Tests
- Official Guide to IELTS
- Cambridge Official Trainers 1st & 2nd
- Official Practice Materials 1st & 2nd
Although I suggest to use Official materials, you may still practice some of the others to get to another level of practising. I strongly suggest to check Practice Test Plus 3, they are a bit harder than official ones, so it might help you exprience other formats.
You can find these materials Here
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I agree, it is really hard to create a productive plan, if you have never been interested in IELTS before. So, let’s get straight into it!
Since you have a limited while, you should spend around 4-5 hours for preparation (even more if you can) on a daily basis.
I would recommend you to do at least 2 Full Practice tests a day, start with Cambridge 6 and stop on 14th ( don’t start 14th ).
You may spend around 15-17 days for completing 6-13 Cambridge Test Books. During this period, I urge you to read tips and strategies from Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS and at the same time you should always review and remember these phrases, these ones as well : 30 Incredibly Useful Phrases for Speaking Part 2 & IELTS Writing Task 1.
After all, in order not to be overwhemled with studies, you may read these prior going to sleep.
As we know, the majority of students have finished Cambridge 1-13 books, so what to do? You must then finish the Cambridge Guide to IELTS Completely, including the practice tests at the end of the book.
Once you have done all steps, you should proceed practising with IELTS Trainers (both versions : 1st & 2nd ). You have approximately 4-5 days to complete them ( the faster , the better ).
Subsequently, since Official Materials 1 and 2 books have 2 practice tests in Total, you need to finish them in just 1 day.
During the Preparation period you will apparently feel the difference day by day. Always remember, if you decided to practice one of the non-official tests and you got a low score, it does NOT mean that you failed.
According to the test formats your scores may vary, and therefore, after completing the previous stages, you have got and even must to practice Practice Test Plus 3 so as to get away from the authentic format for just a day.
When you have 5-6 days left to take the exam, you need to relax for a day, do whatever you want during a day, because this day will allow you fuel your energy so you can continue!
Generally, I do not recommend you using your phone ( ok only for music ) during preparation stage. Just avoid it for a month. Even though I use my phone for 10-15 mins a day, I spent a lot of time on computer which was bad influence, unfortunately ( dont repeat my mistake ). Anyways, someone needs to regulate the group and the website :))
In the last 3-4 days you have got, you now need to finish Cambridge 14th and 15th books, why I did that ? Because I in the last days you need to practice and feel the lastest Official Test ( 14th is 2019, 15th is 2020 ) to be fully prepared !
Tips & Strategies
As I experienced, Listening is not that hard as most of the candidates are thinking like. To be honest, I had a tiny stress feeling which resulted in my low score of the Listening ( 7,5 ) and also Speaking ( 7 ). So, always feel confident and relaxed when you enter the test centre! Everything is going to start from the entrance, beleive me 🙂
One of the best Listening tricks of mine was listening to music for 4-5 hours , sometimes even more. I had been listening to music with lyrics, then I gradually switched to the music with no lyrics. When I hear an unknown word I immediately translate it on Google Translate. Don’t be lazy, do that as well !
Remember!!! When you are doing the test, always read the questions quickly and attentively ( always check the requirements, for example, ONLY ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER ) If you see that you have read all “Section 1” questions, and there are multiple choice questions in the “Section 2”, I strongly suggest to view them as well, because they are not generous enough to give you extra time for the questions to review, and you will propably not have enough time to read the Multiple Choice questions throughly.
When you read multiple choice questions, underline the key factors that you are most likely to hear about, so you may be able to concentrate in that type of information.
When they give you map questions, you should instantly check the places and mention their place beforehand ( in your mind ) This will help you predict the potential locations.
Section 4 is one of the easiest sections, you just need to read all questions twice and quickly. You need to know that it is better to read the first 5-6 words that come before the questions. This will help you to realise when you need to focus on listening and show a better performance 🙂
When I entered the test centre I thought I’m going to fail in Reading, but after I opened the test I saw a similar format and got so happy and motivated in just a second. The reason why I mentioned it because a lot of candidates think that reading is the hardest part of the test, but in reality it is not ( if you do practice ).
Let me share my best working strategy. With this strategy I finished my Reading in just 30-33 minutes ( trasnferring answers included ).
- Never start reading the passage first! In the first place, you have to scan and analyze all 13 questions ( 1st section ). For example, if these questions have multiple choice q. you don’t need to read them all in just one go. Read the First 2 questions, why 2 ? because you may not be able to find the 1st question and instead find the answer to the 2nd one, and then realise that 1st question should be located above the answer to the 2nd questions you have just found. This is a valuable tip, keep in mind.
- Dear reader, always check whether it is YES/NO or TRUE/FALSE ( one of my friends, accidentally typed “true false” instead of “yes no” 🙁
- The similar approach works great in this type of questions ( yes, no, true, false, not given ). Primarily, you must read the first 2 even 3 questions ( if you want to guarantee your self ). So, basically, you need to deeply analyze the questions, and then rapidly read the passage you will be able to find it in the first try if you are attentive enough. For example, you found 2nd questions, so you have got to know that the 1st is nearby above the 2nd answer. BUT it does not mean that answer will always be near to each other ! I have faced with situations where the 2nd answer was like 2-3 paragpraphs ahead.
- Remember that you don’t have extra time for transferring answers to an answer sheet. So fill them simultaneously ( at the time you find the answer ).
Let’s Look At Types of Questions
When you do this section, you have to only focus on NAMES, seek for names, nothing else, keep in mind that you may youse any letter more than once! And when find any of the questions, it is better to cross a “X” on it. so you don’t confused.
I hate this section so much 🙂 I always forget that there are suggested answers ( A B C D…) so you don’t need to find the exact word from the passage , instead you need to pick a synonim of it. I hope you will not forget to keep this in your mind.
As I mentioned, read the first 2 questions, analyze the answers, then start reading the passage. It is the fastest way, even though it may be a little bit hard for the first times.
My favorite part is writing, because I really love writing essays, so I was preparing for this section a lot, but “generous” examiners have come to evaluate my amazing writings for a “6.5”.
There is actually no valuable tips for writing section. But I can suggest several ones. For instance, I have read all samples at the end of the Cambridge Books, and I used to detailly analyze writings written especially by examiners and then compare them with mine. I have also noticed that most examiners use 5 paragraphs for a clear explanation. That was what I did in my official test.
Additionally, you are obliged to have great vocabulary skills.You need to finish “504” and “Barrons Essential Words (red one)” , and also I know that you will not be able to finish ” Ramazanee” but at least learn the first 20 Lessons.
One of the best tips is to memorise synonims for the most used words, for example ( grow, increase, ascend, essential, because…) By doing that you show the examiner that you have a range of vocabulary skills.
The most essential thing is how you link your sentences. To clarify, if you avoid using linking words, don’t expect a high score in your IELTS Writing test. I have shared all these phrases and stuff in my latest post for a Full IELTS Preparation.
As a prize, I’m going to share some structures in the next post ( tomorrow) that you can actually use in every writing.
And to be honest, I haven’t watched any of the writing Udemy Courses, they just seemed nonsense for me, but anyways, I suggest you check some of them, since you may get something useful and new.
I have shared a lot of Writing materials in the latest IELTS Post, you may check it as well.
Do NOT forget memorising phrases, linking words, complex sentence structures. You can do it before going to sleep.
Kind of similarly to “Writing” there are not a lot of tips for speaking, you have to find a speaking partner to practice. You can request a partner on our Facebook group, or leave a comment wih your social media account so potential partners may contact you.
I do have some tips for speaking. During my preparation phase I have watched a lot of videos in English which tremendously helped me to get an american-like accent and an ability to form sentences fluently.
Keep in mind! – if you stop during your speaking test trying to find a proper word that can fit, you will probably get low mark for that, so learn words with love:) they are going to help you a lot.
I used to talk with myself to practice the 2nd part of te speaking test ( with timer ). One can say that you have to look in front of the mirror, but beleive me that is cringe as hell, so just look where you want while speaking with yourself, it does not matter 🙂