IELTS Candidate Tips for an Overall Band 8.5

Below are IELTS Tips for Band Score 8.5 from a successful IELTS candidate. These tips are written by Esha who is happy to share her experiences of the IELTS test and her exam preparation with you all. I have added some extra essential tips for the writing test at the bottom of the page to help you guys push your score to band 7 and above.

IELTS Candidate Tips for Overall Band 8.5

I am Esha Chaugule. I recently took IELTS and scored more than I expected. Firstly, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU. I diligently scoured through every section of this website. They were all tremendously helpful, and I owe my score to you, Liz. I secured 8.5 overall band in my IELTS Test. I would like to share my tips with you, so that you can post them up on the website and hopefully, my tips might help students in the future. (I’ve attached my score card below).

Esha’s IELTS Results

  • L 9
  • R 9
  • W 6.5
  • S 8.5

Here are my tips…

Listening Band 9

Initially, I practised online from various websites, but later realised that these are not accurate, are unnecessarily high level, and the answers are sometimes wrong. I realised the only source I can trust is the official IELTS Cambridge books. These are curated exactly like the official IELTS Exams, and thus, provide the most accurate formats and practise questions (comment from Liz – these books are past papers published by IELTS). My biggest tip for Listening would be to read the questions ahead of time. The IELTS exam format gives you time to read questions beforehand, but it might not always be enough (eg. in the last section). Along with the reading time, I would advice to use the “introduction of the section” time and the “answer checking” time as well. Reading questions ahead gives you an idea of what to expect for an answer (i.e., a number, a street name, an adjective, etc.). Focus and concentration play a crucial part of course. Practicing gets you equipped with the Listening test format, accents and your focus increases as well.

  • Tricky part: when the answer to a blank comes way before in the audio, than we expect it to. Thus, we need to keep close attention to everything that’s being said in the audio.


  • Phrases are rephrased in the audio, so reading questions beforehand, to get the gist of what is going to be said, gives you a heads up on when an answer to a blank might be coming up.

Eg. The audio might say: There’s a lot of litter on the beach. This might be harmful for children playing or adults walking on the beach. So, we need people to clean this up from the beach.

The test might have the question: “making sure the beach does not have ________ on it.”

The word “litter” is never repeated after the first time it’s said. Thus, we need to keep close attention to the audio and concentrate to find answers even if the sentences are paraphrased.

Reading Band 9

Again, use only Cambridge Tests for practise. I would advice to read a couple questions first, and try to LOCATE the answers to those questions, by skimming through the passage. Try to identify a particular word or couple words in the question that are unique, and find those in the passage. Begin from the first paragraph, because 90% of the questions come in order.

Tricky parts:

  1. True/False/NG or Yes/No/NG: When not sure about False/NG or No/NG, rephrase the question with the exact opposite meaning, and try to find if that opposite meaning is given in the passage. If it’s given, the answer is False/No. If it’s not given, the answer is NG.
  2. Matching Information/Matching Headings: Read the paragraph in it’s ENTIRETY, get the gist of what it’s trying to convey, match. Sometimes the answer lies in one sentence, other times, you need to read the entire paragraph. When it’s confusing and taking too long, skip, and come back to the question after you’re done with the rest of the questions.

Writing Band 6.5

Not a great score, but I can give my tips. I went through ALL the sections of IELTS Liz Writing. Kept in mind specific words like slightly, marginally, rose, dropped and phrases like “number stood at X”, “number witnessed a peak of X” and “number accounted for X% of the total”. This was for part 1 of course.

Apart from this, just follow Liz’s tips, and you’ll be good to go to score at least 6. I knew I wouldn’t be able to score more than 6.5 in Writing, so I focused more on the other three sections. (Comment from Liz – I’ve added useful tips for Writing Task 2 at the bottom of this post.)

Speaking Band 8.5

I actually completely forgot everything that I had prepared for the Speaking test. I had prepared to incorporate a few high vocab words and complex phrases into my speaking test. But what came out at the time, was a natural conversation and genuine thoughts. I just tried to speak as much as possible, without any pauses. I never ended my answers by myself in section 2 and 3, the examiner did that for me, I just kept speaking while maintaining a coherent logic of my thoughts. I remember using a couple high vocab words, but the rest of it is a blur to me, so I don’t know what kind of grammar I used. Have a strong (but not loud) voice and be confident. A smile goes a long way! (Comment from Liz – here’s a link to my free tips for IELTS speaking)



You’ll get comfortable with the format of these tests, and with the level of questions as well. You’ll know what to listen for during Listening and know what to locate during Reading much easier only with practise.

Liz’s site helped a lot. If you follow only her website diligently and practise from the official Cambridge Tests, you’ll be good to go!

All the best!

Comments from Liz

Well done, Esha! A great overall score and some very useful tips for all future IELTS candidates. I want to stress how important your tip is about using the authentic listening and reading test materials. The only full tests you should use are ones directly offered by IELTS in their books, not ones you find on other websites. I also want to commend your listening tips regarding answers that appear before keywords are given – very well spotted. These questions are so challenging!

EXTRA WRITING TASK 2 TIPS from Liz (Target band 7 plus)

Task Response in writing task 2 is 25% of your marks. Each main point must be relevant to the topic given. Each sentence should be 100% relevant to the main point in the paragraph. Your essay should not contain any padding. So, aim for a focused and highly relevant essay. For all Writing Task 2 tips, click here: Writing Task 2. For writing task 1, it is about task achievement for both Academic reports and GT letters. See this page for tips: Writing Task 1 Tips

Coherence and Cohesion is 25% of your marks and many we forget to focus on this. Using a range of linking devices is crucial. Click: key linking words. You should have an introduction, conclusion and either two or three body paragraphs. This is the easiest marking criterion to get a high score in as long as you plan paragraphing and check your linking words.

Grammar is 25% of your marks. Do not over-complicate your sentences. A complex sentence does not mean a complicated sentence. Just one clause can change a simple sentence to a complex sentence for IELTS tests. Use a range of grammar features, such as noun phrases and noun clauses, and also aim for accuracy with articles (a/the/plurals), word order and prepositions. See this video lesson: Adding a Clause to your Sentence. Remember that too many errors means a lower score.

Vocabulary is 25% of your marks. Don’t try to push fancy, flowery words into your essay because the essay must be in formal style. Words should be suitable, appropriate to the topic and conveying precise meaning. Use phrasal verbs, rather than idioms (which are mostly too informal). Don’t try to over-paraphrase as it’ll lead to too many errors. Spelling counts.

Band Scores – learn more about them. Know the requirements of the band score you are aiming for and what causes your score to go up or down. Click here: IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Scores Explained

Note to Other Successful IELTS Candidates: if you wish to share your tips as Esha has done above, please email me: I can’t promise to post all candidate tips but any that are posted will be deeply appreciated.

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How I Scored IELTS Band 8

Learn how Dr Jabril scored an overall band 8 in IELTS. His tips and experiences are very insightful.

IELTS Results

Overall Band 8
  • Listening 9
  • Reading 8.5
  • Writing 7
  • Speaking 7.5

My IELTS Tips for Band 8

Good day, I wrote UKVI academic IELTS and got band score 8 overall.

First of all, I want to appreciate your efforts in making the whole exam process easy for me and others around the world, your lessons really helped a lot.

IELTS Writing 

I’ll start off with my weaknesses. My weakest section was writing, I “hated” it with passion. I don’t enjoy any exam that requires me to write an essay, either short or long, and since this is unavoidable, I always try to find out alternatives/shortcut to the essay writing. Also, I had a very busy work schedule and would get home in the evenings, very tired to read or practice. This is where your tutorials came in, I found it easy to follow, and the way you presented your examples and explained how the essays were marked gave me some confidence in approaching it.

I’ll also say this was one section where I followed your instructions totally, especially in task 2, which I believe helped me to crawl to that 7.0 I got there. I downloaded the sample answer booklet and practiced with the little time I had as you suggested, which made me know the number of lines I needed to get to the required number of words.

The task 1 on the other hand was another issue. The only type of question I did not practice was what we were asked to describe, the maps/diagram description and comparison. I didn’t have enough time to go through all the types and had to select the ones I felt were high yield. This I believed translated to a poor task response and organization which dragged my score in writing down.

 IELTS Speaking

The other section I dreaded was the speaking section, I have this phobia for oral examinations and tend to get nervous about it. Though I went through most of your tips on speaking, I didn’t practice by recording and evaluating my answers, and this affected me in the exam. I don’t think I started well because I was using “sir” for the examiner in the first few minutes and jumbling up my answers, but when I eventually settled in, things began to go smoothly. I believe that early period of nervousness caused me to lose some points, hence the 7.5 for speaking.

 IELTS Listening and Reading

Now to my strong sections, the reading and listening. I love reading a lot and I’ve found IELTS reading passages a lot of fun to read. It provides lots of new information and interesting facts, and I even sometimes just read the passages without answering follow up questions. Despite this though, I didn’t want to take the exam a second time so I still went ahead and watched your video tutorials and followed all your instructions. I wrote my answers in capital letters for both sections, I also practised more of both sections than the writing and speaking, and I found it more convenient to read passages before answering questions.

I need to say here though that it was not all sweet for me during practice as I remembered a listening practice test I did where I scored 26. I just blacked out and lost focus while listening to the tape and missed a lot of answers, this jolted me up and made me realize that the exam was not going to be as simple as I thought.


To cap it all up, I’ll advice anyone preparing for the test to first if all identify a pattern that suits them, work well on perfecting it and do lots of practice questions. It also helps to simulate exam conditions as this goes a long way in calming the nerves on the day of exam. The most important advice though is to listen to Liz 100%. I listened to get 85% and got an overall score of 8, I wonder what would have happened if I had listened to her 100%.


PS: you might be wondering how someone who hates writing was able to write all the above, well, it’s because I want to show appreciation to a wonderful teacher.

Message to Jubril: Thank you so much for sharing your tips and experience of the IELTS test. Very well done with your results 🙂 From Liz

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How Nilay Scored IELTS 8.5 Overall

Nilay scored 8.5 Overall in the IELTS Academic test this month. Below are his tips for his great score in IELTS.

Nilay’s Scores: Overall 8.5

  • Listening: 9
  • Reading: 9
  • Writing: 8
  • Speaking: 8

Nilay’s Tips for IELTS 8.5

Nilay here. I am an orthopedic surgeon from India and currently trying to specialize in spine surgery. I appeared for the IELTS to register with the Canadian medical boards for which I needed minimum 7 in each of the four categories. This was the academic version.

To summarize the prep, I gave it around 12-14 days part time. I had been aware of your videos and thought to just concentrate on that during last 3 to 4 days and I attribute a large part of my writing score to your tips. I didn’t opt for paid tutorials but I feel that the content you generously provide is more than enough in most cases. Having said that, I was planning to get your paid tutorials if I couldn’t cross the required threshold of 7/9 in writing; I was reasonably certain I would cross 7 in RW and S. My tips are summarized here.
Reading Tips- As a compulsive reader, I was a bit overconfident when I started out the prep and expected to score a perfect 9 each time. My behind was handed back to me promptly by the No/Not Given dilemma. Your tips on that cleared out the webs and I highly recommend that video to polish the reading score. One thing I realized in the exam is that the reading paragraphs can be difficult and must not be underestimated even if you are good at reading to begin with. I consider myself a very fast reader and still had only 8-10 mins left at the end. I would advise underlining key words and phrases as it makes it easier to fish out the answers.  I wrote in all caps as advised.
Listening Tips – Tricky proposition. I feel that IELTS listening section doesn’t evaluate your listening capability but rather evaluates your presence of mind and multi-tasking ability to listen, note and paraphrase at the same time. I am very well versed with major accents and still made mistakes in answers due to missing plurals, not catching the exact words and sometimes missing paraphrases at the end of tests. I would really advise going through Cambridge practice tests to refine this. They are the real counterparts to the exam. I can’t stress enough on scanning the questions in advance, predicting answers and using the 30 seconds given to go over your last batch of answers to scan the questions ahead instead.  Presence of mind is really important or you would make a mess of it. Also, all caps again.
Speaking Tips –  Didn’t prepare much for it except for going through your tips and speaking to a local instructor I knew. I am fluent but I speak too fast and maybe that reflected on what I consider a lower score on my speaking test. Also, this is a live interaction test and your score will depend upon your rapport with and impression upon the examiner even if they are trained to disregard those factors. I more or less had  a friendly conversation and was asked questions about skilled and unskilled jobs in last part. I think the trick here is to fill up the time allotted and keep on speaking. I attribute the shavings in my score to speed and my roundabout answer to a bizarre question about soft and hard skills. I could have done better here.
Writing Tips – Last but not the least. I have BAD handwriting which live up to all the cliches about illegibility of doctors. This was a big issue for me with IELTS being a written exam. I realized that all my writing skills would be for naught if it looked like someone dipped ants in ink pot and let them loose on the paper. So I ditched the cursive, zoomed in the fonts and increased the space between words and made several people go through it till their satisfaction. I was confident about my vocabulary and grammar, so that helped but this exam is all about sticking to the format.  I can not stress enough how helpful your writing section videos are. I stuck to the outline stressed upon by you for both the tasks and I was rewarded. I made sure to follow the cite-support-example format for body paragraphs on task two; it really eased the though organization process. Task one is straightforward but it’s important not to get mired into details and just focus on major trends and data points. I didn’t have problem with time and word count. But even if you do, I really suggest taking 2 minutes to read the task and then a minute or so to jot down writing points on paper; paragraph wise. Also keep a minute or two at the end to go over your writing. Do not try to correct or improve large sections of a sentence but concentrate on spell check, grammatical gaffes and punctuation marks.
  To conclude [the format ,the format!], I am satisfied with my result and would thank you for your generous online help. I really stress upon test takers to go through your videos which I consider the best resource available online for this test. I hope my experience helps future test takers. Best of luck to you all!
Message to Nilay: Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I know students will be inspired by your results and also grateful for the experiences you have shared. Well done again with your excellent score 🙂

How Heather got IELTS Overall Band Score 8.5

Heather scored overall 8.5 in IELTS and below are her tips for success 🙂

Heather’s IELTS Story

I re-wrote the IELTS general training exam and I got my writing band score increased from 6.5 to 7.5 with an OBS of 8.5, all thanks to you. 🙂 I have attached my TRF.

Overall Band Score = 8.5 (L 9 / R 9 / W 7.5 / S 8.5)

I would like to thank you, Liz, from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful lessons which helped me a lot. I thought of sharing how I overcame my weaknesses and rectified my mistakes this time.

Heather’s IELTS Tips

Here are some of my tips and tricks for before the exam and during the exam.

Before the exam:

Listening & Reading:

  1. Practice all the listening and reading tests from Cambridge IELTS books.
  2. Make sure you take printed copies of the tests and answer sheets and practice it within the time limit.
  3. While practicing,try to get all answers for listening in 30 mins and spend 5 mins checking whether all your answers make proper grammatical sense.
  4. Try to complete reading in 45 minutes and spend 15 minutes going over each question making sure you selected the right answers. (especially true or false questions).
  5. Keep practising until you are able to score between 38-40 right answers.

 (This is if you want to score a band score 9)

I think the listening and reading sections are the easiest and they give us the added advantage because the answers are already given to us in an indirect form. So if we can focus and scrutinise the available data, we can easily score a 9, unlike the writing and speaking sections where you have to completely develop the answer on your own.


I thought I was pretty okay at English writing but came to know that I am terrible at “ielts writing” which I realized after my first test. I always thought I have been writing stories and poems and blogs since school days, so I assumed writing would be a piece of cake. But to be honest, IELTS writing is  something quite different and they definitely don’t want you to ramble on for pages. I would say the approach to this section should be “focussed writing”.

The second time I wrote the test I took expert advice from none other than Liz and made changes to the way I wrote.

  1. Purchase Liz’s advanced videos, they are amazing and a must do before you attempt to write.
  2. View all of Liz’s videos on YouTube, they teach a lot of important tips.
  3. Plan your essay. You just need 2 primary points to write two main body paragraphs of 90 words each.
  4. State your opinion (only when asked) in the introduction and continue to support your opinion in the body paragraphs. Do not deviate from your opinion.
  5. Introduction and conclusion are very important and I personally took time to write 2 lines roughly for each before I started the essay.
  6. Make sure to write fast but in legible handwriting. Use a pen if you can write faster with it. We all haven’t used a pencil in ages and it can be quite difficult to write fast with it.
  7. Go through Liz’s 100 ielts questions and jot down points or arguments you could use at the time of exam. (Just get ideas, don’t learn lines by heart).
  8. Go through Liz’s recent ielts questions for the month you are taking your exam. Chances are quite high that one of those questions might get paraphrased and asked again.
  9. Write the essay first, as it has twice the weight as the letter. I wrote letter in the last 10 minutes of my writing test.
  10. Allot one paragraph to clearly answer each question in the essay/ letter.

Speaking :

  1. Go through Liz’s recent ielts questions to get an idea of the latest topics and prepare to speak about them.
  2. Practise speaking in front of the mirror to improve your confidence.
  3. Go through the blog “52 speaking part 2 topics 2017” which really helped me.
  4. Take the simulation test by Liz on YouTube, it really helps you to time your answers.
  5. Have discussions with friends or family about the topics you need to prepare. They can really help boost your morale.
  6. The importance is on how you can speak fluently and communicate with ease, not on making intelligent arguments. So relax and just have a fun conversation with the examiner.

On Exam day :

I don’t know about IDP but if you are taking the British council test , I have some tips to share.

  1. Exam is usually scheduled for 1pm but you have to report at 11.30am for registration, which means you’ll have to skip lunch and write the exam on an empty stomach which can make you lose focus while you write.
  2. Registration takes a long time and you’ll end up waiting impatiently till 1.30pm (the exam never starts at sharp 1pm) in the exam hall, if you register first.
  3. You are not allowed to take washroom breaks after you register and during the exam , unless, of course, at your own risk of losing time.
  4. Reach the venue on time for registration but do NOT get registered immediately. Wait outside.
  5. Carry energy bars, bananas or chocolates that you can munch on before you enter for registration.
  6. 12.30pm is a good time to register and make sure to use the washroom just before this.
  7. Limit the amount of water you drink after you get into the exam hall.
  8. Take 2 sips of water after you complete each section to feel fresh and start the next section with a clear mind.
  9. Try not to use the washroom during the writing section ( I saw one candidate who could not complete the essay)
  10. Wear warm and comfortable clothes, the exam hall can be quite cold.( I took my hoodie jacket)
  11. Raise your hand and inform the exam conductors if  your audio is not loud enough during the audio testing.
  12. Carry pencils, pens, eraser and a sharpener. (I saw someone come into the exam hall unaware that we have use to pencil for L&R)
  13. Try to focus all your energies into the exam. Don’t be stressed, stay relaxed.


Useful IELTS Links Recommended by Heather

Good luck everyone! Thank you Liz. If someday I get to meet you, I would really love to buy you lunch 🙂 Love & Regards, Happy Heather 🙂
Thanks Heather, lunch sounds good some day 🙂 Well done 🙂 Liz

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How I got IELTS Band Score 9 Overall

Overall IELTS 9: A student’s Tips

Learn how Gokul, an IELTS student, got overall band score 9 in IELTS this year. He shares his useful tips and experience with you in order to help and inspire you to achieve your best in your IELTS test.

IELTS Test Results: Band 9

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka.

  • Overall Band Score 9
  • Listening: 9
  • Reading: 9
  • Writing: 8
  • Speaking 9

Gokul’s Tips for IELTS Overall Band Score 9

This was my first ever IELTS attempt. I never thought that I’d be required specifically to do IELTS, since my studies have only ever been in English. Even the university that I’d applied for my Masters seemed happy enough to accept me without an IELTS requirement. However, I was told by my destination country’s embassy that they can only issue a visa given that I show an IELTS grade of 7 overall or above.

I had barely 10 days to prepare and do the test, since the results would take roughly 2 weeks to be released.

I’m listing some of the things that I followed, and I hope that you find it useful in your own preparation.

IELTS Listening Band Score 9 Tips

I’d say that the listening test is all about practice. I did about 8 practice tests, and as I was doing them I was able to see that I was getting better at picking up the points needed for the answer the more I practiced.

In my own test, I had a woman who spoke in a Scottish accent, and I’d say that this is one of the accents that people outside of the UK seldom come across. This is why it’s imperative that you try out some practice tests by yourselves. This would enable you to get used to the formats as well as the intonation and accents used by the people that you hear in the recording. Liz has a number of excellent practice less0ns on the blog at the IELTS Listening page.

You might sometimes find that you’ve missed the answer to a given question. If this happens – don’t worry! Panicking will only reduce your concentration and might cause you to lose more answers.

I also also recommend writing the answers in capital letters so that the examiner would find it easier to read what you’ve written.

Finally, make good use of the extra 10 minutes that you’re allowed at the end of the test (update – 10 mins for the paper based test only – the computer test has only 2 mins checking time). This can be used for filling out any answers that you may have missed.

IELTS Reading Band Score 9 Tips

I found the reading exam the easiest of the lot. You can read the passages at your own pace as opposed to following a pre-set sequence of events as in the listening test. I finished the test in about 40 minutes and had time to go through my answers again to check them for errors.

While there are some that say reading the entire passage is not worth it, I would still suggest that you at least skim the passages to get the gist of the content before you start. I recommend this in particular to people whose reading speed is high. This way, when you encounter a question, you’d have an inkling of where in the passage you saw the answer point.

Another point that I can’t stress enough is that you should never overthink the question. This was my biggest problem in the reading practice tests. Over-analysing the statement will often lead to incorrect answers. For YES/NO/NOT GIVEN type questions, if the passage explicitly agrees with the statement, say YES, and if it explicitly contradicts the statement, say NO. In all other cases, say NOT GIVEN.

Again, Liz has a set of excellent tips as well as practice questions in the IELTS Reading page.

IELTS Writing Band Score 8 Tips

My writing test for Task 1 involved a bar chart which compared bottled water vs. soda consumption in some western countries, while for task 2 I had the following:

Most countries want to improve the standard of living through economic development, however others think social values are lost as a result. Do you think the advantages of economic development outweigh the disadvantages?

I followed Liz’s tips on writing task 1writing task 2 to the letter and found that having a strategy helped me immensely. If you’re just starting out answering the tasks without a plan, it would likely end up costing you more time. As Liz rightly states, time management is vitally important in the writing test. I’d also recommend that you go through the answers you’ve written as well, which will help spot any errors that you may have made. A quick once-over may help you save points that you’d have lost if you’d misspelled any word.

IELTS Speaking Band Score 9 Tips

My speaking test went very well, and I almost felt as if I’d had a pleasant chat with the examiner as opposed to being graded.

My speaking part 1 was mostly about work/life balance (probably because I’d said that I was working full-time).

Then, for part 2, I was asked to speak about an important historical event and how it had helped shape the present. I picked the Assassination of Julius Caesar and it went without a hitch.

Part 3 then followed up on history and why it’s important to learn it.

For part 2, I made some short notes on the notepad given to me, which helped me marshal my thoughts before the talk itself. You can also structure your own flow which would enable you to showcase your language skills without being held up by lack of content. This is important because pauses due to language limitations will negatively impact your score.

It’s also worth noting that what’s being tested is your language level and not the content you’re presenting. Hence, if you don’t have an answer, you can say no and take it as an opportunity to display your proficiency. For instance, I was asked whether I had any pets, and I said something along the lines of “No, I’ve never really had the chance, but my neighbour has a beautiful Labrador that I enjoy playing with..” and so on.

Be clear and confident, and you’d do fine.

Closing thoughts from Gokul

Lastly, though you’re probably here to prepare for your exams, I’d urge you to develop an interest in the English Language in general. Not only would you find that it provides you with new opportunities, it would also help you enjoy some of the finest literature ever produced.

Liz – I can’t thank you enough for your collection of resources and materials for prospective test-takers. They were invaluable to me, and doubtless to countless others as well. Keep up the good work.

Message from Liz: Thanks for sharing your tips and your experience, Gokul. You’ve done amazingly well and clearly understand IELTS. I hope this will inspire students to learn more about their test before taking it. You’re tips are great for each part of the IELTS test and I highly recommend people to learn from what you’ve shared.

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How I Scored 9 in IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking Band 9 Tips from a sucessful IELTS candidate. Nouman shares his experience and tips of how he got 9 in IELTS speaking. You can find useful links for IELTS at the end of this article.

All students taking GT or Academic IELTS will take the same speaking test. There is only one speaking test for all students. These tips are useful for all candidates.

Band Score 9 in IELTS Speaking

How I scored Band 9 in IELTS Speaking

I believe I managed to score a 9 with continuous practice and being myself in the test. The best thing is not to feel shy when you speak about any particular topic. Do not think that your thoughts might be too little or simple to express.  Some of us may believe that if we are not full of knowledge, we may not be able to impress the examiner.  In speaking module however, knowledge of the topic is not a big deal. The thoughts presented may just be of a lay man and do not need to reflect an in-depth understanding of the subject.

I never crammed any specific topics however; I did gather my thoughts for topics which I would have found difficult to talk about. For example, I have not been visiting many historical places in the past. The one or two that I have visited, I made sure that I gather sufficient thoughts about those places to talk about. Important thing is that those thoughts were purely my own and not learnt from a book or Wikipedia. Gathering own thoughts in your own words is important.

Well done to you, Nouman, and thanks so much for sharing your tips!!! Liz

Liz’s Comments and Summary:

Nouman’s band score 9 advice is excellent. Here are his points in a list with some extra tips for IELTS Speaking:

  • don’t be shy
  • enjoy the chat with the examiner
  • your ideas are not important – your knowledge is not being tested
  • say your ideas with confidence and showcase your language skills
  • simple ideas explained using excellent English can get you band score 9
  • review topics
  • think of your experiences relating to the topics
  • if the topic is a museum, think of museums you have been to or would like to go to
  • remember your past experiences
  • speak from the heart – your English is better when you do that
  • learn to express yourself using your own language
  • imagine talking about your experienced and your views

Scoring 9 in Reading

Learn how one student scored band score 9 in IELTS reading: How I Scored 9 in Reading

Useful Links for IELTS Speaking

Click on the links to open them:

  1. Tips: Should I speaking fast or slow?
  2. How to start your talk in IELTS speaking part 2
  3. Asking the examiner questions
  4. Tips & Answers: All IELTS Speaking Model Answers & Tips


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How I Scored 9 in IELTS Reading

“How I got Band 9 in IELTS Reading.”

Manal got band score 9 in IELTS reading with band score 8.5 overall.  Learn how she did it …


Below are her tips for a high score in GT reading:

 Getting 9 in IELTS reading

Manal’s Story and Tips for Band 9 in Reading

Oh I couldn’t believe in my wildest dreams that I scored a 9.0 in Reading. Reading was one of my weakest areas. After I gave the test, I had a gut feeling telling me that probably I scored a 9.0 in Reading. I even got to check all my answers in Listening as well as Reading.

I re-took the General test. The first time I attempted this test was in October – that time I scored an overall band score of 8.0 with L – 8.5, Reading – 7.0, W – 8.0, S – 9.0. I retook the test specifically to improve my Reading score so obviously I relentlessly practiced tests from the General section of Cambridge IELTS books. I was aiming for a minimum of 8.0 in reading.

Tips for Getting Band Score 9 in IELTS Reading
Here are some tips and strategies which you could post. Please feel free to make any editions necessary. I like to explain things in detail, otherwise I do not feel satisfied. You can make them more brief and concise.

Tip 1

Effective time management I can’t stress enough about it. One thing which I meticulously practiced when I did the reading tests was to enforce a strict time division for each section of Reading. Even though in the cambridge books, it states to keep a minimum of 20 minutes for each section. I’d suggest to keep 15 minutes OR less in Section 1 and 2 and to rely solely on skimming and scanning (I mastered to finish Section 1 and 2 in less than 15 minutes leaving me with ample time to solve Section 3 questions). Keep 30 minutes or more for Section 3- where you will need to do a little bit more than skimming and scanning. I usually managed to have 5-10 minutes for revision.

Tip 2

Do not bother reading the passages. It’s a waste of time.

  First, read the questions and circle the keywords and then try to look for those keywords or a synonym / paraphased text in the passage. For Section 1 and 2  – skimming and scanning will be your best friends. 

I didn’t even waste time reading Section 3. I just read the text associated with the questions. 

 Tip 3

One strategy that worked for me best was “not to overthink” when you are solving the reading questions and to go with your gut instincts – there is no time to think during the 60 minutes of tackling reading questions. Especially this applies to me, because I tend to overthink and over analyze a lot when I am stressed. I struggled a lot with the true false questions. But as I trained myself not to overthink, if the text is there either it will be the same meaning as the question or opposite. If text is not there – not given. 

Tip 4

For paragraph heading questions, only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. A synonym or a related keyword in the heading title should be there. I also sometimes to be on the safe side for some questions read the second sentence as well.

Tip 5

Although, you will keep hearing from people practice and practice. I personally believe practice is inefficient if you do not learn from your incorrect answers. So it really helps to look at your mistakes and compare with the correct answers in the answer key and to reflect on where you made the mistake. I feel that way – you learn more efficiently.

Hope that helps.
Comments from IELTS Liz
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Manal. I think many students will benefit from this and also be inspired to keep aiming for the higher scores 🙂
Anyone who would like to add more tips, please post them in the comments box below 🙂
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