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 🙂

Listening Practice: Villa Rental

This listening practice is to help you with your IELTS preparation. The topic “villa for sale” was reported in the IELTS listening test this month, so I’ve created this listening practice based on renting a villa.

Prepare the questions first and then listen to the recording only once.

Listening Topic for IELTS: Villa Rental

Questions 1-5

Fill in the gaps using no more than three words and/or a number.

  1. The villa has a sauna, gym and an ………………
  2. The town is within ……………….. of the villa.
  3. It is possible to do swimming and …………. at the lake.
  4. Families hoping to avoid the ………………. of life would like this villa.
  5. Rental must be for …………. or longer.

Recording: Listen only once



The answers are now available for this lesson.

For answers click here: Answers to Villa Listening


I will post the transcript and answers tomorrow. For more listening practice, see the Main IELTS Listening Page

All the best


IELTS Listening Practice Multiple Choice

Below is a multiple choice listening exercise about the topic of copyright. This topic has recently appeared in the IELTS listening test. This exercise is not an IELTS test. It is a practice listening exercise for multiple choice questions.

Always read the questions before listening to the recording. In the test, you will have time to do this. However, you can listen only once to the audio.

You might hear all options or words similar to options given. It is your task to focus on paraphrasing and synonyms to select the right answer. You can make notes while you listen. This truly is a test of your vocabulary!!

Listening Questions 1-2

(1) Copyright is important for an author’s………...   (Choose one letter.)

  • A) future work
  • B) privacy
  • C) subsistence
  • D) adulthood

(2) What types of work are protected by copyright?  (Choose two letters.)

  • A) buildings
  • B) all books
  • C) films
  • D) computer components
  • E) nature’s song
  • F) words accompanying music
  • G) public source graphs and charts


Click to play the recording. Make notes while you listen.  The information for this recording is from and you can find more on this page: Copyright & Its Importance


The answers are available for this lesson. Click below:

Click here: Answers for Copyright Multiple Choice Listening

All the best


IELTS Listening: Bitcoin

A short listening exercise which focused on filling in the gaps in a passage. You need to read the passage first before listening the the recording. Make a note of key words in the passage and predict the types of answers that will come (nouns / verbs etc). This audio is on a cloud so you will need stable internet connection to stream it.

Tip: Answers will come in order of the question numbers. To keep your place in the recording and not get list, you need to focus on key words in the passage below and not get lost in the extra detail in the recording.

Post your answers below and I’ll post the answers tomorrow.

Listening: What is bitcoin?

Complete the summary using no more than two words and/or a number.

A new currency recently established is the bitcoin which allows (1) …………. transactions. It is not limited geographically and is not controlled by a (2) ………………………… The idea behind it is that money is any object or (3)……… which is accepted as payment. The benefits of bitcoins is that they can easily used online and transactions are (4)…………. but the downside is that they are (5)……………




Click below to see the answers

Answers to Bitcoin Listening


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Answers to Museum Listening

Below are the answers to the listening practice about the Natural History Museum.

Make sure you have finished the listening practice before you see the answers. You can find the listening practice on this page: Museum Listening

Most students got about 4 answers correct. That’s great. For students who got all 5 correct – very well done 🙂

Transcript and Answers

Click below to view the transcript and answers:


The Natural History Museum in London is a museum of natural history that exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture—sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature—both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast that dominated the vaulted central hall before it was replaced in 2017 with the skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling. The skeleton is some 25 m long and weighing 10 tons.

Notice: This information was from wiki. You can read more about the Natural History Museum on this page:,_London

  1. 80 million
  2. zoology (the spelling must be correct)
  3. vaulted central hall / central hall / hall
  4. blue whale
  5. 10 tons


See all my IELTS listening exercises and tips: Liz’s Listening Main Page


Listening Practice Museum

Listening Practice

This listening practice is on the topic of museums. It’s a common topic in IELTS listening and reading.

Read the questions below first and then listen to the recording. Post your answers in the comments box below.

Natural History Museum

Listening Recording

Read the questions below first and then listen to the recording.

Questions 1-5

Complete the sentences below with no more than three words and/or a number.

      1. The Natural History Museum houses about ……………….. items.
      2. The items are taken from five collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and ………….
      3. The cast of a large Diplodocus was the main focus in the …………………..
      4. The Diplodocus was replaced by the skeleton of a ……………….. in 2017.
      5. The skeleton is 25m long and weighs ……………


The answers to this listening practice are now available. Click below:

View transcript and answers: Museum Listening Answers


You can find more listening tips and exercises for IELTs on this page: Liz’s Main Listening Page

If you want to read more about the Natural History Museum in London, visit the wiki page. This where I found the information to create this lesson.


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IELTS Listening: Which answer is correct?

Hi guys,

I continue to have students who ask me how to write answer for their IELTS listening test. See the questions below and decide which of the answers is correct.


Hi Mary, I guess you are not home so I’ll leave a message for you. You mentioned popping round for lunch tomorrow. I forget to tell you two things. The first one is to ask you to bring a cake. Make sure it’s free from milk or butter for John. You know he’s lactose intolerant. Also I forget to tell you that there’s a car park behind my house where you can park. But you’ll need to bring some small change because you have to purchase a ticket which will cost about 75p. Also I must warn you that the car park shuts at 9.30pm so make sure you get your car out before that. Well, that’s all. See you tomorrow.


Answer using no more than three words and/or a number.

  1. John can’t have  ……………or …………….
  2. Mary will need  to buy …………… for the car park.
  3. The car park will close at ………………………


Choose below which are the correct answers for these questions

**  You can choose more than one correct answer. In some cases, there might be two or three correct answers. **

Answer to Q1:   a) milk or butter         b) milk, butter           c) milk  / butter      d) milk  butter

Answer to Q2   a) ticket      b) a ticket     c) the ticket        d) car park ticket

Answer to Q3   a) at 9.30pm     b) at 9:30pm     c) 9.30pm     d)9:30pm

Answers to Above Options:

You can find the answers to this exercise on this link: Answers to Exercise Above



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Student Tips for Getting IELTS Band 8.5 Overall

My Tips for IELTS Overall 8.5

This page gives you my tips for how I got IELTS band score 8.5 overall in 3 steps. And also my tips for getting band 8 in IELTS writing and band score 9 in IELTS speaking.

by Deeksha

My IELTS Test Results

24th June; United States; First Attempt. I just received my IELTS score:

  • Listening – 7.5
  • Reading – 8.5
  • Writing – 8.0
  • Speaking – 9.0
  • Overall – 8.5

I barely had 5 days to prepare. 70% of my preparation included watching the videos on your blog, answering your sample questions, and going through your tips! For the rest 30%, I printed some of the full-fledged tests and
sample answer sheets from the Cambridge IELTS books and just practised using those.

For anyone of you who has a very little time to prepare, I hope that the process I followed can help you lay out a basic schedule.

My 3 Step Tips for IELTS Band Score 8.5

See my 3 steps:

Step -1 (Know the test)

– Go through the test format.
– Spend some time and understand the question patterns in each segment.
– Keep in mind the time limit for every segment.
– Do an initial sample test (download from IELTS official website) just to see where you stand.


Step-2 (Prepare using Liz’s blog)

– Go through every one of the 4 segments (L, R, W, S) in this blog, one after the other. Links: Listening Tips, /Reading / Writing T1 /  Writing T2 / Speaking
– In each segment, read every tip and watch every video.
– Make notes of the points that you would like to keep in mind.
– Try and answer every sample question that Liz has laid out there. She has specified at least one sample question for every possible pattern that could appear on the test.
– Look at the answers and compare with yours. Figure out what you got wrong and more importantly, “analyze why you got them wrong.” This helps you understand how you approached the question, and how you should have.

Step-3 (Practice)

– Download all the versions of Cambridge IELTS books (you can just google them out).
– From these books, print out the full-fledged tests and sample answer sheets.
– Take these tests using a clock and write your answers in the sample answer sheets.
– Grade your tests and find out your weak areas.
– Make notes of your analysis and try to keep it in mind during the following tests.

In addition, go through the comments in this blog and find out what the recent test takers said about their tests. Know about the tips that helped them, learn from their experiences and be prepared.

Writing Tips for Band Score 8

On my test:

  1. Write a letter to your friend who is going to stay in your apartment during the next month while you are away on vacation
  2. Tell your friend where to get the keys
  3. Tell your friend about the equipment in your apartment
  4. Tell your friend about some places to visit in the area
  5. Advancement of technology has obliterated libraries and hard copies of books. Do you agree or disagree?

–          Apart from your writing skills and the topic at hand, it may help to do this section in a way that encompasses all the elements that the examiner is looking for. Liz’s writing section mentions specific guidelines for content organization, format, tone, logical reasoning, titles, signatures and many other tips. Go through them and try to follow all those tips as you write. In other words, you will have a shell prepared in your mind even before you know what the questions are. Click here: IELTS GT Letter Tips 

–          I didn’t have time to practice this section at all so I had a bit of an issue managing time on the test. If you have very little time to prepare for IELTS, make sure you squeeze in at least a few writing tests and see where you stand with the time limit.

Speaking Tips for Band Score 9

On my test (to the best of my recollection):

  • –          Where are you from?
  • –          Do you work or study?
  • –          Is there anything significant about the place you were born in?
  • –          Do you enjoy it?
  • –          What is special about it?
  • –          Do you have any challenges at work/school? How do you resolve them?
  • –          Where do you live?
  • –          Where would you like to live in the future?
  • –          Do you usually shop online?
  • –          How is it better than shopping in the stores?
  • –          Is there any difference between living in rural and urban areas?
  • –          How do you cope up with the challenges of urban life?
  • –          What do you do on your birthdays?
  • –          Are your birthdays the same as they were when you were a child?
  • –          Is any specific birthday considered significant in your country?
  • –          Do you have a favorite rock star?
  • –          Would you enjoy meeting your favorite rock star?

Cue card:

  • –          Talk about a crowded place that you visited recently.
  • –          Did you or did you not like it? Why?
  • –          Would you revisit it again in the future?

Go through Liz’s list of sample topics, sample answers (Liz’s Speaking Page), comments from recent test takers (Recent Topics) on this blog and questions from IELTS Cambridge speaking tests. Try to answer them. These should be more than enough to help you familiarize with the test pattern and to understand what to expect on the test. From the comments, I also found out that most of these questions are being repeated so make sure you go through them. Almost all the questions that my examiner (whose name was coincidentally Liz) asked me were also from the above lot.

As Liz mentioned, they expect you to be casual and test you only for your language and not for your knowledge on the topic at hand. Think about this segment like you just bumped into a fan who would like to know some of your opinions and experiences. Well, you don’t simply meet a fan every day, so this is your chance – talk her ear off! J Be casual, funny, and confident and you’ll do just fine.

Try to book your test in a test center that does not use hallway speakers to play the audio in the listening section. There is a definite distinction in terms of quality compared to headphones. There is always a possibility of noise and distraction. I didn’t know about this while booking my test and I certainly experienced the difference.



Good Luck!

Liz – Thanks again for the effort you are putting in, to assist so many test-takers all over the world, each with their own questions and training needs. It must feel incredible to know that most of these people credit their success to you. Keep up the good work!


Message from Liz

Deeksha, you’ve done exceedingly well. Congratulations!! I love your tips! They are logical and very helpful for all IELTS students. Tackling IELTS methodically is essential and Deeksha has really hit the nail on the head !!! 🙂