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 🙂

Reading Practice: Ancient City Caral

True False and Not Given reading practice for IELTS students based on a topic that was reported by students in their reading test in January 2018. To see all my reading lessons, click here: Main Reading Page. Other main pages are accessed through the red bar at the top of the website.

Passage: Pyramid City Caral

The Norte Chico civilization of Supe, Peru, was the first known civilisation of the Americas. Their capital was the Sacred City of Caral – a 5,000-year-old metropolis complete with complex agricultural practices, rich culture, and monumental architecture, including six large pyramidal structures, stone and earthen platform mounds, temples, amphitheatre,  sunken circular plazas, and residential areas.

Caral is situated on a dry desert terrace overlooking the lush valley of the Supe River. Exceptionally well-preserved, the site is impressive in terms of its design and the complexity of its architecture. The city’s plan and some of its features, including pyramidal structures and residences of the elite, show clear evidence of ceremonial functions, signifying a powerful religious ideology.

The centre of the Caral complex consists of a central public area with six large pyramids (platform mounds) arranged around a huge plaza. The largest of the mounds, located in a dominating position within the urban plan of Caral, is 60 feet high and measures 450 x 500 feet at the base, covering an area nearly the size of four football fields. From the top of the great pyramid, the rulers of Caral would have been able to monitor the entire city. In total, it is estimated that Caral was home to a population of about 3,000 people. Researchers believe the model of the city was used by many civilizations that came after the Norte Chico. In 2001, the Sacred City of Caral in Supe was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Notice: This passage has been adapted from the website You can read the full passage here: Pyramid City of Caral. The picture above is also from the same article.

Questions: Are the following statements True False or Not Given based on the passage above?

  1. The city did not include housing for its citizens.
  2. As far as the eye could see, the landscape was arid.
  3. The largest pyramid is 60 feet in height in Caral.
  4. Caral had a bigger population than most cities at that time.
  5. Caral is thought to have provided a prototype for subsequent civilisations.

Notice from Liz: I will be taking a break from posting lessons in Feb, Mar and Apr. I will post a notice when my holiday begins. Some pages will be kept open during my break.


The answers to this lesson are now available:

Click here for the answers: Answers to Caral Reading Lesson

All the best



Reading Practice Magnetic Therapy

This is a practice reading lesson for IELTS students that focuses on sentence completion questions. This topic was reported in the IELTS test this month. Tip: make sure your sentences are grammatically correct when complete.

Reading Passage: Magnetic Therapy

Magnetic therapy is an alternative medical practice that uses static magnets to alleviate pain and other health concerns. So-called therapeutic magnets are typically integrated into bracelets, rings, or shoe inserts, though therapeutic magnetic mattresses and clothing are also on the market.

Many well-conducted studies over the past three decades have shown that static magnetic devices offer no more or no less benefit than sham devices devoid of a magnet. These studies suggest that static magnetic therapy devices may not work at all beyond having a placebo effect on those who wear them. Despite a lack of scientific evidence to support claims that commercially available magnetic therapy devices work, wearable magnets remain extremely popular. Global sale of therapeutic magnets is estimated to be at least $1 billion a year.

Magnetic therapy dates back at least 2,000 years. Folk healers in Europe and Asia are believed to have used magnets to try to treat a variety of ailments. These healers may have believed that magnets could actually draw disease from the body. Regardless, the therapeutic magnets sold to ease aches and pains have magnetic fields that are generally too weak to penetrate your skin. This can be tested by observing the weak interaction between a magnetic shoe insert and a paperclip when separated by a sock. Human skin is about 3mm deep, thicker than some socks.

Questions 1-6

Complete the sentences using no more than one word and/or a number from the passage above.

  1. Magnetic therapy aims to ease ………
  2. It is possible to buy ………… to wear on the wrist that contain therapeutic magnets.
  3. Devices using magnetic therapy are considered to have only a …….. effect.
  4. The magnetic therapy market is said to be worth at least ……….. per annum.
  5. Magnets have been historically used to ………. disease from a sick person.
  6. The magnetic fields are unable to ……… human skin which is approximately …….. in thickness.

You can download the passage here:  Reading Passage However questions must be viewed online.

Notice: The passage above has been adapted from a article. You can read the full article here: Magnetic Therapy. The picture is from You can read their article on this page: Does magnetic therapy work


The answers are now available.

Click here: Answers to Magnet Therapy Reading

All the best


For more reading practice lessons for IELTS preparation, see my Main IELTS Reading Page


Answers for Medical Robots Reading

Below you will find the questions and answers for the IELTS reading lessons about medical robots.

If you haven’t done this lesson, please complete it before looking at the answers. Click here: Medical Robots Reading


  1.  The accuracy and calculation of robots is unparalleled.
  2. Robots are used in medical practices in all countries.
  3. Robots can view a very small camera to coordinate movements.
  4. Medical robots have reduced the size of cuts needed on the body.
  5. More people recover from surgery when it is performed by a medical robot.


  1. TRUE
    1. With unmatched precision ………. one of the most useful applications of robotic technology.
    2. Unmatched precision = unparalleled accuracy and calculation.
    1. No information is given about using medical robots in ALL countries.
    2. “These robots are widely used in various medical practices” means robots are used for different medical reasons. This is not about how many countries use them.
  3. FALSE
    1. “The surgeon maneuvers the system’s robotic arms while viewing a tiny, high-resolution endoscopic camera…” This means the surgeon looks through the tiny camera to move the robot – not the robot looking through the camera. This means the passage shows the statement is wrong = false.
  4. TRUE
    1. “Successful surgery patients have therefore reported smaller incisions,”. Because robots preform the surgery, the incision (the cut) is smaller.
    1. No information is given about how many people recover. The passage does not show more people recover or less people recover.
    2. “faster healing time ” this is about how fast people recover – not how many people recover.

I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best



Reading Lesson for IELTS: Medical Robots

Practice your IELTS reading skills with these True, False, Not Given questions. Remember the meaning of T,F & NG:

  • T = the statement is correct
  • F = the statement is wrong
  • NG = we don’t know if it is wrong or right because there isn’t enough information given.

Reading Practice for IELTS

Passage Topic: Medical Robots

Nowadays, it is no longer surprising to learn that a hospital’s top performing surgeon is not human. With unmatched precision and the ability to work without fatigue, medical robots are obviously one of the most useful applications of robotic technology. These robots are widely used in various medical practices, including difficult surgical procedures, and have completely revolutionised the speed and efficiency of health care services in several parts of the world.

The surgeon maneuvers the system’s robotic arms while viewing a tiny, high-resolution endoscopic camera inserted through an incision. The robot’s jointed-wrist capability surpasses the human hand’s range of motion, allowing for movement in a much smaller space. Successful surgery patients have therefore reported smaller incisions, less blood, pain and trauma and a faster healing time than regular surgery.

Questions: T, F or NG?

  1.  The accuracy and calculation of robots is unparalleled.
  2. Robots are used in medical practices in all countries.
  3. Robots can view a very small camera to coordinate movements.
  4. Medical robots have reduced the size of cuts needed on the body.
  5. More people recover from surgery when it is performed by a medical robot.

Notice & Disclaimer: This reading passage has been adapted from this article: Medical Robots. All lessons have been produced to provide free practice for IELTS students. They are not IELTS tests. Wishing you all the best, from IELTS Liz.

Answers are now available for this lesson.

All the best



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IELTS Reading Practice: Fill the Gaps Exercise

This is a great exercise of gap fill for students preparing for their IELTS Reading test.  This is not an IELTS test, it is a practice lesson to help you develop the skills needed for success in the IELTS reading test, namely: selecting key words to complete sentences by filling in the gaps. Always remember that sentences must be grammatically correct when they are complete.

Passage: Logical Mathematical Intelligence

Some individuals are able to learn just about anything using their logical skills. They are able to calculate and work out relationships and connections between items. They enjoy mental challenges seeking out solutions to logical, abstract and mathematical problems and have good deductive reasoning skills. They may simply excel at games involving strategy such as chess.

To exhibit strong Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, it is not necessary for you to be good at maths – the very act of selecting key points in a logical, systematic numbered sequence can be evidence of this intelligence. The very act of investigating and analysing allows you to go beneath the surface of what you may be learning so as not to simply take it at face value.

Notice: This passage is from You can find the whole article on this page: Multiple Intelligences

Questions 1 – 3

Find a word or words in the passage to complete the sentences below.

  1. Finding links between items is possible for certain people by utilising their …………..
  2. They enjoy mental challenges and are skillful at ……….. which require planning and foresight.
  3. People with this type of intelligence are often good at going beyond the obvious by …………. and …………….


The answers for this reading gap fill lesson are now available.

Click here: Answers to Mathematical Intelligence Gap Fill Reading

All the best


More Practice Lessons for IELTS Reading Skills:

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Reading Practice: About Ants

The following is a lesson for IELTS reading practice based on the topic of ants. This reading exercise is to practise diagram completion and also TFNG questions for IELTS reading.

There are 8 questions below. Questions 1-5 are diagram completion and questions 6 – 8 are true, false, not given. The answer link is provided below the questions.

Reading Practice Lesson for IELTS: 

Passage: About Ants There are more than 10,000 known species of ants living throughout the world. Ants can be identified by the constriction that looks like a waist between the abdomen, at the end of the body, and the part of the body called the thorax , which is located before the head. Their bodies are covered with a hard armour called the exoskeleton. While the exoskeleton is their defensive weapon, their rear abdominal stinger is their offensive one. Like other insects, they have six legs; each with three joints. Ants have large heads with compound eyes, elbowed antennae, and powerful pincers known as mandibles. These are an ant’s most useful tools which are used for holding, carrying and cutting.

There are three types of adult ants living in the colony: the queen, female ants, and male ants. Queen ants are the largest ants in the colony. They have wings and their purpose is to lay eggs. The queens can live up to 30 years. Depending on the ant species and the nest community size, there may be one or more queens in the colony. The ant life cycle has four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The queen lays the eggs, which will hatch into larvae in a couple of days. The helpless larva are fed and groomed by the worker ants until they pass through the pupal stage. In a little more than a week, an adult ant will emerge and the metamorphosis is complete.

You can DOWNLOAD the reading passage here but the 8 questions must be viewed online: Reading Passage Ants. The answers are linked below.

Questions 1 – 5

Complete the diagram below using no more than two words from the passage for each question.

Questions 6 – 8
Are the following statements True, False or Not Given according to the information given in the passage above?

  • 6. The antennae of an ant cannot bend.
  • 7. Only queen ants have wings.
  • 8. Larva undergo metamorphosis in the pupal stage.


The answers are now available for this reading lesson. Click below:

Answers to About Ant IELTS Reading Practice 


Notice & Disclaimer: This reading passage has been adapted from the following article: all about ants  The diagram was adapted from this article: External Ant Anatomy.  All lessons have been produced to provide free practice for IELTS students. They are not IELTS tests. Wishing you all the best, from IELTS Liz.


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Reading Lesson for IELTS: Exercise 2

This is a reading lesson to practice TFNG questions. It is not an IELTS test.

Passage: Impact of Hunting

Humans have long hunted wild game from forests, but over the past 50 years commercialisation of killing has triggered a rapid increase in wildlife depletion. Hunting and poaching cause damage to the rain forest ecosystem by removing species key to the system’s functioning. The loss of a certain single species can mean extinction for many others. Hunting of seed dispersers and pollinators can influence the structure of a forest.

This passage is from You can view the full article on this page: Impact of hunting & poaching

Questions for TFNG practice.

Are the sentences below True, False or Not Given according to the information in the passage above.

  1. Commercialised hunting is mainly focused in forests.
  2. The falling numbers in wildlife have been brought about by the commercialisation of hunting.
  3. Hunting negatively impacts the world’s ecosystem.
  4. One species in decline can adversely affect other species.
  5. The structure of forests can be altered by the hunting of seeds.


You can access the answers for this lesson by clicking here: Answers to Reading Exercise 2