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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 on Sept 30th 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.
OBS = 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 practising,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 Increased my IELTS Score in 4 Months

An IELTS student increased her scores in each part of the IELTS test in 4 months. Her name is Priscilla. Below you can learn some of her tips for increasing your IELTS score.

Priscilla’s Results

April: L8, R7.5, W6.5, S7 (OBS 7.5)

August: L9, R8.5, W7, S7.5 (OBS 8)

Her certificate April:

Her certificate: August

Priscilla’s Experience in 2 IELTS Tests

April 20th IELTS preparation and examination evaluation
I was too excite and too confident mainly because I felt that since I spoke English from cradle, the exam should not be a big deal thus I practiced less.During the exam, I lacked understanding of the writing task 2 question. Generally I lacked structure, I just started writing and wrote too many words and even collected an extra sheet. In reading, because i lacked method, i took a lot of time for passages 1 and 2 which resulted to less time for 3. In listening, I got worried when I missed some points and i kept thinking about it. In speaking, I was nervous and i tried to impress the examiner. I was not generally natural, I used learned phrases too.
August 3rd IELTS preparation and examination evaluation  
I was calmer and took corrections. I learnt planning for writing task 2 and i wrote average words in the two tasks using only the sheets provided, no extras. I had extra time to go over my work. For reading, I found a method that worked for me and I held on to it. I solved the first two passages faster and had more time for the third passage still checked my answers. In listening, I anticipated answers, did not dwell on missed points and followed the conversation by tracing the questions with my pencil. While speaking, I spoke more naturally (no forming of intonation). I avoided impressing the examiner, i did not look for big words to use  and I answered the questions mostly sincerely as if my information would be verified; this prevented me from overthinking.

Priscilla’s Tips to Increase your Score

These are some tips that i think helped me. First, observe how calm Liz is when she teaches. Adopt that nature at least for the exam!

  • Don’t be too excited
  • Don’t try to impress the examiner
  • Read and Follow instructions
  • Understand Questions

In Listening: (9.0)
*Listen carefully and move on when u miss an answer.
*Sometime predict answers (this helped me a lot)
*Use your pencil to follow the conversions (it kept me on track)

Reading: (8.5)
My method:

  1. read questions fully
  2. read passage fully but fast
  3. then answer questions
  4. I finished passages 1 & 2 in 30 mins then 3 in 25 mins. Used 5 mins to go over questions and answers

Writing (7.0)
I practised sensibly. I learnt planning for my writing. This works like magic. I finished task 2 within 30 mins
Went over the two tasks and made error corrections.

Speaking: (7.5) I never believed I’d get this mark!
I was less excited, I spoke naturally. I wasn’t thinking of any big words to use.
I don’t know if this will work for another but I answered the questions truthfully as if I was in a non-English exam interview. I added details to short answers too.

http://www.ieltsliz.com is perfect for learning. Don’t be in a hurry. Just give yourself practice time. I now tell my friends, study everything on LIZ first, then do practice tests a lot.

Message to Priscilla: Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It truly shows students that it is possible to increase their scores with the right techniques and practice. Well done to you for your great achievement !! Liz

Is a Conclusion Important in IELTS Writing Task 2?

A conclusion is essential for IELTS writing task 2. It is more important than most people realise. You will be penalised for missing a conclusion in your IELTS essay.

Conclusions: What are they worth in IELTS Essays?

There are four marking criteria for writing task 2:

  • Task Response
  • Coherence & Cohesion
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary

Your conclusion falls under the criterion of Task Response. You are given a band score for each criterion and then a total band score for writing task 2. If you fail to have a conclusion, you will get under band score 6 in Task Response, which is 25% of your marks.

Paragraphs in Writing Task 2

You must divide your essay into paragraphs. You can have four paragraphs or five paragraphs in total. You should not have three and you can’t have six. See below:

Option 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1
  3. Body Paragraph 2
  4. Conclusion

Option 2

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1
  3. Body Paragraph 2
  4. Body Paragraph 3
  5. Conclusion

Conclusion Length & Content

Your conclusion should be one or two sentences long. Not more. It is a waste of timing having a long conclusion and it won’t help your score.

Your conclusion should summarise the main points you provided in your essay.


  • Expert training in IELTS Essays
  • Advanced Writing Task 2 Lessons
  • High Band Score Techniques
  • Liz’s Best Writing Lessons
  •    Click here:    Liz’ Online Store  


Conclusion Linking Words

Use the right words to start your conclusion for IELTS writing task 2. This lesson is for IELTS essays in both GT and Academic writing. Using the wrong linking words will lower your score.

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Look at your Notes in IELTS Speaking Part 2

Many students ask me if it is ok to look at your notes during your IELTS speaking part 2 talk. Let me explain…

Looking at your Notes

It is important to look at your notes during your talk. You can’t remember everything and this is the reason why you have 1 mins to plan and write notes.

Checking your notes will make sure you keep a logical order and also make sure you don’t forget to talk about something.

Does it lower my score to look at my notes a lot?

No, it doesn’t. You will not get a lower score if you look at your notes a lot.

Of course, it is good to have eye contact with the examiner because it shows confidence. But it won’t affect your score. Your score is based only on your level of English language: fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

Liz’s Advice

Keep checking your notes during your talk. But also look at the examiner. When students talk with their head in their notes, they often lose intonation and don’t speak naturally. So, try to aim for a balance – look at your notes as often as you need but also make sure you speak naturally by looking up at the examiner.

IELTS Speaking Tips & Answers

See my page of speaking tips and model answers for IELTS speaking: IELTS Speaking Main Page

IELTS can be Emotional

IELTS can be emotional for many people for various reasons. In this post, I want to discuss why emotions can bubble over before and during the IELTS test.

The reason I am writing this test to to reassure students that it is normal for emotions to run high in the test. Below are three common problems with emotions and crying in the IELTS test.

1) IELTS is Important for your Future

For many students, the IELTS test is the key to their future. Without a good score, many students are unable to take the next step towards creating a better life for themselves. For this reason, emotions can run high when it comes to IELTS.

However, you should not tackle IELTS with emotions. This is a specific language test with specific rules and specific requirements. You need to tackle IELTS logically and calmly. You must ensure you are fully prepared before you walk into the exam room.

Here are some steps to prepare for IELTS:

  1. Have a realistic goal. Don’t aim for band 7 if your English contains so many mistakes.
  2. Learn as much as you can about the test. What can take into the test room? How does the examiner mark writing task 1? Learn as much as you can:
    1. IELTS Test Information
    2. IELTS Band Scores Explained
  3. Practice each type of question for L, R, W & Sp.
  4. Review model answers for IELTS speaking and writing .
  5. Prepare common topics for speaking and writing.
    1. IELTS Listening Practise & Tips
    2. IELTS Reading Practise & tips
    3. IELTS Writing Task 1 Practise, Tips & Model Answers
    4. IELTS Writing Task 2 Practise, Tips & Model Answers
    5. IELTS Speaking Practise, Tips & Model Answers
    6.  Recent IELTS Exam Questions
  6. Watch my free video: How to Prepare for IELTS (click to open)
  7. Don’t keep taking the test again and again. Review your techniques, review your English and work on your weaknesses before taking the test again.  Make sure the next time you take the test, you have improved.
    Quote Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

2) Crying in the Speaking Test

I have known students cry in their IELTS speaking test. The most common reason is that they start talking about painful memories which upset them.

This is a language test and a chance to showcase your English. You must think in this way when you enter the test room. All students will be nervous in the test and also emotional to some extent. Students feel pressure to perform and feel the pressure to get good results. This can make you emotional.

In part 2, if the question is about a person you admire, don’t choose to talk about someone who recently died and who you loved. It will distract you from thinking about your English and bring up painful emotions. If you cry in the IELTS test, the examiner CANNOT give you more time. So, be wise in your choices and choose to talk about someone else. Avoid talking about sad memories or difficult personal issues.

If you get emotional in the test, take a deep breathe and hear my words “This is your test! Take control of your test! Take control of your future! Say to the examiner “I’m ready to continue” and then focus on the question – you can do it !!!” I want you to hear my voice, relax and ace your test! My best wishes will always be with you.

3) Problems in L, R, & W

The most common problem in the IELTS listening test is losing your place. This is because students try to understand everything rather than listen for answers and follow key words.

In IELTS reading, I have heard of students crying because they didn’t write their answers directly on the answer sheet. You DO NOT get an extra 10 mins to transfer your answers.

In IELTS writing, the most common reason students get upset is because they didn’t mange their time and failed to complete both tasks. There is a clock in the room and you should keep checking the time. The examiner DOES NOT tell you when to move from task 1 to task 2. You must manage your time for both tasks in the hour provided.

Share your Experiences

Feel free to write a comment and share your experiences of the IELTS test with other students.

  Thanks, Liz

Summing Up Emotions

  1. Be realistic about your expectations in IELTS. If your English is only intermediate level, don’t expect to get band score 7 or 8. This is a language test, tips will only take you to your own personal maximum – not above.
  2. Don’t get over tired. Pace yourself, schedule your practise.
  3. Before the speaking test, get plenty of rest.
  4. In the speaking test, don’t talk about emotional issues or sad memories. This is a language test, make the right decisions so that you can showcase your English.
  5. The examiner can’t give you extra time if you cry in the speaking test. Try to calm down and focus on the next question. Say to the examiner “I’m fine to continue” or “Sorry, I can continue now.”
  6. In LR&W, go to the toilet before the test – you will miss answers and lose time if you go to the toilet during the test.
  7. In the listening test, pay attention to key words and be ready to move to the next question so you don’t lose your place. Always check if there are questions on the next page.
  8. In reading, don’t forget you DON’T get extra time to transfer your answers!! Don’t forget this!
  9. In writing, keep your eye on the clock! Don’t spend more than 20 mins in task 1 and don’t spend more than 40 mins on task 2.  Always write an overview for task 1 and a conclusion for task 2.

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Transferring Answers in IELTS Listening and Reading

Do you get an extra 10 mins to transfer your answers in IELTS listening and reading? This is extremely important to know.

IELTS Listening: Extra 10 mins

You will listen for 30 mins to a recording and you will answer 40 questions. Your answers will be written on the question paper. You can also make notes and underline on your question paper. At the end of the recording, you will be given 10 mins to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet.

IELTS Reading: ?

You will be given your reading passages with questions. You will have 1 hour to read the passages and write your answers. Your answer will not be written on the question paper, you MUST write your answers directly onto the answer sheet. You will NOT be given an extra 10 mins to transfer answers. At the end of 1 hour, the invigilator will collect your answer sheet.

Writing Answers: Tips

  • Always pay attention to spelling. If you spell the word wrong, you will lose the point.
  • Pay attention to plurals. If you miss the plural “s”, the answer will be marked wrong.
  • Make sure you put the answer in the right box on the answer sheet. Putting answers in the wrong boxes will affect your score.

IELTS Listening & Reading Lessons

You can find more tips and practice lessons on the main pages. Click to open …

IELTS Listening: Tips & Practice Lessons

IELTS Reading: tips & Practice Lessons

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IELTS Spelling: US or UK?

Does IELTS accept UK or US spelling? Can you write “colour” or “color” in your IELTS test? Will you lose marks if you use US vocabulary?

What is IELTS?

IELTS means “International English Language Testing System”. This means that it is not a UK English test, it is an International English Language test.

US or UK Spelling in IELTS?

As IELTS is international, it means that you can choose either UK or US spelling. So, if you write “specialized” or “specialised”, both are accepted.

Can I use UK and US spelling in my writing?

No, you can’t mix your spell. You must choose all US spelling or all UK spelling. You can’t write some words with American spelling and other words with British spelling. Choose your language and stick to it.

US / UK Vocabulary List

See this list of vocabulary with both spelling: US UK Vocabulary Spelling List (this is from a different website).

More IELTS Test Information

If you want to learn more about the IELTS test – get rules and tips, see my IELTS Information Page

If you want model answers, tips and free video lessons, see the main pages below:

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

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How I Scored 9 in IELTS Speaking

Nouman got Band Score 9 in IELTS Speaking this year, 2017. Below he 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.

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

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

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