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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  1. Congrats Heather. I hope I acheive my target score.
    Hello Liz,
    I am listening to bbc show ( 6 mintunes English learning) I am learning new vocabularies from their show.My question is Do they use academic words or informal words in their show? ( if you have once listened to them ) I mean that Could I use them for writing section ? Some of their words ( implement, take something for granted, cutting edge.. etc) Thanks! Liz I really appriacite your effo

  2. rania alam says

    a9HI LIZ,

    I want to ask something , if the video says :you should send me a short cv.
    and the question is: you should send :………….
    i wrote a short cv
    but the computer counted it wrong and said the answer should be (short cv) only without (a)

    and another question
    if the recording says : the park is covering now the growing number of visitors

    the ques is: the park is covering now the increase in……….
    i wrote: the number of visitors

    the computer counted it wrong and wrote the answer should be( visitors)

    note: the space can be filled with four words.
    can you reply me please what’s wrong with both answers

    • You need to check if the questions are note completion or sentence completion – different questions have different requirements.

      • It was completion for the cv question.
        So you mean that in completion you don’t need to add an article and just write the word needed. Am I right?

        But the other question was sentence completion. And maximum 3 words. Why it is not accepting the answer”the number of visitors”

        is it because the video said the growing number of visitors

        So we can’t use” the number”as they don’t come successively? Is that correct?

        • There are different types of completion questions. Note completion and sentence completion are not the same and don’t follow the same rules about articles.

  3. Hi Liz…
    Would u be kind enough to say the range of marks required for band 8 in ielts general listening task.
    I’m getting different opinion from different sites

  4. Thank you Heather. Your experience tips are quite enriching. Congratulations.

  5. congrats Heather, can i get your email id.

  6. Thank you both Heathar and Liz for wonderful tips ,,, can I ask Heathar where he is from and weather his first language is English??

  7. Muhammad Sajjad says

    Thank you very much, your suggestions are very worthy for all of us. I appreciate 🙂

  8. Muhammad Sajjad says

    Thank you ver much, your suggestions are very worthy for all of us. I appreciate 🙂

  9. Thank you so much to share this experience which is a dream for most of us.
    Achieve the goal that all we need to study, to get a professional registration.
    I did the Academic IELTS test twice and I have got 6.5 and I need 7 and 7.5 for registration.
    I will reach this objective with all the material from this blog, practicing as much as I can. Plus Advanced Liz s videos. But with a positive belief.
    Congratulations. Yes it is possible. Let DO IT guys.

  10. Pardeep Singh says

    Hlo.. My name is pardeep Singh .. I am from India .. I wrote my family name by mistake in registration but on paper I corrected all information in correction form still got family name on trf which is not matched as my passport I’d.. Is this problem can be.. Sort out

  11. Great Heather ! Thanks for your great tips. Thank you Liz for your amazing lessons.

  12. Tshering Yangzom says

    Huge congratulations!! Thanks for sharing this tips, which will be helpful.

  13. Angela Maiapu says

    Wonderful story Heather.
    Not many can easily tell us little bits and pieces but you have.
    All the best in your future.

  14. Juweria waheed says

    Hi liz,
    Thankyou for your wonderful lessons. I purchased your advanced lessons and i must say they are great. I wanted to ask how can we paraphrase these words: ” in the past” , “nowadays” and ” it is generally accepted” when they pop arund in the essay questions.
    Thanks in advance,

    • I’m really pleased my advanced lessons have been useful to you. Be careful trying to paraphrase word for word. If your essay is “nowadays”, you won’t need to even mention this. Of course it relates to these days unless said otherwise, so just don’t bother paraphrasing or using it. If it is in the past, you can say, “before” or “previously” or “decades ago”. Remember with all paraphrases, you are not replacing words, you need to rephrase the whole sentence. Some synonyms will require a different grammar structure. If it says “it is generally accepted that” – “some people think”.

      • Hi Ma’am,
        I am Chirayu Parekh
        From – Vadodara, Gujarat, India.
        I have completed my speaking exam.
        Here I want to share my speaking exam experience.

        1st Part:-
        About Friends
        About my Profession

        2nd Part:-
        Cue card- Your dream House/Flat/Apartment

        3rd Part:-
        Counter Questions
        Have you visited any house as described you?
        What about your city?
        What people facing problem in your city?
        Why you wanted to install Solar Roof-Top system?


      • Thankyou liz for your prompt response. 🙂 God bless you!

  15. Fabulous score Heather, great results. Amazing LIZ , hatts off

  16. Harsha Venugopal says

    Amazing score Heather. All the best.

  17. Im very poor at mcq in reading, plz help me with ur great tips to get good score in reading

  18. Thank you for sharing the very essential tips. Though I must say that the atmosphere on the exam day and the rules are quite in humane.

  19. Congrates dear i m worried for listening and reading i m ok with writing and speaking i really need guidance for these two any heop will be highly appreciated regards liz

    • Heather Mary Herbert says

      Hi Gulzareen,

      Please download the IElTS sample tests(1-9)by Cambridge from uTorrent. I took printouts of the same and practiced every day for more than a month. You just need to zone out from everything around you and listen carefully to the audio. For reading, I usually read the questions first and then scan the passage for answers rather than trying to understand the literal meaning of every sentence. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  20. Thank you so much miss liz for providing us useful knowledge..

  21. Wow great score Heather and yes, Liz’s advanced video lessons are really amazing.

    Thanks for the tips.


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