Tips from a Band 8 IELTS Candidate

Below are tips from a successful IELTS candidate for getting band 8 overall. For the purpose of anonymity I have called her Annie.

Annie’s Result

  • Listening = 8.5
  • Reading = 8.5
  • Writing = 7.5
  • Speaking = 8

Computer or Paper Test Tips

Choosing the test format (Paper/Computer) wisely: I was weak in listening and no matter what I couldn’t score beyond 7.5 in my practice tests. While I was taking my practice tests on computer, I realised that I had no opportunity to highlight the text or make notes for reference. It was the same case with reading. My writing and typing speed were relatively same. So, I opted for paper based test and it was the best decision as evident from my listening and reading scores. Although I lost quite a lot of time in editing my essay on paper and I feel I could have scored band 8 through typing, listening and reading were my priorities. 

Listening Tips

Like Liz and other tutors reiterate, answers often appear as synonyms. Learning alternative ways in which the same thing is expressed and practicing to identify the synonymous language is extremely helpful. If you’re unable to do so while listening, note down the words used and come back to it while answering. It happened to me twice or thrice and the notes helped me. The key is to stay with the audio and not get lost if you miss something. Recheck the word fit into the answer sentence before you finalize the answer. This eliminates undesired mistakes in tenses, singular and plural, spelling etc. 

Reading Tips

Patience is the key. It’s important to develop stamina to sustain your focus required to complete all sections. Keyword search is the most effective way of targetted reading covering only required parts. When I felt stuck, I chose to answer easy questions first and the quick wins kept me going. Especially in ‘True, False, Not Given’ type, the strategy that aids decision making is crucial. For example, a statement is false if there’s a clear contradiction, a statement should be marked as ‘Not Given’ if relevant information is totally absent. The last two passages are actually informative, sometimes fun to read. If you look at passages with an intention to make sense out of the content instead of just answering, you can connect the dots and derive the answers with much more ease.  

Writing Tips

The biggest mistake I made is to change my stance mid-way. After I wrote the first paragraph, I felt I was able to get adequate points on the other side of motion. I lost time in erasing and re-writing. Even if it means spending good amount of time, identify your stance clearly so you’ll spend rest of the time strengthening your content. We’ll never be able to practice all possible essay questions or preempt our topics, but we can always carry a skeletal structure around which the essay could be developed. Needless to say, an essay with good range of vocabulary is a definite winner. That said, do not force fit words. Throw in a few words to make your essay look smart and that’s just about it.

Speaking Tips

I was quite confident about the speaking test. In fact, I did well in first two parts. Part three was a shocker and I struggled to express my views about the topic. What you need to remember while answering is that you’re not judged based on your choices. You may either like or dislike something and the idea is to express what you feel with clarity in thought. This acknowledgment then made me more comfortable and eased me during the rest of the conversation.

That is all from my end. Annie.

Message to Annie: Thank you so much for sharing your tips. I know many people will benefit from them and be inspired by your results 🙂 Liz.

More IELTS Candidate Tips

Click below to read more tips from successful IELTS candidates:

How I scored Band 9 in Speaking

How I scored Band 9 in Reading

How I scored Band 8.5 Overall

How I scored Band 9 Overall


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  1. I just want to thank you Liz for being an amazing teacher. I followed your tips in writing and got a band 7 in IELTS academic ☺️.

  2. Hey Liz,

    Is it true how many times you give ielts exam, the through out band score would remain same or otherwise it can increase by just .5 no matter how hard you try. I have heard from many people and even i gave exam 2 times but still stuck upon 7 band score.

    • The examiner who marks your speaking and writing does not know your previous scores. If your English doesn’t improve, it is unlikely your score will improve. Also if you don’t learn better techniques, your score is unlikely to increase. If you are stuck in your score, review your English and your techniques.


  4. Siddhartha Nagireddy says

    Dear Ms.Liz, I secured band score 8, by computer delivered IELTS. Your guidance for listening, reading and writing were amazing. There are many valid points you mentioned in the tips of speaking test too. Thank you for all this.
    Dr.Siddhartha Nagireddy, Reproductive Endocrinologist, Chennai

  5. Emokpae Martha says


  6. Hi liz….your informations are very useful for me.

  7. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for keeping me updated though anxiety is somewhat clings on me as IELTS exam’s approaching…

    • Lots of deep breaths. Also create a list of things you need to work on and still have doubts about. Slowly tick things off that list. Be strategic in your preparation. Good luck 🙂

  8. Sameen Hasan says

    Thank you Liz for all the tips and guides that you have shared. Though it took me too attempts, but I managed the required band. I got overall 8.5 with listening-9 , reading-8.5, writing 7.5, speaking-8. Even though on my first attempt I got 8 but couldn’t qualify as only got 6.5 in writing. So, I listened to your tips more carefully this time and got what I needed. A huge thanks for all your help once again😍

    • That’s great news! It isn’t easy to hit band 7 in writing – well done persevering and getting an overall 8.5 🙂

  9. Thanks a lot Liz! I scored 8.5 overall! Listening: 9.0, Reading:9.0, Writing 7.5, Speaking:8.5. Although I was expecting better in the writing section, but I am happy with the overall score. Thanks so much for your valuable tips. For me, practicing a lot of tests and working on my weak points helped a lot too. Thanks again!!

    • That’s a really great result 🙂 Getting over band 7 in writing is an achievement and 7.5 is a very good score. Definitely a good way to start 2020 🙂 Well done with your band 9 in listening and reading 🙂

    • woah! You killed it! Am really happy for you. I wish I could earn such scores. God help me. How did you do it?

  10. Thankyou both of you,
    It was really aidful.

  11. Dear Liz,
    Many thanks for sharing tips, furthermore I would like to thank you about the valuable website which covered almost all the required skilled in IELTS test.
    Please keep helping.


  12. Thanks

  13. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Onkar Dighe says

    Thank you Liz for your valuable help. I scored band 8 in my IELTS academic exam. The break up of individual section is Listening – 8.5, Reading – 7.5, Writing – 7 and Speaking – 8. I did all the preparation required for the exam from your blog. As i started practicing, i realized my strengths and weaknesses. My strength being reading where i consistently scored band 7.5/8 and weakness being listening where the scores were less than 7. After focused practise, i started scoring band 8 in all the sections. But on the day of exam, i paniced in reading section in the last section where i could not find answers. I should have skipped them and moved further. This thought started bothering me in writing section too and i tried to finish well before time. To sum up, my exam day was not ideal.

    Speaking exam happened as planned and the result was satisfying.

    Thank you again for an incredible blog!

    • Very well done with your results 🙂 It’s always frustrating when you know you could have done better, but at the end of the day it’s a great score 🙂

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