Top Tips for IELTS

Tips on getting a band score 8.0

This set of advice comes from Marcel. I know him pretty well as I had the pleasure of teaching him face-to-face in a small group for a couple of months. Is he a good model? Yes! I can tell you he has all the right qualities of a good language learner and a successful IELTS candidate. Here is what I think he got right:

he focussed his study and learned how to improve his skills

he was also interested in better English generally and didn’t just do IELTS work – he really used English

he looked at different approaches and found out what worked for him

That last point is really important. IELTS works differently for different people. There are very few “musts” in IELTS. What is good for Maria may not be good for Ahmed – they may need different scores and have a different language background.

Now read Marcel. Not all the points are my normal advice. That’s good. Marcel was smart enough to find things that worked for him. Take particular note of what he says about speaking – that for him was a truly excellent skill.


To be successful in the reading section, every IELTS student should first read the questions before he or she starts to read. The questions already give you hints, on which part of the text you should focus on. I personally think that the best way to work on the text is to number every passage and to summarise it afterwards. With these short summaries and underlined keywords you should be able to handle even difficult reading sections.

If you want to improve your reading score you should read general magazine articles in order to get a better feeling for the language.


The IELTS writing part 2 is largely about a good fundamental vocabulary which you should combine with a prepared introduction and conclusion. There are many different types which can be easily used as a frame for your essay.

In contrast to the second part of your writing section, the first one is more about basic vocabulary of describing graphs, tables and charts. The essential vocabulary can be easily learned by heart and afterwards applied to your task 1.


Each part of your IELTS speaking will be slightly different but nevertheless there are a few main topics which you should be excellently prepared for. One main advice is NOT to learn answers, your speaking score will be negatively affected by this. Try always to stay calm and focus on the question, take a few moments to think about it and the answer it carefully – but always be relaxed, nobody wants to blame you. Furthermore you should not be afraid to ask the examiner to correct your answer immediately. This won’t be a mistake but shows your ability to control the language.


Listening seems at the first glance as the easiest task, but you should never underrate it. Even small mistakes can cost you many useful points. During the IELTS listening you should force yourself to use the time between each section to read the questions properly and to mark key points. From my viewpoint the best preparation for the listening section is to do as many practice tests as possible.

Do you have advice to share?

IELTS candidates can learn from each other. If you have an idea to share – something that worked for you – just write and let me know. I’ll get you published!

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4 Responses to Tips on getting a band score 8.0

  1. Selina Cheng March 28, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Some ideas works for me. However, I found the caps in the listening bothered me a lot. Could you provide some tips?When should I use the cap?

    • Dominic Cole March 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      You can in fact write all the answer in capital letters. That may be the practical solution for you.

  2. Aamir March 28, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    Whats is the maximum limit of words count for ielts academic writing task 1 and 2?

    • Dominic Cole March 29, 2014 at 6:42 am #

      Good question. There is no upper word limit but you are well-adivsed not to write too many words. It is about quality and not quantity and the more you write the more mistakes you’ll make and the less time you’ll give yourself for checking your writing. I’d suggest max 200 and max 320.

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