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The Ultimate IELTS Study Plan for Band 7 and 8

The Ultimate IELTS Study Plan for Band 7 and 8

It’s important to remember that a language is a skill (like driving a car or playing the piano). The more you practise the better you will become and if you don’t practise then you won’t be able to do these things well at all. There are some techniques and strategies for IELTS which you can learn but these are really exam techniques and unless your English language level is where you need it for your band, they will not help you a lot.

So what does this mean for your IELTS plan? Well it means that alongside your IELTS exam practice you have to continue to develop your English language skills. Keep improving your vocabulary and grammar; work on your punctuation and spelling too. If your English language is not at the level you want to get your band then it is important to develop this first before you think about studying for the IELTS exam.

When I work with students supporting them for their exam preparation, I very often find that part-way through the course students will realise that they need to take time to develop their grammar or vocabulary. This is because once you realise what is actually involved in getting band 7 or 8 you will begin to see gaps in your knowledge that have to be filled before moving forward with more IELTS practice. To ignore this means that your exam success will be delayed more and more.

Creating a study plan that includes these aspects of English will give you a much better chance at success in the IELTS exam.

A good plan:

Decide how much time you can spend each day or each week on your IELTS study. It is far better to do a smaller amount every day to build skill than to spend 6 hours at the weekend. Little and often is the key.

Try to set aside some time over  5 or 6 days and choose a time when you can be undisturbed and when you can concentrate well (so when you are not too tired).

Don’t just go through a whole test – this takes a long time and you won’t have time for learning (just testing).

  • Do one or two sections of listening and one reading passage
  • Time the reading – but make sure you finish (see how much longer than 20 minutes you take and try to reduce this gradually)
  • Check your answers and then go over the listening and reading again to make sure you see why the answers are incorrect
  • Write down any words you don’t know – find out what they mean and try and learn them over the next week – make sure you can spell them
  • Can you use these in your writing? Or speaking? Are they words connected with a particular topic that may come up again?
  • Create vocabulary lists for different topics – they do come up over and over and you will see many of these words appear again
  • Now do some writing – depending on how much time you have – write a plan for task 2 or some notes for task 1 if you haven’t go time to write the task (you can make this the first job tomorrow)
  • If you need speaking practice then do this now – pick a topic and record yourself speaking about this for 2 minutes. Listen and then do the same task again and make it better. If you have time do it again until you are happy it is well delivered

Do the same the next day but maybe start with writing and speaking so that everything is balanced and you cover each part equally.

When you get feedback from your writing check any grammar mistakes and practise these with a grammar book or online grammar site so you are clear about how to use this grammar in your next task. Write down a list of things to check so you can avoid showing mistakes to the examiner in the exam.

Finally, take some time off to do non-IELTS English things – watch a movie (use English subtitles to help with understanding), listen to a radio programme or podcast or some music or go out with friends and have an ‘English chat session’.

Everything is helpful. The important thing is to make your study time really productive and to improve skills. Just going through test after test will not do this and your progress will be much slower.

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