Band 9 – The best IELTS score possible.

info-31185_1280I am very proud of the fact that the majority of my students achieve the IELTS Band Score they need first time.  I have also received some excellent feedback in emails from people who have either done a practice IELTS Speaking Test with me on skype or have had some of their IELTS Writing corrected by me.

I really do think that some feedback from a qualified IELTS tutor (either online or offline) is very valuable, even if you have decided to study by yourself or know that your English is of a very high standard already.  To do well in the IELTS test, you need to concentrate both on your level and on the necessary strategies to do the test well.

Recently, I conducted a couple of lessons with a native speaker of English!  Jon is from Liverpool, UK (coincidentally, my hometown, although we didn’t know each other before coming to Australia) and is a psychiatric nurse.  He needed to sit the IELTS General Training test for his permanent residency visa (as a skilled migrant) and felt quite nervous about the test. Needless to say, he’s just scored 9 in his test.  This example does show, though, that even someone with a very high level of English saw the benefit of getting feedback from a qualified IELTS tutor to understand the layout of the test and the necessary strategies.

So, here are some of the pointers I gave Jon that he said he found particularly useful.


•    Make sure you note down all your answers on your question paper while the recording is playing.  You can use shorthand and abbreviations if you want to, to make it quicker, you don’t have to worry about it being neat (the Examiner doesn’t see your question paper) but make sure that YOU can read your own handwriting as you are given 10 minutes transfer time at the end of the test to copy your answers to your answer sheet.  Make sure your handwriting on your answer sheet is neat and legible (the Examiner does read this part!)

•    Even native speakers need to concentrate quite hard in the listening test as you only hear it once and if you let your mind wander you can miss hearing an answer.  If your centre uses headphones, make sure that the volume is high enough to block out any distractions but not so loud that the sound is distorted.


•    Never, never, never leave an answer blank.  As a teacher in class, I’d tell students to make sure they understand all their answers fully so that we can talk about why a particular answer is correct / incorrect but this isn’t a lesson; it’s the test.  Remember that if you don’t write anything, you’ve got a 100% chance of scoring zero for that question.  If you write something, it might be correct.  Make an educated guess. (This also applies to the listening test).

•    Underline the key words in each paragraph before you answer the questions.

Writing (Task 1)

•    Make sure you answer the question!  Include all the information required in the bullet points.

•    Try not to include lots of irrelevant details.

Writing (Task 2)

•    Write at least 4 paragraphs (introduction, body and conclusion).  The neatest and most common way to separate paragraphs nowadays is to leave a blank line between paragraphs and to start a new paragraph at the beginning of a line. (When I and the psychiatric nurse were at school, the common trend was to indent the first line of a paragraph).

•    Make sure you plan and write notes (about 8 – 10 points).  Think about how you will connect these points in the essay, make sure they are relevant to your argument and make sure you can explain them or support them with examples.  Writing the points down before you write the essay will keep you focussed and ensure that you don’t forget to write about them.

•    Make sure you don’t write less than 250 words; conversely do NOT write too much (try to set yourself an upper limit of about 280 words, certainly do NOT write more than 300 words).  Your aim is to write a well-structured, grammatically correct essay, more words do not mean more points!

•    Be aware of using appropriate idioms and expressions in your writing (there is a difference between spoken and written English).  For non-native speakers, I would also add that you shouldn’t use a phrase or idiom if you’re not about what it means or how it is used.


•    Maintain eye contact with the Examiner (this is good manners and also helps establish a relationship).

•    Try not to be nervous and be as confident as possible.

•    Use the one-minute preparation time in part 2 to think about what you are going to say and make a few notes.

•    Try to speak about all the points on your card in part 2.

•    If you’re not sure if what you are about to speak about in part 2 really answers the question, tell the Examiner; ‘I’ve been asked to speak about ‘blah’, I’m not sure if this is completely related, but I’m going to speak about ‘blah, blah’.

•    Remember that the Examiner is not trying to ‘catch you out’. You want to do your best and the Examiner also wants you to speak to the best of your ability.  Relax and enjoy it!

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

13 thoughts on “Band 9 – The best IELTS score possible.

  1. Hello Mam, how can i contact you? your “contact” link at doesn’t work. I need to discuss something very important regarding IELTS exam. Please revert back and let me know your e-mail ID.

  2. Hi,

    In regards to the writing tasks. Are we allowed to write in cursive? Can this be considered not legible?






  4. Hi Alanna I just want to thank u for the support & tips you have provided. i saw your website friday only & your writing tips helped me a lot in my exam saturday I am a little disappointed that i dint know about you before. but it helped me a lot Thanks again,

  5. Hello Alanna,

    Hope you are doing well!!

    I am really glad to find you in youtube. First of all, Let me say this “It is really great that you had been helping to the people of this world (around the world) with your esteem expertise in English”.

    Let me introduce myself( Sunil). I am from India and working as software business analyst. I had came from rural villages of india, where I don’t had good English foundation by education, off course that is no excuse for inability of learning good english.

    Now it is imperative to me to take IELTS and want to score more than “8” for official work requirement. Then it really confuses me, from where to start. I have been interacting with several countries people as part of my job and I did write the English, whatever I am writing now. I am sure my English isn’t good enough to get the target score of 8.0, which my organization insists and I do have 1 month time to keep my job alive.

    After all It would be my request to you with at most humbly is kindly guide me where to start my preparation and suggestion for the areas where I have work. I am bold enough to start from A,B,C,D… if it required and I am remain determined to keep my job .

    I will remain thank full for your most valuable advice and time.

  6. Hi Alanna, I really need to your help with IELS speaking. I need at least a band 8. I’ve already sent an email to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

157,002 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress