Srinithya Sundar also lives in India and speaks Tamil. She got Band 8 overall and here are her suggestions to help you do well in the test:
“My best advice to IELTS test takers would be – ‘take your time and do not rush’ to the exam. I allowed myself 3 months of preparation time which covered rigorous practice of all 4 sections of the test (considering I’m a working professional). For all the 4 sections, I would recommend practicing questions from all the 12 Cambridge IELTS practice books. The magic is only to concentrate and practice every day without fail!
Listening and Reading
I did one reading test and one listening test each day under exam conditions. Initially, I found it difficult to complete within the stipulated time, however, after a couple of weeks of practice, I was able to complete the reading test in less than 50 minutes. For listening tests, it’s alright to rewind and listen to the audio if you missed a bit in between while practicing. Just make sure to concentrate and complete 1 reading test within 50 min and 1 listening test without playing the audio again, and score yourself at the end of the tests. Try to consistently score 36-38 in each of your practice tests and this is your green light to book your exam.
Writing and Speaking
Writing definitely requires a tutor who could correct your mistakes and give feedback. I hired a tutor online and she helped me improve gradually. The secret here is to write down a list of good vocabulary for each topic such as education, career, governments, festivals, celebrities, food, environment, family, travel etc. These are the basic topics from which any essay/letter/speaking question would be asked. Just memorize the new words under each topic and make sure to form 1 sentence using each of the new words in your essay and also while speaking based on whichever topic is asked in the exam.
For example, if the essay topic is about environment/pollution, you could write 1 sentence with each of these words: climatic conditions, depletion of ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, deforestation, endangered species, ecosystem, food chain, etc. Another example is if the topic is related to trade/markets, then the list of vocabulary could be consumerism, merchandise, alluring advertisement, marketing strategy, globalization, rival firms, vogue, etc. Also, don’t forget to use linkers such as nevertheless, however, not only … but also, moreover, furthermore, consequently, etc appropriately, and check your grammar, punctuation, spelling and divide your essay into 4 paragraphs – 1 for introduction, 2 body paragraphs and 1 for the conclusion. This will definitely fetch you a 7 in writing even if the content and ideas are simple.
Always remember that the examiner in the speaking test is a person who wants to give you the maximum possible score. Just make sure you let him/her do it by showcasing how long and how well you can speak. Use the vocabulary you memorized and make sure to say at least 3 sentences in answers for part 1 and 3. For part 2, ensure that you speak until you are stopped.