Got IELTS 8.5 in general.
I can give my 2 cents:
Before starting, know the format very very well. Have presence of mind while practicing.
1 . Schedule the test 1.5 - 2 months away if you are a busy professional. Don't rush it.
2. I bought magoosh IELTS six months package and practiced for 2 hours each day.
3. I bought a Canon printer so I can print and practice on paper, also bought pencils and eraser
4. For tips, I followed a few videos from EC2 Ielts. Don't follow each strategy. Try and see what works for you.
5. Reading 9: Even if you are taking general test, practice both academic and general reading. Mainly academic except graph etc. For me, I couldn't start with questions and go and find answers. That approach was not working for me. So I tried reading fast and writing a note, just a brief for each paragraph. I practiced being able to do read in atmost 5 minutes for any length comprehension. Especially the long, tough ones. If you don't practice reading each day, you won't get that speed. But don't over practice each day either. Read fast and underline main points you feel. Magoosh had a lot of topics as well as timers etc so that helped. Practice practice practice. Every day 2–3 comprehension. Don't do more than that.
6. Listening 9: Magoosh listening helped as well. Also practiced IELTS tests. Go through the questions fast and underline key words which you can pick on when listening. Do not close eyes. There is a sequence for the questions and a few times they will use synonyms as well so the keyword won't match. So think of keywords or passive voice for an active voice question. Again, practice, practice, practice!
7. Speaking 9: Practice writing notes fast. Write three points and expand your answers. Calm your self down and speak easy. When ever you feel like rushing, calm yourself and speak slowly. I practiced with my brother in the last 20 days, alternate days as per the format. Check out the EC2 IELTS videos on speaking. The guy has some good tips.
8. Writing: Here, I could have done better but the whole range 7.5 - 9 is counted as one range so doesn't matter for my purpose. Again, watch videos from EC2 and practice. The guy has very good notes on how to score well. Practice writing two essays with timer on every alternate day. Think of ideas, use pencil and write. The more you practice, the more you will learn. In the test, I didn't manage time wisely and spent more time on the essay. Spent only 10 minutes on the letter. If I would have spent a lil less on the essay, my letter would have been better. I feel that was the reason why I got 7.5
But hey, it worked out well and doesn't really matter for my purposes.
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