It’s Jay vs IELTS: head-to-head in the ring for round two. Want to know how to get a high IELTS score? Learn all about Jay’s experience taking the IELTS exam for a second time. 

Watch this video: ‘Jay talks about taking the IELTS exam’

Jay reflects on taking the IELTS for a second time…

So, I took the IELTS again on the weekend. Why? Because I want to get straight 9s.

Hmmm, so I took the IELTS Academic about eight months ago and my IELTS score was:

  • Reading 9
  • Speaking 9
  • Listening 8.5 (must have missed a question or two) and…
  • Writing 6.5. WHAT! Yes, you heard me, 6.5.

I didn’t believe it so I sent it back to IELTS for a rescore. I then received a 7.5. Hmmm, they increased my score by one whole band, which is quite significant. To this day, I’m convinced that this was not a true reflection of my writing abilities. I’m a native English speaker and English teacher with a masters degree in applied linguistics! I am not an IELTS 6.5 in writing, nor a 7.5; I would like to think that someone like me could at least get an 8!

So, I took the IELTS again on the weekend. Why? Because I want to get straight 9s. I want to see if that is actually possible. From speaking to thousands of IELTS candidates I have never heard of someone scoring straight 9s and it should be possible, even in writing. Right?

What I learned the second time around

Writing Task 1

Writing Task 1 this time was seriously tricky! Instead of one line graph, this time the IELTS gave us three line graphs, each with two trends. Imagine seeing three of these on the paper in front of you:

IELTS score

Imagine the look on everyone’s faces when they saw not one, not two but three of these line graphs staring back at them!

Whoa! I made sure that I looked very carefully at the graphs. I carefully constructed my piece of writing and finished in 22 minutes. Overall, I thought it was a solid piece of writing but I could have structured it a little more elegantly. I reckon I would have lost .5 for coherence and cohesion.

My guess: IELTS score 8.5

Writing Task 2

Having spent 22 minutes on Writing Task 1, I had 38 minutes left for my essay. The question prompt was relatively straightforward. (Knowing the 7 question types really paid off.) It was a ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree’ prompt that asked:

Humans have invented many different things (including the wheel). Some people think that the internet is the most important invention.

 To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Okay, not bad. I completely disagreed with the question prompt and argued that while all inventions seem important at the time they are inevitably overtaken by the next big invention; so the internet is only temporarily important. I thought I wrote it extremely well. (Hopefully it was not too nuanced!)

The big take home message from this task though is that writing more than 250 words is hard work. And here’s the biggest trick of them all: You MUST use a second piece of paper. You see, the IELTS give you one piece of paper to write your essay on. You can use both sides but for me this allows me to write only 170 words. In my first test I thought I had written 250 words because I had filled both pages and hence the reason I scored 7.5.

IELTS score

If your handwriting is as big as mine then you will need two answer sheets to write your 250 word essay. Unfortunately the IELTS only give you one. Is it a trick?

I wasn’t so silly this time. I counted every word of every sentence of every paragraph. In the end I wrote more than 270 words. But make no mistake: COUNT YOUR WORDS. If you do not write more than 250 words then you will lose a point or more!

My guess: IELTS score 9

Reading

When I opened the test booklet for reading I was shocked by the first passage. It was about an Island in Greece that needed a desalination plant. It was really tough reading. I felt sorry for the non-native English speakers (I think I was the only native English speaker in the crowd!) I can’t believe how difficult some of those passages are…

I got a range of different question types including both TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN and YES/NO/NOT GIVEN. Overall, I thought I answered every question correctly, though, there were two questions that took me a long time to get right.

My guess: IELTS score 9

Listening

Listening might be my nemesis! I’m a native speaker and I understood EVERYTHING that was played in the audio, but coordinating the question types, writing the answers and listening to the audio was extremely tough! IELTS Listening is really a test of understanding the IELTS test questions, and less about listening; at least, that’s how I feel about it. Anyway, I missed one question right at the start in the easiest section, and perhaps one more later on.

My guess: IELTS score 8.5/9

Speaking

The first time I took the IELTS I was completely unprepared for the psychological experience of the speaking test. It was SCARY! I didn’t need a score and was only taking the test for experience but I still found the speaking test intimidating. I was completely fine for Part 1 and Part 3, but Part 2 — the two minute monologue — completely baffled me. In the one minute preparation time I remember staring at the task card thinking WHAT?!

This time I employed E2’s PPF method, which was EXCELLENT. I relaxed, thought of three stories and BANG, I spoke easily for two minutes without going round and round.

My topic was not particularly easy. It said something like:

Talk about an advertisement you recently saw. You should say:

  • What it was advertising
  • Where you saw the advertisement
  • What it looked like

 And say whether or not it was effective.

 I wrote on my piece of paper:

Bicycle

Car

Robot

Easy. Although, I must say that the minute preparation time FLIES. You barely have time to think let alone write anything down. I thought of three stories and wrote three words down and then the examiner politely said “Okay, now you can start.”

The PPF method worked beautifully: I told a past story about seeing an advertisement for a bicycle in a magazine when I was a kid. I then talked about the present, about how I have been looking at car advertisements online. Finally, I said one sentence about wanting to see advertisements for robots in the future, before the examiner stopped me.

We then had a very complex discussion about advertising and the psychological effects it has on people. The questions kept coming and I gave deep, philosophical answers being conscious of my grammar and vocabulary.

My guess: IELTS score 9

Well, now I have to wait to see what the IELTS gives me. I’m hoping for straight 9s, but you never know with the IELTS! I’ll let you know, so stay tuned 🙂

Read about Jay’s first IELTS score The Impossible IELTS: My IELTS Writing Test Disaster after initially receiving a 6.5 in the Writing test.  

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Written by Jay. 

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