IELTS Speaking IELTS Writing Study Tips Uncategorized

How We Crushed IELTS! Secrets of an 8.5 Score

More than two million IELTS tests are taken each year and the average candidate’s score is around 6.0. The score needed to enter a university course is typically 6.5 to 7.5.

But some candidates went beyond the call of duty and achieved IELTS 8.0 or 8.5. How did they do it? We asked, and here’s what they said.

Kanako from Japan, IELTS 8.0

I took the test five times and my highest overall score was 8.0 (9 9 7 7). The reason why I took the test so many times is because I got 6.0 or 6.5 for Writing at the first four attempts but I needed to get 7.0. In the end it almost drove me crazy but I did it. I probably did more than twenty Writing practice tests but it was worth it. I asked for feedback from different people including some friends who are native speakers and professional writing coaches such as this website. The range of feedback was surprising! Sometimes it was: Well done this looks fine to me! But I tried to listen more carefully for the criticism. The most important thing I learned was how to organise the essay into four clear paragraphs because I believe that structure is the first thing the examiner notices. I’m sure that was the key to getting 7.0.

Anna from Russia, IELTS 8.5

My overall score was 8.5 with 9 for Reading and Listening, 8.5 for Speaking and 7.5 for Writing. For Speaking: just keep talking! Whatever! As long as it is grammatically correct, the examiner doesn’t really want to know the details of your biography or what you truly think of the topic. They want to hear you speak. I was asked about public buildings. Yeah, right, I can’t sleep without thinking about public buildings. I recite poems about public buildings every day and sometimes at night. NOT! So I just launched an endless speech inventing things but trying to stick to the subject and connect all the ideas that came to mind to the public buildings, bless them 🙂 It worked. Dont try to use texts you learned by heart. You must sound as natural as possible. For this, read out loud, talk to yourself (yes, ignore haters:)), watch movies and don’t be afraid! And under no circumstances say “I don’t know” and then stop. Say instead: Hmm, I have never given it a thought, but this is an interesting idea. I would say… and blah-blah-blah!

Pie from Thailand, IELTS 8.5

I took the test a few years back and the score was 8.5 with a 9 in both Reading and Listening. I personally relied on neither tricks nor techniques at the time. With that said, I realized later that I should have, especially for the speaking and writing sections. I believe the key for those two parts is to make sure you don’t steer away from the given topic and the best way to do so is to answer positively if and when you can. By that I mean if asked whether you agree or disagree, try not to go with the latter and when asked to describe something, for example your favorite toy, don’t say that you don’t/didn’t have one.

Liz from Romania, IELTS 8.5

I finally scored 9 9 8 8 for my IELTS exam and now I’m waiting for my visa to be processed. The help I got from IELTS Academic with my Writing tasks and Speaking practice was great. What was the secret? Practice practice practice! I took many full tests at home, I timed myself, sat down and did Listening, Reading and Writing without moving, just like at the real exam. I also learnt special language requested in different topics in the Speaking exam. The Writing practice tests I took with IELTS Academic helped me to realise what I was doing wrong, and made a big difference for my overall score. I remember reading my first essays, then comparing them to my latest. Huge improvement. I also created the best conditions for myself before the exam, I slept as good as I could one week before, tried to keep calm and don’t exhaust myself, and really, the last time I took it I KNEW that I had done my very best and that it was hard to go any higher. A newcomer should take into consideration EVERY variable he/she can and not leave anything to chance.

So there’s your answer: there’s no single way to crush IELTS and achieve a Band 8 score. The candidates above all put in different amounts of effort, for sure.

Interestingly, all four candidates achieved the highest possible score of Band 9 in Listening and Reading, which suggests they already had an excellent understanding of English before taking the test. But they all found Writing and Speaking a bit trickier, as these sections are based on a more subjective assessment of skills.

For Writing and Speaking, the basic guide to success appears to be: (1) Get expert feedback on your Writing tasks and analyse what factors help to improve your score. (2) Maintain a positive outlook in Speaking and say as much as you can.

IELTS Speaking

Speak IELTS! Your Guide to Spoken English

Spoken English is what you hear on TV, in bars and cafes, and when meeting new classmates at university. You hear it everywhere, but are you using it properly in IELTS?

In IELTS Speaking, your score is based on how well you use Spoken English, not Academic English, even if you’re taking the Academic version of the test. Confused? Read on.

The Speaking module of IELTS is the same for Academic and General Training candidates and there are no extra points for sounding like an academic essay. In fact, your score could even go down!

To get a high score in IELTS Speaking, be aware of the common features of Spoken English and apply them in the test. Here’s my list of eight things that make Spoken English unique.

IELTS Speaking Part 1

Spoken English begins with greetings

At the beginning of a new conversation, we start with greetings. The actual contents of our greetings are usually meaningless. The true purpose of greetings is to communicate the mood we’re in and announce that we’re available to talk. So, if asked ‘How are you?’ never reply with ‘I’m tired and I think I’ve caught a cold.’ Smile and respond quickly with ‘Great, thanks’ and let the conversation begin!

Spoken English is simple

In speaking, we use a lot of one-syllable words like ‘I’ ‘think’ ‘you’ ‘are’ ‘great’. We don’t say ‘It is my personal belief that you have superior qualities’. One mistake that IELTS Academic candidates make is in trying to pack their speech with academic jargon. It doesn’t make you sound clever: it only increases the work the listener must do to understand you. Keep it simple and use plain language.

Spoken English is interesting

Sometimes we just have to read boring books as part of our studies. But we don’t want to hang around people whose conversation bores us. The most common reasons for boring speech are flat intonation and slow speed. Record yourself speaking on your smartphone or another device. Now listen back to the recording (don’t worry – NOBODY likes doing this!) Be honest: are you an interesting speaker? If not, practice varying your intonation and speed, and try to use more fluency expressions to keep your listener engaged.

Spoken English is cultural

When you read books written by British, American, or Australian authors, you will rarely find any differences in the language, except for a few spellings. But Spoken English is much more dependent on the culture of the speakers. Different groups uses accents, slang and idioms to communicate their shared identity. As an IELTS candidate, you don’t need to worry about accents and you should avoid slang completely. However, using a few common idioms can help to show that you’re familiar with the conventions of Spoken English.

Spoken English involves two people

In any conversation, there is always a speaker and a listener. But how is that different from a reader and a writer? The difference is something called synchronicity. When reading a book, if there’s something we don’t understand, we go back and read it again. The responsibility is on the reader. In speaking, however, the speaker must pay attention to the listener’s cues and be ready to reword it or explain again if something wasn’t clear the first time. The interview format of IELTS Speaking allows you to do this.

Spoken English is where new words are tested and learned

Do you spend many hours of the day cramming your brain with new English vocabulary? Memorisation is useful to a point, but most linguists agree that new words are only truly learned when we use them in speech. Look at the vocabulary that you’ve studied in the last 12 months. How many words have you actually used in conversation? You’ll find that the words you’ve actually used are easier to remember. However, don’t forget my second point, which is that you should not use words that may cause problems for your listener.

Spoken English is about more than just words

In conversation, the listener pays attention to far more than just our words. Our posture, clothing, hairstyle, facial expression, eye contact and voice quality are all important signals that we are friendly, competent, trustworthy, or the opposite! Of course, in IELTS Speaking there are no scores awarded for non-verbal communication or body language. IELTS examiners claim that they completely ignore such factors when scoring a candidate. However, is that really possible to believe?

Spoken English is social

Spoken English is how we maintain our relationships with friends and family. But it’s also how we introduce ourselves to strangers and form new relationships. If all your conversations are with people you already know, you may be uncomfortable speaking to a stranger in the IELTS Speaking test. Make sure you overcome any shyness by meeting new people in the weeks before you take the test. This will also give you many opportunities to practice talking about yourself.

IELTS Speaking Scoring

IELTS Speaking Scores: What Are FC, LR, GRA & P?

Yesterday we looked at how IELTS Writing scores are calculated. Today it’s the turn of IELTS Speaking scores.

The first thing you may notice is a close resemblance between the codes used for IELTS Writing and IELTS Speaking scores. We’ve met LR and GRA before, haven’t we? FC looks familiar: maybe it’s a cousin of CC. But P? Where did he spring from?

If you’re serious about improving your IELTS Speaking score, you’ll want to match your speaking style to the four assessment criteria. Let’s look at each of them in turn and how they might influence your way of speaking.

IELTS Speaking Scores

FC = Fluency and Coherence

Fluency and Coherence is similar to Cohesion and Coherence, which we encountered before. In IELTS Speaking, however, it’s a measure of how well you can keep talking and be understood, including:

  • Do you avoid silence or hesitation?
  • Do you speak at length on each topic?
  • Do you use words to connect your ideas?

LR = Lexical Resource

Lexical Resource refers to your use of vocabulary, including:

  • Do you use a wide range of vocabulary?
  • Do you use idioms and collocation common to spoken English?
  • Do you paraphrase to avoid repetition?

GRA = Grammatical Range and Accuracy

This refers to your skill with English grammar, including

  • Do you speak in complex sentences?
  • Do you use a variety of grammatical forms?
  • Do you avoid too many grammatical mistakes?

P = Pronunciation

Pronunciation is naturally part of the IELTS Speaking assessment, including:

  • Do you pronounce words accurately?
  • Do you join sounds together?
  • Do you vary intonation?

There’s no quick fix to improve your English vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation: all of these require hard work and practice over months and years. A more immediate way to improve your IELTS Speaking score is to learn fluency techniques, including spoken English phrases, collocations, and emergency language for use when things go wrong. A good teacher can coach you in speaking techniques for better fluency.

How IELTS Speaking scores are calculated

The examiner gives you a score for each of the criteria based on your performance throughout the test, in particular Parts 2 and 3. There are no individual scores for each part of the speaking test.

The criteria are equally weighted so that each is worth 25% of your IELTS Speaking score. The scores for each criteria are added together and divided by four to give an average, which becomes your overall score. Scores of .25 and .75 are rounded up. For example, 7+7+7+6 = 6.75 is rounded up to 7.0 overall.

Classroom Resources Free Downloads IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking Feedback Sheet

cropped-IELTS-Academic-Logo.jpgThis article is part of the Teach IELTS series at IELTS Academic, an online provider of skills training for IELTS and English as a foreign language.

Are you looking for an easier way to calculate IELTS Speaking scores?

The assessment criteria for IELTS Speaking are publicly available, but the official document is not exactly classroom-friendly. Not only is the language filled with jargon, the complexity is so great that explaining it all in class would drastically reduce any speaking practice time available to students.

IELTS Academic has produced a simplified version of the IELTS Speaking scoring rubric that is faithful to the official version but designed to be more accessible for students. This IELTS Speaking Feedback Sheet organises the IELTS Speaking assessment criteria into 12 basic attributes. Try using it as a tool for pair practice in your next IELTS Speaking lesson.

IELTS Speaking Feedback Sheet

Download this IELTS Speaking Feedback Sheet as a PDF for classroom use.

Fluency and Coherence

Does your partner:

  • Avoid silence or hesitation?
  • Speak at length on each topic?
  • Use words to connect ideas?

Lexical Resource

Does your partner:

  • Use a wide range of vocabulary?
  • Use idioms and collocation?
  • Paraphrase?

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Does your partner:

  • Speak in complex sentences?
  • Use a variety of grammatical forms?
  • Avoid grammatical mistakes?


Does your partner:

  • Pronounce words accurately?
  • Join sounds together?
  • Vary intonation?

Scoring:  Students can give their partner a score of 0-3 for each skill where 0=Not at all, 1=A little, 2=Sometimes, and 3=Always. Dividing the total by four will produce a rough estimate of the student’s overall IELTS Speaking score.

cropped-IELTS-Academic-Logo.jpgThis article is part of the Teach IELTS series at IELTS Academic, an online provider of skills training for IELTS and English as a foreign language.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Practice Tests

IELTS Speaking Practice Test 6: Food

How important is food to you? Try this IELTS speaking practice test with a partner. You can also download a PDF of this IELTS speaking practice test for classroom use.

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Interview (4-5 minutes)

Answer the following questions about your personal habits and preferences.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Is that your typical breakfast?

Do you watch your diet carefully?

How important is food to you?

Who cooks usually in your family?

Are you a good cook?

IELTS Speaking Part 2: Individual long-turn (3-4 minutes)

You have 1 minute to read the instructions in the box and prepare an answer. You can make notes. After your preparation time has ended, please speak for 1 to 2 minutes on this topic.

Describe a dish you like to cook.

You should say:

The name of the dish

How you make it

If you use any special ingredients

And explain if this is a popular dish in your country.

Follow-up question: How many times a year do you cook it?

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)

Give your opinion on these food-related issues. Support your opinion with relevant examples and make comparisons where possible.

Food wastage

Do we waste too much food?

What can be done to reduce the amount of food we waste?

Would you eat food that was past its expiry date?


Is obesity a major problem in your society?

Who is to blame for childhood obesity?

Some people say that seriously obese people should pay more to travel on planes. What’s your opinion?

IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking Tips: How to Achieve 7.0

Why is it so difficult to get a Band 7 score in IELTS Speaking, even when your IELTS Listening and Reading scores are higher?

Some people lose their confidence after several failed attempts to reach 7.0 in Speaking. As a result, they lack the one thing that really can help to improve their score: a positive attitude.

Or they may worry about the wrong things like tiny features of pronunciation or attempting to sound like a native speaker. Efforts like these can make a small difference, but pronunciation is only 25% of the IELTS Speaking score.

And what percentage of the IELTS Speaking score is based on having an interesting life story and knowing the solutions to all the world’s problems? 0%!

What really helps is to understand the scoring criteria and make a positive effort to demonstrate exactly those skills to the examiner. That’s why I’ve based these IELTS Speaking tips on the public version of the IELTS Speaking assessment criteria. I’ve also written more about how to achieve IELTS Band 7 in a previous post.

IELTS Speaking Tip #1: Keep talking

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence

In IELTS Speaking, your score goes up when you say more, even if that results in more errors. That’s because IELTS is a test of what you CAN do, not what you can’t. So say as much as you can in response to the question, until you either run out of ideas or start repeating yourself. It’s not a bad thing if the examiner has to stop or interrupt you.

IELTS Speaking Tip #2: Use an idiom or two

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation

The IELTS examiner is listening for evidence that you can go beyond ‘textbook English’ and start using real, idiomatic English. So impress the examiner by including a few idiomatic phrases like “I’m a bundle of nerves” to mean “I’m nervous”. You can find a good starter list of idioms on Wikipedia and for iOS users there’s even an idioms app.

IELTS Speaking Tip #3: Paraphrase the question

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Uses paraphrase effectively

If the examiner asks you a question and you can immediately think of a way to paraphrase it—i.e. express the same meaning in other words—go ahead and say something like “Oh, you mean (paraphrase question)?” This is a very effective strategy to demonstrate one of the core skills that the examiner is listening for. Try to do this two or three times during the test.

IELTS Speaking Tip #4: Use linking words to connect your ideas

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility

What does this mean in normal English? It means that you use a variety of expressions like ‘in other words’, ‘also’, ‘however’ and ‘on the other hand’ to connect your ideas. The key word is RANGE. The examiner doesn’t want to hear you say ‘on the other hand’ a hundred times! So record yourself speaking and notice if you use a phrase like ‘on the other hand’ too much. If so, consider how you might replace it with another phrase. Now you can start demonstrating a good range of linking words.

IELTS Speaking Tip #5: Don’t be afraid of mistakes

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist

That means it’s possible to make some mistakes and still get IELTS 7.0 or 7.5. However, some candidates score poorly because they worry too much about NOT making mistakes. As a result, they speak too slowly, and their mistakes become MORE obvious! It’s more important to demonstrate fluency (See IELTS Speaking Tip #1) than it is to produce error-free speech. Of course, it’s also good to correct yourself if you do notice a mistake.

Do you have IELTS Band 7 in speaking? Are there any IELTS speaking tips you would like to share with other users of this site? If so, tell us below or on the IELTS Academic Facebook page.


IELTS Speaking Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

IELTS Speaking Practice Test 5: Money

How much money is enough? Try these IELTS speaking sample questions with a partner. You can also download a PDF of this IELTS speaking practice test for classroom use.

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Interview (4-5 minutes)

Answer the following questions about your personal habits and preferences.

Is this your first IELTS test?

How are you feeling right now?

Do you like shopping?

Have you bought anything interesting recently?

How important is money to you?

Do you think you will have lots of money in future?

IELTS Speaking Part 2: Individual long-turn (3-4 minutes)

You have 1 minute to read the instructions in the box and prepare an answer. You can make notes. After your preparation time has ended, please speak for 1 to 2 minutes on this topic.

Describe something you want to buy but can’t afford.

You should say:

What you would like to buy

How much it costs

Why you can’t afford it

And explain if there is any other way you could acquire it.

Follow-up question: Could you live without it?

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)

Give your opinion on various issues connected to money  Support your opinion with relevant examples and make comparisons where possible.


How much money is enough?

What things can money not buy?

Do people care too much about money?

Money problems

What problems does money cause in your society?

Do children need better financial education?

Could human beings live without money?

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Practice Tests

IELTS Speaking Practice Test 4: Marriage

Describe your wedding! Try these IELTS speaking sample questions with a partner. You can also download a PDF of this IELTS speaking practice test for classroom use.

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Interview (4-5 minutes)

Answer the following questions about your personal habits and preferences.

Why are you taking the IELTS test?

How do you feel about today’s test?

Where do you live?

How many people live in your house?

Would you like to spend your whole life with one person?

How important is marriage to you?

IELTS Speaking Part 2: Individual long-turn (3-4 minutes)

You have 1 minute to read the instructions in the box and prepare an answer. You can make notes. After your preparation time has ended, please speak for 1 to 2 minutes on this topic.

Describe your wedding or a wedding you would like to have.

You should say:

Where the wedding takes place

Which guests are invited

What happens during the ceremony

And say if there is anything unusual about your wedding.

Follow-up question: Who planned or would plan your wedding?

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)

Answer the following questions about weddings and marriage. Support your opinion with relevant examples and make comparisons where possible.


What presents are suitable for a wedding in your country?

Do you think money spent on a wedding is wasted?

Why do non-religious people choose to get married in churches?


How long should a couple wait before getting married?

What is the secret of a successful marriage?

Should unhappy couples get divorced?

IELTS Listening IELTS Reading IELTS Speaking IELTS Writing

Do You Make These 8 Common Mistakes in IELTS?

Everyday I get messages from people who want to know why their IELTS score doesn’t improve. Often they have NO IDEA that their writing or speech is incomprehensible, or that their methods in listening or reading are all wrong!

Why does this happen? Well, for one thing, it shows the importance of studying with a teacher before you take the test. As an IELTS teacher myself, I would like to help people overcome the most common mistakes in IELTS before they decide to contact me, so here is my list of eight common mistakes to avoid.

Common mistakes in IELTS listening

Do you listen with open ears, so you easily miss the answers to the questions? Unfortunately it’s not about how much you understand overall. It’s about how many of those ten answers you anticipate and how many you catch when they are spoken. Preview the questions as much as possible before your listen, and concentrate only on listening for the answers.

Do you miss the next answer, because you’re still trying to answer a previous question? This can happen to anyone, and it’s the surest way to multiply the consequences of a mistake. Accept that you only need to get seven or eight of the ten answers, and don’t panic when you miss one. Concentrate on the next question, not the last question.

Common mistakes in IELTS Reading

Do you spend too much time reading, so that you hardly have time to answer the questions? Unfortunately, IELTS is not the time to take pleasure in reading! And there are no points for understanding the entire passage. Skim the text quickly to get an idea of the topic and organisation, and then move straight on to the questions. Maximum skim-reading time should be five minutes.

Do you easily get fooled by ‘distractors’, so that you’re shocked when your score is much lower than you expected? Distractors are answers that seem obviously correct, but turn out to be incorrect. They often make use of the same word as the original text. To avoid distractors, make sure you read all of the possible answers before deciding which is correct.

Common mistakes in IELTS Writing

Do you use too much fancy language, so your overall point is unclear? If the examiner thinks you’re just showing off some phrases you’ve memorised without fully understanding them, he or she will mark down your score. Also, do you believe the examiner will take the time to re-read your answer in order to figure out what you mean? Of course not. He or she will just lose patience and mark down your answer for coherence.

Do you write too casually, so you lose marks for inappropriate style? Fine if you’re taking the General Training version of IELTS, but not fine in the Academic version. Sure, examiners are nice people, but they aren’t your best friend and don’t want to read “Am I right?” and “Don’t you think so?” How do you know if your writing is too casual? Show it to a knowledgeable teacher and ask them if they think it would be suitable language for an academic report.

Common mistakes in IELTS Speaking

Do you hesitate for too long, because you’re planning the perfect answer in your own mind? You cannot get more than IELTS band 5 if you hesitate for an uncomfortable length of time while speaking. What is an uncomfortable amount of silence? For many English speakers, it can be as little as five seconds.

Do you speak with poor pronunciation, so the examiner has to struggle to understand your words? Perhaps your words are good words—the problem is that the examiner simply can’t catch what you’re trying to say! IELTS examiners are not supposed to reveal when candidates have performed poorly or made mistakes, so you may never know that your poor pronunciation is a problem. The solution is to practice IELTS speaking with a good teacher.

Would you like to practice your IELTS writing or IELTS speaking with an expert teacher? Eliminate common mistakes from your IELTS answers and find out the reason why your score hasn’t improved. See our current IELTS practice tests.

IELTS Speaking IELTS Writing Promotions Study Tips

Here’s How to Improve Your IELTS Score

OK, so you’ve bought the books, watched the video tutorials, and read a million blogs. Getting that 6.5 or 7.0 in this weekend’s IELTS test shouldn’t be too hard, right?

But, like thousands of other people, you’ve discovered the awful truth that however much you ace the listening and reading sections, it can be VERY difficult indeed to raise your score by even 0.5 in the writing and speaking sections!

Why does this happen? Well, listening and reading scores depend greatly on knowledge in the form of vocabulary and grammar. This knowledge is usually built up over many years of study. Also, in the listening and reading sections of IELTS, an answer is either correct or incorrect, so it’s relatively easy to understand what went wrong.

However, writing and speaking are skills, which means they depend more on practice than knowledge. Evaluating how well you perform those skills is also more difficult if you’re not a native speaker, or if you don’t understand the more complex ways in which IELTS writing and speaking answers are scored.

Many people fail to improve their IELTS score because they repeat the classic ‘insanity’ symptom of attempting the same thing again and again while expecting different results. Sadly, the truth is that your many years of English study plus a few IELTS textbooks may never be enough to lift your IELTS scores in writing and speaking to the same level as your listening and reading scores.

What you really need is a teacher. Not just any teacher, but one who is qualified to advise on exactly where you’re going wrong. A good teacher will provide you with genuine IELTS speaking practice and the personally-tailored feedback you need to improve your IELTS writing score. In fact, there are many more reasons why it pays to study with a good teacher.

Five ways a good teacher can help you improve your IELTS score

  1. Correct use of grammar accounts for 25% of your score in both Writing and Speaking. A good IELTS teacher will point out your most common grammar mistakes and encourage you to self-correct.
  2. Some mistakes are inevitable, of course. The most important thing is to be understood, since writing or speaking coherent English is one of the basic requirements of a good IELTS score. A good teacher will let you know when you’ve written or said something incoherent and ask you to rephrase it.
  3. Dictionaries contain plenty of words, but it’s not always easy to know which are the most frequently used and which are appropriate in a situation like the IELTS test. A good teacher will suggest vocabulary that would have helped you to explain your ideas better in the writing or speaking sections of the test.
  4. A good IELTS teacher understands how IELTS scores are calculated and will focus their feedback on key skills like paragraphing and connecting ideas. These are the skills that take less time to acquire and can give the biggest boost to your IELTS score.
  5. Finally, a good IELTS teacher provides motivation, since they highlight things you do well and are professionally engaged in helping you improve your IELTS score. A good teacher is therefore also a good coach – and you can’t get that from a book or website!

How to find a good IELTS teacher

So now you’re ready to invest money in hiring a teacher, how do you know the person you’re about to hire is the right one to provide that big boost to your IELTS score?

One problem is that there is no licence to teach IELTS. Instead, you should look for someone with a solid teaching background who can demonstrate good knowledge of the IELTS scoring criteria. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions like How many IELTS students have you taught before? and What advice do you usually give your students to improve their IELTS score? You are the client and you should not hesitate to check a teacher’s professional credentials before spending your money.

Some common methods of finding a teacher are as follows:

1. Online noticeboards

This is most people’s first choice of where to look for a private teacher. There are general ‘classifieds’ sites like Craigslist and many countries and cities also have a local equivalent. Just be sure to ask the questions above!

2. Language Schools

Most major cities have at least one language school that offers an IELTS course. However, be warned that you may not experience all the benefits above if you study IELTS in a group. Before signing up for any course, ask if your writing tasks will be graded and corrected, and confirm if there will be individual speaking practice with the teacher.

3. IELTS Examiners

It’s important to know that IELTS examiners are not allowed to advertise their examiner status in their teaching careers. After you meet with an IELTS teacher, however, they will usually not mind telling you discretely if they are also working as an examiner. If they don’t mention it, just ask!

4. Online Teachers

One advantage of having an online teacher is that your choices are no longer restricted to the teachers in your local area and you can now pick from the very best the world has to offer! Some people worry that studying online isn’t the same, but if you’ve ever used Skype or Google Docs you’ll know that instant messaging and editing tools can actually help you get even more out of the experience.