IELTS: How I got an 8.5 score

Honest advice and tips from my IELTS experience.

Last September, after more than a decade of trying to lose my accent, I decided that it was finally time. Time to…… PROVE THE WORLD I CAN SPEAK ENGLISH!

  • There seem to be a belief among a lot of ESL (English as a Second Language) learners that IELTS is this impossible challenge that you need to be a master to overcome: this is not the case. If you can confidently read this article from top to bottom and understand most of it, you’re already well on your way to get a good score.
  • I’m not pretending that it’s easy to get an 8.5 score. Obviously I have a huge advantage because I have been speaking English daily for years and was fortunate enough to live abroad, but getting a good score (6 and over) is a realistic objective if you are ready to put in the work.
  • I am not selling any course, program, or secret method that you have to pay for. This is just me sharing my experience with you. That’s real love right there 💖 (feel free to send me some money if you want to, though). Please forgive me if my advice is flawed or too generic, I’ll try to direct you to other great, professional resources throughout the article.
  • Also, for the sake of full disclosure, here is a picture of my actual results. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m just pulling this advice out of my magic hat or that I’m lying about my results. I didn’t get a perfect score, so I want to make it clear that I’m not pretending to have the ultimate key to the test, but I’ve taken it and did ok, so I hope I can bring some valuable insights:
(The hidden part are probably unnecessary but I just listened to a podcast about privacy two hours ago and I’m very paranoid right now. Also don’t judge my picture ahah)

Table of Contents

1- The Basics
The Test
- Listening
- Reading
- Writing
- Speaking
3- Resources and final advice

1) The Basics

  • What is an IELTS and why do I need one?
Terrible music, but you cannot be great at everything I guess.

2) The Test

The most important thing I want to insist on as much as possible is that the test format is -in my opinion- the single most important thing with IELTS, and with any test for that matter, so please pay close attention.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln

As I mentioned earlier, each section is scored out of 9 and they are all weighed the same, meaning that there isn’t a section that is worth more than the other. That being said, you know your own strength and weaknesses, and you should obviously plan your studying strategy based on that.

A) Listening

  • Format and description:

B) Reading

  • Format and description:

C) Writing

  • Format and description:
IELTS Writing Task 1 (Template)
IELTS Writing Task 2 (Template)

D) Speaking

  • Format and description:

3) Resources and final advice

Wow, I know, that was a lot, thanks for sticking through! But we’re not done yet!

Jack of all trades, master of some. Vancouver-based, I write about tech, business, MMA and education. Mostly in English, but sometimes in French too.