In this tutorial, we’re going to talk to Maria on how she passed IELTS using our online course. She is from Brazil and took the IELTS for doing a Law Masters in England. Yes, it was a sweet ending, but did you know how many times she took IELTS? FIVE times!!! And she was stuck at 6.5 in Writing! In addition, this is her last chance to pass because if she failed, she couldn’t go to the UK.
Until she met a girl in the exam area and recommended IELTSPodcast to her. Persevered to strike gold, she searched Google and when she found us, signed up for the course immediately. The money back guarantee gave her the biggest assurance. After taking the course, she received 8 in listening, 9 in reading, 7 in writing, and 8 in speaking, with an overall band score of 8.
Listen to the interview to learn:
- The challenges she went through and how she resolved these
- The interesting full story on how she knew about IELTSPodcast
- How essay correction and feedback process helped her overcome her skills
- What she did in her preparation to get a band 9 in Reading
- How she practiced for her Speaking exam
- The time it took her to prepare and focus on IELTS
- Her valuable tips on how you can nail IELTS as well
- Why she kept going off topic and how she improved her Task Response errors
- What her previous writing tutor said about her writing and how she dealt with this
You can download or listen to the audio version here:
YOU MAY READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Ben: Are you ready for global stardom when I publish–
Maria: I’m sorry?
Ben: Are you ready for global stardom when this gets published online?
Maria: What do you mean about that?
Ben: That was a joke and I just had a flashback of my English classes when I used to tell a joke and the class would be silent or they’d just say what you said, I’m sorry? What do you mean?
Maria: Hello, Ben. Hi, everyone. I’m Maria. I’m from Brazil, Brasilia. I live in Brasilia right now and I took the IELTS for doing a Masters in England.
Ben: Super. Whereabouts in England will you be going?
Maria: Well, I’m going to go to London and I’ll stay at University College London. I’m a lawyer and I’m very excited for doing this Masters.
Ben: Super. Super. Yes, that sounds exciting. I was in London about a month ago. That place is crazy. It’s so frenetic. It’s so chaotic, but what I really loved about it is you’re walking just trying to get to a place– I preferred walking because if I took the tube, I didn’t see any of the city. So, I was walking everywhere and literally, like every 15 minutes I would find something really unique and I’d have to take a picture of it. Maybe it’s a skyscraper next to a typical English pub or maybe it was some beautiful graffiti, but it was really like every 10 minutes, 15 minutes, there’s something quite amazing, so yes. Have you been to England before?
Maria: Yes, I’ve been to England twice actually. The first time I was a high school student and I studied English for one month and then I went there on holidays with my father to London also. It was great. It was amazing and I’m very excited to live in London again.
Ben: Yes, I’m quite envious of you. For me, it was a little bit overwhelming, but after about two or three days, I started getting into it again and walking fast and walking up the– how do they call it? Up the escalator and just getting really into the rhythm. It really sweeps you along. And whereabouts did you do your high school? Was that London as well?
Maria: Yes, actually it was very close to London, not I think in the middle of the city, but in the neighborhood a little far from the city center.
CHALLENGES WHEN PREPARING FOR IELTS
Ben: Interesting. Cool. All right. Now then, let’s get back to IELTS. Could you tell us some of the challenges you had when you were preparing for the exam?
Maria: Sure. Well, I started– I did my first IELTS last year because– well, I needed an overall 7.5 and 7 in all; listening, reading, writing, and speaking. So, listening, reading, speaking was all right. I got the grade that I needed from the beginning, but then I was having problems with the writing section. I had 6.5 the first time and I started taking classes— some classes here in Brazil, but they didn’t really work. So, yes. Well, I actually took the exam five times.
HOW MARIA KNEW ABOUT IELTSPODCAST
Maria: Yes, it was a lot. It was interesting because when I was doing one exam, I met a girl that was also doing the IELTS and she told me, hey I’m listening to this IELTS podcast and it’s very great and I was what the hell is this IELTS podcast? I swear that’s what happened. I was doing the exam and I was talking to her, but I was very preoccupied and she told me no, the IELTS podcast is great. You should take a look.
Maria: So, yes and then I came back home I was not confident at all. I was very preoccupied, so I already started looking to the website and then I signed for the course and well, it worked. I’m very happy. That is [unintelligible 00:05:15.09] when I saw okay well, I’m going to have my money back if I don’t pass, great. That’s what I’m going to do. It’s my last chance because I didn’t have more time. I’m also going with a program that’s called Chevening, which is– well, the British Council sponsors some students to go study in England. So, I already have the– I was already accepted by this scholarship, but I still didn’t have the grade that I needed to get accepted from the university. So, I was very preoccupied and well, I thought that doing the IELTS podcast course would be my best chance.
Ben: Super. Wow! So, this is your last chance. If you didn’t pass IELTS this time, you couldn’t get the scholarship from the British Council, you couldn’t go abroad. So, there’s a lot riding on this. Is that right?
Maria: Yes, it was. It was and I’m very glad it worked.
IELTS WRITING CHALLENGES
Ben: And could you tell me what were the challenges you had with your writing?
Maria: Yes. Well, the biggest challenge was task achievement actually. Well, I think all the essays– all the second essays that I sent I had problems with task achievement and it was great that I heard feedback on that because I didn’t know that I was doing the task achievement wrong, that I was doing it wrong. My grammar was okay, the vocabulary was fine also, but I wasn’t really answering what they were asking. So, that was the biggest mistake.
Ben: I see and how did you– well, you said you got the feedback and the essay correctors who did it, did they keep on telling you like hey, you’re off-topic?
Ben: Yes, how did you solve this? Did you start paying more attention? Did you check your writing? Did you change your plan? How did you specifically solve this?
Maria: Yes, I did. I think– well, I read all the essays that I did before and I was trying to really divide– I think divide the question into small parts and try to really understand what they were asking because I wasn’t paying strong attention to that. Well, I read all the essays I did again and saw what it could change and also– well, the feedback they were great, seriously. They were awesome and I started to understand what I should really answer that I was not doing.
Ben: That’s beautiful. That is absolutely beautiful. So, just to rehash what you said, just to summarize, first of all, you got help and you identified– with the help of somebody looking at your essays, which comes included in the course, you identified that that’s where your weak point was and they would say hey Maria, you’ve gone off-topic in this essay. So, first of all you were made aware of the problem. Then you sort of like reviewed your past essays and saw that it was like a reoccurring issue and then you followed the steps in the course which sounds like breaking it down into small components and specifically answering those small sort of like chunks of the question and assigning paragraphs. Would you say that was roughly the case?
Maria: Yes, yes. Perfectly.
ON OTHER IELTS TEACHERS AND COURSES
Ben: Super. Super. And let’s just go back to this teacher that you got. You had a teacher that was telling you– I know I shouldn’t do this, but I really enjoy it. Can you tell me what you didn’t like about this teacher? Why wasn’t the teacher helping you get the grades that you wanted? What was happening there?
Maria: Regarding the task 2 ones, that really frustrated me because– well, he corrected the grammar okay, he didn’t do– he didn’t suggest any change– not any, but not significant changes in my vocabulary, so that remained the same and in one essay that I did he said, okay, this essay is so-so. And I remember reading that and I was okay, but what the hell? Why is it so-so? I did not get it. Well, he did not suggest any changes. I know it was not very helpful because I started asking him for feedback. I didn’t have enough time, so it was quite hard to change what I was doing wrong, but he also did not really address the issue that I was having and well, he did not say anything about task achievement. I was studying pretty hard about grammar and trying to improve my vocabulary, but task achievement only the IELTS podcast course told me that I was not doing correctly.
Ben: Right. Okay, thank you. So, this teacher, were you getting your essays corrected in the class?
Maria: Yes. Well, I would send him the essays and he will send me back them corrected.
Ben: Got you. Okay, okay. It drives me mad when I see students getting their essays corrected in the class. I’m like, hey teacher, you can do this at home. Unless it’s like a one-on-one class, and a teacher is going through it, but usually, I think the best way to use the class time is to have speaking interactions, but anyway, the teacher did do it. Yes, that’s quite surprising that the feedback he gave you was like this essay is so-so. That’s quite difficult to improve from that kind of feedback, isn’t it? It’s– Wow!
All right then, before we go on to the writing, we should also mention that you were doing– you got the grades that you wanted in the other areas; in the speaking, the listening, and the reading. So, it’s probably useful for the listeners if you could share how you prepared for those other sections of the exam.
Maria: Yes. Well, I did thousands of questions and– well, I did the exam quite a few times, so I was improving. Those [unintelligible 00:13:16.03] well. In the end, I had pretty great grades especially on reading, but yes. Well, I kept doing question exercises and also speaking in English with some friends. I have an amazing friend from Mexico and I always speak in English with her. Well, it always helps.
Ben: That’s awesome. And you said you did lots of questions. Was that for the reading and for the– like practice tests? Is that what you were doing?
Ben: Excellent and with your speaking— well, with your friend, did you actually do mock speaking exams or was it just general chit chat and catching up?
Maria: General chit chat, but– well, I’m remembering here because I was preparing for the interview in the embassy, in the British Embassy, so during this preparation, I also had a teacher with whom I practiced speaking. So, he really helped and he would come to my house and we would speak, but it didn’t take so long. Well, around one month I have the classes with him. He was great. It helped, but I usually talk to my friends. So, this was I think gets me better in speaking.
Ben: I see. I see. So, it was sort of like the regular speaking with your friend– I’m thinking like the general speaking that you did with your friend kept your speaking ability like fluid.
Ben: Right because I experienced exactly the same. In the past, I’ve had a Spanish teacher one hour a week and although I did get feedback on the mistakes that I was making, I know that regular speaking practice or just regular speaking with my friends was more beneficial because I was getting more fluid, I didn’t have to strain to find the exact term that I wanted, but still the classes were good, but it was the speaking, regular practice that really helped with my fluency. So, it seems like that was the same with you. Is that right?
Maria: Yes. Well, I met her five years ago and well, we were in France. We were supposed to speak in French, but we didn’t. We only spoke in English and we kept our friendship and we speak nearly every– I don’t know, once a week and that’s great. That’s what helped me and it really helped doing my speaking test.
Ben: Wow! That’s super. That’s super. And also I get the impression you’re fairly confident as well. Were you nervous in your speaking exam?
Maria: Not exactly, no. Yes, the section was okay. I was worried about the writing sections. The thing that I don’t practice very much here in Brazil, I don’t write in English and well, hopefully, I will write a lot in England. It was great, but I had the opportunity to actually study and practice writing because I’m going to write a lot during the Masters. So, it was great. It was a tough moment. I was very pressured and nervous, but it was great because I love studying English and I know everything that I did will help me during the course. So, I’m [unintelligible 00:17:34.22].
Ben: Absolutely. I must admit, I totally agree with that– with you there. Investing in your writing is not only going to help you with the IELTS exam, but also writing in English as well after the exam for writing– for reviewing your CV, for writing a covering letter, for writing a letter of motivation for a university. For all these things, the principles that you gain– obviously, you’re not going to write a task 2 essay for your– I don’t know, covering letter. I hope not. Anyway–
Maria: We’re not.
Ben: But the actual principles of writing clearly, writing in a succinct fashion, writing concisely, using collocations. All these things that you should pick up when you’re preparing for the exam or in a decent online course, all these things you can definitely use when you are applying for a job, like we said covering letter, and so on and so forth. So, what were your specific exam scores that you got? And this was the fifth time or the sixth time you got these grades?
Maria: Yes, the fifth time.
Ben: The fifth time, right. Okay.
Maria: Yes. So, I got 8 in listening, 9 in reading, 7 in writing, and 8 in speaking. And overall band 8.
Ben: Wow! That’s fantastic. Well done, Maria. Well done.
Maria: Thank you, Ben. Thank you for the help from your team. It was absolutely amazing. I really appreciate it.
HOW SHE GOT BAND 9 IN READING
Ben: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. It’s been a pleasure. Just going back to that band 9 in reading; that was just from doing practice exams and lots of them I guess.
Maria: Yes, yes.
Maria: Exams, exams, and questions, and practicing. Yes.
Ben: Wow! Yes, this is– yes, I think this is a very good point is that when you’ve got the exam coming, if you can, if you just dedicate like a month or two months just to purely doing the exam. Is that what you did, Maria?
Maria: Yes, yes. That’s what I did. I think I had two months preparation; more focused on the writing section, but I also practiced the other sections as well.
TIPS FROM MARIA
Ben: Super. Super. That is fantastic. Well, then, I think that’s everything. Do you have anything else you would like to add before we finish or any tips for students who are currently struggling with the IELTS or have the IELTS coming up soon?
Maria: Yes. Well, I think regarding the writing section, I would just advise them to take– to pay attention to the task achievement. That was my problem and to say that the IELTS podcast course was great. It really helped me and I think it’s worth it.
Ben: Beautiful. Thank you so much for that, Maria.
Maria: Thank you, Ben.
Ben: That’s absolutely fantastic.
Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com
Maria: No, no. I just wanted you to thank her for me because her– I think she sent me a few feedbacks and she was okay, you’re not answering what they are asking and I was oh my God, how the hell I’m not answering what you’re asking? It’s not something very difficult that you’re asking. I seriously had questions more difficult than those ones [unintelligible 00:21:43.10] exams. How I’m not really answering them? But well, the feedback was really great and thank you very much really.
Ben: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. It’s been a pleasure.