5 Things Band 7+ IELTS Students Do


I’m a bit obsessed with the difference between a student who gets the scores that they need and those that don’t. Every time I get an email from someone who got a 7 or above, I try to find out what they did that allowed them to get such a high score.

I’m certain that it does not come down to their level of English, skills or knowledge- of course, those things are very important- but 5 key things that they do when they are preparing for the test.

Here they are:

They Work Hard

This is the number one factor that you control. You cannot control the type of questions or topics that might come up, but you do control how much work you put in.

I think this is the most important factor. There are no problems that can’t be solved with hard work.

They Don’t Complain

One of the easiest things to do is to blame other factors for your result. Some of the most common ones are:

  • The test is unfair.
  • The test is stupid.
  • IDP/BC is not as hard as BC/IDP.
  • My teacher gave me bad advice.
  • The examiner didn’t like me.
  • The questions/topics were too hard.
  • I don’t have time to study.

It is much more difficult to accept that you have to work hard and do the work, than to make excuses, but those who put their head down and focus on their work, rather than make excuses, do much better.

A recent student who got 7.5, worked very long hours as a nurse, had 3 children to look after when she got home from work and had failed to get the score she needed 3 times. She had every reason to make excuses and complain, but instead she found the time to work hard and get the score she needed.

They Are Patient

When I did level/placement testing at the British Council, many students would laugh at me when I told them it would take 6-12 months before they were ready to do the test. They wanted to do a very short course and magically get the score they needed. This is impossible for most people who are not already at the required level.

I also get about 10 emails a day from people who tell me their IELTS test is next week and they want some ‘quick tips’ to help them get a high score. Again, this is fantasy.

The people who get the higher scores know their current level and make a realistic plan to get to where they want to go.

They Learn AND Practice

It is very important to learn about the test and the different techniques and strategies you need, however, lots of people think that all you have to do is do lots of reading and watch YouTube videos every day and they will get a 7 or above.

Likewise, many students believe that simply attending classes, but not actually doing any work outside of class, will help them.

It is more important to implement what you have learned. For example, don’t watch 10 videos about how to write an introduction. Watch the best 2-3 and write 10 introductions using what you’ve learned. Do the hard work before your test to make your job much easier on test day.

They Seek Professional Advice

There are many great free resources out there, but if you really want to improve there is no better way than consulting an expert. They will be able to tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong and tell you exactly what you need to do to improve.

A good teacher should be able to look at your writing or listen to your speaking and tell you almost immediately how to improve. You can improve at home on your own, but not as quickly or effectively without a good teacher.

There are many great teachers both offline and online and it is much cheaper to get their help, than to have to repeat the test many times.


Reading this article is not going to help you improve, but if you implement what you’ve learned here, you will get better.

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  1. Chih C says

    Hi Chris,

    Merry Christmas and Happy 2016 to you and your family!

    I had to score a minimum of 7 in all bands and since July 2016, I kept missing the elusive 7 for the Writing component (my previous scores were 6 and 6.5). I signed up for the third time for the Dec 10, 2016 sitting and was browsing for a tutorial which gave very precise instructions on the essay format for Task 1 & 2. I had been referring to 3 other tutorials but clearly from the dismal writing scores, I still couldn’t grasp the winning technique. Then just 5 days before Dec 10th, I started looking for other tutorials and I stumbled onto IELTS Advantage!

    Chris you are so heaven sent! Your teaching techniques are totally enlightening! You actually walk the reader through the thought process in print. As you explain each step, you frequently clarify further by stating, “By this I mean….” and that helped so much. I could literally hear your voice!

    I briefly saw a couple of your lessons on You Tube but by then, I really didn’t have time to watch them. I had to brush up in a hurry the grammar rules and so many other rules like the placement of articles and memorize high band score linkers for sentences and the format for Writing Tasks 1 & 2.

    The points which I believe helped me enormously were your lessons on choosing key features in Writing Task 1 & Task 2. The other was when you said we could make up statistics when giving examples; the numbers don’t have to be factual but they have to make sense. NO other teacher (the IELTS tutorials that I was using) ever mentioned this point and I used to wonder how in the dear Lord’s name did those high scorers remember so many uncommon facts.

    Of course, your walking the reader through with very precise directions on how to approach Task 1 & 2 Writing, how you dissected the essays into numbered paragraphs and sentences were the best. Finally, I had a eureka moment! The 150 words and 250 words requirements became 11-12 sentences arranged in a precise manner. Seriously, I still hear your phrase in my mind, ” That’s it! 11 sentences that can be used again and again for any problem solution IELTS essay.”

    So for my Dec 10th sitting, I scored: Listening 8, Reading 8, Writing 7.5, Speaking 7 (I was nervous that day. I scored 7.5 and 8.5 previously). ​​Overall: 7.5.

    To all of you who are reading this – yes, yes, yes there’s absolutely no miracle short cut to high scores in IELTS. YOU’VE GOT TO STUDY as in read up, do tons of cross referencing on words/hyphenated words/spelling/phrases/grammar (thank goodness for internet and Google!), WRITE NOTES on key points (and keep reading them) and PRACTICE TIMED writing tests as well as listening (yes, even the Listening component is not so easy-peasy if it’s a high score you’re after) and reading tests. Thank your lucky stars you even stumbled on to this IELTS Advantage site!

    Note: Though I only stumbled on to this site 5 days before the exam date, I had been in studying mode on-off 6 months earlier. By the time I came across IELTS Advantage, I was already familiar with the exam format and had been reading 3 other IELTS tutorials. IELTS Advatage sort of filled in the blanks which I had been struggling with. Oh well, better late than another IELTS exam!

    Chris, thank you so very much for your exceptionally no holds barred tips!

    Cheers and all the best to you all who will be sitting for your exam soon!!

  2. Nana Cherry Eyes says

    Hi Chris
    Thanks a lot for excelent sdvices, i most like “do not complain” because what should we do is work hard

  3. Thuy Nguyen says

    Thanks teacher. It’s difficult but true. As I had made some of the 7s you mentioned, only hard work is paid off not how much money I spent on training courses. Thanks again for encouraging reminder.

  4. Dilnoza says

    Hi Chris, yes you are definitely right. Firstly, I thought that preparing for IELS exam will take just 1 or 2 months, and now I deeply realize how wrong I was . Your articles relating to different sections of IELTS are very useful and wit. As I think there are a lot of vital information there.
    Appreciate that.

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