The average student will open up their IELTS results and see a writing score of 5.5 looking back at them. For most people, this will result in a huge amount of worry, stress and wasted time, not to mention wasted money.
Here are some statistics from the official IELTS website that you might find interesting:
I am a bit obsessed with what separates students who get the scores they need from those that don’t. I’ve personally been around more Band 7, 8 and 9 students than most. With a social media following of nearly half a million, I’m also in direct contact every day with hundreds of students who are struggling to get the scores they need.
Are there any common factors that separate out the successful students from those who fail? Absolutely.
Guess what it’s not? It’s not intelligence. If this were the case, most of my students would not be doctors, lawyers, engineers and post-graduate students.
It’s also not correlated with your English level. Time and time again I see students who have no problem communicating in English but fail their writing test. It even happens to some native English speakers.
No, after years of helping students get the scores they need, I have identified 5 factors that failing students have in common. I will also show you 5 solutions and help you get the score you need.
The 5 Traits of Average Students
1. They consume huge amounts of information.
They have watched every YouTube video, read every IELTS book and are signed up for every Facebook group related to IELTS.
They constantly consume information about IELTS. They think they are working hard and all this hard work will lead to success. It won’t.
Firstly, there is a huge gap between learning how to do something and actually doing it.
Could you learn how to drive a car, cook a delicious meal or play football by just reading about it? No! Why do you think writing is any different?
Secondly, there is so much confusing and conflicting information out there about IELTS, that it is no mystery why consuming that information is going to cause more harm than good. This brings us on to point number 2.
2. They have many different ‘teachers’.
Ever been in an IELTS class and you have heard something like this? ‘But my other teacher says to do it differently.’, ‘But ‘IELTS Jimmy’ says the opposite on his website.’ or ‘My cousin met an ‘ex-examiner’ and she said to do it another way.’
At best, the advice you’ll hear about IELTS is conflicting. At worst, it is just wrong. In fact, the vast majority of advice I see online is wrong.
For example, you’ll hear one teacher who tells you to use lots of ‘high-level vocabulary’, another teacher who will tell you to ‘keep it simple’ and someone else who will tell you that you should use ‘a specific list of words’.
Who wouldn’t be confused with all this information floating around?
What you write is a reflection of your thinking. If your thinking is confused, your writing will also be.
3. They hope they will get a good score.
Luck is not a factor. Hope is not a factor.
How many times have you heard about students doing the test for the 10th, 11th, 12th time? The most common thing you’ll hear from these students is ‘I hope I’m lucky next time.’
The reason why you are failing is not because you have bad luck. If you get 5.5 10 times in a row, that is your level.
You can improve things but not until you figure out why you are not getting the score you need and actually improve.
4. They look for shortcuts, tips and hacks.
‘My IELTS test is next week, can you give me some tips to get a Band 7.’
That ^^^^ is the most common email I receive. We get hundreds of students every week contacting us and asking for the ‘secret hack’ that will help them get a Band 7.
Let’s put this into perspective. 3,00,000 people do the IELTS test each year. If hacks existed, the person who had them would be very rich. However, they don’t exist.
It’s the same reason why people want to lose weight without giving up junk food. It’s the same reason why people want 6 pack abs without doing any exercise.
There are no shortcuts. You are lying to yourself and wasting your time and money.
5. They do not take action.
I’m lucky enough to know some very successful people. None of them are that intelligent. None of them have a ‘secret’. All of them take massive action.
It is the same with IELTS Writing.
Want to know why you are not getting the score you need?
Look at your writing and figure out your mistakes. That takes action.
Learn how to fix your mistakes. That takes action.
Get feedback on your work. That takes action.
Practice. That takes action.
Consistently write at a Band 7 level. That takes lots of action.
This factor is more important than any other. Stop consuming information and start to put what you have learned into action.
So the question is, are you going to keep doing these things and getting the same results or are you going to change?
The 5 Traits of Successful Students
My definition of success here is getting the score you need and moving on with your life. I deal with successful students every single day. They all have these things in common.
1. They have a system in place.
They do not watch every single YouTube video or read every website. They know what they need to learn and what they do not need to learn.
They have a study plan and know exactly what they need to do. This is what I mean by system. They know exactly what they need to learn and they follow this step-by-step.
This is not only an effective way to learn, but also very efficient. You have no time to waste.
These students either create their own system or get a teacher to help them with it.
2. They get feedback on their work.
You have to know what you are doing wrong before you can fix it.
Would you try to figure out why you are sick by yourself? No, that’s what doctors are for. Why would your writing be any different?
Yes, this will cost you money. Complaining about this is like complaining your mechanic wants money to fix your car or a plumber wants money to fix your toilet. I understand that not everyone has money, but the cost of failing is much higher than the cost of getting your work checked.
If you want to move on with your life and forget about this test, find someone you trust to tell you the exact reasons why you are not successful yet. This could be your current teacher, an old teacher or someone you find in your local area. Just make sure they know what they are doing or you’ll be in more trouble than before you started.
3. They prepare in a strategic way.
If you had a sore tooth, would you ask the dentist to take all your teeth out? Of course not! So why do you think it’s a good idea to join an IELTS course/school/centre that teaches you everything in the world about IELTS?
If you are like all the other students I have helped, you are doing a few very specific things incorrectly. In other words, you have a limited number of very specific reasons why you are not getting the score you need.
Smart students will work on those specific areas and those areas only.
Smart teachers will treat each student as an individual rather than teaching them a very broad curriculum.
4. They take action.
You could have the best system in the world, the best teacher in the world and you could have your preparation all planned out in a strategic way, but until you actually take action, all of that means nothing.
For example, we have had students complaining that they don’t know how to do True/False/Not Given questions. We have given them a step-by-step system for answering those questions. We have told them exactly what to do and how to implement what they have learned. We have even shown them where they can get practice questions and how often they need to practice. We even gave them feedback on where they were going wrong.
Some students will go away and you will never hear anything from them again.
Others will complain that they ‘still can’t get it.’
Which students do you think actually took action, implemented what they learned and put in the work?
5. They have accountability.
Studying is hard. IELTS is boring. It’s just a hurdle you need to get over. That is tough. I get it.
You are far more likely to succeed if you have someone keeping you accountable. In other words, you are required to justify what you are doing and you have to be responsible for your progress.
This could be a friend, family member, teacher or fellow students. Facebook groups or study groups that are full of other positive and enthusiastic students are great for this.
Lots of students start off with a huge amount of enthusiasm and a couple of weeks later are back to their old habits. Give yourself every chance by getting some accountability.
So now you’re expecting me to say ‘Hey, we provide all of that in our VIP course, join now.’ Yes and no.
While I would love to work with you, we currently have a waiting list for our VIP Course – click here to sign up.
In the meantime, feel free to make the most out of our new IELTS Writing Task 2 Mini-Course with the 5 fundamental traits above built into it.
The new mini-course will provide you with a system for Task 2 Writing, you will receive global feedback on your writing from ex-examiners, you will learn how to prepare in a strategic way and, most importantly, you will actually take action and move toward your goals.
You can learn more here.
I hope to see you there! Make sure you like our Facebook Page to get all of the updates you need.
Need more help with improving your score? Read our post: From IELTS ‘Failure’ to Band 8.5 in One Month.
Alternatively, send me an email at email@example.com. We’re always happy to help.
Source Image 1: https://www.ielts.org/teaching-and-research/test-taker-performance
Source Image 2: https://www.reddit.com/r/GetMotivated/comments/3hopnt/image_boy_am_i_miserable/