How Crystal Achieved Band 8 After Failing her IELTS Test Many Times

– Okay, so, this is a very special video that I’m gonna make today with one of my students, who I’m very very proud of. I’m proud of all my students, but even more of proud of Crystal because she did the test many many many times before she came to me and she showed huge determination to get the score that she needed, so I thought we’d make this video today just for some of you who might be struggling, might have failed the test a few times. Just to give you some inspiration, some motivation to keep going. So Crystal, thank you very much for doing this today. And can you just give some background information about you so people can get to know you a little bit? – Yeah, sure. Well, I’m working in Hong Kong as a nurse for the government. And recently I’d like to move to a foreign country, and work abroad with my husband, so I need to take the IELTS. So the reason I chose IELTS, and not the other Occupational English Test because it applies to many western countries.

Like, the Occupational English Test, which is specific to, say, Australia or Canada. . – So if I can pass the IELTS with the score I need, then I don’t need to take two or three tests, which is quite advantageous. – So I started to study all the materials on the IELTS since last year, it was a long time ago. So, I first began with some online material, I tried IELTS and think I got a six overall, which is far from what I need, and then I enrolled in a face-to-face course. It was a regular course, that includes speaking, listening, writing and everything, but after course I still couldn’t get the score I need so. And I found the five day challenge, and I was amazed by how simple is the idea. And then I was determined to enroll into the course. And, can you tell people how many times you did the test before you got the score that you needed? – Oh, I’m sure I have did the test with British council seven times, cause there’s this record online.

And then two or three times with IDP. – So I have experienced eight or nine times of failure. So I’m actually quite experienced in IELTS. – Yeah, you’re an IELTS expert. And can you tell people what scores you got on your last attempt? – On my last attempt, I got an overall eight, with nine in listening, eight in reading, and then both seven in writing and speaking. – Yeah, excellent and we’re really happy that you got that score because you didn’t get that score the first time and we were kind of like why is this, we couldn’t figure out why, and you couldn’t get it, but we figured it out and we helped you get the score that you needed.

So, if you were to give someone some advice, someone in a similar situation to you, someone who wants to move to a different country and has maybe done the test a few times and failed. What advice would you give them? – Hmm, well from my experience, I think you really need to know your strengths and weaknesses. So, like me, I know I have no problem with listening and reading, and I focus on writing and speaking. So for writing I think the writing correction stuff is really good. Once you submit your essay, you know your weakness is in task achievement or grammar, vocabulary, then you focus on correcting it. For my case, sometimes I misunderstand the question, so I really need to understand exactly what to answer.

And then I also improved my grammar, minimized my mistakes and also I tried to remember as many synonyms and tried to write the vocabularies so that you can achieve seven in every criteria. – Oh Crystal, I think we’ve lost you there. (chuckles) Hopefully it’ll come back. Yep, you’re back now, okay. So that’s great advice for writing. Anything for speaking, because I know that we worked a lot on your speaking, and you know a lot about the speaking test but what would you suggest to someone who is maybe where you were, you were getting for speaking, and you needed the seven.

What advice would you give someone there? – Yes, actually there is a real gap between and seven, so if you need a seven in speaking, you really need to work on every aspect so that you achieve pronunciation seven, grammar seven, and then you can get overall seven. So for my case, I studied all the materials in Chris’ course and so I familiarized with the format and I know the content is not important, so that I can focus on talking and elaborating my answer. But that is not enough, that is actually the basic. You really need to speak and talk if you want to improve. Because listening and reading is not equivalent to speaking. So what you need is to really speak. So previously I talked to a speaking partner, then he became quite busy and so we can’t talk really frequent and then I enrolled in another plan and I talked to a native English speaker every day, 30 minutes, during my lunchtime.

– But it takes time, the miracle will not happen in a day, but as long as you keep talking, we try to mimic the intonation and where a rest was. Which we tried to speak in a more native way, and you learn some phrase and verbs and idioms from them, and keep improving your grammar. Because I found that I made a lot of mistakes on tenses, and sometimes the agreements on nouns and verbs. – Just do your best and one day I believe you’ll be there. I mean, just listening to you, your grammar is excellent, but you still are making little small mistakes and I think that’s something that people need to realize, is that in order to get above a seven for speaking your grammar doesn’t need to be perfect. Your vocabulary doesn’t need to be perfect, your fluency doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be at the standard where it needs to be. I think people put a lot of pressure on themselves in the speaking test that, you know, every sentence needs to be exactly correct when that really doesn’t help you, because you put yourself under too much pressure and then that can affect your fluency, affect your confidence, and then you know everything can kind of spin out out of control, would you agree with that? – Yeah, yeah, so see, my English is not perfect, but I think I can communicate with an English speaker, like you, you gave me so much confidence.

So just keep talking. I think that’s really, really good advice. You talked about that you used a different service than mine to find a native English speaker so that you could talk to them every day, what was that, just if anybody wanted to use that, or do you have a range of different services that you tried? – Okay, well actually, so remember you posted on your wall on Facebook and you asked if anyone used online resources that is useful, so one of our buddies talk about Cambly, C-A-M-B-L-Y.

– And well it provides a platform to talk with a native English speaker, in case if you don’t have anyone to talk with. – Yeah, yeah I’ve heard of Cambly before, I’ve heard it’s really good, and I know there’s a number of different things but one of the big requests that we get from people is just like ‘I live in a non-english speaking country, where do I find people to talk to?’ So, there are so many different resources these days that you can find on the internet, but yeah, that’s great advice.

So Crystal, you got a perfect nine in listening? – A nine in listening, yeah. – A 9 in listening, so people will probably want me to ask you, any tips for listening, because if you’re getting a nine you’re obviously doing something right so, anything that you can suggest to people for listening? – Well, in my usual time I used to switch to English channel so I haven’t listened to Cantonese news for a long time, since I started preparing for IELTS, so try to listen to everything and keep each channel English and one tip during the test is to write down what you listen but without changing any words.

So if you hear that is S at the end, remember to put an S, so just write down exactly what you hear in the test. – Actually I think British Council’s listening is more straightforward because, so this time when I had got a nine in the listening, I found that I need to fill in sometimes one or the maximum three words in fill in the blanks, which is quite easy compared to IDP, I’m sorry.

(laughs) But I’m comparing the two tests, because you know I’m quite experienced. (laughs) – Yeah, I don’t have any experience with IDP, I’ve only worked for the British Council, so — – Exactly. – You would know more about that than me, to be honest. – Okay, and so if you have more vocabulary in your mind, then it will be easier for you. Because I think some people are struggling with listening because they haven’t heard of the vocabulary before. – Mmmhmm. – So, expand your vocabulary. Keep listening to English, and just keep practicing, and remember to check your grammar at the end. – Mmmhmm, excellent. Good, good advice.

A lot of people think that they have a listening problem or a reading problem when I reality they have a vocabulary problem, and because a lot of the answers to the reading questions and the listening questions will be synonyms, or require you to know the meaning of the word so, vocabulary is a huge part of preparing for the reading test, listening test, speaking test, writing test, it’s all a lot about vocabulary, so if you were to give people some quick advice about how to improve their vocabulary, what would you suggest? – Well I think vocabulary cannot be improved suddenly, magically.

– So you pay attention to the words that you don’t know in your real life, and you check every word you don’t know, and if there is some interesting word or some new word, just jot it down. For writing, actually I almost write an essay every day. – Mmmhmm. – And often I compare with the model essay you gave to me and then I learned new vocabularies from your essay. – Mmmhmm. – And then I will categorize and write synonyms together, in Google Documents. – Mmmhmm. – And then one day when I have more synonyms to the same word and that I search it and I can refresh my memory. – Excellent, you should send me that Google document, that’d be interesting to see all of the different words and everything that you picked up, it would be really interesting to see.

(laughs) So Crystal, thank you very much for, for sharing that information, that’s great. Just, what happens now in your future now, what difference is IELTS gonna make to your future? – Well after I got the score I need I plan to start my registration in several countries to see which one works first and then I will work abroad. So in the meantime I will start my study in Canada next year. – I’ll study a nursing course that help me to get my nursing license. So basically I’m one step forward and I can relax for a few days. – Yeah. – Because I don’t need to focus on writing and listening anymore. – You never have to worry about this, any testing, this is great. And you gave me some excellent nursing advice about my son, which was really nice of you too, so. There we go. (laughs) Thank you very much, Crystal, thank you, that should be a great help to a lot of people, and if you need anything in the future just let me know. – Yeah, sure, hope I can help other people as well. Thank you for your hard work in helping other people.

– Thank you very much, Crystal. See you again, bye bye. .

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