Scoring 8.5 in IELTS Academic

Last Updated: 10 January, 2021 | First Published: 14 October, 2012

"IELTS is the world's proven English test. More people go more places with IELTS....". This is what they tell about IELTS exam on their web site A little less pompous, neutral and community edited information about the IELTS exam can be found on wikipedia.

IELTS has 2 versions. Academic and General Training. I recently took IELTS Academic test along with a bunch of friends. My results are as follows:
Listening - 9.0 | Reading - 8.5 | Speaking - 8.0 | Writing - 7.5
Overall Band Score - 8.5 on 9.0

Pretty pathetic right?! I expected a 9 overall with at least 8.5 in each section. Considering the fact that I have learnt English right from kindergarten, it was very disheartening to see that the kind lady who took my speaking test gave me an 8. I was not surprised to see a 7.5 in writing (My hand writing was bad and it has become even worse after I started doing all my "writing" on my laptop).

There are plenty of resources out there on the internet that tell you what to do and how to prepare. Some of them are,, and the British Council site. I am writing this article in retrospection, to analyze what I did wrong and what I should have done in the hope that it will come in handy for a fellow test taker.

I signed up with IDP to take the test. Once I signed up they gave me a book. A very nice book published by UTS Insearch, Australia. The book was good. It had 5 practice tests in each section. It even had 3 CD's which simulated the actual listening test environment (did a pretty neat job too). Lots of tips and tricks. A detailed explanation of the exam pattern. Picture based explanation of the answer sheets. I started preparing from this book. I used to take it up in the evenings and weekends and had soon read the book from end to end and completed all the practice tests.

I was particularly scared of the listening section. With the exception of a few American friends, it was a long time since I had a discussion with any other native English speakers. So, I took a lot of listening tests available freely on the internet and looks like it paid off. Therefore, no complaints here.

The academic essays that are presented in the reading section are quite difficult. Also, more than 50% of the questions are never straight forward. I had never scored full in the reading section even in my practice tests. I'd definitely like to think that I have gotten only one answer wrong in the reading section but I'll never know. Since I am used to reading English newspaper every morning, I didn't think I fell short on preparation for this section. Therefore, I have no complaints here either.

Coming down to the Speaking section. My speaking test was scheduled to be held a day before the remaining sections. It was in an area in the city which I seldom visited.

Lastly, the writing section. I love writing but like I said before I was not surprised when I saw a 7.5 in writing. I know I don't have the prettiest of hand writing but I do write legibly (Honestly).

There... Retrospection complete. These are the mistakes I made in the course of getting an 8.5 on 9 in IELTS academic exam.