I had nearly 3 weeks to prepare for IELTS Academic and succeeded in the first attempt with an overall: 8.0 (Reading 8.5, Listening 8.0, Writing 7.5, Speaking 7.0)
I never had private tutors or paid classes and the main resources were the Cambridge book series, Rachel Mitchell’s book, and YouTube channels. I know this might not work for everyone; however, I would like to share my story.
There are band descriptors for each component which are freely downloadable from IELTS official site. It shows the components of how the marks are allocated in each band. Find it as a good guide for yourself.
I started with IELTS Academic by Cambridge book series.
Each book has about 4 tests reading, listening, writing (task 1 and task 2), and speaking. I did book 13,14,15,16. The most important thing is to time your work. It is extremely challenging to do reading tests in the allocated time. You should not time for parts 1, 2, and 3 separately, rather allocate a fixed time and do a full test of listening/ writing or reading. Find a time where you don’t get disturbed by phone calls etc (at least minimally disturbed time). Answers are provided at the end and some of the writing answers are not ideal and they are just for a guide. Therefore, sometimes your answers might be a little better even.
Cambridge book series is helpful for reading and listening.
For listening, there are online YouTube channels that
provide daily tests. This is one channel I did daily tests. Of course, not 100% correct, but it really helped me.
They are really helpful to practice your timing. If you could not focus on the beginning, there is a chance that you might make the whole segment wrong. Concentrate! it is the key. Maps are a bit tricky. Mr Asad Yaqub’s advice on maps is quite helpful.
How to improve writing?
There are different words which you need to learn. Listen to what Chris says.
Fastrack IELTS, Liz also says some valuable talks.
Basically, you need to improve your range of vocabulary.
I downloaded some model answer sheets and got printout copies and answered using a pencil as it could simulate the real exam.
This will make you more familiar with the exam setup since we hardly write with pencils now.
“IELTS Writing Task 2 Samples by Rachel Mitchell” and its task 1 book are useful guides if you lack ideas. Those books give a guide to answering in a rational manner.
For speaking, there is nothing but practice. I daily practiced two tests per day. If you don’t have a partner, record with your mobile phone (video would be better as it would show awkward gestures we often do without our knowledge and stammering etc). Listening to some of the band 9 speakers also helped me to fine-tune my speaking.
Some channels like linguamarina are useful to improve your language not just for the exam.
Practice daily. Do an honest job. Just because you don’t score high NEVER get disappointed. In the beginning, my reading marks were around 25/40, however, only in the last few days, I could pick up to above 35 within 2 weeks. Same story for listening where I was stagnant at 25-26/40 for weeks and only by last week I could stabilize my marks above 35. That is practice. I have done Cambridge tests repeatedly also. No problem, as you just need to practice your timing and concentration in addition to the English knowledge.
I get this as an opportunity to thank all the YouTube channels again who generously shared their knowledge.You can go through those channels and find what suits you best.
The IELTS Listening Test https://www.youtube.com/c/TheIELTSListeningTest
Asad Yaqub https://www.youtube.com/c/AsadYaqubIELTS
IELTS Advantage https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXg7gy4XmPZEGr4kumPNGyQ
Fastrack IELTS https://www.youtube.com/c/FastrackEducation
Practice makes you perfect. Do more and more. Good luck!!!
Ps: I wrote this in a hurry and after some time after my exam. Post your comments if need any clarifications.