The IELTS test is an English test that immigrants/international students have to sit to prove their English proficiency. For a chance at a visa, passing is not enough though a near perfect score is needed to obtain the maximum possible of those incredibly rare visa points.

Most people think that it was developed as a money making hurdle due to the examination process and unforgiving marking scheme. Getting an eight (8) minimum is 90% pass mark which is crazy even native speakers cannot get that without preparation.

The first time I tried IELTS,  I went totally unprepared compared to the time I got the score I wanted (minimum 8). I thought I could wing it having almost graduated from university learning in English but that did not help one bit.

First Attempt = S: 7.5 L:7.5 R:7 W:7

It took another three attempts to achieve my goal of minimum score of eight, and writing was my always my weakness. If I knew the things I know now,  I would have saved a ton of cash and heart-break.

Academic v General

It’s a given that Academic is more difficult then General. What I didn’t know was that Academic allows for more errors to achieve your highest band score.

If you trouble area is Reading you should definitely try Academic. It’s all about Raw scores for Reading.

Raw scores

Time management
Just like any exam, time management is key well just for the two modules: Reading and Writing. Just practice and view model essays.


This module is the same for both types, practising and not over thinking is key. Do not be afraid to bullshit to make it flow although stay on-topic. Connecting to the examiner while still sticking in relevant vocabulary will make you score. Find examples from this site :


Again both are the same, my tips are practice past exams for this one. Follow the flow of the speech to make sure you’re always on the right page.

  •  Academic/General – 3 mistakes allowed
Raw Score Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
32-34 7.5
30-31 7
26-29 6.5
23-25 6


Academic is definitely a little more difficult, the good thing is with this one is that you can answer in any order and manage your time. Practice is quite important here,  the type of questions always are the same and being familiar with the format does increase your speed and thus more time for double checking. I use to hate that True,  False,  Not mentioned but I learnt to nail them by practising. Again the raw score shows how many mistakes you can afford to make to obtain that 8 band score which is:

    • Academic – 3 mistakes allowed


  • General – 2 mistakes allowed



Raw Score Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
33-34 7.5
30-32 7
27-29 6.5
23-26 6


Raw Score Band Score
40 9
39 8.5
37-38 8
36 7.5
34-35 7
32-33 6.5
30-31 6


Other than the higher difficulty, the main difference is in Question 1 where in General you write a letter to a friend type question while in Academic,  you just have to describe a chart. If you are use to describing trends and interpreting numbers, doing academic is a quite easy.
Memorising an essay is pretty bad, but memorising a structure does give you a good foundation to build on.


  • Introduction Paragraph
    • Background statement
    • Detailed background statement
    • Thesis – what we are trying to prove
    • Outline
  • Supporting Paragraph 1
    • ……
  • Supporting Paragraph 2
    • ……
  • Conclusion Paragraph
    • ……

More about structure here and other YouTube videos here:

Final Attempt = S: 8.5 L:9 R:8.5 W:8 

Good luck. Remember it’s not about your level of English, it’s about learning and practising to pass the test.