Meet Allejandro! A very successful, bright, charismatic IELTS student, who recently scored a 8.5 in the listening, 8 in the reading, 7.5 in the speaking and 7 in the writing. In this episode Allejandro shares his solutions, including;
-How to DESTROY the ‘over-thinking curse’
-STOP over-complicating IELTS Task 2
-How to get clear ideas when starting your writing
-How to avoid getting confused with all the IELTS material available.
At 27 and newly married, computer engineer Allejandro dreamed of moving to Australia for a more secure economic future for himself and his future family. His first hurdle to get to Australia was the IELTS exam.
How did Allejandro achieve his goal, while others face the frustrations and expense of repeatedly failing the IELTS? And taking countless re-sits?
The simple answer: patience, preparation and professional coaching.
Searching online for answers led to confusion.
Allejandro faced all the usual difficulties preparing for the challenge of the IELTS exam. He searched online looking for advice and found it all a conflicting mess!
“It was overwhelming,” recalls Allejandro.
“There are so many materials on the internet saying ‘do this’ and ‘no do that’, ‘this is good’, ‘no this is bad’ that it was all very confusing.”
“It was a crazy time, trying to work out what was the most valuable advice?!?*#!!”
His teacher ditched him and went to Russia!
Allejandro started doing mock tests online. He found he had no problems with the reading and listening parts of the exam but struggled with essay writing and with fluency in speaking. “I practised writing essays by myself for a month or two and then realised that I needed some help and looked for a private teacher here in Barcelona. I found a tutor but after 15 private lessons she left Spain and moved back to her native Russia.
Feeling stressed and exasperated.
“By this time it was October and I felt under real pressure as I was going to take the exam in January.”
While continuing to brush up his English conversation skills using an app on his cell phone, Allejandro also discovered IELTS podcasts and started listening to the lessons on his way to and from work.
He found a fast efficient online .
“After all the research I had done on the internet and money I had spent on learning materials, these podcasts were the most helpful in finding ways to improve my speaking skills and my writing skills. The podcasts were really splendid and I decided to sign up for the course. It was so clear, effective and efficient, cleared up all my confusion and really made me feel focussed.”
He almost lost €200!
The course is not a quick fix solution, but Allejandro was prepared to put in the hard work and patient preparation necessary to succeed.
“One really valuable aspect of the course is the deadlines,” says Allejandro. “I had to send an essay within a week or within two weeks. These deadlines give you motivation to do your homework. If you are paying a teacher for their time, it also motivates you to make the most of the course. I was also motivated by the fact that if I wasn’t ready for the exam in January and failed I would lose 200 euros!”
Allejandro’s story – and first-time success in the IELTS exam – shows the value of solid preparation and expert guidance as well as the motivational factor of taking a course.
Too many students FAIL and get frustrated.
I see too many people whose education, career and economic future depend on passing the exam, failing to prepare adequately, failing the exam, and starting all over again with increasing costs and increasing levels of frustration.
Three months was enough.
This need not be you. Allejandro gave himself three months to work with me and his commitment and dedication paid off. Rather than rush in and take the exam, fail, buy another exam and study like mad only to fail again, it’s best to patiently prepare yourself. With three months long-term preparation you will see better improvement in your English, and get a better result.
Motivation is easy!
Avoid the inevitable procrastination if you are studying on your own and receive the guidance and motivation.
Face the IELTS exam with confidence, knowing you are fully prepared.
Did he pass first time?
Allejandro sat for the IELTS exam in January as planned – and passed at his first attempt. Not only did he pass but he achieved higher marks than he expected!
You too, like Allejandro, can succeed at the IELTS exam and face a brighter future.
If you are tired of failing IELTS or just want to pass first time, sign up for the course here.
All the best!
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>> Alejandro: It was really, really, really helpful. Actually my wife also got to a band 7. Yes, because it was so simple. So clear.
>> Ben: Okay, right then. So let’s talk about IELTS.
>> Alejandro: Okay. Perfect.
>> Ben: And how many times did you take it?
>> Alejandro: Well luckily, just one.
>> Ben: Just once.
>> Alejandro: Yes. I got an 8.5 for listening, I think I had an 8 for reading, and 7.5 from 7 in writing. Something like that.
8.5, 8, 7.5, 7… The whole spectrum of IELTS bands.
>> Ben: Yes, the whole spectrum.
>> Alejandro: And the overall, I think I was 8.
>> Ben: Right. That’s very good. Very good. Well done, Alejandro. Excellent.
>> Alejandro: Thank you.
>> Ben: What was your biggest challenge when you were preparing for it?
>> Alejandro: I started by learning how to pass the exam, you know?
Making a lot of research online on the internet…
I have to say, there’s plenty of material there.
I started by doing some mock tests. Then I noticed that I hadn’t any problem with the reading and the listening part of the exam, because it was kind of easy for me.
And then I started writing some essays with my wife. Me and my wife were trying to correct ourselves.
And I noticed that I had a tendency to over-complicate my sentences.
Also lack of structure in my essays.
And my speaking part, I had some problems with fluency.
>> Ben: I see. And how did you overcome the issue with the fluency?
>> Alejandro: I was doing some essays by myself for maybe a month or two, and then I realized that I need some help. So I looked for a private teacher here in Barcelona.
I have to say that she really put me on the track. She made me be aware of my most common mistakes in writing… I mean speaking.
But I got about (I don’t know) 15 private lessons, kind of.
And after that, my teacher went back to Russia. She was from Russia.
>> Ben: What?
>> Alejandro: Yeah. And after that… Well, you know August. It’s not a really good month for studying in Spain.
>> Ben: No, it’s not.
>> Alejandro: Then I decided to go back to my idea in September. So in October, I was kind of lazy. I had to do some really real pressure.
So what I did was to set up a date for the exam. And that really helped me a lot.
Because when I have said, “Okay, on January I’m going to take the exam.”
And then I started to work a lot.
For the speaking, I had one application on my cell phone.
And it’s the part 1, part 2, and part 3.
And I had an application on my cellphone which had a lot of topics.
So for the part 1: Tell me about your work.
And it was about 50 questions about work,
50 questions about travelling,
So when I came home, I started to talk aloud by my self.
I just hit the play and there was a voice saying,
“What is the main benefit of going to work by bus?”
… or something like that.
And then I answered by myself here. It was kind of crazy but it was really helpful, but for my fluency.
>> Ben: You just spoke to yourself (like in the kitchen or whatever) answering the question?
>> Alejandro: Yes.
>> Ben: With the main objective or getting fluent?
>> Alejandro: Yes.
>> Ben: That’s interesting.
>> Alejandro: And with my wife because she also had to take the IELTS. I’m trying to fit-in the time that you’re supposed to answer.
And to try to look for ways to develop a better answer.
That kind of stuff.
I had to brush up on some of my grammar as well.
I was following an English course (maybe you know) with a really famous English teacher here in Spain.
His name is Balham.
>> Ben: Ah, yes. Yes.
>> Alejandro: And I used to listen to these lessons on my way to work.
And for sure, your podcast was really helpful.
I have to say, it was really helpful for my ways.
Trying to find ways to develop my answer,
trying to find ways to improve my speaking skills,
and also my writing skills.
And in my writing skills, I have to tell you there’s a lot of materials there on the internet.
And after a lot of research, I have to say
not all are really good material.
Whatever it was, I spent some small money (in my opinion, at least)
small money on a few things I bought.
This is Splendid Speaking. You know the website? Splendid Speaking.
So I got enrolled in a course for the IELTS Preparation.
For the Writing Part 1, I got Graham. He has more books about how to prepare your writing the Part 1 or your writing test.
For the Part 2 (maybe you know), a really good guy whose name is
>> Ben: Oh, yeah. I know him.
>> Alejandro: He has this unbelievable…
I have to say, I’m not being paid. No, really.
You have a really, really good essay about how to prepare for the essay…
I don’t know. How do you call it? Essay or course?
>> Ben: Yeah.
>> Alejandro: You have a course for preparing yourself for the Part 2.
Because when I was reading, I’ve been reading a lot of things about how to prepare for the Part 2 of the exam.
And some people say,
“Okay, you have to focus on these…”
“You have to make a brainstorm of your ideas…”
And it was kind of messy. I didn’t know which way to follow.
I didn’t know if I had to write 15 sentences… 13… 20… I didn’t’ know.
And after listening to your podcast, I decided to give a try to your course.
And I have to say this is my opinion and my wife’s opinion:
It was really, really, really helpful.
Actually, my wife also got a Band 7 on the writing.
Yes. Because it was so simple,
And I have to really thank you for this course because it really made me feel focused.
I got rid of all the other ideas and I decided to… Maybe it worked for me.
But maybe for some other guy worked some other method.
But your method really worked for me.
>> Ben: That’s good. That’s good.
>> Alejandro: Yeah. Because sometimes it’s kind of you’re overwhelmed with so much materials on the internet saying
“No, no, no. Do this.”
“You have to learn 20 words everyday for the vocabulary, for enlargement of your.”
“No, you have to do this.”
“This is wrong.”
“This is good.”
“This is bad.”
So it was kind of… You know?
>> Ben: I know exactly what you mean. I know exactly what you mean.
Every blogger, every IELTS teacher has a different idea.
And I think if you don’t (sort of like) sit down and focus and choose one that you believe the most (so that you have the most confidence in),
and you just try and follow maybe 3 or 4,
you end up nowhere. You know?
And completely overwhelmed.
And especially with the Task 2 question because there’s so much to think about and incorporate.
And then if you add to following the advice of maybe 3 or 4 different tutors, you end up crazy.
I can totally understand what you mean there.
>> Alejandro: Yeah. Especially as you said, on Part 2 there are some methods (I have to say) that in my opinion really, really bad.
Which in essay:
First, analyze the question.
They are asking for discuss and opinion
or contrast 2 opinions
or find a solution (problem and solution)
And it was kind of… I don’t know.
I don’t know which kind of essay this one is.
So I was trying just because they say
“If this is a problem + solution essay, you have to write this, and then you have to write this, and then you have to write this, and at the end, and the last part of that is like that.”
“But in case there’s a contrast of two opinions, you have to write this other thing, and then you have to write this other thing…”
It was kind of crazy trying to figure out which kind of essay the question was.
And your method is not like that. It’s just…
Well, I’m not going to say what your method is, but it’s really helpful because it doesn’t matter which kind of essay they are asking you.
What kind of question they are asking you.
It’s always the same.
>> Ben: Yeah. It’s just following simple steps which will just make it automatic to write a clear, coherent essay
that’s gonna get the points for the task response.
That was the idea when I started doing it.
Well, thank you. Thank you very much for that, Alejandro.
>> Alejandro: No. Thank you. And I have to say, it really works. For me and my wife, even during our preparation
we noticed how much we improved our essays.
>> Ben: Uh-huh. Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. I’m really happy.
But I just have to mention that there was a lot. There was work involved.
You were writing essays.
And it wasn’t like a quick fix.
There was work involved.
You were writing. I was correcting.
Just so the lesson is understood that it’s a not “Buy the E-book and then sit at home and watch the television.”
It’s “Buy the book and do the work involved.”
>> Alejandro: Yes. And there’s something really good about your course: That is your deadline.
You have to have a deadline.
Just say, “Okay, I’m here at your disposal for one month,” or something like that.
or “three weeks”
or something like that.
And I have to send you… I still have to send you an essay within a week.
Or within two weeks (or something like that).
That’s really good because it helps you.
It gives you a little motivation to do your homework.
Because it says, “Hey, I’m paying for this teacher.”
“Having this teacher at my disposal, I have to make the most of this course.”
Because if you say, “Here’s the course and you can read the course whenever you want,”
you can say, “Okay I procrastinate. I’ll do it tomorrow.”
But in case you have to do it as soon as possible because there’s a deadline, I think that’s a really good point.
>> Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. I know, ’cause I was…
Well, just from Uni. I realized that there’s no deadline. I just say in Spanish “Manyana, manyana.”
It’s just borrow and you just push it over… Just push it over…
But if there’s somebody there on your back,
“Okay, you’ve got a week to respond to this essay. To this essay question.”
“Get it done, or you lose your cash.” Simple as.
>> Alejandro: Yes. Same with the IELTS. What I did to push me to study and to do my homework.
It was, “Hey, I’m going to lose almost 200 Euros.”
So I have to study for January,
and I have to study on Christmas time.
It doesn’t matter. I had to do it because I knew my exam was just around the corner.
>> Ben: Exactly. And the good thing as well, what you did was you set the date way, way, way, in the future.
I think you gave yourself 3 months. 3 months for solid preparation.
And just work, work, work, work, work, rather than sort of like:
Doing the exam, seeing your grade, and then putting in to do the exam straight away.
Just buying another exam for 3 weeks later and then study like mad.
It’s best to be prepared and to patiently prepare for it.
With 3 months long-term preparation and you’ll see a better improvement in your English,
and better practice as well.
‘Cause with more time and more patience, you’re gonna get better results.
So that was a good point that you did there.
>> Alejandro: Because when it was on February, March, April, I was saying “Okay, I’ll do it when I’m ready.”
But I wasn’t going to be ready, ever. I didn’t have the pressure to study.
>> Ben: Right. And Alejandro, what are your plans now? Are you going to Australia in the end?
>> Alejandro: Well… I don’t know. At the end… I don’t know, actually.
Because after we got the IELTS, we were really happy.
In our opinion, it was the only obstacle in our way to Australia. Okay?
>> Ben: Right. Right. I’m gonna have to go now. But…
>> Alejandro: Okay. Okay. Thank you, well. Thank you. Really.
>> Ben: Have a good weekend, it’s a pleasure and yes, keep in contact if you need anything.
>> Alejandro: Yeah, yeah. Sure.
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For an introduction on how to start IELTS Writing Task 2 click here: