8.5 in IELTS is a coveted score and nearly everyone who takes the test aspires for it. Being, one of the major examinations one has to undertake in order to go abroad, IELTS is sought after by many. Naturally there is a huge market of study guides, materials and free resources. However, if you are eyeing that 8.5 score, you cannot go by anything and everything. We are here with some tried and tested guidelines that helped many students to actually score 8.5 in IELTS.

Lets begin

To score 8.5 in IELTS you must be familiar with the band descriptors. The band descriptors clearly explain the skills you need to show in order to achieve a particular band. This is especially important in Speaking and Writing. Listening and Reading have rather simple marking system; they are marked according to the number of correct answers you write.

Writing is judged under 4 categories: task achievement, lexical resource, coherence and cohesion and grammatical range and accuracy. To get a band 8.5, for task achievement, you must highlight, and illustrate key features appropriately and fulfil all the requirements of the task and clearly present a fully developed response. 

For Lexical resource, you need to use a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly. You must also use some uncommon lexical items as correctly and naturally as possible.

For coherence and cohesion, you must link your sentences/ expressions without making it look too obvious. You must skilfully manage the cohesive devices and make paragraphs effectively and appropriately.

For grammatical range and resource, you must use a wide range of grammatical structures with full flexibility and produce error free sentences. 

For the band descriptors of speaking section, you can check this.

Now that you are familiar with the skills you need to acquire, you must start your preparation accordingly. To get an 8.5 you must get a personal trainer who can evaluate your writings and help you improve. In addition to this, you must follow these tips:


IELTS Listening consists of 4 sections. Here you will have to listen to some conversations. Then you will be given 40 questions based on what you heard and you need to answer them. You are also allowed to read the questions before the conversation starts. So try to make use of it.

In section 1 and 2 you get to hear conversations about general topics or social issues.

Section 3 and 4 are mostly about educational scenarios (group conversation) and a monologue on any academic subject.

After listening to all the audio clips you need to write answers on the answer sheet.

Also Read: Best YouTube Channels to improve English and Crack IELTS


  • Read the questions before the recording starts. So that you can stay focused on the conversation.
  • Always hear the introduction when the recording starts which contains the information of the speakers.
  • Concentrate and listen to the conversation rather than understanding.
  • Don’t think much about the answer you have missed. The recording will be heard only once.
  • During listening, write the answer on the question paper. During the extra time, you can transfer the answers to the answer sheet using a pencil.
  • Pay attention to the word limit.
  • If you have to answer within three words, try to answer within that only.
  • Write only missing answers. 
  • Try to use the same words you listened to.
  • The answers should be grammatically correct without no spelling errors.


It consists of 3 sections. You are given some lengthy paragraphs and some questions will be asked and you have to answer them within the stipulated time. Topics range from work-related issues to that of general interest.


  • Start by reading short paragraphs i.e., 1 and 2 sections. The last one is usually more complex.
  • Try to write the answers directly on the answer sheet with a pencil while reading because no extra time is given.
  • Don’t try to understand the whole paragraph just know the crux of the passage.
  • Don’t spend too much time on a single question.
  • Answer without any grammatical mistakes.
  • Focus on word limit.


It consists of 2 tasks. Here you have to write the essays within 60 minutes (150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2).


  • The essay should be relevant to the question asked.
  • Write the answers within a minimum number of words or else you will lose marks.
  • You can write using a pen or pencil.
  • Avoid bullet points.
  • Follow a structure. 
  • Don’t write random points.
  • Avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Try to explain both positives and negatives during the argument.


It consists of 3 sections.

In the first section you will be asked general things about yourself, your interests or your ideas on any issue.

Then you will be asked to speak about a particular topic for 2 minutes. You will also be provided with one minute for preparation.

Finally, there will be a discussion for 4-5 minutes. During which you will be cross questioned on the topic you have discussed previously.


  • Always support the answer with an example at least instead of single word answers.
  • Don’t try to use fancy words which don’t come naturally to you. 
  • Answers should be grammatically correct.
  • Don’t drift from the topic during the discussion. IELTS is a test of communication skills, not a general knowledge test.
  • Be confident and look into the eyes of the examiner.


Scoring 8.5 in IELTS is all about an effective preparation. The more systematically you approach the test, more you are at advantage. Practicing for 2 hours every day will only be helpful if you have a mentor to monitor your progress. Knowing the format and the marking criteria thoroughly are absolute necessities. After that, it is all about how much you improve from your initial level. With an experienced personal mentor, you can definitely utilise your time and emerge with a bright result.

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About the Author

Indulekha Prabha

My name is Indulekha Prabha. I am an English teacher and a content writer by profession. When I'm not working you can find me writing fiction, reading poetry and painting.

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