Yesterday I explained why it's normal for your scores to fluctuate between tests. Now I'm going to try to suggest some ways to deal with this.
1. Keep retaking the test
This advice might surprise you, but I remember a student who booked 4 tests in one month. He understood that his scores would fluctuate, but he hoped to improve his chances of having a 'lucky day' when everything went well. It worked! The student told me that the main benefit of taking the test every week was that he stopped feeling nervous. On the third Saturday he performed well in all 4 parts of the test and achieved the scores he needed. *But read the warning below!
2. Practise until you over-perform
To get a band 7 in exam conditions, you probably need to be achieving band 7.5 when practising at home. Most people perform worse in real tests due to nerves, so make sure you can comfortably get the score you need before taking the test.
3. Be more consistent in your approach
You might think that you always write essays in the same way, but most people don't. One of my aims in these lessons is to encourage people to use the exact same method every time. For example, I always try to write 9 sentences for writing task 1, and 13 sentences for task 2. If you can't say how many sentences you usually write, you're probably not being consistent. I'm using writing as an example, but there are methods for the other parts too.
- *Warning: Strategy number 1 can be expensive, and there are no guarantees that it will work. Only try this if you are able to get the score you need in each part and you keep missing your target by 0.5 band in just one part of the test.
- Strategy number 2 is sensible, but some people don't want to wait until they can over-perfom.
- Strategy number 3 is my favourite. If I can help students to become more consistent, I feel like I'm doing my job as a teacher!