For IELTS, every month it’s this time of the year!



10469813_10202868840894890_1549760541_oPetra Examiliotou has kindly agreed to give useful tips of advice to all exam candicates. Petra holds a BSc., Psychology University of North Wales, Bangor, UK ( and an MSc., Psychosocial Studies University of Brighton ( Petra has been teaching Psychology at private Colleges in Greece and since 2013 she has been working with students with learning disabilities at the Dyslexia Center – PAVLIDIS.


It’s the time of the year (and not a jolly one indeed!!) where nails get bitten, sweat is usually cold and food is either fast or absent. Why???? Simply because it is the exam period and time is just not enough!! Relax people….

We all know that a little bit of stress can be a good thing as it can keep us motivated to get down to business and focus on reading. However, too much stress could be lethal for our concentration and performance. Have you ever experienced instant amnesia the moment the exam paper reaches your desk? Yeap, this the result of stress!!

So let me give some help 🙂

To start with, STOP comparing your reading abilities with friends. We all have different reading routines so don’t try to change it simply because your friend Helen suggested that you should rewrite this essay two more times!

Stick to your timetable. ‘Later’ simply is just not good enough. Organizing your time is vital if you also want some free time

Eat right. Drink water. We are a human machine that is in need of fruit and vegetables to work properly. Dehydration could mess up your memory and without nutrients your mind won’t reach its potentials. No I am sorry, coffee is not water and a chocolate bar is not real food!

Breathe right.Whenever you feel that your pulse is starting to rise up, close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. 4-5 deep breaths will work their magic

In your free time do things you enjoy.Watch your favorite movie, chat with your best friend, listen to your favorite music, hug your boyfriend/girlfriend or even your mum. Anything that brings you joy and relaxes you.

Take a looooooong bath.Shower just won’t do it! You need to fill your bathtub sprinkle with Epsom salts that detox you, some essential oils that relax you (lavender, chamomile), light up some candles and just relax and enjoy.

Love your mistakes. None is perfect. Perfection is a utopia. You do not love yourself unless you love your mistakes so do not over criticize your performance. It is not the end of the world if you can’t score high or even fail. There is always a second chance.

In sum, try to take it one step at a time. Organize, read and relax. Even if things don’t go as planned, summertime is close! Best of luck !!


Petra Examiliotou





I am happy to introduce a new section in my blog : Interviews with colleagues experienced in IELTS preparation who are kind enough to share their wisdom with us. The first one I asked to interview is a very dear colleague with a vast experience in exam preparation, Paula McIlwaine.

1464601_10202917132002047_1757426822721004297_nPaula has a BA in Interpreting and Translating (English, German, French) from Heriot – Watt University, Edinburgh. She moved to Greece in 1991. Since then she has taught at various private language schools, preparing students of all levels for various English language exams and also has been an examiner since 2001. For the past 5 years she has been working for a well known private school in Thessaloniki, Greece (Mandoulides School) teaching speaking skills, English composition and literature, IELTS, PSAT and SAT English. She was also responsible for the debating team of the school and now prepares the group discussion team .


An Interview with Paula McIlwaine

Vicky: Paula, thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I am very happy to have you here.Can you introduce yourself and talk to us about your work in education?

Paula : Pleased to be here! I moved to Greece in 1992 and have been teaching English as a second language ever since. I have worked at schools, colleges and small language schools.

Vicky : When did you first start preparing students for the IELTS exam?

Paula : Since 1994

Vicky : Which part of the exam do you consider to be the most challenging one?

Paula : The readings – some are long and candidates need speedy skills.

Vicky : What does it take for someone to pass the exam when the score they have to achieve

is 6+? Is it technique? Is it vocabulary? Is it grammar?

Paula : I think it is a combination of many skills – obviously excellent grammar and a wide range of vocabulary are vital, but also a broader knowledge of many subjects in English helps in the reading/writing and speaking sections.

Vicky : Let us say someone can score a 5 when they start studying for the exam and their target goal  is 6.5. How long does it take, in your opinion, for a student to improve his/her level?

Paula : That very much depends on personal time for study and the number of test papers done, corrected and learnt from.

Vicky : Tell us the 5 most important tips for improving IELTS scores.

Paula : Positive attitude/ methodical work / realistic goals / willingness to learn from mistakes / practice under exam conditions – especially where timing is concerned

Vicky : Can you share with us a technique that you have used successfully?

Paula : In the reading section .. definitely read the subtitle to get a broad idea of the subject of the text and skim read quickly to get a feel for it too before tackling any questions.


Vicky :Thank you so much for your time, Paula!

Paula : Thank you!