How to significantly improve your IELTS score by binge-watching Netflix

Arsheen Sandhu
3 min readJun 2, 2021

A step-by-step guide that is so simple to follow, it almost sounds like a scam.

In the summer of 2019, I worked as an IELTS trainer for a brief period. A lot of my students had severe difficulty with the use of the English language. I believe the primary reason for this was a significant lack of exposure to the language itself. When they asked me how they could improve, I told them to binge watch Netflix.

Let me break it down for your reference:

Listening: Listening is a tough area in the IELTS exam, highly scoring if you do it right though. Streaming English shows on Netflix can help you grasp pronunciations, difficult words as well as their usage. Since the listening test is purely based on your capability of understanding and grasping day-to-day conversations, watching sitcoms on Netflix or any other streaming platform for that matter can go a long way.

Tip: It is highly recommended to stream these shows without subtitles/captions. You can also adjust the playback speed if you initially find it difficult to keep up. Watching Documentaries or Movies can further enhance the entire learning experience. If you come across a word you’re not familiar with, write it down and look it up later. This will further help you improve your vocabulary.

Speaking: Similar to listening, once you have a better understanding of the usage and pronunciation. You can easily transfer those skills and knowledge to improve your overall speaking skills. Explore various themes you can be asked to speak about. When you watch a certain show that is set in a different country, you learn crucially about a new place. Therefore, if you are asked to discuss a place you’d like to visit in the future or your dream destination you can expand and substantiate your answer based on the knowledge you gained by watching the show.

Tip: Try to learn deeply about the protagonist of the show you’re currently streaming. Ask yourself how would he/she/they answer a particular interview question based on their experiences. This would allow you to explore a completely different perspective on routine objects, further strengthening your ideas and presentation of these ideas in front of an audience. Learning from English shows can also help you improve the structure of your sentences.

Writing: Once in a while, a creative writing activity that I performed with my students that helped them a lot was writing Fan Fictions. Fan Fictions are an alternative story about your favorite characters. I personally recommend this activity only once or twice during your preparation. It is fun, light-hearted, and really allows your creativity to flow. This is how it works; choose a character from any show you’re currently streaming. Think about what they did after the season got over, or after a certain plot twist. Once you get a starting point, carry the story around and play with it. Ultimately, summarize the story in 250 words. Most of the time, it’s easier to get carried away, but summarizing with accurate and relevant details is the key to cracking the exam with a high score.

Tip: Keep your stories concise, accurate. Review them over some time and find areas where you can improve. Once in a while, upload your stories on websites that run grammar checks such as Grammarly. Websites such as these will highlight your grammar mistakes and share tips to improve your sentence structuring.

Reading: Well, I can tell you that you can improve your reading by watching subtitles but that’s a stretch. The best way to improve your reading is through reading newspapers. You get a myriad of information to process and understand. To get a good score in this section you must know how to associate a set of information with relevant words. If you follow the tips mentioned previously, this section won’t be very difficult for you to overcome.

Finally, the IELTS exam is going to test you on your fluency, vocabulary, grammar, and most importantly your ability to correctly understand and use the English language. Answer accurately according to what is being asked, only use relevant information, and incorporate original ideas as much as possible. If you stammer, get nervous, or even trail away from your line of thought, stay calm. Start over. The examiner is deeply aware that English is not your native language.

Therefore, Continue watching.



Arsheen Sandhu

Just a twenty something thinking she knows what she’s doing.