If you have the chance to take some lessons with a private teacher, here are some tips for writing and speaking:
- Ask the teacher to identify your problem areas. Focus on improving those things first.
- First, work together on 'big things' like overall essay structure, paragraphs or making sure you answer the question. Only work on 'small things' like grammar mistakes when you have perfected the big things.
- Ask your teacher to write a full essay in front of you. Watch how she does it, and ask her to explain what she is thinking as she writes it.
- Ask your teacher to mark your essays in front of you, and ask her to explain each correction.
- When you practise questions for the speaking test, ask your teacher to play the part of the student. Record her answers and listen to them at home. Try to copy some of the phrases she used.
- Practise doing speaking tests, and always ask the teacher for feedback: what did you do that was good, and how could you improve your answers?
Private lessons might be more expensive, but they can be hugely beneficial if they are done in the right way.