Preparing for any kind of test requires a great amount of time and effort if you want to succeed in it. The same is true for IELTS. Ideally, I advise students to give themselves at least three months to prepare with minimum Intermediate level if they want to get a good score.
Now to be clear, just because somebody completed an upper-intermediate course does not mean that this person will automatically get a 6.0 or a 6.5 (B2/ upper-intermediate equivalent). You still have to make some effort in preparing for the test. You cannot just jump straight into it. You have to remember that just like any test, familiarity with the exam is key to success. This means that you have to constantly do practice tests to get used to the structure and be more comfortable with it in the process.
As for some specific piece of advice, I suggest that in writing, where most candidates score the least, do an analysis of very good examples taking note of the vocabulary, expressions and sentence structures. Pay attention to the content as well. Try to understand how the writer organised his ideas and presented his arguments. From there, you may borrow certain features to enhance your own writing.
Some useful expressions that you can use to express your opinion in writing task 2 are: In my view, Personally I believe that, I feel very strongly that and I am inclined to believe. As for the vocabulary, try to incorporate higher level words such as traffic congestion instead of traffic jams, hectic city life instead of busy city life and others. Make sure that you use them appropriately and not just for the sake of using them. A combination of short and complex sentences in the essay will also help as it will demonstrate your ability to construct sentences in various lengths and complexity. Be sure that you do not go off topic and include any relevant examples.
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