IELTS Speaking: Significantly changing the outcome

Changing the outcome

‘Don’t leave that situation feeling, like, oh I didn’t show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, I really got to say who I am and show who I am.’ — Amy Cuddy

In the TED talk Your body language shapes who you are, Amy Cuddy explains how just two minutes of ‘power posing’ before an ‘evaluative situation’, such as the IELTS Speaking test, really can change the outcome.

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IELTS reading: Keyword synonyms

The problem

Many candidates think Reading is one of the hardest modules in the IELTS test — the timing is so tight, and understanding the questions correctly while you are under pressure is no easy task. And on top of this, the examiner is constantly trying to confuse you!

To perform well in the IELTS Reading test you need to develop strategies. The most important technique for matching the information in the question to the answer in the text is to think of keyword synonyms.
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IELTS Preparation: Understanding your weak areas

The problem

You need to spend a lot of time preparing for IELTS on your own. But studies show that even when independent learners know which of their language skills are strong and which are weak, they still tend to spend more time on their strong areas. In a 2015 study at the University of Hong Kong, Professor David Gardner found that students ‘ultimately preferred to remain in their comfort zone.’
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IELTS Writing: The 4 keys to success

Whether you are taking IELTS Academic or General Training, you will need to write a 250 word essay in the Writing Part 2. You will perform much better if you understand what the examiner is looking for — and then deliver it.

First, let’s look at the IELTS assessment criteria:

  1. Task achievement. This means you should answer all parts of the question, your answer must be relevant, and you should provide supporting ideas for the points you are making.
  2. Coherence and cohesion. Your writing should be structured so it is easy to read and understand. This means you need to organise your ideas into paragraphs. You also need to link your ideas with words like however, therefore and despite.
  3. Lexical resource. To get a good score, you need to use a wide range of vocabulary. Not everything has to be 100% correct, but any errors you do make should be few in number and should not affect understanding.
  4. Grammatical range and accuracy. As with vocab, you should use a variety of grammatical structures, and any grammatical errors should be few in number and should not affect understanding.

Now, let’s see how we can apply them to a candidate’s essay. Read more

IELTS Speaking: The grammar challenge

You might be surprised to hear that grammar is one of the four criteria used to assess your IELTS Speaking test performance and that it carries 25% of the points.

Many test-takers assume grammar in speaking is only about accuracy and not making any mistakes. This is only half the story. Making errors is natural, and IELTS understands this: even IELTS Speaking Band 7 expects that ‘some grammatical mistakes persist’.

To avoid mistakes, it helps to think about the tenses you use, and ensure these tenses relate to the questions being asked. So, if the question asked is What did you do at work today?, a key word here is did, which is in the past tense. So your answer should be in the past tense too, e.g. I wrote a report.

However, grammar is also about showing a range of grammatical structures. This means going beyond simple sentences (e.g. only using the simple present), and using a variety of tenses and grammatical features.

How can you demonstrate a wider range of grammar in your speaking? Read more

IELTS Reading: What to do when retaking the test

Many candidates say that they find it very difficult to retake the IELTS test: they feel they have already done what they were supposed to do and they cannot figure out what went wrong in their last test. For candidates who take IELTS for immigration or college application, re-sitting the test can be a stressful experience — but still, there are many things you can do to achieve the best possible band score.
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IELTS Reading: Three things you must know about multiple choice

In IELTS Reading, your biggest enemy is the clock. You have three passages to read in an hour, so you are going to be in a hurry — and when you rush, it’s easy to make mistakes. So it’s important to do some of the hard work before you even arrive at the exam hall. Try to spend 15 minutes, right now, reading and digesting three important facts about multiple choice questions in the Reading test.
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