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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IELTS preparation: Science shows how to boost your band score

You perform well in class. You understand the IELTS question types. You’ve worked through the IELTS prep books. But studies show that this doesn’t mean you will do well in the IELTS test itself. Why is this?

Dr Sian Beilock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, studied why people perform badly in stressful situations such as exams. She found that exam stress takes up your working memory — the part of your mind you use to focus on the questions. As a result, you perform worse than you would in a less stressful environment, such as the classroom or at home.
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IELTS Listening: The importance of synonyms

The problem

At the beginning of the Listening test you are given 30 seconds to look at the question paper. This enables you to use the words on the paper to predict the words that you will hear in the recording. But that would be too easy! It’s much more likely that you will not hear these words; you will hear different words that mean the same thing. These are called synonyms.
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