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Author: Andrew Stokes, IELTS specialist, ClarityEnglish

IELTS Writing: The easiest way to fail

The challenge

First, try to answer these questions:

  1. What is the minimum number of words you need to write for Writing Task 1?
  2. What are the five points the examiner is looking for in IELTS Writing?
  3. How should you divide your time between Task 1 and Task 2?

If you can’t answer these three questions confidently, you are not ready to take IELTS. The easiest way to fail to get the band score you need is to go into the test without fully understanding what is required of you.
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IELTS Listening: Help! I don’t understand the accent!

The problem

IELTS is an international test, so you might hear a range of different accents, including Australian, British, New Zealand and North American. Remember that you only hear the audio once in the Listening test so you need to be absolutely confident that you can pick out every detail first time. An unfamiliar accent can get in the way of that. While there will not be any extreme accents, you should at least be familiar with a range of ‘standard’ accents.
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IELTS Speaking: What is the examiner looking for?

The issue

In IELTS Speaking Part II, you have to talk for two minutes on a topic given to you by the examiner. Do you understand how you will be graded?

According to the IELTS Speaking assessment criteria, your speaking will be marked on the following five points:

  • Fluency and coherence: how well your response flows and how well connected your ideas are
  • Lexical resource: how well you use vocabulary to express what you mean
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: how well you use English grammar, the variety of grammatical structures you use and how you use grammar to aid understanding
  • Pronunciation: how easy it is for the examiner to understand what you are saying
  • Relevance: you must, of course, stick to the topic on the card

This is not difficult to understand in theory, but are you confident you know what it means in practice?
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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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