Lets clear up the confusion about IELTS

Here are some short quizzes to test your knowledge and clear up IELTS myths.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about IELTS and the best approaches to getting a good band score. Many of my students get different information and when they go online they are even more confused about what to do, so I hope this post can finally clear up the myths! There are 14 questions here.

The answers are below each quiz. don’t check the answers until you have tried the quiz.

Quiz time!

(choose the best answer a, b or c)

1.  In the IELTS exam in speaking part 2, you are given a cue card.

a) You have to talk about every point on the card.
b) You must not talk about your own points, you could lose marks.
c) You can either follow the points on the card or add your own ideas as long as they relate to the topic.

The answer is C. There is a myth that you have to talk about every point on the card, it is not true. The points on the card are there to help you with ideas, as long as you stay on the topic you can add your own ideas or you can follow the ideas on the card. You have to talk for 2 minutes though.


2. In the IELTS exam, after you have written your essay, how much time should you spend checking it for mistakes?

a) Don’t bother, you won’t have time
b) 1-minute
c) 5 minutes

The answer is C. The marking criteria gives 25% of marks to grammatical range and accuracy so check your essay again for any grammar, spelling or punctuation mistakes. It takes at least 5 minutes to review your essay, so take the time to check your writing. You can also check as you write, so after writing each paragraph, read it and you will surely find some mistakes in there most probably with spelling.


3. Can you use personal pronouns in IELTS academic essays?

a) Yes, but don’t overuse them.
b) No never, they are too informal.
c) It depends on the essay type.

The answer is A. You can write personal pronouns (I, me, my etc) but do not overuse them, the questions often ask ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree’ or ‘give your own opinion’. It would be very hard to give your own opinion without using the words I or My.  For a lesson on this topic click here.


4. In IELTS, especially reading and writing, what are the most important skills to have?

a) Understanding difficult grammar and vocabulary.
b) Understanding how to use paraphrasing and synonyms well.
c) Understanding how to use idioms and phrasal verbs.

The answer is B. Understanding how paraphrasing works and how to use synonyms correctly is a crucial skill in IELTS and this shows up in Reading such as true false not given questions, Writing task 2 and even Writing task 1. Of course, you should have good grammar and vocabulary, but with good paraphrasing skills, you can get the band score you need. I don’t advise using idioms in IELTS because it is easy to confuse the examiner if they are not used accurately…. Click here for a lesson on paraphrasing.


5. In IELTS Speaking part 1, what is the examiner testing you on?

a) Your ability to give an opinion and examples.
b) Your ability to answer the question naturally without hesitation.
c) Your ability to use formal or informal language.

The answer is B. In this part of the test you need to answer the question directly with some extra information, as well as speak freely without self-correcting or hesitating. Do not give one-word answers but also do not give very long answers.

Giving opinions are usually in part 3 of the speaking test. The speaking test is actually quite informal so do not worry about using formal language here. Click here for a model answer to speaking part 1


6. In writing task 1 (academic), you should write your opinion when describing a chart or graph.

a) Yes definitely.
b) No never.
c) Depends on the type of chart or graph.

The answer is B. Never write your opinion in a writing task 1 report such as a bar chart, graph, map, pie chart etc.. you need to write factually and no opinions are given, neither should you write a conclusion in academic task 1 writing.


7. Where should you write your opinion in an IELTS essay? (if the task question asks for your opinion)

a) The conclusion
b) The introduction
c) Both the introduction and the conclusion

The answer is C. If the question asks for an opinion you must state it in your thesis statement in the introduction and also restate it in the conclusion. The examiner needs to see your opinion early in the essay. In some cases, you can write a 3rd body paragraph with your opinion such as in a discussion/opinion essay.

You should also state your opinion in the body paragraphs of an opinion essay with detail to back it up. Here is a lesson about when to write an opinion in an essay


8. How many types of essays are there in IELTS writing task 2?

a) 5 types of essay
b) 3 types of essay
c) 2 types of essay

The answer is A. There are 5 types. Opinion essay, Discussion essay, Two-part question (direct question) essay, Problem Solution essay, Advantage Disadvantage essay.. Click here to see how to identify the 5 types of essay.


9. How much time should you spend planning your essay?

a) 2 minutes
b) 3 minutes
c) 10 minutes

The answer is C.  A good essay is well planned, I have had students who were capable of Band 8 but got Band 6 because they didn’t take the time to plan properly. They forgot their ideas halfway through or changed their ideas suddenly and it ruined the whole essay. planning is crucial and I recommend 10 minutes. Analysing the question, thinking of relevant ideas, supporting points, planning the structure and thinking of the best way to paraphrase takes at least 10 minutes.


10. When giving examples in essays they have to be real and accurate.

a) Yes, the examples must be real, the examiner is going to check.
b) You can make up examples but never use statistics.
c) You can make up examples and statistics as long as they look right.

The answer is C. The IELTS exam is not a general knowledge test, it is an English test and the examiner is not going to check your examples. You can make up an example but it has to look realistic. The point of this is for the examiner to see how well you can support your main ideas and develop your essay.

You don’t have to use statistics either, in fact, language is better when supporting your points click for how to write examples in IELTS essays.


11. You have to use very complex sentences and impressive grammar in the writing tasks

a) Yes you must impress the examiner with complicated grammar and vocabulary
b) Never do this, keep it simple and use the grammar that you feel comfortable with.
c) The grammar has to be complex and idioms are important.

The answer is B. Using overly complicated grammar and vocabulary is a big mistake, the examiner will mark you right down. Most IELTS teachers are frustrated by this when marking essays. Keep it simple and clear and work with the grammar you feel comfortable with until you have developed your skills in grammar and vocabulary.

Click here for a lesson on complex sentences in IELTS essays.


12. You must use British English spelling and vocabulary in IELTS

a) You can use American or British English but keep it consistent.
b) Only use British English as it is a British English exam
c) You can use British and American English and mix it up.

The answer is A. The IELTS test is not just a British English test, you can use American English but if you decide to do that keep it consistent, don’t change halfway through when writing from British spelling and vocabulary to American spelling or vocabulary.

Click here for a lesson on British and American English


13. The more words I write in the essays the better band score I will get.

a) Yes write more than 350 words and you will get Band 8
b) It doesn’t matter, up to 250 words are fine.
c) You should aim for 250 words or more, you will lose marks if under 250 words.

The answer is C. The more words you write the better score you get is nonsense. If you can write more than 250 words then that is fine. if you think writing a really really long essay will get a better band score you are mistaken. If you write under 250 words then you will lose marks.


14. In the reading section you should use the following techniques:

a) Scan, skim then read in detail in the area where the answer could be
b) Just scan and skim the whole text then read the whole text.
c) Match individual words with synonyms in the text.

The answer is A. Most people are wrongly advised to just skim or scan the text only. You have to locate the area of the text where you believe the answer could be, then after skimming you need to read in detail in that area.

Remember, you should not read the whole text nor do you need to understand every word. The reading is like a vocabulary test and paraphrasing is crucial….also if you just try and match synonyms you are wasting time, you need to understand phrases, collocations and be able to guess the meaning from context.  Click here for a lesson on TFNG strategies.  / Click here for a lesson on guessing meaning from context,

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