Reading: 10 strategies for a high score

ielts reading tipsIs IELTS reading driving you crazy?

After studying this lesson it should be much clearer and you will have a much better idea of how to hit your target score.

Actually, the IELTS reading test is not really about reading, it’s more like a vocabulary test. That’s why you should work on your vocabulary, however, this takes time and there are no shortcuts. Another point is to never read the whole text or try and understand every single word, you will not have time. Understanding how paraphrasing works is crucial to getting a good score, therefore you need to have a good range and understanding of vocabulary. Never learn lists of words either , that will work against you.

Read moreReading: 10 strategies for a high score

Referencing: avoiding repetition with pronouns

Pronouns help with overall coherence and cohesion in IELTS writing.

Having a cohesive and coherent essay is very important for your overall Band score In both writing tasks in IELTS, especially writing task 2. You should always make your writing as easy as possible for the reader to follow and it should be easy to understand. In the IELTS exam, the reader will be the examiner.

One way to improve your cohesion is to use pronouns to reduce repetition, this is mentioned in the marking criteria for writing under ‘Referencing’.

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IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: Process Diagram

Model answer for an IELTS Process Diagram.

In the last lesson about process diagrams, I looked at the grammar and vocabulary needed to write about them. Click here to see the grammar needed.  This type of task sometimes appears in IELTS academic writing task 1, so I advise practicing this kind of task as it could appear in the exam.

Overall, the passive voice grammar is used when describing a process, you will also need sequencers to show a step by step process. The structure needed is: an introduction, an overview and 2 body paragraphs. Word count is 150 words minimum, aim for around 170 to 180 words.

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Handwriting, Paragraphing and the IELTS Answer Sheet

Key things to consider for IELTS writing:

Handwriting, pencils, paragraphs and using the IELTS official answer sheet.

I often get asked questions like: Should I use a pen?  Can I use cursive writing? Should I use the IELTS answer sheet? Do I lose marks for bad handwriting? How do I separate the paragraphs? Do I get a higher band score for a very long essay? ..and so on.

This post should clear up any confusion regarding these questions. Handwriting must be clear to the reader and I highly recommend using the answer sheet to practice. I also recommend using a pencil because it is easier to erase mistakes in the exam. The official IELTS answer sheet for writing task 1 and 2 can be downloaded here…click to download the answer sheet

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Learning New Vocabulary

Tips and points to consider for learning new vocabulary in IELTS.

I often get asked about the best way to learn new words that can be used in IELTS essays or the speaking section. I have not given any word lists on my website because I believe that vocabulary building is your responsibility, it is something that you will have to work on over a period of time.

One of the worst things you could ever do when studying IELTS is to just memorise lists of words and then randomly put those words into your writing, the same goes for speaking.

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IELTS general writing task 1: Job application letter

Model answer for General Writing Task 1 IELTS

Job application letter.

As mentioned before in my previous posts about IELTS general writing task 1, there are 2 styles for letters. Formal and Informal. Click here to see the differences between IELTS academic task 1 and the General Test.

In this lesson I will look at a letter applying for a job, the style here will be formal because it is a letter to a company.

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IELTS Writing: Keeping it simple

Being concise and keeping it simple.

If someone asked me for my advice about the IELTS essay tasks, I would say keep it simple and concise. I correct a lot of IELTS essays, but the one thing that stands out is that so many IELTS students are trying too hard to use  ‘complex sentences’ and completely miss the point and end up using ‘complicated sentences’. Some students may also memorise lists of words and then just put those into the essay without actually knowing fully what the word means.

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The dangers of memorised statements in essays.

Be careful of memorised sentences.

IELTS dangers

There are some IELTS teachers out there who tell students to write an outline statement after the thesis statement. 

To be honest, this is not a good way to structure the introduction. Outline statements are only for true academic essays that are many pages long, like you would write at university (IELTS essays are short discursive essays)

Another reason why I advise not writing them is that they look like they have been memorised. The examiner is looking out for memorised statements and sentences. 

You could lose points on this in task response and lexical resource. To put it simply, you have to use your own words. The IELTS examiners are looking at how you can use language naturally and coherently.

Read moreThe dangers of memorised statements in essays.

Paraphrasing without synonyms.

Useful paraphrasing technique without using synonyms.

One of the most important skills in IELTS is paraphrasing. This means to change the wording or the sentence structure but retain the same meaning. It’s a challenge for many students doing IELTS to get used to this skill, you need to have good vocabulary and know how to use synonyms correctly.

There are 2 main ways to paraphrase, this can be done with synonyms and by changing the structure of the sentence while adjusting the word formation. In the writing section you need to use this skill when starting the introduction of your essay. Let’s take a look at an example below.

Read moreParaphrasing without synonyms.

Why does this essay score Band 5.5?

Analysis of a Band 5.5 essay, plus a model answer.

Most people doing IELTS have trouble getting above Band 6 in writing, in fact a large percentage of people taking IELTS around the world end up with a Band 5.5 in Writing.

There are a few reasons for this, most notably it is down to poor vocabulary and grammar. However, some students have a good level of English but do not take the time to analyse the question fully and find the issues in the question. Never write too generally about the topic, identify the issues in the task question and base your essay around those. Be very specific and keep referring back to the task question.

Read moreWhy does this essay score Band 5.5?