Category Archives: IELTS Tips

VIDEO – IELTS Speaking 4 – Pronunciation

We’ve collected some videos providing tips for the IELTS test.

We have four videos for the Speaking test and one for the Writing test.

Today’s video is about pronunciation.

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This criteria focuses on the accuracy and variety of punctuation varieties:

  • Individual sounds – word spellings can sometimes confuse this
  • Word stress – stressing the wrong syllable in a word is a common error
  • Sentence stress – for instance, the way that some words in a sentence are emphasised or slightly louder
  • Intonation – the pitch of your voice as you speak
  • Chunking – talking in a rhythm that delivers chunks of words with short silences in between

To improve your pronunciation:

  • Find out how rhythm, intonation and stress differs from your native language
  • Ensure you understand the effect of intonation and stress on meaning
  • Practice using these in different ways
  • Refer to a dictionary to confirm the correct word stress if you are unsure
  • Listen to a variety of authentic English sources to become familiar with a range of pronunciation features
  • Don’t rush when you speak – this is a common mistake, and you might skip things
  • Record yourself and try to apply the above

Part 4 of 4:

Part 1: Fluency & Coherence

Part 2: Lexical Resource

Part 3: Grammatical range & accuracy

Part 4: Pronunciation

VIDEO – IELTS Speaking 3 – Grammatical Range & Accuracy

We’ve collected some videos providing tips for the IELTS test.

We have four videos for the Speaking test and one for the Writing test.

Today’s video is about grammatical range and accuracy.

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This criteria focuses on the range and accuracy of the test taker’s grammar while speaking.

The range of grammar includes using a variety of complex structures. These are complex structures. These are sentences with multiple bits of information as opposed to simple, short sentences, with only a single piece of information.

100% accuracy is not expected, but control is important. The Band 7 definition says:

 Frequently produces error-free sentences though some grammatical mistakes persist.

It is not just the number of mistakes, but how seriously these mistakes block communication.

To improve your grammar:

Be prepared – make sure you know the speaking test format and the type of questions to expect in each section e.g. ensure you know the past and future tenses of common verbs.

  • Practice – particularly think about the tenses you use, and make sure they relate to the question.
  • Record yourself speaking and listen to identify errors.
  • The IELTS band scores range from 1 to 9 and there are no specific questions for each band as the scores are assigned at the end of the test.

Part 3 of 4:

Part 1: Fluency & Coherence

Part 2: Lexical Resource

Part 3: Grammatical range & accuracy

Part 4: Pronunciation

VIDEO – IELTS Speaking 2 – Lexical Resource

We’ve collected some videos providing tips for the IELTS test.

We have four videos for the Speaking test and one for the Writing test.

Today’s video is about lexical resource.

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Lexical resource focuses on the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. The wider the range, the better you will score.

To score well, you need to understand:

  • The ability to use vocabulary effectively, including the right collocation – that is words naturally used together. e.g. we make a phone call, no do a phone call.
  • Awareness of connotation – positive (e.g. laid-back), neutral (e.g. inactive) or negative (e.g. lazy) associations some words have
  • The use of less common vocabulary or expressions

Vocab Learning Tips

  • Don’t just learn long lists of complicated vocabulary as you may not be able to use the words correctly!
  • Always try to learn new vocabulary when reading in English. Seeing words in their context helps to learn usage, meaning and collocation.
  • Group new vocabulary into related subjects and learn the words together, rather than long lists of unrelated words. Mind maps are a good tool here.
  • Learn synonyms and use a thesaurus
  • Make word cards

Practice is the key! Not to memorise, but to practice discussing different topics, weaving in new vocab you have learnt.

Paraphrasing is another important area for scoring points too.

Part 2 of 4:

Part 1: Fluency & Coherence

Part 2: Lexical Resource

Part 3: Grammatical range & accuracy

Part 4: Pronunciation

VIDEO – IELTS Speaking 1 – Fluency & Coherence

We’ve collected some videos providing tips for the IELTS test.

We have four videos for the Speaking test and one for the Writing test.

Today’s video is about fluency and coherence.

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The IELTS speaking test is split into three sections.

  1. Introduction and General Questions
  2. Long Turn
  3. Analytical Discussion

It’s very important to understand the criteria under which you will be tested.

Fluency and coherence is all about:

  • Your ability to speak at length
  • Organising ideas logically
  • Appropriately signposting – the use of words and phrases specifying direction of thoughts
  • Suggesting and justifying opinions
  • Speculating about issues without long pauses or repetition

Don’t try to learn large amounts of text to just repeat back to the examiner – it will come out unnatural!

Tip 1

As you are speaking about a topic, build on a point of view by adding some details

e.g. What do you do?

“I am a teacher”

Better answer: “I am a Geography teacher at Woody School, and have been teaching there for 5 years.”

Tip 2 – Long Turn
Use the bullet points on the card you are given to structure your answer.

You are given minutes to make notes, so make sure you use the time and note down key words.

Part 3 – Analytical Discussion

It is very important to develop your answers and speak at length.

When answering, think of:

  • Reasons
  • Effects
  • Comparisons
  • Supporting examples
  • Personal experience

e.g. Talking about too much TV:

  • Reasons: many more channels, popularity of TV characters
  • Effects: Health issues? Obesity, eyesight?
  • Personal Experiences: My cousin watches nothing but cartoons all the time!

Make sure to signpost what you say. Examples include:

  • Compare and Contrast – “in my view there are two main differences”
  • Responding to a Point – “Yes, I agree, because….” / “I’m not sure I agree with that because…”
  • Speculating on the Future – “I think we’ll probably see a lot of …” / “Maybe there’ll be more…”

Practice makes perfect!

Record yourself talking about different subjects. Play back and listen for:

  • Linking expressions
  • Hesitation
  • Repeated words
  • Slow speech

This will help improve fluency.

Part 1 of 4:

Part 1: Fluency & Coherence

Part 2: Lexical Resource

Part 3: Grammatical range & accuracy

Part 4: Pronunciation

Golden Tips for IELTS Writing Module

In Task 1 of the Writing Module, you are given about 20 minutes to write a minimum of 150 words. You are asked to look at a diagram, table, graph or short piece of text and describe the information in your own words. There are three important steps you should follow:
preparation, writing and editing. These steps will help you to write a coherent and well organised essay in the time given.

Preparation (about 2 minutes)
You need to spend 2-3 minutes working out exactly what you are going to do. You should pay attention to the following points:
•Study the question carefully. Most Task 1 writing involves writing a report which describes some information given. You may wish to note the instructions with a high-lighting pen.
•Think carefully about the topic. Outline some pertinent points.
•Ensure that your ideas are arranged logically.

Writing (about 15 minutes)
When writing a Task 1 report, include:
•introductory sentence
•body paragraphs (1-3)
•concluding sentence (optional)

Introductory sentence
The introductory sentence explains what you are describing, for example:
•The table compares the population growth and interstate migration in each Australian state for 12 months to the end of 1994.’
•The graph shows the growth of computers in Australia between 1975 and 1995.’
•The pie chart represents the proportion of gases contained in natural gas.’

Body paragraphs
When discussing the date presented in the task, identify significant trends and give examples that relate directly to the given information to support your statements. If you are explaining a process or an object and how it works, you need to group your information so that it follows a definite logical order.

Remember that the use of verbs expressed in the present passive voice is often appropriate when giving a description of a process or procedure, for example:
“Coffee beans are pulped to remove their casing. They are then soaked in water, rinsed thoroughly and dried. After the beans are sorted, they are roasted in a kiln and blended. Next, they are packed and dispatched to shops and supermarkets.”

Concluding sentence (optional)
A simple concluding statement could include any of the following, where relevant:
•significant comments
•a potential solution
•an overall summary of the ideas
•future implications.

Editing (about 2 minutes)
Make sure that you have followed the instructions carefully. Be sure that you have written what you intended and that no important ideas are missing.

In the last few minutes, check for obvious errors, such as spelling or grammatical errors.

All too often students begin planning or even writing their answers in the IELTS Writing Module before they understand what is actually expected of them. Following the steps below will help you to plan a well-structured and coherent essay or report that addresses the given task.

You may wish to spend about 5-7 minutes working out exactly what you are going to do. There are five steps to consider.
•Study the question carefully. Most task statements or questions have a key instructional word or words telling you what to do. Note these words with a highlighting pen.

There are also key topic words which point to the most important parts of the question. Underline those words too. Ask yourself how the key words relate to the given instruction.
•Think carefully about the topic. How do you feel about it?
•Establish a point of view and list some points for development. The answer normally takes the form of a short essay. The word essay’ comes from an old French word essai which meant to attempt or try out, or to test. In an IELTS Writing Module Task 2 answer, your purpose is to develop your point of view in a convincing way.
•Decide which points will be written as topic sentences. Think about how they will develop into paragraphs.
•Ensure that your points are arranged in a logical order.

When you are writing a Task 2 answer, a structure based on the following elements could be used (summarised in the flow chart opposite).

Introductory paragraph
The introduction of a Task 2 answer should begin with a general statement or idea of your own that takes into account the key topic words or their synonyms. The last sentence of the introduction should include a thesis statement which shows the point of view or direction that will be taken in the answer.

Body paragraphs
Body paragraphs each consist of several sentences that are arranged in a logical way to develop a main idea. You can expect to write about 2-4 body paragraphs for a Task 2 answer. Each of these contains an appropriate connective word to ensure a smooth transition between paragraphs. This connective is then put in a topic sentence which is the main point of the paragraph clearly stated in a sentence. Every sentence in the paragraph must be directly related to it. Try to develop every paragraph adequately. This may be done through the use of examples, explanations, detail, logical inference, cause and effect or making comparisons or contrasts. There are many different ways to organise your ideas for body paragraphs. Be confident of the ideas you choose.

The conclusion
A good conclusion serves several purposes:
•It indicates the end of your essay.
•It gives your final thoughts and assessments on the essay subject.
•It weighs up the points in your essay and should strengthen your thesis statement.
•Do not simply repeat your opening paragraph. This appears too mechanical and superficial.

•General statement
•Thesis statement

•Topic sentence including connective word
•First supporting sentence
•Second supporting sentence
•Third supporting sentence

Body Paragraph 2
Body Paragraph 3

Further Body Paragraphs

•Final assessment with concluding connective
Editing (about 3-5 minutes)
In the last few minutes, you should check for obvious errors, such as spelling or grammatical errors. Be sure you have written what you intended and that there are no important ideas missing.

Study the checklist for editing. It lists points to think about when checking your essay. Become familiar with the list so that you will know what to check for in the actual IELTS Writing Module.

Checklist for Editing
1.I have used accurate grammatical structures, for example, consistent verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, accurate word formation (especially of nouns, verb and adjectives) and appropriate use of a’ and the’ as well as prepositions.
2.I have used a range of sentence structures.
3.I have used appropriate vocabulary.
4.I have used accurate spelling.
5.I have stated the main idea for each paragraph in a topic sentence and all the points are related to this topic.
6.I have used connective words effectively to link ideas so that the thoughts move logically and clearly from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph.
7.I have developed each paragraph adequately.
8.I have supplied enough detailed information and sufficient examples or facts.
9.I have developed a definite point of view.
10.Every paragraph that I have written has definitely helped to address the task.

The writer, Miraj ul Haq, IELTS Instructor for the last 13 years, can be contacted on

This post was submitted by Miraj.

IELTS Listening Preparation – Identifying Key Words

Major students who we’ve spoken with have struggled with the IELTS listening module in particular. In fact, most students will find the latter questions difficult, as they are designed to really test your understanding of the English language. A great concept to help you prepare for your IELTS listening test is that of key words. However, students beware, as there are some basic mistakes you could easily make when adopting this method.

To highlight the problems that can arise with a key word approach to your English listening test, consider the following:

What do you do during your listening test, before you hear the recorded questions? Hopefully, you’d read the question before hearing the abstract. And while your reading the question, do you already underline what you think are key words in the question? Most students do, but without really thinking about it. This is where the mistakes can arise.

The major problem is how can you accurately identify the relevant keywords in the question that you need to answer during your listening test? Consider this English listening test example:

For the speaker, what is the most impressive aspect of a solar eclipse?

If this was your question, what key words would you underline as part of your IELTS listening preparation I’d guess that most students would focus on the word ”eclipse” as it is a noun, unusual sounding and may be a good starting point for your answer. But, if you do that you will have made a big mistake which will make your answer completely wrong.

Read the whole question and listen for the meaning, not words.

Many students make many mistakes during the IELTS listening test by not reading the question properly. The problem with focusing deeply on key words during your listening preparation and forgetting about the meaning, you are much more likely to word match; that is, you read a word in the question which  you then hear in the recorded extract. Because you recognise it, you then wrongly assume it’s the answer.  Don’t just look at the words, but focus on the meaning.

Use key words to help you decide when to really listen carefully.

Identifying key words during your IELTS listening preparation is important and can help to pinpoint the answer in the recorded extract. But students must remember that they are not the answer themselves, they just help you to know when the answer may be coming in the audio you are listening to.

IELTS Tips From an 8.5 Student

Recently one of our students told us he had just received great news – he scored 8.5 in his IELTS test last week! We asked him if he’d mind sharing what he considered to be important IELTS examination techniques.  These IELTS tips are for any students who are already competent using the English language and are looking to understand the how the test works and techniques for performing the best you can.

  1. The first and most important tip is to understand the exam. You should make sure that you have a good idea of each of the different modules, the different language skills that are being tested in each module component and have a good idea of the sorts of questions you’re likely to be asked. I found examples of the different types of questions used on the official IELTS website.
  2. I bought some IELTS study guides from the bookshop, not really for the book itself, but for the practice tests that come with them. I took several mock tests and made sure that I kept to the times strictly. So my second IELTS examination technique is know your timings and stick to them!
  3. There are only two modules – reading and listening – that you have complete control of your performance. It is down to you in how accurate your answers are to score high. The writing and speaking modules however, are not totally in the student’s control. So, be sure to score the most points you can in the reading and listening modules.
  4. My fourth IELTS study tip is to practice your listening skills as much as you can. I watched English TV, news and talk shows pretty much every day.
  5. For the writing module, planning is vital. As for any exam you sit, even in your own language, that requires an extended answer, you should always sketch out a skeleton plan for your answer. I’d also recommend you spend time before the IELTS exam learning and practicing key vocabulary to use when interpreting data in tables and graphs. This in an important tip of all the ILETS study tips – you should use correct terminology liberally in your answer.
  6. Make sure you can leave five minutes at the end of the test to check your answers. I can’t stress how important this is! I’ve been able to go back and spot a silly spelling error and correct it or returned to right more for answers to questions I wasn’t quite sure of. Remember, under exam conditions you are bound to make some silly mistakes, but with good IELTS examination techniques, you will have the time to correct them.
  7. In the speaking module, you’ll generally find that the examiners are kind and friendly and will true to help make you feel relaxed and confident enough to have a slightly more formal type of conversation.  My IELTS study tip here is that you don’t have to sound brilliant of use very complicated language – I spoke slowly, but with clarity and accuracy using pretty average vocabulary.
  8. My last IELTS study tip is to practice, practice and practice some more! Also, it is important to keep your practice going right up to your exam date. Don’t work hard, think you’ve got it sorted and then stop before your exam; you should do at least two mock exams in the days before your real one. Remember to time yourself!