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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS listening and reading test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? Capital letters in IELTS 2017.

Using Capital Letters for Answers: IELTS Rules

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want or not.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can write in all capital letters.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • HOSPITAL = correct / hospital = correct / 9am = correct / 9AM = correct /

Which is best? Capital letters or lower case?

I recommend writing your listening and reading answers in capital letters. It is easier to read and this means it is better for the person marking. Of course, it is your choice. But my advice is to use all capital letters for writing your answers in listening and reading.

Transferring Answers

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. Check your answers and check your spelling – then write your answers on the answer sheet.  If your handwriting is poor, write using all capital letters so it is easy to read.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is not clear writing. Use all capital letters if your handwriting isn’t clear.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I wouldn’t recommend it because:

  1. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters
  2. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words NEVER start with a capital letter because they should NEVER be used to start a sentence. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:

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IELTS Listening Practice: Nadiya Hussain

This IELTS listening practice exercise is about a woman called Nadiya Hussain. It contains both short answer questions and sentence completion questions.  You can find more useful links for listening and vocabulary at the bottom of the page.

Tips: As you will hear this only once, make notes. In the IELTS test, you can make notes all over your question paper. It might help you find an answer that you have missed.

You can find more IELTS tips for each part of the test at the bottom of the page.


Read the questions from 1 to 5 before listening to the audio. Play the audio only once. In IELTS, you will hear the recording only once so get used to practising. When you finish listening, make a note of common paraphrases.

IELTS Listening Practice

Questions 1 – 2

Write no more than one word and/or number.

  1. How many children does Nadiya have?
  2. In what year did she enter The Great British Bake Off?

Questions 3 – 5

Write no more than two words and/or a number.

   3. She was launched into her career by winning a UK ………………………….

   4. The BCC documentary followed her around Bangladesh on a ……….. tour.

   5. She also writes as a ……………… for the Times magazine.

IELTS Listening Recording


Answers and Transcript

Click below to open the answers and see the transcript.

  1. 3 (three)
  2. 2015
  3. baking competition
  4. culinary
  5. columnist

Nadiya Hussain was born into a British Bangladeshi family in the south of England. Both a wife and mother of three, she entered The Great British Bake Off in 2015. Her ability to produce amazingly creative, tasty bakes earned her the title of Champion in the biggest baking competition in the UK. This launched her career. Later, she was asked to bake a cake for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. And then she went on to film the Chronicles of Nadiya, a BBC documentary of her culinary journey around Bangladesh. She is also a columnist for the Times magazine presenting mouth watering recipes for baking.


Practice more IELTS listening and get useful tips: http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-listening

Learn vocabulary for newspapers: http://ieltsliz.com/newspaper-vocabulary/


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Is Spelling Important in IELTS Listening

Yes, spelling is crucial in IELTS listening.

IELTS Listening scores are based on correct answers. This means for each question you answer correctly, you get one point. You don’t lose points for incorrect answers.

To get an answer correct, it must be spelled correctly. Any answer that is not spelled correctly will be marked wrong. IELTS accept both American and British English spelling.

Correct spelling includes the use of hyphens when necessary and knowing when compound nouns are written as one word.

Lessons for improving your Spelling

Click on the links below to practice your spelling:

How to improve your spelling

  1. Once way to improve your spelling is learning by heart. This means writing words down again and again until you can spell them correctly. Improve your vocabulary for IELTS with appropriate words lists for topics.
  2. Use spell checker on your laptop. When you do this, make sure you write down the list of words that you got wrong.
  3. When you write an essay at home, underline words that you think might be spelled wrong. Check them in a dictionary.
  4. Read more. Most people find that the more you read, the better your spelling will become. However, this is a passive method of learning and can take time. If you are short of time, then be active and make spelling lists.
  5. Use free spelling websites. You can find a link to one on this page: Useful Websites and Links for IELTS
  6. There is no quick easy way to improve your spelling, it takes time and dedication by you.

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IELTS Listening Practice: Selecting Names from a List

This IELTS listening practice is based on multiple choice when you must choose names from a list. Be prepared to hear many names – try to listen out for the names which answer the question.

Health Care Conference

Multiple Choice Questions 1-3

Who will be lecturing at the conference today?

Choose three letters, A-G.

  • A = Dr Christopher Lord
  • B = Dr David Bishop
  • C = Dr George Ripley
  • D = Dr William Benson
  • E = Dr Roger Dean
  • F = Dr Daisy Mandalay
  • G = Dr Ralph Morris





E  A  B (any order). This question counts for answers 1, 2 and 3. This means three points – one point for each correct answer.

  • E = ‘Dr Roger Dean who will be presenting his speech…’
  • A = ‘Dr Christopher Lord will address everyone…’
  • B = ‘Dr David Bishop, as I mentioned earlier, will take the floor to tell you about…’

Comments: The answer is not C (Dr George Ripley) because he is talking tomorrow not today. The answer is not D (Dr William Benson) because he is running a debate. He is not giving a lecture. The answer is not F (Dr Daisy Mandalay) because she is showing a video not talking. The answer is not G (Dr Ralph Morris) because he is collecting feedback and not speaking.

The key to success in this listening practice is to identify the word “lecture” as the key word in the question. Many names are mentioned but only three people are actually lecturing today.



Today’s topic under discussion is the health care system both past and present. We have a number of guests for today’s lectures, videos and debates, one of them the notable Dr David Bishop.

The morning will be kicked off by Dr Roger Dean who will be presenting his speech summarising the major changes and challenges of the health care system from the year 2000 to around 2012. Following him, will be Dr William Benson who will oversee the debate on today’s problems for hospitals. After lunch, Dr Daisy Mandalay will be showing a revealing video relating to the current trends in health problems faced by today’s society. Dr Christopher Lord will then address everyone on the problems faced by family doctors and the vital role they play in the health care system. Last, but not least, Dr David Bishop, as I mentioned earlier, will take the floor to tell you about his current research. Dr Ralph Morris will be responsible for collecting your feedback on the various parts of the conference at the end of the day. That will conclude our seminars for the day. Tomorrow’s conference details will be put up on the notice board later this afternoon but you will be all please to know that Dr George Ripley has agreed to lecture you all.



give a lecture / to  lecture Synonyms:

  • give a talk about / on
  • to address people on
  • give a seminar on
  • hold a seminar on
  • to take the floor (to talk)
  • to instruct people on
  • to give a speech about / on
  • to present a speech / talk on about


Recommended for IELTS Listening:

Listening for Names Practice & Tips

List of Common English Names – Pronunciation

Multiple Choice Practice for Listening & Reading

All IELTS Listening Lessons, Tips & Free Videos

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IELTS Tips: How words are counted

Learn how your words are counted in IELTS. This page explains about counting words, numbers and symbols. You need to know how words are counted for IELTS listening, reading and writing. If you make mistakes with the number of words, you can lose points which can affect your band score.

How words are counted in IELTS

1. Numbers, dates and time are counted as words in writing. For example 30,000 = one word  /  55  = one word  /  9.30am = one word / 12.06.2016 = one word. In listening, 30,000 is counted as one number and 9.30AM is also counted as one number.

2. Dates written as both words and numbers are counted in this way: 12th July = one number and one word.

3. Symbols with numbers are not counted. For example, 55% = one number (the symbol “%” is not counted as a word). However, if you write “55 percent” it is counted as one word and one number.

4. Small words such as “a” or “an” are counted as one word. All prepositions, such as “in” or “at” are also counted. All words are counted.

5. Hyphenated words like “up-to-date” are counted as one word.

6. Compound nouns which are written as one word are also counted as one word. For example, blackboard = one word.

7. Compound nouns which are written as two separate words, are counted as two words. For example, university bookshop = two words.

8. All words are counted, including words in brackets. For example in IELTS writing, “The majority of energy was generated by electricity (55%).”. This sentence is counted as 9 words. The number in brackets is counted.


Advanced IELTS Writing Lessons: Liz’s Advanced Lessons

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IELTS Listening for Plurals: Tips & Practice

In the IELTS listening test, you often need to listen for plurals. This lesson looks at tips and practice for IELTS listening for plurals.

IELTS Listening for Plurals: Video Tutorial

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IELTS Listening Practice: Building the Eiffel Tower

This IELTS listening practice is based on sentence completion questions and diagram labelling. You need to prepare all questions before listening.

For the sentence completion, check what type of answer you need for each question and underline key words that will help you identify the answer when you hear it. For the diagrams, read the instructions carefully to find the type of answer you need.

IELTS Listening: The Eiffel Tower

Questions 1-5

Complete the sentences using no more than two words and/or numbers.

  1. In 1884, two …………… came up with the concept of building tall tower.
  2. The plan was for the tower to be ……….. feet in height.
  3. Assembly of the supports took ……………. to finish.
  4. During construction, precision of work was measured to …………. of a millimetre.
  5. The construction team has responsibility for ……………. to ………… workers.

Questions 6 – 7

Label the diagram below with the correct dates using no more than one word and/or numbers.IELTS Listening Eiffel Tower



Click below to reveal the answers:

  1. engineers / chief engineers (either answer is correct)
  2. 1000
  3. 22 months (the number can be written as a hyphenated word. The word “months” must be plural.)
  4. a tenth (“a” is needed for the answer to be correct. All sentences must be grammatically correct when completed)
  5. 150    300 (both numbers are needed for the correct answer. No punctuation is required between them)
  6. 15 March 1888 / 15th March 1888 (the full date is required)
  7. 12 March  1889 / 12th March 1889 (the full date is required)

The plan to build a tower 300 metres high was conceived as part of preparations for the World’s Fair of 1889. Two chief engineers in Eiffel’s company, had the idea for a very tall tower in June 1884. The tower project was a bold extension of this principle – equivalent to the symbolic figure of 1000 feet.

The assembly of the supports began on July 1, 1887 and was completed twenty-two months later. All the elements were prepared in Eiffel’s factory located  on the outskirts of Paris. Each of the 18,000 pieces used to construct the Eiffel Tower were specifically designed and calculated, traced out to an accuracy of a tenth of a millimetre and then put together forming new pieces around five metres each. A team of constructors, who had worked on the great metal viaduct projects, were responsible for the 150 to 300 workers on site assembling this gigantic set.

Photographic evidence at the time showed the four stages of the construction of the Eiffel Tower. The first photo was taken after the construction of the first floor on the 15th March 1888 and the following photos were taken over a period of about a year. The constructions were finally finished on the 12th March 1889 which is when the last photo was taken. On the narrow platform at the top, Eiffel received his decoration from the Legion of Honour.

read more about the Eiffel Tower Construction 

  • conceived = thought up / planned
  • bold = daring / courageous
  • construct = build
  • calculated = measured
  • traced = copied
  • on site – at the location of the building
  • gigantic = huge
  • finished / completed


More IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening: 25 Essential Tips

IELTS Multiple Choice Tips

IELTS Listening: Numbers Practice

IELTS Listening: All Lessons, Tips and Practice

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IELTS Listening for Diagrams Practice and Tips

Here are tips and practice to label an IELTS listening diagram. It is common to get diagrams in IELTS listening section 2 and 3 although they may appear in section 4 too.

IELTS Listening Diagram Tips

  • check the location of each number
  • answers come in order
  • decide what kind of answer you need (noun, adj, verb)
  • check how many words or numbers you can use
  • predict language to describe locations (under, over, above, underneath, at the side, etc)
  • look at the title of the diagram to help you predict topic language

IELTS Listening Diagram Practice

The Brownie Camera

Label the diagram using no more than two words and/or a number.

IELTS Listening Diagram Camera


  1. strap
  2. viewfinder
  3. viewfinder lens
  4. shutter lever
The Brownie camera was introduced in February 1900  and popularised low-cost photograph bringing about the concept of the snapshot. At a cost of just £1, it was intended to be a camera everyone could afford and use. It was a simple camera to operate. It was a box camera made out of cardboard or, later, plastic. On the top was a strap to enable people to carry their cameras making photography more convenient to people on the go. The workings of the camera were secured inside the box by locks on the top and also at the side near the film advance. When people wanted to take a snapshot, they would put their eye to the rectangular viewfinder. There were two of these located both on the top and side of the camera allowing people to take both landscape and portrait pictures. The image from the viewfinder was seen though a viewfinder lens. There were also two of these on the front of the camera relating in position to each of the viewfinders. The real lens was placed squarely in a central position on the front of the camera. When people wanted to take a photo, they would press a small lever at the side of the camera known as the shutter lever. When this was pressed down, the photo would be captured. This is one of the most iconic cameras in the world and is responsible for development of photography as we know it today.


More IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening: Maps

IELTS Listening: Multiple Choice

IELTS Listening: Short Answer Questions

IELTS Listening: 25 Essential Tips

IELTS Listening Band Scores

IELTS Listening: All Information, Tips and Practice


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