IELTS Speaking: Idiom or Description?

IELTS Speaking

Will using an idiom get you a higher score or is it better to use description? Look below and decide which piece of language will give you a higher score in IELTS Speaking.

Which is best?

  • A) My brother is as cool as a cucumber.
  • B) My brother is so calm and composed that he doesn’t get stressed or worried under any kind of pressure.

Answer

Click here: Answer: Idiom or Description

All the best

Liz

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How Heather got IELTS Overall Band Score 8.5

Heather scored overall 8.5 in IELTS and below are her tips for success 🙂

Heather’s IELTS Story

I re-wrote the IELTS general training exam on Sept 30th and I got my writing band score increased from 6.5 to 7.5 with an OBS of 8.5, all thanks to you. 🙂 I have attached my TRF.
OBS = 8.5 (L 9 / R 9 / W 7.5 / S 8.5)
I would like to thank you, Liz, from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful lessons which helped me a lot. I thought of sharing how I overcame my weaknesses and rectified my mistakes this time.

Heather’s IELTS Tips

Here are some of my tips and tricks for before the exam and during the exam.

Before the exam:

Listening & Reading:
  1. Practice all the listening and reading tests from Cambridge ielts books.
  2. Make sure you take printed copies of the tests and answer sheets and practice it within the time limit.
  3. While practising,try to get all answers for listening in 30 mins and spend 5 mins checking whether all your answers make proper grammatical sense.
  4. Try to complete reading in 45 minutes and spend 15 minutes going over each question making sure you selected the right answers. (especially true or false questions).
  5. Keep practising until you are able to score between 38-40 right answers.
 (This is if you want to score a band score 9)
I think the listening and reading sections are the easiest and they give us the added advantage because the answers are already given to us in an indirect form. So if we can focus and scrutinise the available data, we can easily score a 9, unlike the writing and speaking sections where you have to completely develop the answer on your own.
Writing:
I thought I was pretty okay at English writing but came to know that I am terrible at “ielts writing” which I realized after my first test. I always thought I have been writing stories and poems and blogs since school days, so I assumed writing would be a piece of cake. But to be honest, ielts writing is  something quite different and they definitely don’t want you to ramble on for pages. I would say the approach to this section should be “focussed writing”.
The second time I wrote the test I took expert advice from none other than Liz and made changes to the way I wrote.
  1. Purchase Liz’s advanced videos, they are amazing and a must do before you attempt to write.
  2. View all of Liz’s videos on YouTube, they teach a lot of important tips.
  3. Plan your essay. You just need 2 primary points to write two main body paragraphs of 90 words each.
  4. State your opinion (only when asked) in the introduction and continue to support your opinion in the body paragraphs. Do not deviate from your opinion.
  5. Introduction and conclusion are very important and I personally took time to write 2 lines roughly for each before I started the essay.
  6. Make sure to write fast but in legible handwriting. Use a pen if you can write faster with it. We all haven’t used a pencil in ages and it can be quite difficult to write fast with it.
  7. Go through Liz’s 100 ielts questions and jot down points or arguments you could use at the time of exam. (Just get ideas, don’t learn lines by heart).
  8. Go through Liz’s recent ielts questions for the month you are taking your exam. Chances are quite high that one of those questions might get paraphrased and asked again.
  9. Write the essay first, as it has twice the weight as the letter. I wrote letter in the last 10 minutes of my writing test.
  10. Allot one paragraph to clearly answer each question in the essay/ letter.
Speaking :
  1. Go through Liz’s recent ielts questions to get an idea of the latest topics and prepare to speak about them.
  2. Practise speaking in front of the mirror to improve your confidence.
  3. Go through the blog “52 speaking part 2 topics 2017” which really helped me.
  4. Take the simulation test by Liz on YouTube, it really helps you to time your answers.
  5. Have discussions with friends or family about the topics you need to prepare. They can really help boost your morale.
  6. The importance is on how you can speak fluently and communicate with ease, not on making intelligent arguments. So relax and just have a fun conversation with the examiner.
On Exam day :
I don’t know about IDP but if you are taking the British council test , I have some tips to share.
  1. Exam is usually scheduled for 1pm but you have to report at 11.30am for registration, which means you’ll have to skip lunch and write the exam on an empty stomach which can make you lose focus while you write.
  2. Registration takes a long time and you’ll end up waiting impatiently till 1.30pm (the exam never starts at sharp 1pm) in the exam hall, if you register first.
  3. You are not allowed to take washroom breaks after you register and during the exam , unless, of course, at your own risk of losing time.
  4. Reach the venue on time for registration but do NOT get registered immediately. Wait outside.
  5. Carry energy bars, bananas or chocolates that you can munch on before you enter for registration.
  6. 12.30pm is a good time to register and make sure to use the washroom just before this.
  7. Limit the amount of water you drink after you get into the exam hall.
  8. Take 2 sips of water after you complete each section to feel fresh and start the next section with a clear mind.
  9. Try not to use the washroom during the writing section ( I saw one candidate who could not complete the essay)
  10. Wear warm and comfortable clothes, the exam hall can be quite cold.( I took my hoodie jacket)
  11. Raise your hand and inform the exam conductors if  your audio is not loud enough during the audio testing.
  12. Carry pencils, pens, eraser and a sharpener. (I saw someone come into the exam hall unaware that we have use to pencil for L&R)
  13. Try to focus all your energies into the exam. Don’t be stressed, stay relaxed.

Useful IELTS Links Recommended by Heather

Good luck everyone! Thank you Liz. If someday I get to meet you, I would really love to buy you lunch 🙂 Love & Regards, Happy Heather 🙂
Thanks Heather, lunch sounds good some day 🙂 Well done 🙂 Liz

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Paraphrasing Exercise 2 Answers

Find answers to paraphrasing exercise number 2 about coal miners. Make sure you finish the lesson before looking at the answers: paraphrasing exercise 2

I hope you found the lesson useful for spotting synonyms.

Answers

Click below to reveal the answers.

Answers
  1. preferred = favoured
  2. gradually stop using = phase out
  3. substitute = replace
  4. employed since way back = long-serving
  5. existence = presence
  6. portable = hand-held
  7. bird (canary) = yellow feathered friend
  8. ultimately = in the long run

 

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Is this essay plan good?

Lets take a look at a plan for an IELTS opinion essay.

Below you will find an essay question, an essay plan and also questions for you.

IELTS Essay Question

Some people think that children should spend their free time doing homework, while others believe it would be better for children to participate in sports activities instead. What is your opinion?

 

IELTS Essay Plan

Below are notes for an essay plan. The notes show what the content of each paragraph will be.

Introduction:

People have different views as to whether children should spend their free time doing homework or playing sport. In my opinion, children should be encouraged to take part in sport and exercise.

BP 1:

Sport is good for children because it benefits their health. Add supporting details.

BP 2:

Children can also benefit in other ways from playing sport by learning to unwind and meeting new people. Add supporting details on each point.

Conclusion:

Restate opinion.

Question for You

Think about the essay question and the essay plan, then answer the questions below.

  1. Is this a good plan?
  2. How do you think it can be improved?

Answers

Post your answers in the comments box below.

I will post my comments on Wednesday. That gives you all two days to post your comments 🙂

Liz

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Answer to Reading Paraphrasing Lesson

Answers to Paraphrasing Practice

Please complete the lesson before you look at the answers. You can find the lesson on this page: Paraphrasing Lesson

Passage: Ancient Egyptian Powder

Summary of Passage

The pigment (1)………. Egyptian blue, which was formulated (2) ……….. 5,250 years ago, can now be used to (3)……… finger prints on complicated surfaces.  This pigment was used in the painting of statues and tomb wall reliefs in Ancient Egypt. However, it has now been (4)……….. that, when it is it exposed to a (5)……….. light, it emits near-infrared radiation.

  1. known as
    1. you can’t choose the answer “names” because it is grammatically wrong.
  2. about
    1. You can’t have the answer “over” because we don’t know if it is over or under. Therefore, you need to use the word “about”. Another option for paraphrasing would be “approximately”.
  3. identify
  4. revealed / found
    1. Both options are fine.
  5. particular
    1. You must have the correct spelling. If your spelling is wrong, your answer is marked wrong.

I hope you found this lesson useful.

I’ll post more paraphrasing lessons later.

All the best

Liz

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IELTS Test Toilet Breaks

Yesterday, a student called Tamara posted a great little tip about toilet breaks in IELTS.

Her points were these:

  1. It’s important to drink water because you are nervous and the exam is long. But inevitably you might need the toilet.
  2. IELTS do not provide toilet breaks. So, you need to choose the best time to go to the toilet.
  3. Don’t go during your listening test. The listening test will not stop because you have gone to the toilet. You will miss answers and you will get a lower score as a result.
  4. Go to the toilet during your reading or writing test.
  5. The writing test is usually really hard to complete on time, so for most students, it’s best to go to the loo during the reading test.
  6. Be prepared for your IELTS test. Sleep well, eat well and be ready to concentrate.

Tamara did very well in her test, getting band score 8.5 overall. Brilliant!! Well done to her 🙂 See her score and read her tips as well as tips from other students on this page: IELTS Results Page

Get On the Day Tips by click on the link. My on the day tips cover listening, reading, writing and also speaking. So, read them all well.

Good luck everyone!! 🙂

Liz

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IELTS Model Essays for September 2017

Below are three IELTS model essays for IELTS essay questions that students have reported this month in their test. You can find the full list of 20 essay questions on this page: IELTS Essay Questions Sept 2017.  I did say that I would write only one model essay but, due to student demand, I have choose the three most popular essay questions.

Paragraphs: The model essays below all have two body paragraphs. Please note it is also possible to have three body paragraphs in IELTS writing task 2 – your choice depends on your ideas.

IELTS Essay Model Q#1

Nowadays young people lack an understanding of how to manage their finances after they finish high school. Explain why they do not know how to manage money and how this can be changed.

Below is an IELTS cause / solution model essay.

Many young people are leaving school without a basic and vital understanding of how personal finances ought to be managed in the adult world. This lack of knowledge is due to a lack of life experience and limited education which can be solved in two simple ways.

One main reason why so many young people are unable to manage their own finances upon finishing high school is that they have been living alone with their parents for free. As a result, they have never needed to earn a salary or save their money in order to pay bills. Another cause is that schools do not factor personal financial management into their curriculum. Schools focus instead on classic subjects, such as maths, geography, history and languages, which means important life skills are not being taught. Both teachers and parents are failing to prepare young people for the real world.

There are two options for solving young people’s inability to manage personal finances. Firstly, parents should spend time with their children teaching them how money is earned, budgeted and used for either savings or expenses. One simple step could be for parents to start by teaching young children how to manage their pocket money and, as their child grows up, expand into more serious household expenses. Secondly, schools should incorporate life skills into their curriculum for final year students. In this way, children will be able to learn in a supportive environment how their finances need to be budgeted and managed to avoid debt problems later in life.

In conclusion, young people lack financial management skills due to the negligence of parents and schools, which can only be solved if both take more responsibility for equipping school leavers with the right skills.

IELTS Essay Model Q#4

Advertising discourages us from being different and individuals eventually look the same. To what extent do you agree or disagree.

Below is a partial agreement (a balanced view) model opinion essay.

It is sometimes thought that advertisements result in people becoming increasingly similar and that they discourage individuality. In my opinion, advertising certainly  does promote conformity amongst certain people but most people will always make their own individual choices which will make them appear different.

The role of advertising is to promote products in a way that encourages people to buy them and this in turn means that people inevitably end up buying the same things and appearing the same. This is particularly true of the fashion industry which tells followers of fashion what colours to wear in which seasons, what styles of clothes they should wear and even the length of their hair. The adverts put pressure on young people to look fashionable by following looks which have been planned by the fashion industry. As a result, those who are easily influenced by fashion trends will tend to appear more similar and with less individuality in an attempt to be considered fashionable.

However, the wish to appear fashionable and follow fashion trends with strict conformity only applies to a certain group of young “trendy” people. For others, the fashion trends are interesting but not something that should be followed religiously. For instances, while some of them may choose to follow the fashionable colour that season, they may prefer a different hair style which is more suited to their own face shape or character. Consequently, although some aspects of their dress may be similar, the majority of what they wear and how they wear it is different and shows their individual character.

In conclusion, although fashion victims follow trends and may appear similar, they are in the minority as most people prefer to select what they wear and how they look for themselves.

IELTS Essay Model Q#9

Some people believe that development of business results in a loss of cultural ties between countries. Other people contradict this belief. Give your opinion.

Below is a one sided model opinion essay.

The development of business, according to some, has had a negative impact on cultural ties between countries. I do not agree with this as international business can often encourage cultural ties and does not impact on existing ones.

Firstly, international business has resulted in new relationships between countries that previously had little contact. Consequently products from countries all around the world become available to the everyday person which raises their awareness of these countries. As awareness between countries grows, so too does cultural respect and interest. For this reason, there are more people travelling abroad today to experience new cultures than ever before. One good example of this is the long lasting cultural interest between China and Europe which was initially brought about by the silk trade.

Another point to consider is that cultural ties that already exist between countries are not necessarily disturbed by business. Most cultural ties have actually been established due to the development of transportation which has enabled people to travel further distances from their homes. For decades, if not centuries, the British were known to travel to France and even as far as Egypt to enjoy warmer climates as well as to appreciate their culture. Regardless of business or business problems which came later, these cultural ties continue to exist today. In other words, although business may throw a spanner in the works with regards to international relationships from time to time, it cannot undo the deep cultural connections between these countries that have evolved and been enjoyed over time.

To conclude, business mostly certainly does not cause a loss of cultural ties between countries and can, in fact, be the root of establishing new ones.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Tips & Lessons

You can find writing task 2 tips and more model essays on this page: IELTS Writing Task 2 Main Page

If you would like advanced lessons in writing task 2, see my online store. My advanced lessons for writing task  are not cheap, but they are excellent and will teach you the right techniques for a high score: Liz’s Advanced Writing Task 2 Lessons

 

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IELTS Listening Using (Brackets) for Answers

In some IELTS books, the listening answers are written using brackets. Many students ask me what the brackets mean and if they can do the same in their test.

Here is an example of some answers using brackets:

  1. charity (work)
  2. detail(s)
  3. (a) reception (room)

Questions 

  1. What do these brackets mean?
  2. Can you do this in your IELTS listening test?

Answers

The brackets are used in the answer keys of books to show different possible answers for one question.

For example:

  • charity / charity work (both answers are correct)
  • detail / details (both answers are correct)
  • reception / a reception / reception room / a reception room (all 4 answers are correct)

In the IELTS listening test, there might be only one possible answer or there might be others. So, books use brackets to show the options.

Can you do this in your test?

NO. Definitely NOT. This is a language test. You must choose one answer only. It is either correct or not correct. If the answer is plural and you write singular, the answer is wrong.

You can learn more about IELTS listening by clicking on this link: Liz’s IELTS Listening tips

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