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Answers to Background Statement Practice Lesson

Hi guys,

I have posted some model background statements on the original page. I also added a list of tips to help you learn the correct way to write for IELTS.

Click here: Background Statement Model Answers.

Sorry for posting this late.

All the best


Background Statement Practice for IELTS Essays

Practising Background Statements for IELTS Introductions

Below are four essay questions that appeared this month (December 2018) in IELTS writing task 2. Under each essay question are model background statements. You will see the different ways you can paraphrase the essay question.

All IELTS writing task 2 essay introduction paragraphs contain:

  1. Background statement = a paraphrase of the essay question
  2. Thesis statement = your position or main points

This lesson will give you practice at paraphrasing essay questions to make a background statement. Below you will find 4 essays with model background statements and a list of tips to help you.

IELTS Background Statement Practice

Paraphrase the essay questions below to create one background statement. The first one has been done for you as an example with three possible options. I would like you to write a background statement for questions 2-4.

Essay Question 1

Science will soon result in people living to an average of 100 years or more. Do you think this is a positive or negative development?

Model Background Statement for IELTS:

  1. People’s lifespan is increasing due to developments in science and it is thought that people will soon have an average life expectancy of 100 years or longer.
  2. Due to the development of science, people’s lifespans might be extended to 100 years or even longer.
  3. People may one day live to be 100 years old or more owing to the development of science.

Essay Question 2

Some people prefer online classes, while others think it is better to be in a traditional classroom. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Model Background Statements:

  1. While there are people who prefer to take part in online courses, others believe that traditional classroom teaching is by far superior.
  2. Online course are very popular with some people, however others still consider teacher led classrooms as the most effective way to learn.
  3. Although online courses are preferred by some people, there are others who firmly believe that learning should take place in a classroom face to face with a teacher.

Essay Question 3

Many people try to find a balance between their work and other aspects of their life. However, few actually achieve this. What solutions can you suggest?

Model Background Statements:

  1. It is a common problem that people struggle to find a healthy balance between their work and other areas of their life.
  2. Finding a balance between work and other areas of life can be a challenge that some people struggle with.
  3. While many people wish for a healthy work-life balance, few are able to realise this.

Essay Question 4

There has been an increase in the number of children and youngsters committing crime. What are the reasons for this and punishments should they receive?

Model Background Statements:

  1. The number of crimes involving children and adolescents has risen over recent years.
  2. Children and teenagers appear to be involved in an increasing number of crimes.
  3. It has been observed that juvenile crime is on the rise.

Tips for IELTS Background Statements

  1. Don’t write a very long background statement. It doesn’t help your score to do that and wastes valuable time.
  2. Try to write your background statement as one complex sentence. to do that, use a clause and correct linking.
  3. Don’t paraphrase unless you are 100% sure your word is perfect. Not all words can be changed in English. Be selective when you paraphrase. Paraphrasing is a skill about when to change something and also when NOT to change something.
  4. Don’t aim to impress – aim for accuracy instead.
  5. You don’t always need to start your background with “some people..”. See all the options above.
  6. You should not start your essay with overused expressions that are popular with low level English users, such as “In the modern era,” or “With the advent of modern technology..”
  7. Avoid learning expressions which you think will impress the examiner “A hot debate..” / “a burning question..” “a highly controversial issue..”. The examiner is trained to spot these learned expressions. They don’t help your score and show a lack if individuality in your language. You need to write each sentence in your own words, unique to yourself.

I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best


Model Answer to Sand Dunes Diagram

Hi guys,

I’ve posted a model answer for the Diagram about Sand Dune Formation on the original page. Click here: Sand Dune Diagram Model Answer & Tips

All the best


IELTS Sand Dunes Diagram Writing Task 1

The diagram below is an IELTS writing task 1 diagram about sand dune formation. This appeared in the IELTS test in December, 2018 (academic paper).

This diagram was particularly challenging because of the similarity in the three diagrams and the lack of words given. People were concerned about paraphrasing and repeating vocabulary. There is a link to download this in pdf below the diagram.

IELTS Diagram: Sand Dune Formation 2018

The diagram has not been published by IELTS, it was recreated by an IELTS candidate and also confirmed by another. This means it might vary from the actual diagram in the test but the essentials will be the same and it will still provide much needed practice with such diagrams.

Sand Dune Diagram Model Answer

The diagrams illustrate the formation of a sand dune from sand particles. Overall, the three stages of formation show that sand particles are driven by the wind over dry ground to gather on wet ground where they collect and create sand dunes.

The first diagram shows how sand particles are blown by the wind over the dry sandy ground and two areas of wet ground. This is then followed by the second diagram in which it can be seen that as particles of sand continue to be carried by the wind along the ground, some of the particles start to adhere to the first patch of wet ground in separate piles.

The sand particles which have been transported by the wind, as illustrated in the final diagram, eventually gather en masse over the area of wet ground, piling one on top of the other until they form a sand dune. The accumulation of so many sand particles is so large that the dunes, once formed, can deflect the wind, forcing it up one side of the dune and down the other. As this happens, particles of sand start gathering and piling up in the next area of wet ground.


  1. Your overview must be clear and contain all key features. It is the most important statement in your whole task.
  2. The overview contains key features and summarises the whole diagram into one statement. Take the keywords and create on long statement which explains the diagram.
  3. The overview can be put together with the introduction in one paragraph, but it still forms a statement on its own. Do not split your overview. You cannot have an overview and another general statement in a different part of the report. You need to collect all summarising statements together and write them as one overview.
  4. If you only state that there are three stages, this would be considered a limited overview which is a features of band 6 Task Achievement. You need to add more than just a number of stages.
  5. You only paraphrase where possible. Some words cannot be paraphrased, such as sand, dune, wind etc. Words such as “blown by the wind” = “transported by the wind” & “carried by the wind”. Choose which words you will and won’t paraphrase.
  6. You should be using a mixture of active and passive voice to describe a diagram or process.
  7. Even though there are three diagrams, does not mean you need three body paragraphs. Be flexible.
  8. The word count of this writing is 199. You do not need to write that much, but do make sure you write over 150 words.
  9. Use linking and sequencing words: overall, followed by, as illustrated, eventually, as this happens

I hope you found it useful to see this diagram, model answer and tips 🙂

All the best


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Good luck with your IELTS Test: Dec 1st


There are a lot of people taking their test tomorrow, December 1st. I want to wish you all lots of luck in your test !!  Also good luck to anyone sitting their test today !!  🙂

See my “On the Day Tips” which cover basic tips and also tips for listening, reading, writing and speaking. Click here: IELTS On the Day Tips

Good luck! 🙂 I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you all 🙂


Answers for Listening Diagram Mars Insight Probe

The answers are now available for this lesson.

Please go to the original page, to see the transcript, answers and useful vocab which have been posted under the diagram. Click here: IELTS Listening Diagram Exercise

I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best



IELTS Listening Diagrams Practice & Tips

Useful practice and tips for IELTS Listening Diagram Labelling Questions. IELTS listening diagrams can come in any section of the IELTS listening test. You will be presented with a visual diagram requiring you to either label parts of the diagram or complete notes in the diagram. It is important that you prepare for this type of IELTS listening question. Please note that the lessons below are not tests, they are practice lessons for IELTS listening diagrams.

Tips for IELTS Listening Diagram Labelling

  1. In your IELTS listening test, you can listen only once. There is no pause button.
  2. Different question types will have different instructions – pay attention to this! Word count!
  3. Read the questions carefully before listening. You will need to develop speed reading for this.
  4. Pay attention to keywords given in the diagram- they will help you find the answers.
  5. The information in the diagram will be presented in a logical order. Follow the order.
  6. Locate the question numbers on the diagram.
  7. The numbers will come in order in the listening test.
  8. Be ready for words to be paraphrased from the diagram.
  9. Note what kind of answer you are listening for: noun, verb, adj, number etc.
  10. When you check your answers for these lessons, always listen to the recording and read the transcript again for more practice.

IELTS Listening Practice: Mars Insight Probe

Read questions and review diagram before listening. Download pdf questions & diagram here: IELTS Listening Diagram Mars Probe

Questions 1 – 3

Complete the sentences using no more than one word and/or a number.

  1. The Insight probe will investigate Mars’ ………………
  2. The probe is currently situated near Mars’ …………..
  3. Scientists aim to learn about Mars’ composition from its core to its ………..

Questions 4 – 7

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

Diagram: Insight Lander

Source: Both diagram and article are from BBC NEWS

Answers & Transcript

Please click below to reveal vocabulary, transcript and answers:

  • plunge = dive, decent
  • vast = enormous
  • plain = large area of flat land without obstacles such as large rocks
  • core = centre
  • crust = hard outer layer of something
  • seismometer = an instrument that measures movement such as earthquakes
  • orbits = circles (vb)
  • pointers = clues
  • circular = round
  • deploy = move into position
Use the transcript below to check your answers, make a note of useful tips and paraphrases and also improve your pronunciation by listening to the recording and reading the transcript at the same time.

The US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars, otherwise known as the Red Planet. after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface.,  The Insight probe aims to study the world’s deep interior, and make it the only planet – apart from Earth – that has been examined in this way. Insight is now sitting on a vast, flat plain, close to the Red Planet’s equator. This will be the first probe to dedicate its investigations to understanding Mars’ interior. Scientists want to know how the world is constructed – from its core to its crust.

Looking at the functions of the Insight probe shown on the diagram, we can see that at the top there is a robotic arm which places instruments such as the seismometer on the planet’s surface. Attached to the arm is an instrument monitoring camera. On the main body of the probe there are sensors for both temperature and wind as well as a rise antenna. This measures the movement of Mars’ North Pole as it orbits the sun giving pointers about the iron-rich centre of the planet and hopefully more information about the composition and size of the planet’s core. On either side of the main body of the probe are two large circular solar panels which were deployed immediately on landing to operate its systems and warm equipment in the sub-zero temperatures on the planet . To delve deep into the ground and measure the planet’s temperature, there is a heat flow probe that will penetrate to a depth of 5m or 16ft.

Answers have been written using all capital letters – this is recommended for both reading and listening answers.

  3. CRUST
    1. It is not necessary to use a comma – punctuation is not required in IELTS listening answers. Although using a comma is still acceptable.
    2. Writing the word “and” would make the answer incorrect for two reasons: 1) there is a word limit of max two words 2) the word “and” is already given in the diagram and cannot be part of the answer.
    3. Both words are necessary for one point. There are no half points.
    1. You must have the “s” on panels or the answer will be marked wrong.
    2. You cannot write “circular solar panels” because that is three words and the limit is two words. Also the word “circular” is purely descriptive to help the reader identify the solar panels on the diagram – it is not a word that makes up the compound noun.
  7.   5   16
    1. You must have both numbers for one point. If one number is wrong, the whole answer is marked wrong.
    2. See above about using commas.
    3. You should not put “m” or “ft” or use brackets () with the numbers because that is already given on the diagram. Your task is to write down what is missing.
    4. Note that the instructions for questions 1-3 and the instructions for 4-7 are not the same. Please check them again about the limit for numbers written in answers.


All the best


For more listening lessons and tips, go to the RED BAR at the top of the website. You will also find practice lessons for labelling maps in IELTS listening.

Maps Topic in IELTS Speaking Part 1

I recently had someone ask me to post answers and vocabulary for the topic of MAPS in IELTS Speaking Part 1. It’s not a common topic to get but it is being used at the moment.

On this page, you will find:

  1. Questions for the topic of MAPS
  2. Model Answers for the topic of MAPS
  3. Information about the examiner interrupting your answers
  4. Useful link to more model answers.

Map Questions for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Below is a collection of questions about MAPS. The examiner will usually select between 3 or 4 questions to ask you for one topic. Part 1 usually contains about 3 topics.

  1. What kind of maps are available?
  2. Do you often use maps?
  3. Have you ever used a map to find a location?
  4. Do you prefer paper maps or electronic maps?
  5. Which is better, paper maps or e-maps?
  6. Why do some people prefer electronic maps?
  7. Did you ever use a map when you were a child?
  8. Did your school ever teach you how to use maps when you were younger?
  9. Do you ever ask anyone for directions?
  10. Would you ever use a map on holiday?

World Map

Street Map of Central London

Model Answers for MAPS Speaking Part 1

These model answers are actually quite long for speaking part 1, but I wanted to give you a chance to learn useful words and phrases. It is fine to prepare lots of ideas for part 1. The examiner will interrupt your answer when it’s time for the next question so always keep talking until that happens. See below about the examiner interrupting your answer.

What kind of maps are available?

There are quite a few, for example world maps that show all the countries in the world and their location. There are also maps for individual countries, road maps for main motorways in a country and street maps for the streets in a given city centre. Some maps show climates around the world or other particular information. It is possible to choose between paper maps or digital maps, such as Google Earth.

Note: The examiner is not testing your knowledge. Even if you don’t know many kinds of maps it doesn’t matter because you can showcase your English in other answers.

Do you often use maps?

I use them only when I’m going to a new place. Before any holiday, I use an online map beforehand just to see the exact location of the place I’m going to. I also check the street map to see how central my hotel is before I book it. If I’m driving anywhere new, I’ll check the map to find the quickest route and then have the map app on my phone visible throughout the drive so I don’t lose my way.

Why do some people prefer using e-maps?

Well, I guess it’s because they can be easily accessed by phone which means people will be carrying them anyway. Also you can zoom in to enlarged the map to see more detail with just a simple click, rather than rooting around to find a new paper map for the detail. Online maps also allow the user to access extra information about restaurants and hotels which is really useful.

Did schools ever teach you to use maps?

I can’t say that I learned a lot about maps, but we did spend some time looking at a world map and a map of our own country. We spent time labelling the major cities of our country on a blank map and filling in details such as population and shared borders with other countries. But we didn’t really learn how to read maps, such as road maps or street maps which is a shame.

The Examiner Interrupts my Answers

It is 100% normal that the examiner will interrupt your answer in speaking part 1. They are not being rude, it is just part of the testing system. Once they know that you can easily handle the question, they will interrupt you to move on and test you on another question. This way they are hearing a broader range of your English which is the only way to award a higher score.

This all means that you must keep talking until the examiner interrupts your answer. When that happens, don’t be surprised and just listen to the next question.

Useful Link

Below is a link to the main speaking page which contains tips, model answer, topics etc:

IELTS Speaking Tips Plus

If you want to learn about the other parts of the test, click on the RED BAR at the top of the website.

All the best