UK US Spelling Main Differences

There are key differences between UK and US spelling. In IELTS, you should not mix your spelling. You should choose either British English or American English spelling. This is not the case with accents in the speaking test. In the speaking test, mixed accents are fine.

British and American Spelling Differences

Below are the key differences in spelling between American English and British English writing. However, please note this is not a complete list.I have listed some of the main words that are commonly used in English and IELTS. The list below are organised as UK spelling first and US spelling second.

1) – ise / -ize

In British English spelling, some words end with -ise whereas they end with -ize in American English spelling.

  • realise / realize
  • sympathise / sympathize
  • organise / organize
  • specialise / specialize
  • authorise / authorize
  • criticise / criticize
  • recognise / recognize
  • characterise / characterize
  • standardise / standardize

Also note words ending -yse and -yze, such as analyse / analyze and paralyse / paralyze are spelled differently.

Please note there are exceptions. Nowadays, the following words are spelled the same in both UK and US spelling: surprise, exercise, prize, seize, advise, advertise. There may be other words, but these are the most common. 

3) -re / -er

  • centre / center
  • theatre / theater
  • litre / liter
  • metre / meter (this also applies to other measurements – km, cm, mm)
  • fibre / fiber

4) ller / ler

Note that British English words ending ller have a double “l” compared to the US spelling which is only one “l”.

  • traveller / traveler
  • levelled / leveled
  • cancelled / canceled
  • fuelled / fueled
  • jewellery / jewelry (jewelery)

This same rule applies to other forms of words such as travelled, travelling.

5) -l / -ll

Now we see the opposite rule to the one above. With UK spelling, some words have one “l”, while in US spelling they have two.

  • fulfil / fulfill
  • appal / appall 
  • skilful / skillfull
  • unskilful / unskillful
  • enrol / enroll
  • instil / instill

However, the rule above is limited. Most words are actually spelled the same in both UK and US English: successful, refill, harmful, resourceful, meaningful, thoughtful. 

6) -our / -or

  • colour / color
  • behaviour / behavior
  • favourite / favorite
  • honour / honor
  • flavour / flavor
  • neighbour / neighbor
  • humour / humor
  • labour / labor

Note the word “hour” is spelled the same.

7) -ogue / -og

  • dialogue / dialog
  • catalogue / catalog
  • travelogue / travelog

I hope you found this page useful 🙂 All the best, Liz


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IELTS Essay Questions for 2022

Below is a list of predicted IELTS Writing Task 2 essay topics for this year, 2022. As usual, these topics are based on common topics, current world issues and trending topics. Both GT and Academic candidates should prepare from the list below.

On this page, you will find:

  • List of types of essay questions
  • Essay Topics for 2022
  • Useful Links for lessons & tips

IELTS Essay Types in 2022

There are five types of essay questions in IELTS Writing Task 2. You will not know which type of essay you will be given. So, you must prepare for all types. When you read the 2022 Essay Topics list below, be ready for that topic to be phrased in different ways for different essay types. Be prepared to be flexible!!

  1. Opinion Essay – agree/disagree/ partial agreement
  2. Discussion Essay – discuss both sides
  3. Advantage / Disadvantage – includes outweigh essay
  4. Cause / Problem / Solution Essays
  5. Direct Question Essays – Positive . Negative Development / one question / two question / three question essays

Click here to learn how to spot which type of essay you have: IELTS Essay Types

IELTS Essay Topics for 2022

I’ve organised the predicted IELTS essay questions below and highlighted the topics I feel are more likely to appear. All topics in IELTS essays are current world issues and known society concerns. Our world today is mainly focused on health, work, technology, internet and other aspects of life.


  1. is art important
  2. what can children learn from art, drama etc
  3. is literature important to teach in schools
  4. should the government fund artists
  5. what people gain from live events
  6. should art be censored
  7. does art transcend the language barrier

Books & Reading

  1. e-books – pros and cons
  2. are libraries a thing of the past
  3. children reading story books in their free time
  4. adults reading children’s stories

Business & Money

  1. family run businesses – pros and cons
  2. should we save or spend
  3. should companies be responsible for their employees’ health
  4. why some people do not save
  5. should money management be taught in schools
  6. is dress code or uniforms important in a company
  7. why do some people get into debt
  8. spending money on unnecessary items / luxury goods
  9. supporting small local businesses
  10. buying local or foreign products
  11. relocating companies to the countryside away from city centers – pros and cons
  12. factors in business success
  13. is the layout of an office important

Character & People

  1. is leadership innate
  2. factors behind success
  3. are people more impatient than before
  4. are older people as respected as they should be
  5. people who follow fashion trends
  6. keeping up with the Joneses
  7. individuality or conformity in schools 
  8. why do some people struggle with change
  9. are people less respectful of the elderly nowadays
  10. are people becoming less formal

Crime & Punishment

  1. fixed punishment for a crime or should circumstances play a role in deciding punishment
  2. prisons – pros and cons
  3. stopping ex-convicts from re-offending
  4. how to reduce crime in society
  5. do some films encourage criminal behaviour
  6. should teenage offenders get the same punishment as adult offenders
  7. why people watch crime shows on TV
  8. online crimes
  9. is safety a personal or government responsibility


  1. are museums and art galleries important
  2. can children gain from visiting museums and galleries
  3. should the government support artists
  4. should schools prioritise science over the Arts
  5. importance of traditional clothes and music
  6. how tourism is changing local cultures
  7. how can the government / schools preserve traditional culture
  8. globalisation – will cultures be lost
  9. how has the internet affect culture around the world
  10. are public celebrations important for culture
  11. people spending a lot of money on weddings and celebrations
  12. do foreign films change local culture


  1. discipline in schools
  2. pros and cons of learning online
  3. is science and technology important to teach
  4. are university degrees more important than experience
  5. how can people learn soft skills, such as communication, personal skills etc
  6. homework for children – an aid to learning or too much pressure
  7. who influences children most – teachers or parents
  8. teaching good values – teachers or parents
  9. are children from poor backgrounds disadvantaged in education
  10. is history important to learn
  11. studying abroad
  12. children of different abilities should be taught separately
  13. home schooling pros and cons
  14. education in cities compared to rural areas
  15. how to make learning interesting for children
  16. all education should be free

Environment, Nature & Wildlife

  1. protecting trees/ endangered species – causes / problems / solutions
  2. how to educate people about environmental problems
  3. noise pollution / air pollution / water pollution – causes / solutions
  4. how to tackle littering
  5. importance of tackling climate change – causes, problems, solutions
  6. importance of spending time in nature
  7. are wild animals important
  8. testing consumer products on animals
  9. children having pets
  10. who should protect the environment: individuals or governments


  1. what is the generation gap and how can it be tackled
  2. can children benefit from a close relationship with their grandparents
  3. should women with children go to work
  4. are family roles changing within the family
  5. who should support elderly family members: family or government
  6. is it important for family members to spend time together
  7. why do some couples choose not to have children
  8. parents should give children the freedom to make their own mistakes


  1. is our food culture changing
  2. is it important to keep traditional meals
  3. why do people eat junk food if it is unhealthy
  4. should families eat together
  5. is animal welfare important to know about when buying meat in supermarkets
  6. what information would stop you buying a certain product
  7. what is a balanced diet
  8. why are some people vegetarian 


  1. should all health care be free – pros and cons
  2. is public health a personal responsibility or the responsibility of the government
  3. sugar as a cause of health problems
  4. problems with junk food
  5. importance of mental health
  6. tackling obesity in society / in children
  7. health problems connected to using screens
  8. how to encourage children to do more exercise
  9. why people take up meditation, yoga or taichi
  10. walking, cycling to work pros and cons
  11. funding prevention or treatments

Language & Communication

  1. are text messages / emails / video calls a good form of communication
  2. pros and cons of one global language
  3. how has the internet changed the way we communicate and socialise
  4. should children learn a foreign language at an early age
  5. is handwriting a thing of the past
  6. will snail mail one day disappear
  7. difficulties learning a foreign language


  1. are holidays important
  2. why is leisure time important
  3. are hobbies important
  4. spending time in nature
  5. children spending time playing together
  6. do people value leisure time more nowadays
  7. why do people watch so much TV in their free time
  8. Is watching TV a good leisure activity
  9. what leisure activities are best for children
  10. should children do homework or have fun in their leisure time

Media & The Internet

  1. social media and our image of beauty
  2. shopping online pros and cons
  3. how the internet has changed the way we work
  4. importance of accuracy in historical films
  5. does the internet make people feel more connected
  6. online streaming for films – pros and cons
  7. problems sharing personal information online
  8. reality TV stars
  9. what makes a film successful – stars, special effects or story
  10. meeting new people online
  11. how advertising influences people – billboards, internet pop ups, brand placement in films, social media
  12. celebrities as role models for children
  13. are newspapers a thing of the past now that news can be found online
  14. unreliable news or information online


  1. technology makes people lazy
  2. pros and cons of smart phones
  3. technology in the work place results in job losses
  4. technology and solving pollution / environmental problems
  5. technology, science and health
  6. government spending on space exploration or health care social services
  7. how has technology changed our lives / the way we work
  8. how has technology helped mankind


  1. pros and cons of a traffic free zone in city centers
  2. way to reduce pollution from cars
  3. should driving tests be obligatory every 5 years
  4. how to reduce traffic congestion in city centers
  5. pros and cons of plane travel
  6. how to ensure road safety
  7. should we all use electric cars
  8. people over 80 should not be allowed to drive


  1. experiencing foreign countries on TV rather than travelling there
  2. conforming to the culture of the country you are visiting
  3. pros and cons of tourism on the domestic economy
  4. adventure holidays
  5. tourism and environmental factors (including wildlife)
  6. pros and cons of taking holidays on your own country
  7. tourism and its impact on the country


  1. what children learn from team sports and individual sports
  2. should sports teach competition or cooperation
  3. should schools increase physical education lessons
  4. benefits of exercise, walking, cycling
  5. should sports stars be paid so much
  6. companies sponsor sports events and teams for advertising – pros and cons
  7. sports professionals earning high salaries compared to doctors or nurses
  8. why people do adventure sports
  9. importance of international sports competitions

World Issues & Social Issues

  1. how can homelessness be tackled
  2. should world issues be solved nationally or internationally
  3. closing the gap between rich and poor countries
  4. rich countries should support poor countries at any cost
  5. overpopulation – problems / solutions
  6. people are living longer – pros and cons
  7. should charities help people locally or nationally
  8. are charities important
  9. more people are raising money for charities – why, is this a good thing
  10. living in the countryside or city – pros and cons
  11. food wastage / increase in world food demand
  12. (affordable) housing shortage – solutions
  13. migration of workers from rural to urban areas
  14. taking care of the elderly – family or government responsibility
  15. lack of good education in under-developed countries


  1. pros and cons of working from home
  2. work-life balance
  3. pros and cons of being self-employed / working for a company
  4. bosses contacting people on their days off
  5. importance of holidays from work
  6. both parents working – how it impacts children
  7. is team working skills
  8. job satisfaction or salary
  9. working online pros and cons
  10. work-life balance
  11. pros and cons of technology / machines at work
  • Was this list useful to you?
  • Did you get one of these topics in your test?


Click below to access some useful lessons and tips for your IELTS essay

How to write an introduction

List of keywords for essay writing

How to use the last 5 mins in your writing test

How long should your essay be

All Free Writing Task 2 Lessons and Tips

How to write an IELTS Essay

Learn how to write a high band score IELTS essay step by step. You will find 15 key steps for a high score IELTS essay. These steps are for both GT and Academic Writing Task 2. After the steps listed below, you will find useful links that will help you learn more and develop the right skills necessary to be successful in IELTS.

Step by Step: How to tackle your IELTS essay

None of these steps below can be missed if you are aiming for a good score in your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay. Be strategic and focused in how you approach your IELTS essay. Failure to tackle the points below will result in a lower score. They are particularly important for candidates aiming for band 7 and above. For those candidates, you must fulfill the requirements of the higher band scores by following and mastering the steps below.

Step 1: Make sure you identify the type of essay you have been given. This essay is what I call a “Direct Questions” essay. There are two specific questions that you must answer. The first question is about cause. You must state the cause of this trend. The second question requires you to evaluate. This means you must present your opinion as to whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing. Click here to learn about the Types of IELTS Essays.

Step 2: Before you plan your essay, think about the structure. You have two questions and they are of equal weight. This means you will have two body paragraphs. Both body paragraphs will have equal length. Click here to learn about how many paragraphs in your essay.

Step 3: Identify the issues in the essay question. The essay question above is very simple. It is about computer games. However, some IELTS essay questions are more complex so you must take time to identify the issue or issues. 

Step 4: Brainstorm main ideas. When you brainstorm main ideas. it does not mean you will use all your ideas in your essay. First, brainstorm ideas and after that select the best ideas. To prepare ideas, see this list of common essay topics.

Step 5: Develop supporting points. This is the step that most people miss. Most people plan their main ideas and then start writing. Your main ideas are certainly important, but the supporting points are equally as important. And this is the area where most people easily go off topic. So, using your planning time to prepare your supporting points. Don’t start writing until you are clear about the whole content of your body paragraphs.

Step 6: Think about linking for body paragraphs and supporting points. Linking is another area that is often forgotten during the test. Linking and paragraphing is crucial. They are also both very very easy for you to score high points in. So, never overlook these two points. Plan your paragraphs and make sure you are using a good range of appropriate linking words. Here is a list of keywords.

Step 7: Don’t waste time on your introduction. It is a functional paragraph which usually contains just two sentences. The bulk of the marks are in the body paragraphs.

Step 8: Read the essay question again before you start each body paragraph. This will help you make sure you are using the right language to present your ideas. People think having good ideas is enough. It is NOT enough. You must think about how you will present them. So, read the essay question again and get your bearings.

Step 9: Use a range of grammar features. This is not just about tense. There are a whole range of features that you can use to show your grammatical prowess. 

    1. noun phrases
    2. gerund noun phrases
    3. noun clauses
    4. language of probability
    5. relative clauses
    6. conditional statements
    7. Referencing
    8. quantifiers and intensifiers
    9. comparatives & superlatives
    10. passive voice

To learn more about grammar in Writing Task 2 and to avoid errors, consider my Grammar E-book whcih will help you boost your grammar score and improve your English. Click here to see a Preview of my Grammar E-book. My Grammar E-book is available in my online store: Liz’s Online Store

Step 10: Avoid errors in grammar: articles, pronouns, uncountable nouns, word order, tenses, complex sentences. The more errors you have, the lower your score. Knowing the strength of your grammar will help you avoid errors. Aim for accuracy – do not aim to impress. 

Step 11: Vocabulary only counts for 25% of your marks. Too many candidates focus too heavily on this area. Use vocabulary appropriate for the topic. Don’t over use idiomatic language. Idioms are mostly informal, not formal, so go with phrasal verbs instead which are also idiomatic. Don’t use less common vocabulary if you might use it incorrectly. Errors will lower your score. Aim for accuracy. Spelling counts. There are some useful vocabulary lists on this page: IELTS Vocabulary.

Step 12: Paraphrasing is a language skill that you need to demonstrate. This doesn’t mean changing all words all the time. It means being selective about which words you change and which words you will leave and repeat. It is fine to repeat some words. Over paraphrasing is one reason why many people get a low score in vocabulary.

Step 13: Don’t aim for a long essay or a short essay. If it is too short, it means you haven’t developed your main ideas enough. If it is too long, it gives you room for more errors which will lower your score. Aim for between 270-290 words on the whole. Click here for a video lesson about essay length.

Step 14: Edit your essay. Leave 2 mins to edit your essay. Pay attention to not repeating linking words, checking spelling and spotting vocabulary errors. You might have other areas specific to your language skills that you want to check. Know your weaknesses.

Step 15: Look at the clock. Timing is everything. You must be very strict with timing so that you have enough time to finish your essay. You can start with task 2 if you want, but if you do, make sure you leave 20 mins for task 1. Use no less than 5 mins preparing your essay. Use no less than 2 mins to check your essay at the end. This leaves around 33 mins for you to write your whole essay. Practise this at home under exam conditions until you are able to do this.

Step 16: If you find my free lessons are not enough for you or if you want more in-depth training for essay writing, please get my Advanced Writing Task 2 lessons which are available in my online store. Click here: Liz’s Online Store

Other Useful Links

Hope you find this page useful. From Liz 🙂 


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IELTS Essays: Five Types of IELTS Essays

There are 5 types of IELTS essays which can appear in IELTS writing task 2. These types of essays are for both GT and Academic writing task 2. Below you will find sample essay questions for each type of essay and links to model answers.  Please note that IELTS teachers sometimes divide essays into different categories based on how they teach.

1) IELTS Opinion Essay

This type of essay is where you are presented with someone else’s opinion and you are asked if you agree or disagree with it. The opinion is often flawed or extreme in its views. Some teachers call this the Argumentative Essay. The instructions can be written in a number of ways. Below are a few examples:

  • To what extent do you agree?
  • Do you agree?
  • Do you agree or disagree?
  • What is your opinion?

No matter how the instructions are written, you can take any position you want: agree, disagree or partial agreement (balanced view). Below is an example essay question:

Opinion Essay Question: Some people think that only electric cars should be allowed on the road by 2040. Do you agree?

2) IELTS Discussion Essay

This type of essay presents you with a statement and you must present the two sides. This might be two sides of the same issue:

Some people think there should be free health care for all people, but others disagree. Discuss both sides.

Or it might be two separate issues which you need to discuss:

Some people think that urban spaces should be used for parks rather than for housing. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

3) IELTS Advantage Disadvantage Essays

There are two types of questions in this category.

i) Advantage and Disadvantage Essay

This is similar to a discussion essay where you are given a statement must present the positive and negative side of the issue:

Some people think it is good for students to take a gap year before going to university. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

ii) Outweigh Essay

This is by far the most difficult of the two essay types in this category. It requires you to present an opinion and explain your opinion.

Some people think the world will eventually have only one language. Do you think the advantages of having one global language outweigh the disadvantages?

4) IELTS Solution Essays

There are a number of types of possible questions in this category:

i) Solution Only

Some children have serious weight problems. What are the possible solutions?

ii) Cause Solution

Children in rural areas are being left behind in their academic development. Why is this is the case? What solutions can you suggest?

iii) Problem Solution

More and more people are moving to cities to look for work. What problems does this cause? What are the possible solutions?

5) Direct Questions Essays

Some teachers call these the Two Question Essay. However, these types of essay questions might contain one, two or three questions for you to answer. Below are some examples.

Pollution around the world is becoming a serious problem. Do you think this is a problem that should be solved internationally or on a local level?

In the question above, you are asked one specific question. Your whole essay must tackle this question only.

More and more people are choosing to work from home. Is this a positive or negative development?

This essay question has just one issue and one question. You must explain what type of development you think working from home is.

Some people spend a lot of money on weddings. Why do they do this? Do you think it is good to spend a lot of money on weddings?

Above, you will see you have been presented with two questions to answer: reasons and opinion (evaluating if it is good or not.) 

News editors decide what to print in newspapers and what to broadcast on TV. What factors do you think influence these decisions? Do we become used to bad news? Would it be better if more news was reported?

As you can see there are three questions to answer in this essay question. It is not common to get three questions. If you get three, just tackle them one at a time in a logical order.

Practice Essay Questions for IELTS

You can find over 100 essay questions to practice on this page: 100 IELTS Essay Questions. The questions are divided first into topics and then into essay types. This way you can get lots of practice before your actual test day.


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Can you Tell Lies in IELTS Speaking? Advice & Tips

Is it ok to lie in IELTS speaking? Is it ok to make up a story and tell the examiner? 

Many students ask me if they can tell lies in their IELTS test and if they will get a lower band score if they are found lying in their IELTS speaking test.

Is it possible to lie in IELTS Speaking?


Yes, you can lie. It won’t affect your score.

But it isn’t necessary. It’s better to tell the truth.

Telling the truth has advantages.

Why lying isn’t necessary in IELTS Speaking

  1. There is no reason to lie. Lying will not increase your score.
  2. If you don’t have a clear answer – just say so. You are marked on your ability to communicate in English, not on your knowledge or ideas for IELTS speaking. Below are some examples:
    • Q) What is your favourite museum?  
    • A) I don’t have one. I don’t have much interest in history or culture and I think the last time I went to one is when I was a child.
      • Comments: The above answer is excellent. It answers directly and explains more. I also uses both present simple and past simple grammar tenses.
    • Q) Do you like cooking?
    • A) No, actually I don’t. My mother has always cooked for me. To be honest, I find it incredibly tedious and a waste of my time, and anyway I’d rather use my time more productively.
      • Comments: This is a full answer which offers different grammar tenses and a range of language features.
  3. Lying requires imagination – it is better just to focus on your language rather than trying to be creative at the same time.
  4. When you say the truth, you usually have better intonation which will help your pronunciation score. Matching your meaning with your tone of voice is very important for your pronunciation score.
  5. It’s hard to add extra details when you lie. It requires too much effort to add all the extra details to a lie.
  6. Under exam pressure, it is hard to lie and create an answer at the same time. Sticking with the truth is easier. 

Adapting the Truth

Adapting the truth is easier than a huge creative lie.

If you are asked to talk about a book you recently read, instead you can talk about a book you read one year ago but say it was recent. It is a “white lie” but all details you will give will be truthful – this will make it easier for you to talk about. However, even in this situation, you can still tell the truth – see below:

  • I’d like to talk about a novel I read about a year ago. To be honest, I’ve been so busy during this last year with work that I haven’t had time to read any books. So, I’m going to tell you about one I remember very well from about one year ago. …..
    • Comments: This is a great start to your talk. There are quite a few different grammar tenses used already at the start of the talk. The answer also show that you can communicate clearly and easily in English by giving precise meaning to what you want to say. As long as you stick to the main topic “A book”, you can adapt it as you like. By explaining your choices for the topic, the examiner will be satisfied. It doesn’t affect your score to do this.

ID Check & Facts

Before the recording device is switched on, the examiner will ask you four questions to check your ID. Do NOT lie at this point. The information you provide must match the information given on your ID card.

Useful Links for IELTS Speaking

Click below to open:

Should I speak fast or slow?

Correcting yourself in IELTS Speaking

Tips about the ID check & Greeting

Speaking Topics from May-Aug 2020

All FREE Speaking Tips, Lessons & Model Answers


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Spot the Mistakes Grammar Practice Lesson

This lesson will test your grammar accuracy with ARTICLES (a / the ). Look at the sentences and decide which use of articles is correct. This is a great way to practise both grammar and proofreading skills.

Warning: The correct use of articles is not easy. Many people make mistakes with articles in their IELTS writing test which lowers their score. Give this exercise a try and see how you get on. My answers tomorrow will help you understand more.

Spot the Mistakes Exercise: Articles

Decide which options are correct.

  1. The reason for most first-time offenders committing crimes again, once they have been released from prison / the prison, is due to lack of / the lack of rehabilitation.
  2. Repeat offending is also owing to the difficult that people / the people with a criminal record have of finding employment / the employment.
  3. Ensuring that people serving prison sentence / a prison sentence learn useful skills will help them find jobs / the jobs when they are released.
  4. When offenders are released from prison / the prison and can find employment / the employment, it helps them reintegrate back into society / the society.
  5. Harsh prison sentences deter people / the people from considering crime / the crime.


Answers are now available for this lesson.


All the best,


Coming Soon – Grammar E-book

A Grammar E-book to take your English to a higher level and maximise your Writing Task 2 score.

Download Preview: Grammar E-book PREVIEW


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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing 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? What about using capital letters in the computer based IELTS test? Read below to learn about this.

Using Capital Letters for IELTS Answers: Rules & Advice

Below you will find advice for using capital letters for writing your answers in IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing.

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want. You can do this for the paper based test and the computer based test. It is completely up to you. There is no rule stating whether you should use capital or lower case.

  • 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 for the paper based test. This avoids any problems of markers struggling to read your handwriting. For the computer based test, it doesn’t matter. Both lower case and upper case will be easy to read. 

Transferring Answers in Listening & Reading

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet in the paper based test. 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. For the computer based test, you do not need to transfer answers. You only need to check what you have already put into the computer. For this reason, you will be given only 2 mins to check your answers after the recording ends.

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 clear writing for the paper based test. 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 would not recommend it because:

  1. 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.
  2. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when grammatically 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 should NEVER be used to start a sentence in formal writing. 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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How many Sentences for an Essay Introduction

IELTS Writing Task 2 Academic & GT Essay Introductions

Hi guys, here are model answer introductions and essential tips for Tuesdays lesson on writing task 2 introduction paragraphs. I hope you find this lesson useful 🙂

1) How long should the introduction be?

Most essays will require only two sentences for your introduction paragraph. You will need to write a background statement and a thesis statement. There is no need to write more. It won’t help your score to add more to the introduction. Your introduction should usually be between 40-60 words. Below are details of the content of an introduction paragraph.

2) Background statement:

This is the first sentence of your essay and it paraphrases the essay question. This is the way to introduce the issue or issues given to you by IELTS because that is what your essay is responding to. Paraphrasing is a way to avoid copying directly from the essay question by using your own sentence. For example:

Essay Question: The government should allocate more funding to teaching sciences than on other subjects so that the country can develop. Do you agree or disagree?

Background: It is often thought that in order for the country to progress more funding ought to be allocated to teaching sciences instead of other subjects.

As you can see above, the background statement contains exactly the same information but written differently. It is an easy sentence to write if you practice your paraphrasing skills. You can find a useful page on paraphrasing here: Paraphrasing Background Statements and examples of background statements here: Background Examples

3) Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement will introduce your answer or your opinion. It is the second and final statement needed in the introduction. It shows the reader the direction you plan to take in your essay. Furthermore, it is important that you write this carefully and clearly because it will impact both Task Response and also Coherence and Cohesion which together count for 50% of your marks.

The thesis does not need to be detailed. It is possible to split it into two sentences if you need more space, but mostly it will be one sentence only. For example:

Essay Question: The government should allocate more funding to teaching sciences than on other subjects so that the country can develop. Do you agree or disagree?

Thesis Statement Agree: I completely agree that focusing on science subjects at school is essential for a country’s future.

Thesis Statement Disagree: In my opinion, funding should not focus on the sciences but should rather be allocated to maths, technology and languages.

Thesis Statement Partial Agreement: While I agree that the sciences do need extra funding, this should not be at the expense of other subjects which are also crucial to a country’s development.

As you can see above, each thesis statement is simply written and presents a clear opinion. Do not try to create a complicated thesis statement. Your opinion and having a clear position is more important.

Short thesis statements

Yes, it is possible to write just a few words: “I completely agree with this position.” or “I strongly agree with this opinion.” However, I personally prefer to showcase more language skills with a slightly longer thesis statement as shown above.

Below you can see a full introduction for a one sided approach:

It is often thought that in order for the country to progress more funding ought to be allocated to teaching sciences instead of other subjects. In my opinion, funding should not focus on the sciences but should rather be allocated to maths, technology and languages.

4) Giving Your Opinion in IELTS Essays

Yes, you need to give your opinion if the instructions ask for it. Using the words “this essay” does not represent your own personal opinion. If you are asked for YOUR opinion, you need to use I or MY – failure to do this will result in a lower score. See this page for more details: How to give your opinion

5) More Writing Task 2 Tips

You can find more IELTS writing task 2 tips, model essays and lessons on this page: IELTS Writing Task 2 . All main sections of this website are access through the RED MENU BAR at the top of the site.

High Band Score Essay Techniques: Advanced Lessons

If you are struggling to hit band 7 or you need more help understanding how to write a high band score essay, get my Advanced Writing Task 2 lessons which you can find here: Liz’s Advanced Lessons.

You can also find a useful e-book about Ideas for Essay Topics. Containing over ideas for over 150 essay topics. Ideas are presented as vocabulary exercises to help you improve your range and accuracy in English.


6) How to Write an Introduction

Here is a useful video tutorial I made some time ago which helps you understand more about writing an introduction paragraph:



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