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Listening

Train your ears by listening to English audio many times.


Listen, remember what you heard and say it many times even if you
dont understand the phrase. Repetition will give you more time to hear
it better, break the words, and make sense out of them. Rewind and
hear the phrase again
Follows the instructions properly (e.g., write no more 3 words; write
exactly 3 words). Prepositions and articles are counted as one word
When the tape starts playing, understand which group of questions
should be answered. Go over questions, read, and underline the
keywords. Dont look further other group of questions, it will make you
focus on listening
Answer the questions as you listen to the passage. Ignore the noises on
the recording and listen for the answers
Write any details on the margin (e.g., dates, places, phone numbers,
opening hours, years, etc.) if you dont know where to put them
If you missed the answer to one question, admit it and move to the next
one, otherwise you will loose it too
The answer is usually pronounced louder and clearer. If you cant hear
something clear (because of whispers or swallowing words), then
probably the answer is not there.
Aware of the synonym (e.g., must and have to)
Trap 1: unexpected turn the speaker says something and then
suddenly continuing to something different. The rule is the last word
counts
Trap 2: generalizations speaker gives a list of thing and then say
them all in one word (e.g., swimming, hiking, camping outdoor
activities)
Trap 3: explicit answer choices

Reading
15 minutes for 1st passage, 20 minutes for 2nd passage, and 25 minutes
for 3rd passage. Set 2 minutes after each passage to copy the answers to
answer sheet. If you didnt finish passage in time, move to next one
anyway. Dont forget about the answer sheet
Dont read the whole passage. The best thing is to scan quickly through
the text. Usually we dont need to read the whole paragraph a couple
of first sentences are enough
Write a map for each passage every paragraph in the passage has its
own main idea, which is different from the other paragraphs. Underline
the words in the paragraph that explain its main idea. You have just
created a map that will guide you through the search of the answer
Copy the examples style when filling the answers, aware of the words
limit, and one question for one answer
If any question takes you too much time give up. After you do all the
easy questions, you know more about the text, and then solving the
tricky questions might be easier.
1st paragraph contains the main idea and the authors opinion, last
paragraph summarizes the main points of the passage. Every paragraph
has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. If you want to understand
the paragraph quickly, it is enough to read only the introduction.
Use the map in case of matching task. Choose the heading that has the
most similar meaning to idea on your map.
True, False, Not Given dont over think it. It is true when the passage
says exactly the same thing, false when the passage says the opposite,
and not given in other case.
Dont assume you know the answer. You must stick to the facts as they
are written in the paragraph

Writing
If there are instructions that say you need to write about a number of
things do it, write every one of them to show the examiner that you
have read and understood the instructions

Speaking
IELTS Reading
1. Finding main ideas and matching the headings understand the
organization of paragraph
A. Deductive approach (topic sentence is at the end of each paragraph)
B. Inductive approach (topic sentence is at the beginning of each
paragraph)
C. De-inductive (topic sentence is both at the beginning and the end of
each paragraph with some paraphrasing)
2. Paraphrasing words
3. Association of words
Words in the paragraph are related and synonymous with each other, e.g..,
objection = critic, worry =complained
4. Opposing signal in paragraph
Making a sudden change in the meaning. KEYWORDS: however, despite,
although, nevertheless, on the other hand, in spite of, in contrast, but, in
fact.
5. Features of YES questions
A. Paraphrasing
Passage: People find it challenging to
Question: Having a good command of is hard
B. Synonymous of adjectives, adverbs, nouns
Passage: She gets hooked on the internet
Question: She is crazy about the internet
C. Part to whole relationship
Passage: His action, too thoughtless and impulsive, endangers his
chance of promotion
Question: He cant stand the opportunity to be upgraded in his job
results from his careless act
D. Logical inference
Passage: All people are equal to each other
Question: the black and the white are put on the equal footing
E. Summarizing
Passage: he owns three houses in three countries. Many women admire
him and are ready to be his wife. However, he does not want to tie the
knot, enjoying the freedom of his bachelor hood
Question: He is rich, admirable, but a free man
6. Features of NO questions
A. Contrasting information
Passage: He is handsome
Question: He is not good looking
B. Wrong information (purpose, scale, time, quantity, degree, name,
order)
Passage Questions
Purpo The aim of this survey is His survey aims at stating
se to show how unfair the the pervasive corruption in
justice system is the justice system
Scale This product is useful for Both the old and young
only infants and benefit from this product
teenagers
Time In the 1920s, this In 1931, America was
movement began to profoundly impacted by this
deeply influence America movement
Quant Quite a few people tend A sense of respect for his or
ity to have self-esteem herself is seen in several
people
Degre The girl that I saw I saw a fairly sexy girl
e yesterday was extremely
sexy
Name The man creating this The creator of this item was
item was Robert Lena
order First pour oil into the After pouring oil into
saucepan. Then put the saucepan, add some spices
sliced meat, lastly add to meat and then place the
some spices sliced meat

7. Features of NOT GIVEN questions


A. Totally new information
Passage: When the economy begins to recover, people are happy
Questions: When war happens, people are sad
B. Added information in form of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions
and verb phrases comparison and contrast
Passage: Her voice is beautiful
Question: Her voice is very beautiful
C. Whole to part relationship
Passage: Her strong personalities are decisiveness, enthusiasm, and
creativity
Question: She is enthusiastic, creative, assertive, cooperative
D. Replaced by a different word whose meaning does not contrast or is not
synonymous with words stated in the reading passage though this word
is a bit related to the words in the article
Passage: She criticizes him about his laziness
Question: She does not like him
IELTS Writing Task 1

Overall, I notice that there are 7 regions. Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America make up the
majority, with North America being the largest. Africa, India, Latin America and China make up a
very small proportion.

We can then include these things in an overview paragraph:

The pie chart is comprised of 7 regions in total with Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America
making up the vast majority of global wealth. North America has the single biggest share and
Africa, India, Latin America and China combined, only make up a small proportion.

As you can see, I have not talked about individual fractions or percentages, in fact I have not
supported any of my features with data. Instead, I have just reported what I can see visually, without
looking closely at the data. If you have to look at the data, then you probably wont write a good
overview.

How do I select the correct features?

To understand this we have to think about the different types of graphs and charts we might see.
There are generally two different kinds of charts and graphs: dynamic and static.

Dynamic charts show data over time and static charts show data at just one point in time. This will
affect the type of data we select.

Lets look at a dynamic chart:

As you can see, the graph is dynamic because it shows data over a period of time. We should
therefore look at the general trend over the time period.
First, we should look at what happened from the start (2011) to the end (2014). From the start to the
end both lines increased. Then we should look at any other general trends for each of the two lines.
We can see the blue line (women) goes up until 2013 and then does down a little. The green line
(men) goes up slightly and then has a very large increase between 2012 and 2014.

These are the most striking or most obvious things we can see when first looking at the graph and
these are perfect for our overview.

Lets put this information into a sentence:

Over the entire time period the number of men and women reading books increased. Women saw a
steady increase between 2011 and 2013 before declining in 2014, while men increased gradually at
first before rocketing up in the last two years.

When we are looking at dynamic graphs we should be looking out for:

What does the data do from the start to the finish?

Do they generally go up or down or do they fluctuate?

Any significant difference from the general trend?

Overall increase/decrease?

Peaks/lows?

No lets look at a static chart:


This chart is different from the last one because there are no dates to look at; it is data from just one
point in time. We can therefore not talk about general trends over time.

Instead we are more concerned about comparing the data between the different sources. In this case,
we will be comparing the data between countries.

The first thing I notice is that all countries are below 400k except two of them. Switzerland and
Australia are the biggest and Singapore and the U.K. are the smallest. Switzerland has almost
double the average. There isnt a significant amount of difference between the bottom 6 countries.

Lets try and turn the things Ive noticed above into an overview:

The graph compares eight countries with only a small amount of difference between the bottom 6.
Australia and Switzerland have the highest average wealth, with Switzerland averaging nearly
double the value of the two bottom countries.

When we look at static graphs we should be looking for:

What are the highest/lowest values?

What are the most noticeable differences?

Any similarities?
Any significant exceptions?

Is there any special grammar?

You should try and make a complex sentence by making a subordinate clause. Complex sentences
are sentences with more than one clause and they help increase our marks in the grammatical range
part of the marking criteria.

You can easily make a subordinate clause structure in the overview by joining two pieces of
information with the words while. although, with, even though, whereas or and. However,
make sure you know the meaning of these words and how they are correctly used in a sentence.

How does an overview fit into the rest of my essay?

The overview should be the second paragraph of a four paragraph structure:

Paragraph 1- Paraphrase Sentence

Paragraph 2- Overview

Paragraph 3- Details

Paragraph 4- Details

I tell my students to write the overview before the details because it makes it clear to the examiner
that you have identified the main features and it also helps you write the details paragraph. In the
details paragraphs you will simply take the statements you made in the overview and support them
with data.

Shouldnt I write a conclusion?

No. Conclusions are really a summary of what you think or opinions. This is not an opinion essay
and you therefore do not need to write a conclusion. Save your conclusions for task 2.

Example

Below is one final example following the structure I used above. I have highlighted the overview in
yellow.

Notice how I have picked out the most significant/noticeable/important features and talked about
them very generally in the overview. I have not used any data in the overview. However, I have
taken the features from the overview and supported them with data in paragraphs 3 and 4.
IELTS Writing Task 2

Planning the essay

Question Analysis

This is probably the most important stage. The number one problem most IELTS students have is
not answering the question properly. Did you know you cant get above a band score 5.0 if you
dont address all parts of the question?

Lets look at an example question:

One of the consequences of improved medical care is that the people are living longer and life
expectancy is increasing.

Do you think the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

The keywords here are improved medical care. This is our general topic. It is important to know
this, not for what we should write about but about what we shouldnt write about. A common
mistake is to highlight the main keywords, or main topic, and write about this very generally. If you
do this you have not answered the question.

We therefore need to think about things more specifically and look for what I call micro-keywords.
They are living longer and life expectancy is increasing. We therefore need to write about these
and how improved medical care has increased life expectancy. But we cant just write a general
essay about this, we must look at the instruction words next.

The instruction words are Do you think the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

In this example we will have to decide which side (advantages or disadvantages) is stronger. If you
choose advantages then you will have to say why these are much stronger than the advantages and
why the disadvantages are not so strong. If you just discuss the advantages you will not answer the
question correctly. We will also need to make our opinion about his very clear.

So in summary we must:

Find keywords (general topic)

Find micro-keywords (specific topic)

Find instruction words (how to answer question)

Idea Generation

Lots of teachers and books about IELTS advise students to brainstorm (thinking of as many ideas as
possible) at this stage. I dont think that brainstorming is very effective because it leads to irrelevant
ideas and wastes valuable time.
Instead of brainstorming we need to answer the questions directly. If one of your friends asked you
this question in a coffee shop, you would have no problem thinking of an answer, so do the same in
the exam. It helps to frame it within Why? questions.

So for the example above we could ask ourselves two questions:

Why are the advantages of increased life expectancy strong?


Why are disadvantages of increased life expectancy weak?
We can then simply think of one or two relevant ideas for each of these questions.

The advantages of increased life expectancy are strong because most people think it is good if their
friends and family dont die too quickly and everyone is happier.

The disadvantages are that there is more demand for food and resources but this a weak argument
because technology can solve these problems.

We now have two very relevant ideas and we can now move on to our next stage.

Structure

Next we need to put our ideas into a structure. This is very important because it helps us organise
our ideas in a coherent way, just like the examiner wants us to.

There are several different types of essay and each of them has a different structure.

For this essay our structure will look like this:

We can these fill in our ideas:

Paragraph 1- Introduction
Sentence 1- Paraphrase Sentence
Sentence 2- These Statement advantages outweigh disadvantages
Sentence 3- Outline Statement Advantages- happiness Disadvantages- technology
Paragraph 2- Why advantages are strong
Sentence 4- Topic Sentence happiness
Sentence 5- Explanation death causes unhappiness and longer lives lead to happiness
Sentence 6- Example Okinawa and Sardinia
Paragraph 3- Why disadvantage are weak
Sentence 7- Topic Sentence technology
Sentence 8- Explanation technology can solve any of the drawbacks
Sentence 9- Example GM crops and renewable energy
Paragraph 4- Conclusion
Sentence 1- Summary of main points

Now we have all our ideas and we can think of some vocabulary.
Vocabulary

Another common problem students have is repeating the same words, especially words from the
question, over and over again. This lowers our mark for vocabulary because it shows that we cant
think of synonyms. A solution to this problem is to identify words in the question that we might
need to use more than once in the question.

Lets look at the question again:

One of the consequences of improved medical care is that the people are living longer and life
expectancy is increasing.

Do you think the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

We can think of the following synonyms:

Improved medical care- enhanced medical treatment


Living longer- improved longevity
Life expectancy is increasing- the length of time people live is rising
Advantages- benefits
Disadvantages- drawbacks
Develop ideas for essay

5 Questions Method

This method uses who/what/why/where/how question words in order to generate ideas. This works
best for people who think very logically and also know a little bit about the topic already.

Lets look at an example:

In some countries, young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing
high school and starting university studies. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for
young people who decide to do this.

Why- to gain work experience, to experience life in different countries, to understand different
cultures, to make money before going to university, lazy, not mature.

Where- tourist destinations, developing countries, local business, internship in big company.

How- save money, permission from parents and university, apply for internship/job, travel to
inexpensive countries.

So as you can see, in a couple of minutes we have generated many ideas by asking ourselves just
three of the five questions. These ideas are much more than we need to complete the task, so always
remember to choose the ones you feel comfortable writing about after you generate your ideas.

5. Personal Opinion Method (or coffee shop method)

Personally, I think this is the most effective method because it is both the fastest and helps students
focus on the question.

The method is simple. I ask students to imagine they are sitting with their friend or family member
in a coffee shop and they ask your opinion. In an exam there is a lot of pressure on you and you
often find it difficult to think, but if you were in a relaxed environment with a friend you would
have no problem giving your opinion.

To think of more ideas you just imagine that your friend has the opposite feelings to you about the
topic and write their ideas down.

Lets look at the example below:

Your friend- Do you think its a good idea that young people take a year off between school and
university to work or travel?
You- Yes. Many young people are not mature enough to go to university at 18 and travelling or
working will help them mature. Working for a year could also allow them to save money and gain
valuable work experience. If they go travelling, they will get to experience different cultures.

So you see you have just thought about all the ideas you will need for this question. You can write
your ideas down (recommended) or just think about it for a minute.

This idea gives you a very clear idea about your opinion on the question and will help you stay
relevant and write a clear, coherent essay. Like any method it takes practice, so try it out with a few
past questions.
Opinion Questions (Agree or Disagree)

Typical Question Words

What is your opinion?

Do you agree or disagree?

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Example Question

Computers are being used more and more in education and so there will soon be no role for the
teacher in education.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Structure

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement (It is agreed/It is disagreed)

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence (This essay will discuss.)

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Concession

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Concession

Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Recommendation or Prediction

Example
It is argued that IT is playing an ever increasing role in schools and universities and one day
teachers will be obsolete. It is disagreed that technology will one day replace educators. This essay
will discuss, firstly the limitations of technology in education and secondly, the essential role
teachers play in maintaining discipline in the classroom, followed by a reasoned conclusion.

Technology may be able to help students with some things but it has many limitations. I.T. can not
educate people as effectively as real human beings because computers can not detect things such as
context, emotions and how an individual learns. A prime example is language learning, in which
teachers need to explain not only individual words but how these words work in different situations.
However, there may come a time in the very distant future when computers are able to carry out
these tasks.

Computers are also unable to ensure good classroom management. A computer may be able to
provide a student with lots of information, but it will not be able to motivate or discipline students
when they display unacceptable behaviour. For instance, unruly students could simply switch the
device off and do nothing for the rest of the class. Nevertheless, this may not be a problem for
highly motivated adult students.

In conclusion, it is not likely that electronic devices will replace teachers in the future because of
current limitations in technology and the requirement for teachers to maintain good behaviour in the
the classroom. It is predicted that computers will play an ever increasing role in the classroom but
will never fully replace humans.
Advantages and Disadvantages Questions

Typical Question Words

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Example Question

Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State One Advantage

Sentence 2- Expand/Explain Advantage

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Result

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State One Disadvantage

Sentence 2- Expand/Explain Advantage

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Result

Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Opinion

Example

It is argued that technology is playing an every increasing role in schools and universities. This
essay will firstly, discuss student freedom as one of the main advantages of this and secondly,
outline decreasing levels of face to face contact as one of the main disadvantages, followed by a
reasoned conclusion.
One of the principle advantages of an increase in the use electronic devices in education is the
autonomy it provides students. Students have the freedom to focus on whatever topic or subject they
want and study it in depth through the internet. A prime example of this is the amount of online
university courses available to students, covering a myriad of subjects, that up until recently were
unavailable to most learners. This has resulted in more people studying third level degrees than ever
before, at a pace and schedule that suits them.

The main disadvantage associated with increasing use of technology in education is the decrease in
face to face interaction between students. Students spend more time looking at computer screens by
themselves than interacting with each other. For instance, the recent explosion in smart phone use
has been at the expense of genuine human interaction. This results in soft skills, such as verbal
communication and empathy, being effected.

In conclusion, the benefits technology brings to education, such as student autonomy, must be
weighed against the drawbacks, such as negative effects on human interaction. Overall, the
educational benefits outweigh the disadvantages because human beings will always want human
contact and most people will not solely use IT for education.
Two Views and Opinion Question (Discussion Essay)

Typical Question Words

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

Example Question

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive
trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question and/or state both view points.

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State first viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss first viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State second viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss second viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- State which one is better or more important

Example

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is
often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead
to adverse ramifications. It is agreed that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and
teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view before coming to a reasoned conclusion.
It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before.
Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button.
It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime
example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge
quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human
interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this,
human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be
dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact
in ways that were never before possible.

While the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless
sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomena and not
allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the
importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.
Problem and Solution Questions

Typical Question Words

Problem and solution.

Cause and solution.

Example Question

Students are becoming more and more reliant on computers.

What are some of the problems associated with reliance on computers, and what are some of the
possible solutions?

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State Problem

Sentence 2- Explain problem

Sentence 3- Result

Sentence 4- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State Solution

Sentence 2- Explain Solution

Sentence 3- Example

Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Recommendation or Prediction

Example

Learners are becoming ever more dependent on technology, such as the internet and mobile devices.
This essay will discuss one of the main problems associated with dependence on computers and
suggest a viable solution, before coming to a reasoned conclusion.

The principal problem with over reliance on technology, such as tablets and computers, is
plagiarism. Students often use search engines to answer a question and simply copy the text from a
website, rather than thinking about the question. This practice is not only prohibited in schools and
universities, but also stunts a students intellectual development. For example, many teachers
complain that students copy web pages straight from Wikipedia word for word rather than giving a
reasoned answer to their questions.

A solution to this worrying problem is asking students to email their answers to teachers and
teachers using anti-plagiarism software to detect copying. Moreover, students would be made aware
of this practice and this would inspire them to answer questions using their own words, rather than
someone elses. For instance, many universities already use this kind software to scan course work
for plagiarism and it could be extended to include all homework, by learners in both secondary and
tertiary education.

In summary, one of the main problems with over-use of technology in education is plagiarism and
this can be solved through the use of plagiarism detection software. It is predicted that more and
more students will email their work to their teacher and this work will be scrutinised for
plagiarism.