IELTS blog by Pete Jones and sponsored by Analyse Academic Help

My IELTS blog is where I share IELTS tips, book reviews, common IELTS topics and more. If you like what you read, subscribe via email or RSS or try my free IELTS course.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 tasks

What different types of IELTS Speaking Part 2 tasks are there?

As you probably know, in IELTS Speaking Part 2 you are given a speaking topic on a task card and one minute to prepare before you have to talk about the topic for between one and two minutes.

What you may not know is that the IELTS Speaking Part 2 task could be to describe a past experience, something that you like or like doing, a person, a possession, a place or an event.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 task: a past experience

The most common type of IELTS Speaking Part 2 task is probably to describe a past experience, e.g. a restaurant or party you enjoyed going to.

Watch the video below to see a candidate, Alvin, describe a restaurant he enjoyed going to and then hear me talk about a common mistake that IELTS candidates make in this type of IELTS Speaking Part 2 task.

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Two of the most common IELTS Writing Task 2 topics in 2015

IELTS Writing Task 2 questions in 2015 have often been on the topic of school or university education

IELTS Writing Task 2 answer sheetAs you probably know, in IELTS Writing Task 2 (Academic and General Training), you have to write an essay of at least 250 words on a particular topic.

From what IELTS candidates have reported about their IELTS tests in 2015, two of the most common IELTS Writing Task 2 topics have been school and university education.

If you’re planning to take an IELTS test in 2015, it would be a good idea to look at the following examples of writing tasks on this topic, decide what ideas you would write about for each task, and focus on some vocabulary you may need to use in your writing.

Examples of IELTS Writing Task 2 questions from 2015

Here are some examples of IELTS General Training Writing Task 2 questions (reported by candidates in Australia, Bangladesh, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE in 2015) that focus on what children should be taught at school. Continue reading

How to save time in the IELTS Reading test

Three time-saving tips for the IELTS Reading test

When I ask candidates about the IELTS Reading test, a common answer I get is that there isn’t enough time to read all of the texts and answer all of the questions.

So, for those of you taking an IELTS test soon, here are three tips for saving time in the IELTS Reading test (Academic or General Training).

How to save time in the IELTS Reading testHave a plan before you start your test

If you know exactly how you’re going to approach the IELTS Reading test before you start, you won’t waste any time in the test thinking about what to do first, second, third, etc.

If you haven’t got a plan, here are some questions to help you make one and save time in the test: Continue reading

Are you one of the 2.2 million IELTS candidates who’ve taken the test in the last year?

IELTS candidate statistics show around US$440 million spent on IELTS tests per year

The latest IELTS statistics show that over 2.2 million IELTS tests are taken every year – a dramatic increase from the 43 000 IELTS tests taken twenty years ago in 1995.

If we take the average cost of the test as US$200, IELTS candidates spend around US$440 million on taking the test each year! (IELTS test fees vary from country to country – you can find out how much an IELTS test costs in your country here).

Are you one of the 2.2 million IELTS candidates who've taken the test in the last year? The latest IELTS statistics show that over 2.2 million IELTS tests are taken every year - a dramatic increase from the 43 000 IELTS tests taken twenty years ago in 1995. If we take the average cost of the test as US$200, IELTS candidates spend around US$440 million on taking the test each year! Although the infographic shows that the most common Academic band scores achieved by Arabic and Chinese speakers are 5.0 and 5.5 respectively, that's not the whole story: 15% of Arabic candidates and 29% of Chinese candidates achieve a band score 6.5 or higher! If you took one (or more) of the 2.2 million IELTS tests taken in the last year, why did you take the test? Did you take IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training? How did your scores compare to the averages in the infographic above? http://www.freeieltscourse.com/ielts-books-and-resources/ielts-candidate-statistics/

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IELTS Speaking Part 2 linking words and phrases

Use linking words and phrases in IELTS Speaking Part 2 and improve your band score

As you probably know, in IELTS Speaking Part 2 you have to talk about a topic for one to two minutes. What you may not know is that it’s important to use linking words and phrases (also called discourse markers) so that it’s easy for the examiner to follow what you’re saying.

Watch the video below to see me explain how an IELTS band score 5.5 candidate could use more linking words and phrases to get a higher band score.

In the first part of the video, the candidate, Kyuwon, talks about an IELTS Speaking Part 2 topic. In the second part, I explain what discourse markers Kyuwon needs to use to get a band score 6.0.

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Three common mistakes in IELTS Speaking

Why do you need to know common mistakes in IELTS Speaking?

One way to improve your IELTS Speaking band score is to make fewer mistakes with grammar and vocabulary, and the first step to doing this is to know what kinds of mistake you make.

As there’s a good chance that you make the same kinds of mistake that many other IELTS candidates make, it’s useful to know what the most common mistakes in IELTS Speaking are.

To help you do this, in my latest IELTS video I ask an IELTS candidate (May from China) some IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions and then talk about three common mistakes that she makes.

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IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions and answers from a band score 7 candidate

IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions

Have look at the following IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions from the book Cambridge IELTS 7 and think about how you would answer them. (You could use these topics to get some IELTS Speaking practice with some other IELTS candidates or English-speaking friends.)

Keeping in contact with people

  • How do you usually contact your friends?
  • Do you prefer to contact different people in different ways?
  • Do you find it easy to keep in contact with friends and family?

Laughing

  • What kinds of thing make you laugh?
  • Do you like making other people laugh?

Now, watch the video below to see an IELTS band score 7.0 candidate, Asaka, answer the same questions, and think about whether you could have answered the questions as easily as she does.

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IELTS Speaking band score 7 vocabulary

What vocabulary do you need to use to get an IELTS Speaking band score 7?

To show you have enough vocabulary to get a band score 7 in the IELTS Speaking test, there are particular types of vocabulary that you need to use.

These types of vocabulary are:

  • less common vocabulary (i.e. words or phrases that are not frequently used in everyday conversation)
  • idiomatic vocabulary (i.e. words or expressions that are natural for native speakers to use or that contain an idiom)

Watch the video below to see me explain how an IELTS band score 6.0 candidate could use some less common and idiomatic vocabulary to get a higher band score.

In the first part of the video, the candidate, Marie, answers some IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions. In the second part, I  explain what vocabulary Marie needs to use to get a band score 7.0.

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Do you need to write an overview in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1?

What happens if you don’t write an overview?

A question I often get asked from IELTS candidates is whether it is necessary to write an overview in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: a summary of information shown in a graph, chart, table or diagram (or more than one of these).

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
The chart above shows the different modes of transport used to travel to and from work in one European city in 1960, 1980 and 2000. (Source: the official IELTS website)

For those of you new to IELTS, an overview is a statement that summarises the main features shown, and it can come at the beginning of your summary after your introduction or at the end of your summary as a conclusion.

To answer the question of whether you need to write an overview, I’d like to show you what it says in the public version of the official IELTS descriptors for this writing task.

  • IELTS band score 7: “[Candidate] presents a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages”
  • IELTS band score 6: “[Candidate] presents an overview with information appropriately selected”

As you can see, you need to include an overview in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. If you don’t include an overview, you won’t be able to get a band score 6.0 or above for the content of your writing.

Here’s a sample answer for the chart above with the overview after the introduction: Continue reading

How not to write an introduction in IELTS Writing Task 2

An example of what you shouldn’t do when writing an introduction in IELTS Writing Task 2

Cambridge IELTS 8As you probably know, in IELTS Writing Task 2 you have to write an essay on a particular topic of at least 250 words. What I’d like to show you is what you shouldn’t do when writing your introduction, i.e. the first paragraph of your essay.

First, have a look at the following IELTS Writing Task 2 question and think about how you would introduce the topic.

IELTS Writing Task 2 (taken from the book Cambridge IELTS 8)

Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology.

In what ways has technology affected the types of relationships people make?

Has this become a positive or negative development?

Now read this introduction to the topic from a candidate’s essay and think about what the problem is. Continue reading