IELTS Common Mistakes

Common Mistakes focuses on mistakes test takers make in the IELTS test and how to avoid them. We have a printed book available at intermediate (target band 5.0–6.0) or advanced (target band 6.0–7.0).

Our authors study the Cambridge English Corpus to see how English is really used, and to identify typical learner mistakes. This means our materials will help you to avoid mistakes, and you can be confident that the language taught is useful, natural and fully up to date.

Are there any special times I should use the?

  • With countries or places where the name refers to a group of islands or states: the United States, the Middle East and the UK.

Common spelling errors:

  • Some words are spelled incorrectly because they are similar to another word:
   

to

I want to go to the park.

too

I wanted a computer but ended up with a printer too.

there

Your book is there.

their

Students must buy their books.

though

Several students chose Russian though they had never studied a language before.

through

The tour guide led the group through some areas of ancient rainforest.

Using apostrophes in contractions: (mostly used in informal writing or to represent spoken language)

that’s (= that is)
Anna’s (= Anna has)
we’ll (= we will)

Common spelling mistakes:

  • accommodation
  • environment
  • benefit
  • percentage
  • country
  • proportion
Common IELTS mistakes and how to avoid them – trying to do too much

If you’re taking the IELTS test soon and you’re feeling overwhelmed about everything you need to do, follow Greg’s top tip to help make everything feel more manageable.

You can also use our resource finder to help you find the best study materials for you.

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CommonMistakes
Common Mistakes students make when talking about appearance

What does 'appearance' mean? What a person looks like. What a thing looks like. Both A and B. The correct answer is C – the word appearance is used to talk about both a person’s looks and also the look of a thing. But how do we use them in context? Let’s take a look. Thing(s) Art can have a considerable effect on the appearance of public spaces. It’s amazing how a little paint can make a difference to the appearance of a room. Artificial ingredients are sometimes added to enhance the taste or appearance of food. Notice the collocation regarding things – the appearance of … Person Some people spend hours on their appearance. He caught sight of his appearance in the shop window. When you’re asked to describe someone’s appearance you would use vocabulary to describe their face, body, hair and clothes. More on this later. Appearance Vs Looks Have you heard the expression ‘good looks’ before? This is used to talk about how attractive a person is but does not include their clothes. Choose the correct word. 1. He got the acting job based on his good appearance/looks not his talent. 2. She’s a bit scruffy and doesn’t really pay attention to her appearance/looks.   The answers are: 1. He got the acting job based on his good looks not his talent. The correct answer is good looks as it is talking about how attractive a person is. 2. She’s a bit scruffy and doesn’t really pay attention to her appearance. The correct answer is appearance as the sentence is talking about everything about her including her clothes.   Here’s a worksheet that focuses on the vocabulary used to talk about a person’s appearance. How did you get on? Check your work against the model answer. In the IELTS Speaking test you may be asked to talk about a person. The vocabulary in this blog is designed to help you in answering a question like that. If you’re aiming for a band score of 6.5 and above in your Speaking test here’s a worksheet with some more advanced language on the same topic. A bit of fun Can you guess the idiom related to appearance? You can’t👨🏾‍⚖️ a 📖 by its cover. You can’t judge a book by its cover. This means you can’t know what someone is like by only looking at a person’s appearance. So true! But here is a book that you can judge from its cover. IELTS Common Mistakes for bands 6-7 is a book which looks at the real errors made by students in actual IELTS tests and explains how to avoid them. Hope you found this useful, Liz   Listen to my recent podcast episode, Emma and I discuss words students use incorrectly both in the classroom and in the IELTS test:

Liz Marqueiro

23 March, 2021

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CommonMistakes
Common Mistakes: Verbs about problems

Do you want to avoid making the same mistakes others have made in their IELTS test? I'm sure you do. This blog looks at common mistakes made by students when using verbs related to problems. fix prevent repair resolve solve Common Mistakes at IELTS Intermediate… and how to avoid them, is a book which looks at the real errors made by students in actual IELTS tests and explains how to avoid them. This blog is based on page 46 of the book. Match the verb on the left with the correct definition on the right. (Click to enlarge) Now check your answers here: (Click to enlarge) Now try this one. (Click to enlarge) The correct answer here is fix or repair. The car was not working and then it was put back into good, working condition. Now fill in the blanks with one of the suitable verbs: fix prevent repair resolve solve spend buy save It is important to teach young people how to save money as well as how to ______ it. We must take the necessary action to ______ this issue as quickly as possible. If we are to use nuclear power, we have to do everything we can to ______ a disaster. Winning a great deal of money can’t ______ all your problems. How much did you ______ on online games last year? We closed all the window to ______ the rain from coming in. I have to save a lot of money because I want to ______ a car next year. I can do most things but I can’t ______ broken electronic devices. Now check your answers to the above: (Click to enlarge) Hope you found this helpful! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

23 February, 2021

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CommonMistakes
Common Mistakes: Vocabulary about work

Do you know the difference between earning a salary and earning a wage? Do you know what skills you have and what knowledge you possess? If you're not sure about the differences then this blog is for you. Here we will focus on the common mistakes made with the language around money and work. Removing these common mistakes from your writing and speaking will increase your band score. money wages salary job work knowledge skills employer employee employment unemployment Common Mistakes at IELTS Intermediate… and how to avoid them, is a book which looks at the real errors made by students in actual IELTS tests and explains how to avoid them. Here is an exercise for you. Note down any sentence that is correct and underline the problem in a sentence that is not correct. (Click to enlarge) Here’s a glossary to help you. Money – is used in a more general sense. Wage – a particular amount of money that is paid, usually every week, to an employee, especially one who does work that needs physical skills or strength, rather than a job needing a college education. Salary – a fixed amount of money paid every year to an employee, usually paid monthly. Job – refers to the type of work you do. Work – is used in a more general sense. Skill – an ability to do an activity or job well, especially because you have practised it. Knowledge - understanding of a subject that you have studied over time. Employer – the person or organisation who gives someone a job. Employee – the person who does the job for the employer. Now check your answers here: Getting this vocabulary right will really help you increase your band score for vocabulary range and accuracy in both the Speaking and the Writing test. Here’s an example question for the IELTS Academic Writing, Task 2:   Listen to someone answering the above question. The language used to talk about the topic can also be used to write about that topic as it is quite formal language. Notice how the vocabulary above is used to answer the question.     More advanced language To help you get an even better band score for vocabulary, here’s an exercise which introduces more advanced phrases related to the world of work. Match the words and phrases (1–5) with the definition (a–e).   Now check your answers:   These phrases were adapted from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced. Check out the book for many more useful phrases on a wide range of IELTS topics. A bit of fun Here’s an idiom related to work:   I hope you’ve found these common mistakes and how to avoid them useful. I also hope the vocabulary will help you feel more confident in speaking and writing about the topic of work. Liz

Liz Marqueiro

12 February, 2021

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Episode 12: How to learn collocations for IELTS

In this episode, IELTS teachers Liz and Emma are talking about collocations. When learning vocabulary it’s important to not just learn individual words, but also the verb, adjective or preposition that it goes with. Learning collocations will help you to avoid common mistakes in your IELTS test helping you achieve a higher band score.


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Episode 11: Commonly confused words in IELTS

In this episode, IELTS teachers Liz and Emma are looking at words students use incorrectly both in the classroom and in the IELTS test. Being aware of these common mistakes will help you perform well in the IELTS test.


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Episode 10: Common mistakes to avoid in IELTS when using adjectives

In this episode, IELTS teachers Liz and Emma are focusing on adjectives and some of the common mistakes IELTS test takers make when using them.


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