Top tips for describing maps in IELTS Writing Part 1
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Top tips for describing maps in IELTS Writing Part 1

When I was younger, I used to have a recurring dream: I would show up for an exam and fail terribly because I had studied geography but instead it was a history exam. It was extremely stressful. I would imagine that this is a similar feeling to what some of my students experience when they've been studying hard to discuss developments (increases and decreases) in Part 1 of the Writing test and instead they are faced with something like this on exam day:   As I’ve mentioned in some of my other blogs, each type of writing task steers you in the direction of a certain set of language. If you can demonstrate a good command of that language, you should achieve a satisfactory mark for the task. So today, I want to talk you through the key language to consider if you get a map like the one above in the IELTS test. 1. Establish what tense you should use in your answer. Look at the dates given on the map. In our example above, both dates given are in the past. One is earlier than the other. This shows us that our main tense should be the past simple, potentially with the opportunity to show the examiner that you can also handle the past perfect, but that  is optional for some bonus marks.  e.g. ‘There was a joint car park for staff and members of the public.’ Sometimes, maps are labelled something like ‘current layout’ and ‘planned changes’, which indicates that you should be using the present simple and future tenses.  e.g. ‘The main car park is currently located at the front. The plans indicate that it is going to be moved to the side of the building.’ Very occasionally, you get a comparison between a past year and the current year, in which case the best tense to use would be the present perfect; but as I said that is actually quite unusual. Having said that, we might assume that for example things haven’t changed much since 2010 and we could use the present perfect to show that the changes made in the past still affect the present. This would just be another way to impress the examiner.  e.g. ‘The car park has been moved to the side of the building.’ It’s even rarer to get one map with no date. In this case, you should use the present simple as we assume that the map depicts a permanent situation. Once you have established suitable tenses for describing the map, make sure you remember to proofread for tense accuracy at the end. 2. You will need a good grasp of active and passive forms to describe the changes that were made. e.g. ‘They built a new car park’ would not score you nearly as high as saying ‘a new car park was built’. In fact, I was trying to think of simple examples when I discussed tenses above, but I felt really unnatural and I had to use the passive form several times. 3. You will also need to be able to describe where things are located in relation to each other. e.g. ‘next to’ and ‘behind’ are accurate, but ‘adjacent’ and ‘to the rear of’, would probably score you higher marks. 4. Another type of language you should be able to demonstrate is the language of comparison. e.g. ‘the new car park arrangement provides considerably more parking space for staff and the public’. 5. Finally, whilst you are usually given key vocabulary in the task e.g. ‘roundabout’, you might want to study the vocabulary to do with construction and infrastructure (e.g. facilities, construct, demolish).  When we look back at the list of language items, we realise that, luckily, we don’t have to study a whole new set of language, as they are all vital in several other parts of the test. However, knowing what it is the examiner is looking for will make it much easier to stay in control of your answer and to do well in the test.  If you find this useful, look out for my upcoming blog on describing processes. Sophie 

Sophie Hodgson

27 October, 2020

Top tips for describing maps in IELTS Writing Part 1

Top tips for describing maps in IELTS Writing Part 1

When I was younger, I used to have a recurring dream: I would show up for an exam and fail terribly because I had studied geography but instead it was a history exam. It was extremely stressful.

I would imagine that this is a similar feeling to what some of my students experience when they've been studying hard to discuss developments (increases and decreases) in Part 1 of the Writing test and instead they are faced with something like this on exam day:

Map exercise IELTS Academic 13

 

As I’ve mentioned in some of my other blogs, each type of writing task steers you in the direction of a certain set of language. If you can demonstrate a good command of that language, you should achieve a satisfactory mark for the task. So today, I want to talk you through the key language to consider if you get a map like the one above in the IELTS test.

1. Establish what tense you should use in your answer. Look at the dates given on the map. In our example above, both dates given are in the past. One is earlier than the other. This shows us that our main tense should be the past simple, potentially with the opportunity to show the examiner that you can also handle the past perfect, but that  is optional for some bonus marks. 

e.g. ‘There was a joint car park for staff and members of the public.’

Sometimes, maps are labelled something like ‘current layout’ and ‘planned changes’, which indicates that you should be using the present simple and future tenses. 

e.g. ‘The main car park is currently located at the front. The plans indicate that it is going to be moved to the side of the building.’

Very occasionally, you get a comparison between a past year and the current year, in which case the best tense to use would be the present perfect; but as I said that is actually quite unusual. Having said that, we might assume that for example things haven’t changed much since 2010 and we could use the present perfect to show that the changes made in the past still affect the present. This would just be another way to impress the examiner. 

e.g. ‘The car park has been moved to the side of the building.’

It’s even rarer to get one map with no date. In this case, you should use the present simple as we assume that the map depicts a permanent situation.

Once you have established suitable tenses for describing the map, make sure you remember to proofread for tense accuracy at the end.

2. You will need a good grasp of active and passive forms to describe the changes that were made. e.g. ‘They built a new car park’ would not score you nearly as high as saying ‘a new car park was built’. In fact, I was trying to think of simple examples when I discussed tenses above, but I felt really unnatural and I had to use the passive form several times.

3. You will also need to be able to describe where things are located in relation to each other. e.g. ‘next to’ and ‘behind’ are accurate, but ‘adjacent’ and ‘to the rear of’, would probably score you higher marks.

4. Another type of language you should be able to demonstrate is the language of comparison. e.g. ‘the new car park arrangement provides considerably more parking space for staff and the public’.

5. Finally, whilst you are usually given key vocabulary in the task e.g. ‘roundabout’, you might want to study the vocabulary to do with construction and infrastructure (e.g. facilities, construct, demolish). 

When we look back at the list of language items, we realise that, luckily, we don’t have to study a whole new set of language, as they are all vital in several other parts of the test. However, knowing what it is the examiner is looking for will make it much easier to stay in control of your answer and to do well in the test. 

If you find this useful, look out for my upcoming blog on describing processes.

Sophie 

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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IELTS 15 Academic

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How to improve your vocabulary around personality
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How to improve your vocabulary around personality

There are many words in English to describe someone's personality – the type of person someone is because of how they behave, think and feel – and choosing the right ones can sometimes be tricky. But, if you get the opportunity in your IELTS Speaking test to talk about someone’s personality, it’s a chance to impress the examiner with how much vocabulary you know! So, complete the following three exercises and then see if you can use any of the vocabulary in the IELTS Speaking Part 2 topic at the end of this post.  Adjectives Look at the following adjectives (words used to describe nouns) and decide if any of them describe your personality:   If you’re not sure what some of these adjectives mean or how to pronounce them, you can use a dictionary to check and then come back and decide if they apply to you. Personalising vocabulary like this (i.e. connecting new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions) is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS, and it can be more effective than trying to memorise a list of vocabulary that you don’t relate to your own life. More adjectives Look at the following adjectives and decide if they usually describe positive qualities or negative qualities:   To check whether you have put the words into the correct category, use a dictionary and download this completed table and compare it to your answers. Putting vocabulary into categories like this based on their meaning requires a deeper level of thought than trying to memorise vocabulary from lists and will help you remember the vocabulary for longer.  Prefixes You may have noticed in the exercises above, or perhaps you knew already, that you can add a prefix to some adjectives to turn a positive quality into a negative one. For example, the prefix ‘im’ (meaning ‘not’) can be added to the word ‘patient’ to create the word ‘impatient’ (meaning ‘not patient’). Which prefix (im, in or un) is the correct one to use with the following adjectives to create words with the opposite meanings? considerate polite reliable You can check your answers at the end of this post. Word-building strategies like this can help you improve your vocabulary more quickly as you learn different ways to use new words! IELTS Speaking Part 2 Now, for a chance to use some of the vocabulary and to help you remember it, try the following: read the following IELTS Speaking Part 2 task from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced, give yourself one minute to think about what you want to say and make some notes,  and then talk about the topic for one to two minutes.    For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out my IELTS vocabulary posts on the topic of education, technology and energy. If you did all of the vocabulary exercises above and in my other posts, I’d use the adjective ‘diligent’ to describe your vocabulary learning.  Well done! Pete PS The answers to the prefixes question are: inconsiderate, impatient and unreliable.

Pete Jones

23 October, 2020

How to improve your vocabulary around personality

How to improve your vocabulary around personality

There are many words in English to describe someone's personality – the type of person someone is because of how they behave, think and feel – and choosing the right ones can sometimes be tricky.

But, if you get the opportunity in your IELTS Speaking test to talk about someone’s personality, it’s a chance to impress the examiner with how much vocabulary you know!

So, complete the following three exercises and then see if you can use any of the vocabulary in the IELTS Speaking Part 2 topic at the end of this post. 

Adjectives

Look at the following adjectives (words used to describe nouns) and decide if any of them describe your personality:

List of words for personality

 

If you’re not sure what some of these adjectives mean or how to pronounce them, you can use a dictionary to check and then come back and decide if they apply to you.

Personalising vocabulary like this (i.e. connecting new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions) is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS, and it can be more effective than trying to memorise a list of vocabulary that you don’t relate to your own life.

More adjectives

Look at the following adjectives and decide if they usually describe positive qualities or negative qualities:

Personality words in a table

 

To check whether you have put the words into the correct category, use a dictionary and download this completed table and compare it to your answers.

Putting vocabulary into categories like this based on their meaning requires a deeper level of thought than trying to memorise vocabulary from lists and will help you remember the vocabulary for longer. 

Prefixes

You may have noticed in the exercises above, or perhaps you knew already, that you can add a prefix to some adjectives to turn a positive quality into a negative one.

For example, the prefix ‘im’ (meaning ‘not’) can be added to the word ‘patient’ to create the word ‘impatient’ (meaning ‘not patient’).

Which prefix (im, in or un) is the correct one to use with the following adjectives to create words with the opposite meanings?

  • considerate
  • polite
  • reliable

You can check your answers at the end of this post.

Word-building strategies like this can help you improve your vocabulary more quickly as you learn different ways to use new words!

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Now, for a chance to use some of the vocabulary and to help you remember it, try the following:

  1. read the following IELTS Speaking Part 2 task from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced,
  2. give yourself one minute to think about what you want to say and make some notes,
  3.  and then talk about the topic for one to two minutes. 
Speaking Part 2 Task from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced

 

For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out my IELTS vocabulary posts on the topic of education, technology and energy.

If you did all of the vocabulary exercises above and in my other posts, I’d use the adjective ‘diligent’ to describe your vocabulary learning. 

Well done!

Pete

PS The answers to the prefixes question are: inconsiderate, impatient and unreliable.

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

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What is IELTS?
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What is IELTS?

If you are new to the world of IELTS it can all be a bit confusing. Today we will try to answer some of your questions.     Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read What is IELTS?     What is IELTS? IELTS is the International English Language Testing System. It measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. It may be required by immigration authorities as part of the application process.   Which IELTS test should I take? Academic or General Training? IELTS is available in two versions; Academic and General Training. Always check which IELTS test the organisation you are applying to requires so that you don’t waste time and money preparing for/taking the wrong test. Here is a quick overview of the different tests. IELTS Academic is for those applying for higher education. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training. Thousands of education and training providers all over the world use IELTS results to select their students. You can find out which institutions accept IELTS scores on the IELTS website. IELTS Academic may also be a requirement for those applying for professional registration. Many professional registration bodies and employers rely on IELTS as evidence of English language proficiency. IELTS General Training is for those applying for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking environment. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test focuses on basic survival skills in a wide variety of social and workplace contexts.  What does IELTS assess? Both versions of IELTS assess the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates take the same Speaking and Listening tests but the Reading and Writing sections are different.  Double-check which IELTS test you need to take, the Reading and Writing sections are different! How long is the IELTS Test? The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. You will take the first three parts on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held on either the same day or seven days before or two days after, depending on your local test centre arrangements. The IELTS Speaking test is a face-to-face test with an official IELTS examiner, you take the test by yourself.  How can I prepare for IELTS? We Love IELTS has preparation resources to help you achieve IELTS success, whether you are a first-time test taker or resitting the test. You may want to take a practice test to get an understanding of your current level and your strengths and weaknesses. This will also give you more information on the format of the test. You can find practice tests and materials on our website. If you are not sure which book or resource is best for you then let our Resource Finder guide you. Remember that everyone is different, learns differently and learns at a different pace so don’t put pressure on yourself to prepare in a short period of time. How long will it take me to prepare for IELTS? The length of time it takes to prepare for IELTS depends upon your level of English language proficiency and your target band score. If your English level is already at the standard needed, then you may simply need to learn about the IELTS test format and ensure that you have the exam skills needed. On the other hand, you may find that you need to work on improving your general English before you start working on IELTS specific exam skills, this can take longer.   How is IELTS marked? IELTS is not a pass/fail exam. It is a test to check the level of your English, IELTS is marked using a 9-band scoring system. A score of 1 shows a non-user all the way to a 9 which shows an expert user.  You can also get .5 scores for example 7.5.  You will receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking, and an overall band score which is the average score of all the skills. You can find out more about how IELTS is scored on ielts.org.  Qualified examiners mark your work using a fixed set of criteria. Examiners must go through extensive training to become qualified to mark test papers. Your work will be marked by more than one examiner to ensure that marks are consistent and fair no matter where you sit your IELTS test.  What’s the difference between the paper or computer IELTS? The paper-based test requires test takers to sit at a desk with the question and answer sheets for the Reading, Listening and Writing tests in an official IELTS test centre. Test takers will write their answers in either pen or HB-pencil. The Speaking test is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. The computer-delivered test requires test takers to sit the Reading, Listening and Writing tests in front of a computer with the questions presented on the screen in an official IELTS test centre. The test takers then submit their answers through the computer. The Speaking test is not on computer and is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. You can find out where computer- delivered IELTS is currently available at: ielts.org.  Get lots of writing practice before the test - you need to build your stamina and ensure your handwriting can be read. If you are taking computer-delivered IELTS make sure you can type quickly and accurately, there is no spell check and typos will be considered spelling errors. I hope i’ve answered some of your questions today. There’s lots of information on the IELTS test on the rest of the website. Good luck with your preparation and remember, we are here to help.  Subscribe to our newsletter to get IELTS activities in your inbox and follow us on social. If you have questions that we haven’t answered here, why not try our FAQs page or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram.  Good luck with your IELTS preparation.  Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

13 October, 2020

What is IELTS?

What is IELTS?

If you are new to the world of IELTS it can all be a bit confusing. Today we will try to answer some of your questions. 

 

Listening Icon Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read What is IELTS?

 

 

What is IELTS?

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System. It measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. It may be required by immigration authorities as part of the application process.  

Which IELTS test should I take? Academic or General Training?

IELTS is available in two versions; Academic and General Training. Always check which IELTS test the organisation you are applying to requires so that you don’t waste time and money preparing for/taking the wrong test. Here is a quick overview of the different tests.

  • IELTS Academic is for those applying for higher education. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training. Thousands of education and training providers all over the world use IELTS results to select their students. You can find out which institutions accept IELTS scores on the IELTS website.
  • IELTS Academic may also be a requirement for those applying for professional registration. Many professional registration bodies and employers rely on IELTS as evidence of English language proficiency.
  • IELTS General Training is for those applying for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking environment. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test focuses on basic survival skills in a wide variety of social and workplace contexts. 

What does IELTS assess?

Both versions of IELTS assess the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates take the same Speaking and Listening tests but the Reading and Writing sections are different. 

top-tip

Double-check which IELTS test you need to take, the Reading and Writing sections are different!

How long is the IELTS Test?

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. You will take the first three parts on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held on either the same day or seven days before or two days after, depending on your local test centre arrangements. The IELTS Speaking test is a face-to-face test with an official IELTS examiner, you take the test by yourself. 

How can I prepare for IELTS?

We Love IELTS has preparation resources to help you achieve IELTS success, whether you are a first-time test taker or resitting the test. You may want to take a practice test to get an understanding of your current level and your strengths and weaknesses. This will also give you more information on the format of the test. You can find practice tests and materials on our website. If you are not sure which book or resource is best for you then let our Resource Finder guide you.

top-tip

Remember that everyone is different, learns differently and learns at a different pace so don’t put pressure on yourself to prepare in a short period of time.

How long will it take me to prepare for IELTS?

The length of time it takes to prepare for IELTS depends upon your level of English language proficiency and your target band score. If your English level is already at the standard needed, then you may simply need to learn about the IELTS test format and ensure that you have the exam skills needed. On the other hand, you may find that you need to work on improving your general English before you start working on IELTS specific exam skills, this can take longer.  

How is IELTS marked?

IELTS is not a pass/fail exam. It is a test to check the level of your English, IELTS is marked using a 9-band scoring system. A score of 1 shows a non-user all the way to a 9 which shows an expert user.  You can also get .5 scores for example 7.5. 

You will receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking, and an overall band score which is the average score of all the skills. You can find out more about how IELTS is scored on ielts.org

Qualified examiners mark your work using a fixed set of criteria. Examiners must go through extensive training to become qualified to mark test papers. Your work will be marked by more than one examiner to ensure that marks are consistent and fair no matter where you sit your IELTS test. 

What’s the difference between the paper or computer IELTS?

The paper-based test requires test takers to sit at a desk with the question and answer sheets for the Reading, Listening and Writing tests in an official IELTS test centre. Test takers will write their answers in either pen or HB-pencil. The Speaking test is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner.

The computer-delivered test requires test takers to sit the Reading, Listening and Writing tests in front of a computer with the questions presented on the screen in an official IELTS test centre. The test takers then submit their answers through the computer. The Speaking test is not on computer and is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. You can find out where computer- delivered IELTS is currently available at: ielts.org

top-tip

Get lots of writing practice before the test - you need to build your stamina and ensure your handwriting can be read. If you are taking computer-delivered IELTS make sure you can type quickly and accurately, there is no spell check and typos will be considered spelling errors.

I hope i’ve answered some of your questions today. There’s lots of information on the IELTS test on the rest of the website. Good luck with your preparation and remember, we are here to help. 

Subscribe to our newsletter to get IELTS activities in your inbox and follow us on social.

If you have questions that we haven’t answered here, why not try our FAQs page or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram. 

Good luck with your IELTS preparation. 

Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

More about the author

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Developing your English for university after IELTS General Training
TopTips
Developing your English for work after IELTS General Training

One of my former students has become a good friend of mine. Many years ago, he hired me as a private tutor to work with him towards the General Training version of the IELTS test. He needed the test to apply for a visa to Australia in order to start a job as a carpenter. I still remember that in one of the first messages they sent from Australia they talked about how kind and helpful everybody was, but how unprepared he felt for so many elements of life there. How at work he still had to use his hands a lot to communicate with his colleagues, how difficult it was to make real friends, and how simple tasks like making a phone call posed a real problem. A few months after that, I had another email and I was astonished at how much better my friend’s English had become and how much more comfortable he was at expressing himself. He told me that now he really understood how everything he learned had an immediate application, it was much easier to remember language and he was much more motivated to invest time in developing his language skills. When I asked him what he would do differently about preparing for the test he said that he would make it more about himself and that he would look beyond the test itself to understand how everything he studied would help him in real life.  As a non-native speaker of English myself, I couldn’t agree more! As I put it in a recent blog for test-takers preparing for the Academic version of the test: Think of the IELTS test as an airport to your real destination. While it’s important to make sure you have your ticket, passport, vaccinations, visa, and anything else you need to get through the controls, you’ll also want to know what to do at the other end of your journey. Here are some of my top tips: 1. Start by looking at your future life in your own language Find out as much as you can about the place you want to live in, what kind of things people do there, what kind of things you think you might enjoy doing there yourself. Find out what local delicacies the region is famous for, find out what sports people play, a little bit about the history of the place. Start making it real for you, because if you know that you will be living in a ‘mountainous’ region, it will be so much easier to remember the word. 2. For your reading in English, find a text that’s relevant to your future life where a reliable translation exists Read the text first in your own language and then in English. You’ll be surprised how much easier vocabulary and ideas fall into place and because they are relevant to who you are, or who you want to be, things will be much easier to memorise. 3. Prepare specifically for your future job or occupation For example, if you want to work in a restaurant, study everything from the furniture (e.g. barstool) to the names of vegetables (e.g. brussels sprouts). This may not feel immediately relevant for the test, but by thinking about how you would talk about these things, you will increase your fluency and confidence.  4. Study vocabulary that means something to you For example, if you’re a big football fan, make sure you can follow English football commentary on TV, or if you have children, consider how you would talk about them to other parents. (Look up the word ‘tantrum’ you’ll probably need it!) 5. Start researching the kind of communities you will be joining My friend, for example, always wanted to learn to play cricket but it took him quite some time to find a team when he arrived in Australia. Now, he does a lot of socialising with his cricket teammates, something that would’ve been really helpful on arriving in the country. His wife, on the other hand, started volunteering at a local animal shelter straight away because she had already been in touch with them before leaving their home country. And she found it much easier to settle in and make friends. 6. Spend some time considering the kinds of language activities you will need to engage in including business phone conversations or registering your child for childcare.  Looking beyond the test to your future life will make it much easier to understand how the things you study for the IELTS test can be used in real life. This will not only help your motivation, but also your language retention. It’s also important to remember that in language learning nothing is ever wasted. Even if you don’t always get to use everything in the test, you will, sooner or later need it for what really matters. Good luck on your journey! Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

9 October, 2020

Developing your English for work after IELTS General Training

Developing your English for university after IELTS General Training

One of my former students has become a good friend of mine. Many years ago, he hired me as a private tutor to work with him towards the General Training version of the IELTS test. He needed the test to apply for a visa to Australia in order to start a job as a carpenter.

I still remember that in one of the first messages they sent from Australia they talked about how kind and helpful everybody was, but how unprepared he felt for so many elements of life there. How at work he still had to use his hands a lot to communicate with his colleagues, how difficult it was to make real friends, and how simple tasks like making a phone call posed a real problem.

A few months after that, I had another email and I was astonished at how much better my friend’s English had become and how much more comfortable he was at expressing himself. He told me that now he really understood how everything he learned had an immediate application, it was much easier to remember language and he was much more motivated to invest time in developing his language skills. When I asked him what he would do differently about preparing for the test he said that he would make it more about himself and that he would look beyond the test itself to understand how everything he studied would help him in real life. 

As a non-native speaker of English myself, I couldn’t agree more! As I put it in a recent blog for test-takers preparing for the Academic version of the test: Think of the IELTS test as an airport to your real destination. While it’s important to make sure you have your ticket, passport, vaccinations, visa, and anything else you need to get through the controls, you’ll also want to know what to do at the other end of your journey.

Here are some of my top tips:

1. Start by looking at your future life in your own language

Find out as much as you can about the place you want to live in, what kind of things people do there, what kind of things you think you might enjoy doing there yourself. Find out what local delicacies the region is famous for, find out what sports people play, a little bit about the history of the place. Start making it real for you, because if you know that you will be living in a ‘mountainous’ region, it will be so much easier to remember the word.

2. For your reading in English, find a text that’s relevant to your future life where a reliable translation exists

Read the text first in your own language and then in English. You’ll be surprised how much easier vocabulary and ideas fall into place and because they are relevant to who you are, or who you want to be, things will be much easier to memorise.

3. Prepare specifically for your future job or occupation

For example, if you want to work in a restaurant, study everything from the furniture (e.g. barstool) to the names of vegetables (e.g. brussels sprouts). This may not feel immediately relevant for the test, but by thinking about how you would talk about these things, you will increase your fluency and confidence. 

4. Study vocabulary that means something to you

For example, if you’re a big football fan, make sure you can follow English football commentary on TV, or if you have children, consider how you would talk about them to other parents. (Look up the word ‘tantrum’ you’ll probably need it!)

5. Start researching the kind of communities you will be joining

My friend, for example, always wanted to learn to play cricket but it took him quite some time to find a team when he arrived in Australia. Now, he does a lot of socialising with his cricket teammates, something that would’ve been really helpful on arriving in the country. His wife, on the other hand, started volunteering at a local animal shelter straight away because she had already been in touch with them before leaving their home country. And she found it much easier to settle in and make friends.

6. Spend some time considering the kinds of language activities you will need to engage in including business phone conversations or registering your child for childcare. 

Looking beyond the test to your future life will make it much easier to understand how the things you study for the IELTS test can be used in real life. This will not only help your motivation, but also your language retention. It’s also important to remember that in language learning nothing is ever wasted. Even if you don’t always get to use everything in the test, you will, sooner or later need it for what really matters.

Good luck on your journey!
Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

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Recommended For You

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Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

How to improve your vocabulary around energy
TopTips
How to improve your vocabulary around energy

How electricity is produced may not be something you think about every day, but it's definitely a topic you should learn more vocabulary on for your IELTS test. I can think of many examples where it would help you get a higher band score if you know and use words connected to the topic of energy. This IELTS Writing Task 2 question from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced is just one example: (Click to enlarge) So, to get started, complete the following two vocabulary exercises on the topic of energy, and then practise using some of the words/phrases by answering the Writing Task 2 question above. Types of power Which of the following types of power are used in your country to produce electricity? Which do you think are a good idea? nuclear, wave, wind, solar, hydroelectric If you’re not sure what some of the types of power are or how to pronounce them, you can use a dictionary to check and then come back to think about your answers to these two questions. Personalising vocabulary like this (i.e. connecting new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions) is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS, and it can be more effective than trying to memorise a list of vocabulary that you don’t relate to your own life. And remember, when you learn new words, it’s important to learn how these words are used with other words, and you’ll see one way to do this in the next exercise. Alternative energy There are different definitions of alternative energy. All of them include renewable resources such as the sun and the wind, while some also include nuclear power because it’s an alternative to fossils fuels (gas, coal and oil). Learn how to use this vocabulary by listening to the following conversation between two students, noting which types of power they think are a good idea, and then completing the vocabulary exercise below.     To check how much you understood before completing the vocabulary exercise, download the recording script and compare it to your notes. (I’ve included the two types of power the students think are a good idea at the end of this post). Now, listen to (or read and listen to) the conversation again, and notice which of the types of power from the previous section are used with the following words:    ______ / ______ farms ______ dams ______ turbines ______ power a ______ power plant   And for another useful combination of words, notice which word meaning ‘to produce’ is used with the word ‘electricity’:   _______ electricity   You can check the answers at the end of this post. Noticing which words are used together in texts and audio recordings is one way to improve your vocabulary, and it can also help you use words more fluently when speaking and writing and process words more quickly when reading or listening. For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out the book Vocabulary for IELTS or Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced, and subscribe to the We Love IELTS newsletter so that you find out when the next post in my vocabulary for IELTS series is published. Don’t forget to practise using this vocabulary by answering the Writing Task 2 question at the beginning of this post. Pete PS The two types of power the students think are a good idea are solar power and wave power. PPS The answers to the vocabulary exercise are: solar farms, wind farms, hydroelectric dams, wind turbines, solar power, a nuclear power plant, generate electricity.

Pete Jones

11 September, 2020

How to improve your vocabulary around energy

How to improve your vocabulary around energy

How electricity is produced may not be something you think about every day, but it's definitely a topic you should learn more vocabulary on for your IELTS test.

I can think of many examples where it would help you get a higher band score if you know and use words connected to the topic of energy.

This IELTS Writing Task 2 question from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced is just one example:

Writing Task 2 question from Page 89, Unit 16, Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced.

(Click to enlarge)

So, to get started, complete the following two vocabulary exercises on the topic of energy, and then practise using some of the words/phrases by answering the Writing Task 2 question above.

Types of power

Which of the following types of power are used in your country to produce electricity? Which do you think are a good idea?

  • nuclear, wave, wind, solar, hydroelectric

If you’re not sure what some of the types of power are or how to pronounce them, you can use a dictionary to check and then come back to think about your answers to these two questions.

Personalising vocabulary like this (i.e. connecting new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions) is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS, and it can be more effective than trying to memorise a list of vocabulary that you don’t relate to your own life.

And remember, when you learn new words, it’s important to learn how these words are used with other words, and you’ll see one way to do this in the next exercise.

Alternative energy

There are different definitions of alternative energy. All of them include renewable resources such as the sun and the wind, while some also include nuclear power because it’s an alternative to fossils fuels (gas, coal and oil).

Learn how to use this vocabulary by listening to the following conversation between two students, noting which types of power they think are a good idea, and then completing the vocabulary exercise below.

 

 

To check how much you understood before completing the vocabulary exercise, download the recording script and compare it to your notes. (I’ve included the two types of power the students think are a good idea at the end of this post).

Now, listen to (or read and listen to) the conversation again, and notice which of the types of power from the previous section are used with the following words: 

 

  • ______ / ______ farms
  • ______ dams
  • ______ turbines
  • ______ power
  • a ______ power plant

 

And for another useful combination of words, notice which word meaning ‘to produce’ is used with the word ‘electricity’:

 

  • _______ electricity

 

You can check the answers at the end of this post.

Noticing which words are used together in texts and audio recordings is one way to improve your vocabulary, and it can also help you use words more fluently when speaking and writing and process words more quickly when reading or listening.

For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out the book Vocabulary for IELTS or Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced, and subscribe to the We Love IELTS newsletter so that you find out when the next post in my vocabulary for IELTS series is published.

Don’t forget to practise using this vocabulary by answering the Writing Task 2 question at the beginning of this post.

Pete

PS The two types of power the students think are a good idea are solar power and wave power.

PPS The answers to the vocabulary exercise are: solar farms, wind farms, hydroelectric dams, wind turbines, solar power, a nuclear power plant, generate electricity.

Vocab-for-IELTS-Advanced-recommended-by-Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

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Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve band 6.5 and above in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

How to improve your vocabulary around technology
TopTips
How to improve your vocabulary around technology

If there's one topic you should learn more vocabulary for in the IELTS test, it's probably technology. Because technology is such a big part of our everyday lives, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have to talk, write or read about some kind of technology (or listen to someone talking about technology) in your IELTS test too. You may think of technology as computers and mobile devices (e.g. tablets and smartphones), and these are certainly examples, but technology also includes other kinds of equipment and machinery used in industry, transport, hospitals and even our homes (e.g. ovens and washing machines). So, read on for two vocabulary exercises that will help you learn how to use more vocabulary connected to the topic of technology. Technological advances  A technological advance is an improvement or development in technology, and you’re holding one right now if you’re reading this on a smartphone or tablet! Learn other ways to use the word ‘technology’ by reading the following text, noting the advantages and disadvantages of technological advances mentioned, and then completing the vocabulary exercise below. (Click to enlarge) Check how much you understood below: (Click to enlarge) Now, find every time the word ‘technology’ (or ‘technological’ or ‘tech’) is used in the text and note down the words used with it, e.g. ‘advances in technology’, ‘wireless technology’ and ‘communication technology’. If you’re not sure what some of the vocabulary means, guess what it could mean in the text and then use a dictionary to check if you’re right. Noticing how vocabulary is used in a text like this from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS, and it can be more effective than learning vocabulary from lists where you can’t see how the vocabulary is used. Pronunciation When you learn new words or phrases that you want to use in your speaking or understand when you hear, it’s important to learn how they are pronounced. Listen to how the words below are pronounced and in each case identify which syllable is stressed (sounds louder than the other syllables), e.g. ‘ca’ in the word ‘communication and ‘nol’ in the word ‘technology’.     communication technology wireless technology information technology technological advances  computer access entertainment industry sophisticated technology Now listen and record yourself repeating these phrases with the same syllables stressed so that you feel more confident using them and so that people will be more likely to understand you when you do. (I’ve included the list of phrases with the stress marked at the end of this post so you can check if you’re stressing the right syllables). For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out the book Vocabulary for IELTS or Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced, and subscribe to our We Love IELTS newsletter so that you find out when the next post in my vocabulary for IELTS series is published. Remember, learning vocabulary is not only about learning more words, it’s also about learning how different words and phrases are used together. Pete PS The underlined syllables in the following words are stressed: communication technology, wireless technology, information technology, technological advances, computer access, entertainment industry and sophisticated technology.

Pete Jones

9 September, 2020

How to improve your vocabulary around technology

How to improve your vocabulary around technology

If there's one topic you should learn more vocabulary for in the IELTS test, it's probably technology.

Because technology is such a big part of our everyday lives, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have to talk, write or read about some kind of technology (or listen to someone talking about technology) in your IELTS test too.

You may think of technology as computers and mobile devices (e.g. tablets and smartphones), and these are certainly examples, but technology also includes other kinds of equipment and machinery used in industry, transport, hospitals and even our homes (e.g. ovens and washing machines).

So, read on for two vocabulary exercises that will help you learn how to use more vocabulary connected to the topic of technology.

Technological advances 

A technological advance is an improvement or development in technology, and you’re holding one right now if you’re reading this on a smartphone or tablet!

Learn other ways to use the word ‘technology’ by reading the following text, noting the advantages and disadvantages of technological advances mentioned, and then completing the vocabulary exercise below.

How to improve your vocabulary around technology Image 1

(Click to enlarge)

Check how much you understood below:

Advantages and Disadvantages

(Click to enlarge)

Now, find every time the word ‘technology’ (or ‘technological’ or ‘tech’) is used in the text and note down the words used with it, e.g. ‘advances in technology’, ‘wireless technology’ and ‘communication technology’. If you’re not sure what some of the vocabulary means, guess what it could mean in the text and then use a dictionary to check if you’re right.

Noticing how vocabulary is used in a text like this from Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced is one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS, and it can be more effective than learning vocabulary from lists where you can’t see how the vocabulary is used.

Pronunciation

When you learn new words or phrases that you want to use in your speaking or understand when you hear, it’s important to learn how they are pronounced.

Listen to how the words below are pronounced and in each case identify which syllable is stressed (sounds louder than the other syllables), e.g. ‘ca’ in the word ‘communication and ‘nol’ in the word ‘technology’.

 

 

  • communication technology
  • wireless technology
  • information technology
  • technological advances 
  • computer access
  • entertainment industry
  • sophisticated technology

Now listen and record yourself repeating these phrases with the same syllables stressed so that you feel more confident using them and so that people will be more likely to understand you when you do. (I’ve included the list of phrases with the stress marked at the end of this post so you can check if you’re stressing the right syllables).

For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out the book Vocabulary for IELTS or Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced, and subscribe to our We Love IELTS newsletter so that you find out when the next post in my vocabulary for IELTS series is published.

Remember, learning vocabulary is not only about learning more words, it’s also about learning how different words and phrases are used together.

Pete

PS The underlined syllables in the following words are stressed: communication technology, wireless technology, information technology, technological advances, computer access, entertainment industry and sophisticated technology.

Vocab-for-IELTS-Advanced-recommended-by-Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

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Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve up to band 6 in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Three ways to remember vocabulary for your IELTS test
TopTips
Three ways to remember vocabulary for your IELTS test

Do you find it difficult to remember new vocabulary? If you do, you're certainly not alone. I think most language learners struggle to remember many of the new words and phrases that they note down or read in vocabulary lists. I can’t promise that you’ll remember every new word you see or hear after you’ve read this post, but hopefully, it will help. Research shows you’ll remember more vocabulary if you categorise it, personalise it and review it. It’s the CPR of vocabulary learning! 1. Categorise vocabulary The following exercise is an example of categorising vocabulary, and you’ll see that it requires a deeper level of thought than simply looking at and trying to remember a list of words. You’ll also see over time that this extra mental effort will help you remember the vocabulary for longer! Look at the words below and answer this question: Which of the following words are associated with television and radio, which are associated with newspapers and magazines, and which are associated with both categories?  You can use a dictionary to check and categorise any words you don’t know.   Make sure you categorise all the vocabulary before checking your answers. If you check the answers without doing the exercise, it won’t help you remember the words! 2. Personalise vocabulary To increase your chances of remembering vocabulary, it’s also important to personalise it (i.e. connect new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions). For example, it would help you to remember the words ‘series’ and ‘episode’ from the list above if you thought about your favourite series on television (or a streaming service like Netflix) and the last episode you watched. It would help even more if you wrote this down or said it out loud: My favourite series is ______ and in the last episode that I watched…. (explain what happened) Spend five minutes now connecting some of the words from the list above to your likes, dislikes, experiences and/or opinions. Five minutes of your time now could help you remember the vocabulary for your IELTS test! 3. Review vocabulary  We generally need to see and/or hear a new word multiple times before we can remember it, so it’s important to review new vocabulary regularly. One way to do this is to keep a vocabulary notebook and/or create flashcards, and then to regularly test your understanding of the vocabulary that you’ve added.   So, if you haven’t already got one, buy a notebook or download a note-taking app today and start adding new vocabulary that you want to remember.  Start making flashcards or try a flashcard app like Quizlet. Be sure to make the flashcards yourself rather than use someone else’s. In this way, you can personalise the information you put on the cards and make it easier to remember the new words. Watch my Facebook Live on three ways to remember vocabulary for IELTS: {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/RW_Eryk4WTY.jpg?itok=77wmo6nR","video_url":"https://youtu.be/RW_Eryk4WTY","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive)."]}   Remember the CPR of vocabulary learning to remember more words and phrases for your IELTS test: Categorise, Personalise and Review. It’s a life-saver! Pete

Pete Jones

7 September, 2020

Three ways to remember vocabulary for your IELTS test

Three ways to remember vocabulary for your IELTS test

Do you find it difficult to remember new vocabulary? If you do, you're certainly not alone. I think most language learners struggle to remember many of the new words and phrases that they note down or read in vocabulary lists.

I can’t promise that you’ll remember every new word you see or hear after you’ve read this post, but hopefully, it will help. Research shows you’ll remember more vocabulary if you categorise it, personalise it and review it.

It’s the CPR of vocabulary learning!

1. Categorise vocabulary

The following exercise is an example of categorising vocabulary, and you’ll see that it requires a deeper level of thought than simply looking at and trying to remember a list of words.

You’ll also see over time that this extra mental effort will help you remember the vocabulary for longer!

Look at the words below and answer this question:

  • Which of the following words are associated with television and radio, which are associated with newspapers and magazines, and which are associated with both categories? 

You can use a dictionary to check and categorise any words you don’t know.

Vocabulary Exercise from Vocab Advanced Page 100

 

Make sure you categorise all the vocabulary before checking your answers.

If you check the answers without doing the exercise, it won’t help you remember the words!

2. Personalise vocabulary

To increase your chances of remembering vocabulary, it’s also important to personalise it (i.e. connect new words/phrases to your own experiences and opinions).

For example, it would help you to remember the words ‘series’ and ‘episode’ from the list above if you thought about your favourite series on television (or a streaming service like Netflix) and the last episode you watched.

It would help even more if you wrote this down or said it out loud:

  • My favourite series is ______ and in the last episode that I watched…. (explain what happened)

Spend five minutes now connecting some of the words from the list above to your likes, dislikes, experiences and/or opinions.

Five minutes of your time now could help you remember the vocabulary for your IELTS test!

3. Review vocabulary 

We generally need to see and/or hear a new word multiple times before we can remember it, so it’s important to review new vocabulary regularly.

One way to do this is to keep a vocabulary notebook and/or create flashcards, and then to regularly test your understanding of the vocabulary that you’ve added.

Flashcard-example

 

So, if you haven’t already got one, buy a notebook or download a note-taking app today and start adding new vocabulary that you want to remember. 

Start making flashcards or try a flashcard app like Quizlet.

Be sure to make the flashcards yourself rather than use someone else’s. In this way, you can personalise the information you put on the cards and make it easier to remember the new words.

Watch my Facebook Live on three ways to remember vocabulary for IELTS:

 

Remember the CPR of vocabulary learning to remember more words and phrases for your IELTS test: Categorise, Personalise and Review.

It’s a life-saver!

Pete

Vocab-for-IELTS-Advanced-recommended-by-Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve band 6.5 and above in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Your views can help learners around the world
TopTips
Your views can help learners around the world

How are you getting on with your IELTS preparation? Or perhaps you've already taken your test? We hope the materials on our website and social channels have been helpful!   We'd love to hear from current and past test takers about how you've prepared and what else you need to help your preparation! Completing our survey only takes five minutes and you will be in with a chance to win an Amazon Echo Dot as a thank you for supporting IELTS learners around the world. If you know someone else who has taken the test or is currently preparing, why not forward this to them to give them a chance to win an Amazon Echo Dot?  Thank you!  The We Love IELTS Team  PS. Did you know you using a product like an Amazon Echo Dot can be a useful tool in spoken English development? Find out how in our blog post.  For full terms and conditions, please click here. The prize draw opens at 12am on 1st September and closes at 12am on 20th September. Entries received after the Competition Period will not be included in the prize draw but data may still be used as per these Terms and Conditions. The prize draw winner will be chosen and announced on 25th September.

We Love IELTS

4 September, 2020

Your views can help learners around the world

Your views can help learners around the world

How are you getting on with your IELTS preparation? Or perhaps you've already taken your test? We hope the materials on our website and social channels have been helpful!  

We'd love to hear from current and past test takers about how you've prepared and what else you need to help your preparation! Completing our survey only takes five minutes and you will be in with a chance to win an Amazon Echo Dot as a thank you for supporting IELTS learners around the world.

take-our-survey-sept-2020

If you know someone else who has taken the test or is currently preparing, why not forward this to them to give them a chance to win an Amazon Echo Dot

Thank you! 

The We Love IELTS Team 

PS. Did you know you using a product like an Amazon Echo Dot can be a useful tool in spoken English development? Find out how in our blog post


For full terms and conditions, please click here. The prize draw opens at 12am on 1st September and closes at 12am on 20th September. Entries received after the Competition Period will not be included in the prize draw but data may still be used as per these Terms and Conditions. The prize draw winner will be chosen and announced on 25th September.

We Love IELTS

We Love IELTS gives IELTS test takers all the preparation materials and advice they need for success.

More about the author

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Recommended For You

recommended book image
Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Working with a Study Buddy
TopTips
Working with a Study Buddy

It can get lonely studying on your own. It's so easy to lose your motivation when the only person cheering you on is your reflection in the mirror. You might find yourself wondering 'Does it really matter if I do this Listening task today?' Does this sound like you? If it does, then you might benefit from working with someone. Having someone else who is relying on you to turn up at a certain time and do the work that you’ve committed to can be a real game-changer. You’re no longer only answering to yourself; you have a responsibility to not let your study partner down. Today I’m going to give you 4 activities that you could do with another person face-to-face (if possible) or online using something like Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype or any other video calling software. The important thing is having someone to work with.  1. Do some practice Speaking tests Arrange a time and date for a call and plan on being the Examiner and the candidate. The person taking the role of the Examiner has to be in charge of timing the different sections of the test. If you have the option of recording the call, then you can watch it back to see how well you performed. Give each other feedback.  Even if you’re not feeling confident giving feedback to each other, doing this activity will help you get used to the timings of the IELTS Speaking test and should help you overcome some of your nerves.  2. Write together Do you plan your answers before you write them? Many learners don't plan their writing. It’s a habit that you should really try to get into as it ALWAYS improves your writing.  Make a date to meet up (in person or online) and find 4 practise questions to use (you can find them in the IELTS 15 book for example). Talk about how you would answer each of the questions, discuss your ideas and opinions, make some notes and then make an outline plan.   Arrange to meet up again and promise to write 2 of the 4 essays you have planned. The next time you meet, exchange your essays and read through, highlighting any errors along the way. As it’s often hard to see your own mistakes, a fresh pair of eyes is a really useful resource. The more you do this, the more confident you will feel in your writing.  3.  Be the teacher  When you teach someone something, you learn it really well yourself as well.  You won't improve your IELTS score by just doing IELTS questions. You need to get your English level up too. This means reviewing grammar and developing a really wide vocabulary. Make a list of things you both want to review/learn.  Your list may include things like: Using articles Present perfect or past simple Comparative adjectives Vocabulary for describing graphs Linking words Take a topic each and prepare to teach your study buddy all about it on an agreed date. As you prepare to teach your friend you’ll be reviewing much more carefully than you would if it was just for yourself. As a bonus, you also get the benefit of learning another topic from them too. 4.   Listen to each other It’s important that we have people to talk to who understand what we’re experiencing. IELTS is a high stakes test, you may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed with your preparation. Having someone to talk to who is going through the same things as you can make you feel a lot better.  Make sure you leave time for chatting about things other than IELTS. Find out what you have in common. If you come from different cultures take this opportunity to learn about another way of life.  If you do have questions about IELTS, don't be afraid to ask the experts too. You can contact your local test centre or contact us here at We Love IELTS via Facebook or Instagram. We’re all here to help you on your IELTS journey.  Good luck with all your IELTS preparation.  Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

1 September, 2020

Working with a Study Buddy

Working with a Study Buddy

It can get lonely studying on your own. It's so easy to lose your motivation when the only person cheering you on is your reflection in the mirror. You might find yourself wondering 'Does it really matter if I do this Listening task today?' Does this sound like you? If it does, then you might benefit from working with someone.

Having someone else who is relying on you to turn up at a certain time and do the work that you’ve committed to can be a real game-changer. You’re no longer only answering to yourself; you have a responsibility to not let your study partner down.

Today I’m going to give you 4 activities that you could do with another person face-to-face (if possible) or online using something like Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype or any other video calling software. The important thing is having someone to work with. 

1. Do some practice Speaking tests

Arrange a time and date for a call and plan on being the Examiner and the candidate. The person taking the role of the Examiner has to be in charge of timing the different sections of the test. If you have the option of recording the call, then you can watch it back to see how well you performed. Give each other feedback. 

Even if you’re not feeling confident giving feedback to each other, doing this activity will help you get used to the timings of the IELTS Speaking test and should help you overcome some of your nerves. 

2. Write together

Do you plan your answers before you write them? Many learners don't plan their writing. It’s a habit that you should really try to get into as it ALWAYS improves your writing. 

Make a date to meet up (in person or online) and find 4 practise questions to use (you can find them in the IELTS 15 book for example). Talk about how you would answer each of the questions, discuss your ideas and opinions, make some notes and then make an outline plan.  

Arrange to meet up again and promise to write 2 of the 4 essays you have planned. The next time you meet, exchange your essays and read through, highlighting any errors along the way. As it’s often hard to see your own mistakes, a fresh pair of eyes is a really useful resource. The more you do this, the more confident you will feel in your writing. 

3.  Be the teacher 

When you teach someone something, you learn it really well yourself as well. 

You won't improve your IELTS score by just doing IELTS questions. You need to get your English level up too. This means reviewing grammar and developing a really wide vocabulary. Make a list of things you both want to review/learn. 

Your list may include things like:

  • Using articles
  • Present perfect or past simple
  • Comparative adjectives
  • Vocabulary for describing graphs
  • Linking words

Take a topic each and prepare to teach your study buddy all about it on an agreed date. As you prepare to teach your friend you’ll be reviewing much more carefully than you would if it was just for yourself. As a bonus, you also get the benefit of learning another topic from them too.

4.   Listen to each other

It’s important that we have people to talk to who understand what we’re experiencing. IELTS is a high stakes test, you may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed with your preparation. Having someone to talk to who is going through the same things as you can make you feel a lot better. 

Make sure you leave time for chatting about things other than IELTS. Find out what you have in common. If you come from different cultures take this opportunity to learn about another way of life. 

If you do have questions about IELTS, don't be afraid to ask the experts too. You can contact your local test centre or contact us here at We Love IELTS via Facebook or Instagram. We’re all here to help you on your IELTS journey. 

Good luck with all your IELTS preparation. 

Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

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Using body language to reduce stress levels and improve IELTS performance
TopTips
Using body language to reduce stress levels and improve IELTS performance

Have you ever heard the expression 'fake it till you make it'? In today's blog I'm going to explore how by 'faking' relaxation and confidence in your body language during the Speaking test, you can impact both your stress levels and your performance.  Research in a field called ‘embedded cognition’ has shown that our brain and our bodies are connected in a two-way relationship. Most people know that how we feel can impact our body language, which is why we hang our head when we’re sad or fidget when we’re nervous. However, embedded cognition has found that body language also impacts the function of our brain and that we can trick our brains into a different mood by faking the body language associated with that mood. Doing this successfully in a high-stress situation like an exam takes a little preparation, so here is my step-by-step guide to faking it: Look at your current body language First, spend some time watching yourself in situations where you’re confident and relaxed. At dinner with your family, perhaps, or chatting online with a friend. How do you sit? What position is natural for your feet? What do you usually do with your hands? How do you hold your shoulders and your head? How long do you usually hold eye contact? Where do you look when you break eye contact naturally? Do you smile? It is really important to find out what your body language is like when you’re confident and relaxed because you’re not trying to fake being someone else during the exam, you’re trying to fake a confident, relaxed you.  Having said that, if you’re often told that you need to speak up, try sitting up taller. People who sit more upright tend to speak more clearly and seem more confident than people who slouch. This is because when we hunch, we don’t get enough air to project our words clearly to our listeners. Tell your brain "I'm confident and relaxed" Once you have established which physical clues tell your brain “I’m confident and relaxed”, spend some time practising getting into a relaxed and confident position on command. Place a chair at a table and, if you can, a mirror on top. Alternatively, open a one-person chat meeting or your camera so you can see yourself. Sit down and adjust your body to your ‘confident’ pose, starting at the feet and working your way up.  Put on an outfit that makes you feel confident On the day of the exam, put on an outfit that makes you feel confident. It doesn’t matter if this is formal or informal as long as it makes you comfortable. Play your favourite music, eat your favourite breakfast, call your favourite person. Do anything that makes you feel positive, relaxed and empowered. If you can, walk some part of the way to the exam. Walk in a way that says: “I’m on a mission. I’m a VIP on my way to success”. That may sound a bit cheesy, but there’s nothing like moving with purpose to tell your brain: “I’m feeling confident.” Adjust your body to your usual ‘confidence’ position When you enter the exam room and sit down, make sure that you take a minute to adjust your body to your usual ‘confidence’ position. Start at the feet and work your way up. If you don’t usually smile, even when you’re happy and relaxed, let your face assume your own expression of relaxed confidence, even if you might not feel like it at that moment. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself throughout the exam to breathe: shallow breathing leads to robotic intonation and can make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. It may also lead to you breaking your sentences in unnatural places simply because you have to take a breath.   Recognise the examiner as a human being Also take a moment to recognise the examiner as a human being. This will allow you to communicate with them more naturally, rather than ‘talking at them’ since your volume and pace will be more natural and thus much clearer.  Remember that they are there to do a job, just as you are and that they hold no real power over you as a person, no matter how intimidating the situation may seem to you. If you adopt a body language that says you are a friendly equal to the examiner, it reduces your stress levels, enhances your ability to understand questions and frees up your brain to think faster and come up with better answers. You are also a lot less likely to ‘freeze’ during the exam, because your body is telling your brain: “We’ve got this! I’m not worried. Do your thing.” You will probably still be a little nervous before the exam: that is the adrenaline being released into your body. Embrace it! It’s a sign that your body and your brain are ready for the task! Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

11 August, 2020

Using body language to reduce stress levels and improve IELTS performance

Using body language to reduce stress levels and improve IELTS performance

Have you ever heard the expression 'fake it till you make it'? In today's blog I'm going to explore how by 'faking' relaxation and confidence in your body language during the Speaking test, you can impact both your stress levels and your performance. 

Research in a field called ‘embedded cognition’ has shown that our brain and our bodies are connected in a two-way relationship. Most people know that how we feel can impact our body language, which is why we hang our head when we’re sad or fidget when we’re nervous.

However, embedded cognition has found that body language also impacts the function of our brain and that we can trick our brains into a different mood by faking the body language associated with that mood. Doing this successfully in a high-stress situation like an exam takes a little preparation, so here is my step-by-step guide to faking it:

Look at your current body language

  • First, spend some time watching yourself in situations where you’re confident and relaxed. At dinner with your family, perhaps, or chatting online with a friend. How do you sit? What position is natural for your feet? What do you usually do with your hands? How do you hold your shoulders and your head? How long do you usually hold eye contact? Where do you look when you break eye contact naturally? Do you smile? It is really important to find out what your body language is like when you’re confident and relaxed because you’re not trying to fake being someone else during the exam, you’re trying to fake a confident, relaxed you. 
  • Having said that, if you’re often told that you need to speak up, try sitting up taller. People who sit more upright tend to speak more clearly and seem more confident than people who slouch. This is because when we hunch, we don’t get enough air to project our words clearly to our listeners.

Tell your brain "I'm confident and relaxed"

  • Once you have established which physical clues tell your brain “I’m confident and relaxed”, spend some time practising getting into a relaxed and confident position on command. Place a chair at a table and, if you can, a mirror on top. Alternatively, open a one-person chat meeting or your camera so you can see yourself. Sit down and adjust your body to your ‘confident’ pose, starting at the feet and working your way up. 

Put on an outfit that makes you feel confident

  • On the day of the exam, put on an outfit that makes you feel confident. It doesn’t matter if this is formal or informal as long as it makes you comfortable. Play your favourite music, eat your favourite breakfast, call your favourite person. Do anything that makes you feel positive, relaxed and empowered. If you can, walk some part of the way to the exam. Walk in a way that says: “I’m on a mission. I’m a VIP on my way to success”. That may sound a bit cheesy, but there’s nothing like moving with purpose to tell your brain: “I’m feeling confident.”

Adjust your body to your usual ‘confidence’ position

  • When you enter the exam room and sit down, make sure that you take a minute to adjust your body to your usual ‘confidence’ position. Start at the feet and work your way up. If you don’t usually smile, even when you’re happy and relaxed, let your face assume your own expression of relaxed confidence, even if you might not feel like it at that moment. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself throughout the exam to breathe: shallow breathing leads to robotic intonation and can make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. It may also lead to you breaking your sentences in unnatural places simply because you have to take a breath.  

Recognise the examiner as a human being

  • Also take a moment to recognise the examiner as a human being. This will allow you to communicate with them more naturally, rather than ‘talking at them’ since your volume and pace will be more natural and thus much clearer. 
  • Remember that they are there to do a job, just as you are and that they hold no real power over you as a person, no matter how intimidating the situation may seem to you. If you adopt a body language that says you are a friendly equal to the examiner, it reduces your stress levels, enhances your ability to understand questions and frees up your brain to think faster and come up with better answers. You are also a lot less likely to ‘freeze’ during the exam, because your body is telling your brain: “We’ve got this! I’m not worried. Do your thing.”

You will probably still be a little nervous before the exam: that is the adrenaline being released into your body. Embrace it! It’s a sign that your body and your brain are ready for the task!

Sophie

Top Tip from Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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How to improve your vocabulary around education
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How to improve your vocabulary around education

One way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS is to learn more words and phrases connected to the common IELTS topic of education. You may have to answer questions in the IELTS Speaking test about your studies, read an article in the IELTS Reading test on different educational approaches or give your opinion in the IELTS Writing test about which subjects should be taught at school. And in the IELTS Listening test, you’ll definitely have to listen to people talking about their studies. So, to get started, complete the following two vocabulary exercises on the topic of education, and then come back again in a few days to see how much you remember. Subjects Can you name the subjects (in English) that children study at school in your country? Can you say (in English) what you studied or are studying at college/university or a subject you’d like to study in the future? If not, then the following exercise is for you. Copy (or print) the table below and add the missing subject names, people and adjectives. For example, you study architecture to become an architect (someone who designs buildings) and offer architectural services.   Download the answers and then add school subjects in your country that aren’t in the table, the subject(s) you studied or are studying at college/university, or a subject you’d like to study in the future. Word-building exercises like this one from Vocabulary for IELTS are one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS. Study habits Can you talk about how you study best (in English)? Can you describe (in English) what you do when you have difficulty studying? To learn more vocabulary for answering these questions, read the following text about good study habits, decide if you agree with the advice given, and then answer the vocabulary questions below.   Answer the following vocabulary questions: Which word or phrase in the text describes someone who studies a lot? Which word or phrase in the text describes things that stop you from working? Which word or phrase in the text describes a sound you can hear but do not actively listen to? You can find the answers at the end of this post. Learning vocabulary from a text like this is another way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS and can be more effective than learning vocabulary from lists where there isn’t a clear context (a situation in which the words are used). For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out the book Vocabulary for IELTS or Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced , and subscribe to the We Love IELTS newsletter so that you find out when the next post in my vocabulary for IELTS series is published. Don’t forget to do the vocabulary exercises in this post again in a few days to see how much you remember. Pete PS The answers to questions 1, 2 and 3 above are: studious, distractions and background noise.

Pete Jones

27 July, 2020

How to improve your vocabulary around education

How to improve your vocabulary around education

One way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS is to learn more words and phrases connected to the common IELTS topic of education.

You may have to answer questions in the IELTS Speaking test about your studies, read an article in the IELTS Reading test on different educational approaches or give your opinion in the IELTS Writing test about which subjects should be taught at school.

And in the IELTS Listening test, you’ll definitely have to listen to people talking about their studies.

So, to get started, complete the following two vocabulary exercises on the topic of education, and then come back again in a few days to see how much you remember.

Subjects

Can you name the subjects (in English) that children study at school in your country? Can you say (in English) what you studied or are studying at college/university or a subject you’d like to study in the future?

If not, then the following exercise is for you.

Copy (or print) the table below and add the missing subject names, people and adjectives. For example, you study architecture to become an architect (someone who designs buildings) and offer architectural services.

Vocabulary Example Top Tips

 

Download the answers and then add school subjects in your country that aren’t in the table, the subject(s) you studied or are studying at college/university, or a subject you’d like to study in the future.

Word-building exercises like this one from Vocabulary for IELTS are one way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS.

Study habits

Can you talk about how you study best (in English)? Can you describe (in English) what you do when you have difficulty studying?

To learn more vocabulary for answering these questions, read the following text about good study habits, decide if you agree with the advice given, and then answer the vocabulary questions below.

Study Habits

 

Answer the following vocabulary questions:

  1. Which word or phrase in the text describes someone who studies a lot?
  2. Which word or phrase in the text describes things that stop you from working?
  3. Which word or phrase in the text describes a sound you can hear but do not actively listen to?

You can find the answers at the end of this post.

Learning vocabulary from a text like this is another way to improve your vocabulary for IELTS and can be more effective than learning vocabulary from lists where there isn’t a clear context (a situation in which the words are used).

For more vocabulary exercises and tips on learning vocabulary, check out the book Vocabulary for IELTS or Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced , and subscribe to the We Love IELTS newsletter so that you find out when the next post in my vocabulary for IELTS series is published.

Don’t forget to do the vocabulary exercises in this post again in a few days to see how much you remember.

Pete

PS The answers to questions 1, 2 and 3 above are: studious, distractions and background noise.

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

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How to be an independent learner
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How to be an independent learner

It's every teacher's dream - a class full of highly motivated and independent learners. Perhaps you are one of these students. Almost certainly though, you've met one and have shared a class with them. You've probably wondered how they became like that and maybe how you could become one of these types of learners. Of course, it's not just teachers who benefit from students who are proactive, learn from their experiences and improve quickly. In this blog, I'm going to talk about how you can become more of an independent learner when studying for IELTS.   Focus on the process, not just the end result If you’re taking the IELTS exam, the most important thing for you is probably the score you receive – to get you to your learning destination or your dream job. That’s totally understandable, but I want us to take a step back and think about what makes us receive high scores – perhaps let’s call it your learning journey. Consider the actions you need to take to get the scores you’re hoping for. Develop a growth mindset It’s important that you have something which is often called a growth mindset – that is the idea that with time, you can develop your skills to reach your goals. Rather than just focussing on the final result, think about the steps and processes you need to go through to get there. These can be things like recognising good strategies that you occasionally follow and using them more, as well as reducing how much you use less effective strategies. To help you do this, think about what you did in IELTS practice activities and previous tests and consider the following questions:  What did you do well?  What did you not do so well?  What do your teachers say you should do?  How much of that advice did you follow?  I strongly recommend that you keep a record – a reflective journal perhaps – of this. This will help you identify what you should do next time to do even better. A good independent learner knows where they are on their learning journey, where they need to go and how they can get there. This means that they know what they do now and what they need to do more of or differently. Let me give you some examples: Speaking and Writing Think about all the good advice you’ve read about for the Speaking test. Let’s think about Part 2. Do you always use the full one minute to prepare? Do you always try to use a variety of grammar structures and a wide range of vocabulary? There are many other pieces of good advice here too. Write a list of all the recommended tips you’ve heard and think will work. Do the same for the Writing test– consider what is essential to do in Task 1, for example writing a summary statement and focusing only on the key parts of the data, etc. After every practice, ask yourself three important questions: How many of these tips did you follow? How many did you not follow?  What worked well? What didn’t? What will you do differently next time and why?  Use a checklist to help you and keep a diary – a reflective journal – and over time, watch how you use more of the strategies that work and fewer of the ones that don’t. If possible, write down the scores and comments you get and think about how you can improve further.  Listening and Reading For Listening, think again about all the positive strategy tips you’ve discovered like reading the questions carefully before the test starts and underlining the keywords.  For Reading, think about good tips to stay on top of time management – there’s a lot to get through in this exam. Make a list of all of these effective steps you should take to do well. Again, a checklist works well here. After you do each of the practice activities and tests when preparing for IELTS, note down what you did in your reflective diary and answer the same questions as before. Watch as you use more and more of these good strategies and fewer of the less effective ones. Better processes mean better results It would be understandable to think that some people are just better at language learning or exam-taking than others. Perhaps you feel some people just have a natural gift for these things. While there may be a small element of truth here, this shouldn’t discourage you if you feel you’re not lucky enough to be one of these talented people. It’s more likely that these people are using highly effective strategies and are just more aware of what they’re doing and why. The key is to always think of your learning journey – where you’re at and where you need to go. This will help you understand what you need to do more of and what you need to less of. Focus on the process here - use a checklist and regularly update your reflective diary. Reward yourself for using more and more of the recommended strategies and watch as you hopefully get to your desired destination quicker.  Good luck!  Jishan

Jishan Uddin

15 July, 2020

How to be an independent learner

How to be an independent learner

It's every teacher's dream - a class full of highly motivated and independent learners. Perhaps you are one of these students. Almost certainly though, you've met one and have shared a class with them. You've probably wondered how they became like that and maybe how you could become one of these types of learners. Of course, it's not just teachers who benefit from students who are proactive, learn from their experiences and improve quickly. In this blog, I'm going to talk about how you can become more of an independent learner when studying for IELTS.

 

Focus on the process, not just the end result

If you’re taking the IELTS exam, the most important thing for you is probably the score you receive – to get you to your learning destination or your dream job. That’s totally understandable, but I want us to take a step back and think about what makes us receive high scores – perhaps let’s call it your learning journey. Consider the actions you need to take to get the scores you’re hoping for.

Develop a growth mindset

It’s important that you have something which is often called a growth mindset – that is the idea that with time, you can develop your skills to reach your goals. Rather than just focussing on the final result, think about the steps and processes you need to go through to get there. These can be things like recognising good strategies that you occasionally follow and using them more, as well as reducing how much you use less effective strategies. To help you do this, think about what you did in IELTS practice activities and previous tests and consider the following questions: 

  • What did you do well? 
  • What did you not do so well? 
  • What do your teachers say you should do? 
  • How much of that advice did you follow? 

I strongly recommend that you keep a record – a reflective journal perhaps – of this. This will help you identify what you should do next time to do even better. A good independent learner knows where they are on their learning journey, where they need to go and how they can get there. This means that they know what they do now and what they need to do more of or differently. Let me give you some examples:

Speaking and Writing

Think about all the good advice you’ve read about for the Speaking test. Let’s think about Part 2. Do you always use the full one minute to prepare? Do you always try to use a variety of grammar structures and a wide range of vocabulary? There are many other pieces of good advice here too. Write a list of all the recommended tips you’ve heard and think will work. Do the same for the Writing test– consider what is essential to do in Task 1, for example writing a summary statement and focusing only on the key parts of the data, etc. After every practice, ask yourself three important questions:

  1. How many of these tips did you follow? How many did you not follow? 
  2. What worked well? What didn’t?
  3. What will you do differently next time and why? 

Use a checklist to help you and keep a diary – a reflective journal – and over time, watch how you use more of the strategies that work and fewer of the ones that don’t. If possible, write down the scores and comments you get and think about how you can improve further. 

Listening and Reading

For Listening, think again about all the positive strategy tips you’ve discovered like reading the questions carefully before the test starts and underlining the keywords. 

For Reading, think about good tips to stay on top of time management – there’s a lot to get through in this exam. Make a list of all of these effective steps you should take to do well. Again, a checklist works well here. After you do each of the practice activities and tests when preparing for IELTS, note down what you did in your reflective diary and answer the same questions as before. Watch as you use more and more of these good strategies and fewer of the less effective ones.

Better processes mean better results

It would be understandable to think that some people are just better at language learning or exam-taking than others. Perhaps you feel some people just have a natural gift for these things. While there may be a small element of truth here, this shouldn’t discourage you if you feel you’re not lucky enough to be one of these talented people. It’s more likely that these people are using highly effective strategies and are just more aware of what they’re doing and why. The key is to always think of your learning journey – where you’re at and where you need to go. This will help you understand what you need to do more of and what you need to less of. Focus on the process here - use a checklist and regularly update your reflective diary. Reward yourself for using more and more of the recommended strategies and watch as you hopefully get to your desired destination quicker. 

Good luck! 

Jishan

Jishan Uddin

Jishan has been an English teacher mostly at UK universities for over fifteen years and has extensive experience in teaching, co-ordinating and leading on a range of modules and courses. He is also an author for Cambridge University Press for whom he has written students' and teachers' books for IELTS exam preparation courses.

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How to get a better score for grammar
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How to get a better score for grammar

Do you want to go from a good band score to a better band score? Of course you do! This blog will look at a few ways you can improve your band score in grammar. Examiners will be looking for a good 'grammatical range and accuracy'. This means using a wide variety of grammar structures and using them correctly.    Listening Practice: Listen to Liz read how to get a better score for grammar     Are you ready to begin?  Here are the instructions: First, I’ll start by giving you a good sentence.  Then I’ll give you a word in bold.  You must use the word in bold in the second sentence.  The second sentence must have exactly the same meaning as the first.  Here is an example to get you started: (Click to enlarge) Both sentences have exactly the same meaning but the second sentence has used a wider range of grammar – not as good as / spoken English / written English (these last two are both grammar and vocabulary). Here are some more for you to practise with. I’ve also given you the first words in the second sentence to give you a bit more help.  Grammar points for each sentence: 1. the passive voice, 2. changing verb to nouns / adjective + noun, 3. not only … but also, 4. prefer + to / + ing, 5. modals in the past. (Click to enlarge) You can find the answers to these exercises below. Answer sheet download I hope this blog has helped you to see how you can make a good sentence even better by using a wider range of grammar structures. This will help you improve your band score for grammar not only in the Speaking test, but also in the Writing test.   I hope you have found this useful, we’ll be covering more grammar in later blogs so please come back for more.  Liz

Liz Marqueiro

7 July, 2020

How to get a better score for grammar

How to get a better score for grammar

Do you want to go from a good band score to a better band score? Of course you do! This blog will look at a few ways you can improve your band score in grammar. Examiners will be looking for a good 'grammatical range and accuracy'. This means using a wide variety of grammar structures and using them correctly.

 

Listening Icon Listening Practice: Listen to Liz read how to get a better score for grammar

 

 

Are you ready to begin? 

Here are the instructions:

  1. First, I’ll start by giving you a good sentence. 
  2. Then I’ll give you a word in bold. 
  3. You must use the word in bold in the second sentence. 
  4. The second sentence must have exactly the same meaning as the first. 

Here is an example to get you started:

Grammar Example

(Click to enlarge)

Both sentences have exactly the same meaning but the second sentence has used a wider range of grammar – not as good as / spoken English / written English (these last two are both grammar and vocabulary).

Here are some more for you to practise with. I’ve also given you the first words in the second sentence to give you a bit more help. 

Grammar points for each sentence: 1. the passive voice, 2. changing verb to nouns / adjective + noun, 3. not only … but also, 4. prefer + to / + ing, 5. modals in the past.

IELTS Writing Grammar Activity

(Click to enlarge)

You can find the answers to these exercises below.

Answer Sheet

Answer sheet download

I hope this blog has helped you to see how you can make a good sentence even better by using a wider range of grammar structures. This will help you improve your band score for grammar not only in the Speaking test, but also in the Writing test.  

I hope you have found this useful, we’ll be covering more grammar in later blogs so please come back for more. 

Liz

Grammar for IELTS used by Liz

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

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IELTS 15 - What's new?
TopTips
IELTS 15 - What's new?

IELTS Authentic Practice Tests are one of our bestselling books on Amazon and really popular with IELTS candidates because they are EXACTLY like the real exam. We check the practice tests with real students to make sure they are the same level as the IELTS Academic and General Training tests so you can be confident you are getting the most authentic experience possible.    Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read what’s new with IELTS 15     IELTS Authentic Practice Tests are suitable for all students preparing for the IELTS test. You get four practice tests to familiarise yourself with the test format for each part. The tests can be used flexibly alongside courses or other IELTS preparation materials. You can use them over your IELTS preparation journey, or as a final check before you take your IELTS test. What’s new in IELTS 15? 1. QR codes for easy audio and video links The QR codes will take you straight to the audio or video you need for each test. You just need a QR reader on your phone. Don’t worry if you don’t have this, you can also download the same content in the Resource Bank.   2. Improved book navigation Page references at the end of each part allow you to go directly to the answer keys, audioscripts and Writing sample answers needed to check the task.    3. Example Speaking test video This will show you a Speaking test in real life so you know what to expect on test day. We also have examiner feedback on the Speaking test so you can see the kind of things they’ll be looking for. The examiner also shares some handy tips!    4. Answer keys with extra explanations for Reading and Listening These will help you to understand why the answers given are the correct ones. IELTS Reading and Listening tasks use lots of ‘distractors’ - options that seem very likely but are actually incorrect. The Answer key with extra explanations will also give reasons for why these options are wrong.  5. Additional sample Writing answers You can use these to see extra Writing answers at different levels for each of the tasks in the book. You can compare the different answers to get a better understanding of what is expected at each level.      Please see below example screens you will see when you are activating your Resource Bank code:   I hope you've found this summary useful! If you have any questions please do contact us on Facebook or Instagram - we'd love to hear from you. Tessa  Managing Editor, Test Content

We Love IELTS

2 July, 2020

IELTS 15 - What's new?

IELTS 15 - What's new?

IELTS Authentic Practice Tests are one of our bestselling books on Amazon and really popular with IELTS candidates because they are EXACTLY like the real exam. We check the practice tests with real students to make sure they are the same level as the IELTS Academic and General Training tests so you can be confident you are getting the most authentic experience possible.

 

Listening Icon Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read what’s new with IELTS 15

 

 

IELTS Authentic Practice Tests are suitable for all students preparing for the IELTS test. You get four practice tests to familiarise yourself with the test format for each part. The tests can be used flexibly alongside courses or other IELTS preparation materials. You can use them over your IELTS preparation journey, or as a final check before you take your IELTS test.

What’s new in IELTS 15?

1. QR codes for easy audio and video links

The QR codes will take you straight to the audio or video you need for each test. You just need a QR reader on your phone. Don’t worry if you don’t have this, you can also download the same content in the Resource Bank.

QR Code Example

 

2. Improved book navigation

Page references at the end of each part allow you to go directly to the answer keys, audioscripts and Writing sample answers needed to check the task. 

Improved Book Navigation

 

3. Example Speaking test video

This will show you a Speaking test in real life so you know what to expect on test day. We also have examiner feedback on the Speaking test so you can see the kind of things they’ll be looking for. The examiner also shares some handy tips! 

Speaking Test Video

 

4. Answer keys with extra explanations for Reading and Listening

These will help you to understand why the answers given are the correct ones. IELTS Reading and Listening tasks use lots of ‘distractors’ - options that seem very likely but are actually incorrect. The Answer key with extra explanations will also give reasons for why these options are wrong. 

5. Additional sample Writing answers

You can use these to see extra Writing answers at different levels for each of the tasks in the book. You can compare the different answers to get a better understanding of what is expected at each level. 
 

Resource Bank Details

 

Please see below example screens you will see when you are activating your Resource Bank code:

How to login to the Resource Bank

 

I hope you've found this summary useful! If you have any questions please do contact us on Facebook or Instagram - we'd love to hear from you.

Tessa 

Managing Editor, Test Content

We Love IELTS

We Love IELTS gives IELTS test takers all the preparation materials and advice they need for success.

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IELTS 15 Academic

IELTS 15 Academic contains four practice tests EXACTLY like the real exam. It comes with audio scripts, answer keys and sample Writing answers. A new downloadable Resource Bank includes extra sample Writing answers, a sample Speaking test video and answer keys with additional explanations. QR codes in the book provide quick access to the audio and video content.  This book gives you an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with the test format and practise exam techniques using real-to-life test material written by the test makers (Cambridge Assessment English).  Also available for IELTS General Training *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Find your passion and develop your English language
TopTips
Find your passion and achieve your English language goals

Here at 'We Love IELTS', we love IELTS. We love it because we see the possibilities it opens up for our readers, and because we love helping you achieve the score you need. However, we don't expect you to love the exam itself, because, let's face it, very few people actually like exams. At the same time, we shouldn't underestimate what love and passion can do for you as a language learner: a good IELTS score is a side-effect of finding a connection to the language that goes beyond simply understanding it and using it in an exam-focussed, mechanical way.  Along with so many other people in England, I’ve recently been inspired by the achievement of Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool Football Club, who led his team to victory in the Premier League with record-breaking performances after a 30-year wait for the title. Jürgen, who is German, does not speak English perfectly and the English teacher in me notices grammatical errors when he speaks. However, he is known throughout the footballing world to have a ‘way with words’, which means that when he speaks, he truly communicates, and people are eager to listen to what he says because he always finds the right words to make his message strong and inspiring. I believe that it is this desire to share the love and passion he feels for football with others not only allows him to use the English he already knows to great effect, but to keep improving all the time. And in the meantime, who cares about grammar when you have something to say and inspire others.  A couple of years ago, I worked with a student who was preparing to do a PhD and although he came to me thinking that his English was not very good, by the end of term, he produced an essay that taught me about energy transformation in batteries in a way that not only allowed me to really understand the processes involved, but his passion for the topic made it come alive for me and I understood the role his research will play in changing the way we use and store energy. By the end of the semester, his English had improved significantly without him even noticing, although he did, of course, still make mistakes, and he’s now contributing to published articles in scientific journals with a team of native speakers.  I am very lucky to be working in a profession where I get inspired by my students (and readers) all the time and I guess my message to you is this: Find your passion and find a connection with that passion and the English language.  Another one of my students has a passion for writing and although her English isn’t perfect, when we studied one of her stories in our literature class, her classmates got more excited about her work than the famous English writer we studied the week before, because she had a message the other students needed and wanted to hear: ‘Don’t wait to show others what matters to you until you’re perfect at it. Get your message out now.’ For example, if you love food, there are many exciting cookery programmes in English for you to watch, but why not go beyond that and share the love for your country’s cuisine with others by making some cookery videos in English yourself, so others can enjoy what you love. By figuring out how to communicate what really matters to you to others in English, you’ll improve your language skills more effectively than by doing endless grammar exercises (although there’s a time and place for those, too, of course).  So what’s your message? How would you like to inspire the world?  I can’t wait to find out! Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

2 July, 2020

Find your passion and achieve your English language goals

Find your passion and develop your English language

Here at 'We Love IELTS', we love IELTS. We love it because we see the possibilities it opens up for our readers, and because we love helping you achieve the score you need. However, we don't expect you to love the exam itself, because, let's face it, very few people actually like exams.
At the same time, we shouldn't underestimate what love and passion can do for you as a language learner: a good IELTS score is a side-effect of finding a connection to the language that goes beyond simply understanding it and using it in an exam-focussed, mechanical way. 

Along with so many other people in England, I’ve recently been inspired by the achievement of Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool Football Club, who led his team to victory in the Premier League with record-breaking performances after a 30-year wait for the title.

Jürgen, who is German, does not speak English perfectly and the English teacher in me notices grammatical errors when he speaks. However, he is known throughout the footballing world to have a ‘way with words’, which means that when he speaks, he truly communicates, and people are eager to listen to what he says because he always finds the right words to make his message strong and inspiring. I believe that it is this desire to share the love and passion he feels for football with others not only allows him to use the English he already knows to great effect, but to keep improving all the time. And in the meantime, who cares about grammar when you have something to say and inspire others. 

A couple of years ago, I worked with a student who was preparing to do a PhD and although he came to me thinking that his English was not very good, by the end of term, he produced an essay that taught me about energy transformation in batteries in a way that not only allowed me to really understand the processes involved, but his passion for the topic made it come alive for me and I understood the role his research will play in changing the way we use and store energy. By the end of the semester, his English had improved significantly without him even noticing, although he did, of course, still make mistakes, and he’s now contributing to published articles in scientific journals with a team of native speakers. 

I am very lucky to be working in a profession where I get inspired by my students (and readers) all the time and I guess my message to you is this: Find your passion and find a connection with that passion and the English language. 

Another one of my students has a passion for writing and although her English isn’t perfect, when we studied one of her stories in our literature class, her classmates got more excited about her work than the famous English writer we studied the week before, because she had a message the other students needed and wanted to hear: ‘Don’t wait to show others what matters to you until you’re perfect at it. Get your message out now.’

For example, if you love food, there are many exciting cookery programmes in English for you to watch, but why not go beyond that and share the love for your country’s cuisine with others by making some cookery videos in English yourself, so others can enjoy what you love. By figuring out how to communicate what really matters to you to others in English, you’ll improve your language skills more effectively than by doing endless grammar exercises (although there’s a time and place for those, too, of course). 

So what’s your message? How would you like to inspire the world? 

I can’t wait to find out!

Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

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Top Tips for IELTS Academic

This pocket-sized revision guide gives you essential advice for each part of the IELTS Academic test. It includes clear examples and explanations to show you exactly what each tip means, general tips for each paper, and sections on how to revise and what to do on test day. It also comes with an interactive IELTS practice test on CD-ROM. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Developing your English after IELTS Academic
TopTips
Developing your English for university after IELTS Academic

I've spent many years as a language teacher preparing students for the IELTS exam, and during that time, I've become quite passionate about making this as positive and useful as possible and helping students get their required IELTS score. Now I'm a university lecturer, I've gained a whole new perspective as I work with some students who have achieved the required score, but who are still finding it difficult to cope with their university studies.  One of the key problems is that students can be so focussed on the skills they need to get through the exam, that they neglect to improve their English language skills and to look ahead to what they’ll need once they enter university.  Think of the IELTS exam as an airport to your real destination. While it’s important to make sure you have your ticket, passport, vaccinations, visa, and anything else you need to get through the controls, you’ll also want to know what to do at the other end of your journey.  So here are my top tips for looking beyond IELTS: Start reading texts from your future field of studies in English. This will help you build the vocabulary you’ll need on your degree programme. Remember to start with fairly simple texts on websites and build to more advanced sources such as textbooks and journal articles. You may also want to find a subject-specific dictionary to help you understand key ideas in your field. If you’re worried about your listening skills, watch documentaries about topics from your subject area (with subtitles if you find it useful). Read about your future subject in your own language. The more you already know about the subject, the easier it will be to understand concepts in another language and to absorb new vocabulary.  Work on your general language skills. You should spend at least as much time on improving your grammar, vocabulary, spelling etc., as you do on IELTS exam skills. Remember that IELTS is not a different language! It’s still English, so the better you are at English the higher your IELTS score will be. However, if you want to study the language with examples that are directly relevant to the exam, you could use some of these sources: Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced Research the academic skills required at university. IELTS is essentially a language exam. Once you arrive at university, you will have to acquire a whole new set of academic skills, which go beyond the level tested in IELTS. This includes ideas such as structuring an essay, referencing and hedging. Many universities allow open access to their academic skills sites, so a quick internet search should provide you with lots of useful sources. There are also numerous subject-specific academic skills handbooks available which should help you research and write/present within your discipline.    Research your preferred universities and cities in as much detail as you can. This will help you choose the best option for you and to orientate yourself. Many universities offer similar academic options, so think about what matters to you as a person. Do you prefer clean air or a bustling nightlife? Do you want to continue practising a particular sport? Thorough research will also help you go through the process of settling in and making friends more smoothly as you’ll know where to go and what to do.  Remember that spending time on the activities above, doesn’t take time away from your IELTS preparation. On the contrary, looking beyond IELTS can form an important part of achieving your required score while giving you a head-start in your university studies. For example, reading texts from your field of study counts as reading practice and will improve your fluency and vocabulary.  Good luck on your journey! Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

24 June, 2020

Developing your English for university after IELTS Academic

Developing your English after IELTS Academic

I've spent many years as a language teacher preparing students for the IELTS exam, and during that time, I've become quite passionate about making this as positive and useful as possible and helping students get their required IELTS score. Now I'm a university lecturer, I've gained a whole new perspective as I work with some students who have achieved the required score, but who are still finding it difficult to cope with their university studies. 

One of the key problems is that students can be so focussed on the skills they need to get through the exam, that they neglect to improve their English language skills and to look ahead to what they’ll need once they enter university. 

Think of the IELTS exam as an airport to your real destination. While it’s important to make sure you have your ticket, passport, vaccinations, visa, and anything else you need to get through the controls, you’ll also want to know what to do at the other end of your journey. 

So here are my top tips for looking beyond IELTS:

Start reading texts from your future field of studies in English. This will help you build the vocabulary you’ll need on your degree programme. Remember to start with fairly simple texts on websites and build to more advanced sources such as textbooks and journal articles. You may also want to find a subject-specific dictionary to help you understand key ideas in your field. If you’re worried about your listening skills, watch documentaries about topics from your subject area (with subtitles if you find it useful).

Read about your future subject in your own language. The more you already know about the subject, the easier it will be to understand concepts in another language and to absorb new vocabulary. 

Work on your general language skills. You should spend at least as much time on improving your grammar, vocabulary, spelling etc., as you do on IELTS exam skills. Remember that IELTS is not a different language! It’s still English, so the better you are at English the higher your IELTS score will be. However, if you want to study the language with examples that are directly relevant to the exam, you could use some of these sources:

Research the academic skills required at university. IELTS is essentially a language exam. Once you arrive at university, you will have to acquire a whole new set of academic skills, which go beyond the level tested in IELTS. This includes ideas such as structuring an essay, referencing and hedging. Many universities allow open access to their academic skills sites, so a quick internet search should provide you with lots of useful sources. There are also numerous subject-specific academic skills handbooks available which should help you research and write/present within your discipline. 

English Beyond IELTS Tip

 

Research your preferred universities and cities in as much detail as you can. This will help you choose the best option for you and to orientate yourself. Many universities offer similar academic options, so think about what matters to you as a person. Do you prefer clean air or a bustling nightlife? Do you want to continue practising a particular sport? Thorough research will also help you go through the process of settling in and making friends more smoothly as you’ll know where to go and what to do. 

Remember that spending time on the activities above, doesn’t take time away from your IELTS preparation. On the contrary, looking beyond IELTS can form an important part of achieving your required score while giving you a head-start in your university studies. For example, reading texts from your field of study counts as reading practice and will improve your fluency and vocabulary. 

Good luck on your journey!
Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

filter tags

Rafael-Test-Takers-Perspective
TopTips
A test-taker's perspective: easier said than done

Rafael, a past IELTS test taker (and now an English Teacher!), shares his experience of taking IELTS. It helped him to understand the test from his students' perspective and what's needed to prepare and pass the test to achieve band score 9.    Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read a test-taker's perspective: easier said than done     Why did you take the IELTS test? I’ve always wanted to be an English teacher. I didn’t have to take IELTS but it would help me to better prepare my students and become familiar with the exam.  How did you manage your study time? The first thing I did was to become as familiar with the exam as possible. I took a lot of IELTS practice tests and read everything I could about the exam.  Which tools and/or products helped you pass?  A book that helped me when preparing was “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time'' by Mark Haddon. Sounds strange but I’ll tell you why… It’s the story of a boy with Asperger syndrome who struggled to make sense of the world around him. Little did I know that the book would eventually win the 2003 Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and became a brilliant play. I believe IELTS test takers should read this book for two reasons. Firstly, because it has a riveting plot and makes for good entertainment. Secondly, the main character of the book struggles to understand the world around him. He has a hard time reading emotions and feelings. He doesn’t seem to grasp sarcasm, for instance. When we learn another language, we may find ourselves in the same situation. Usually A2/B1 students may fail to see the finer points of a listening passage or a text.  The book can help you not only to improve vocabulary and grammar but also to learn to thrive even with limitations.    What techniques did you learn along the way? While preparing for IELTS I realized that most essays follow a pattern. Although you don’t have to, it makes it easier if you follow a structure. This structure has worked for students I’ve taught and helped me to reach my target band score: First paragraph – paraphrase the rubrics (set of instructions) and write about what you’re going to write. Let the examiner know that you have fully understood the task and that you are on your way to tackle it. Second paragraph - try to support one side of the argument. Come up with reasons for everything you say. Write short well linked sentences. Third paragraph - support the other side of the argument. Contrast the ideas from the previous paragraph. Develop your thoughts.  Fourth and final paragraph (remember you only have 40 minutes) - state your opinion and come up with a conclusion.   Linking expressions will also help you to achieve a higher band score, Sophie explains this further here. I know what you’re thinking; it’s easier said than done. You’re right! That’s why in addition to this you should also use very good and reliable preparation material so that you know exactly what you are up against. I personally recommend the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.   What do you use your English for now?    Nowadays I use English for everything as I work in an English speaking country; I teach and study it everyday. Most importantly, I used my knowledge of the English language to write this blog for you! Hope you found this useful! Rafael

IELTS Test Taker

4 June, 2020

A test-taker's perspective: easier said than done

Rafael-Test-Takers-Perspective

Rafael, a past IELTS test taker (and now an English Teacher!), shares his experience of taking IELTS. It helped him to understand the test from his students' perspective and what's needed to prepare and pass the test to achieve band score 9.

 

Listening Icon Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read a test-taker's perspective: easier said than done

 

 

Why did you take the IELTS test?
I’ve always wanted to be an English teacher. I didn’t have to take IELTS but it would help me to better prepare my students and become familiar with the exam. 

How did you manage your study time?
The first thing I did was to become as familiar with the exam as possible. I took a lot of IELTS practice tests and read everything I could about the exam. 

Which tools and/or products helped you pass? 
A book that helped me when preparing was “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time'' by Mark Haddon. Sounds strange but I’ll tell you why… It’s the story of a boy with Asperger syndrome who struggled to make sense of the world around him. Little did I know that the book would eventually win the 2003 Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and became a brilliant play.

I believe IELTS test takers should read this book for two reasons. Firstly, because it has a riveting plot and makes for good entertainment. Secondly, the main character of the book struggles to understand the world around him. He has a hard time reading emotions and feelings. He doesn’t seem to grasp sarcasm, for instance. When we learn another language, we may find ourselves in the same situation. Usually A2/B1 students may fail to see the finer points of a listening passage or a text. 

The book can help you not only to improve vocabulary and grammar but also to learn to thrive even with limitations.   

What techniques did you learn along the way?
While preparing for IELTS I realized that most essays follow a pattern. Although you don’t have to, it makes it easier if you follow a structure. This structure has worked for students I’ve taught and helped me to reach my target band score:

  • First paragraph – paraphrase the rubrics (set of instructions) and write about what you’re going to write. Let the examiner know that you have fully understood the task and that you are on your way to tackle it.
  • Second paragraph - try to support one side of the argument. Come up with reasons for everything you say. Write short well linked sentences.
  • Third paragraph - support the other side of the argument. Contrast the ideas from the previous paragraph. Develop your thoughts. 
  • Fourth and final paragraph (remember you only have 40 minutes) - state your opinion and come up with a conclusion.
Top Tip from Rafael

 

Linking expressions will also help you to achieve a higher band score, Sophie explains this further here.

I know what you’re thinking; it’s easier said than done. You’re right! That’s why in addition to this you should also use very good and reliable preparation material so that you know exactly what you are up against. I personally recommend the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.  

What do you use your English for now? 
 
Nowadays I use English for everything as I work in an English speaking country; I teach and study it everyday. Most importantly, I used my knowledge of the English language to write this blog for you!

Hope you found this useful!

Rafael

IELTS Test Taker

Hear from past IELTS test takers as they share their experience of taking IELTS. They will cover what’s needed to prepare, pass the test and achieve your target band score.

More about the author

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Recommended For You

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Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Set SMART Goals
TopTips
Set SMART goals

For many students, gaining their required grade in the IELTS test isn't easy and it can be really hard to stay motivated and positive every day. A couple of months ago, I posted a blog on creating a goals board in order to help you stay focussed on what you want to achieve and break down your big goal(s) into smaller goals to create a study routine.  Today, I’d like to look at how you can make sure you reach these smaller goals successfully every day, so that you make quick progress towards your IELTS goal.    In the business world, we often talk about setting SMART goals and we can apply this very easily to your IELTS studies. No, that is not smart in the British sense of the word meaning stylish or elegant. It is also not really in the American sense that the goal has to be clever. Having said that, setting SMART goals for your IELTS studies is probably a really clever idea. So, what does SMART stand for?  S: Specific Instead of saying ‘study vocabulary’, set a goal like this: Study vocabulary to do with the workplace. Or, even better: Study p. 90-93 in Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS. If your goal isn’t specific, it’s really easy to get demotivated and lost in the sheer amount of work you still have to do. If you have a specific goal, however small, there’ll be a moment when you’ve achieved it and when you can celebrate completing this step of your journey.  M: Measurable This means that you need to have a clear marker that tells you when you have achieved your goal. (e.g. ‘when I can remember 80% of the words from the exercise’, or, ‘when I can spell 100% of the words from the exercise correctly.’) Sadly, completing a test or exercise in a book isn’t a measurement of having learnt anything, so think about what you want to be able to do at the end.  A: Attainable Attainable means that something is possible to achieve. So, ‘A’ could also stand for ‘Achievable’. Remember that your goals need to be small enough so they’re realistic. If you got an IELTS 5.5 in your most recent Writing test, it’s not a good idea to set an IELTS 7 as your goal. Of course, given enough time and practice, achieving a 7 is possible, but the goal is really too distant to be SMART. Instead, think like this: ‘In my most recent practice writing, I made 8 mistakes with active passive. In my next writing, I want to make no more than 2 mistakes with active/passive. In order to do so, I will study Unit 22 in Grammar for IELTS and then make sure I proofread carefully for active/passive mistakes in my next practice test.’ This way you have a much better chance of achieving your goal, which should help you stay motivated for your next goal. R: Relevant Make sure that the goal you set is really focused on what you need to study to achieve your goal. For example, studying informal English can be fun and help you stay motivated, but if you have booked your exam and you have not worked on you spelling for expressions used in the first part of the Writing test, the latter would be a much better goal to set.   T: Time-bound This one is especially important when you study independently: Set yourself a deadline. Write down when you want to complete a particular goal by and remember to be realistic. Some goals need a later deadline because they involve more work, others benefit from having a tight deadline to motivate you to just get it done.  You are now ready to make a list of SMART goals, but do make sure it is not too long. Whenever you complete one item on your list, you can add another. When deciding which goals to start with, decide which ones are most relevant to your overall goal at the moment and don’t forget to celebrate each success by doing something you enjoy and by telling yourself: Well done.  Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

7 May, 2020

Set SMART goals

Set SMART Goals

For many students, gaining their required grade in the IELTS test isn't easy and it can be really hard to stay motivated and positive every day. A couple of months ago, I posted a blog on creating a goals board in order to help you stay focussed on what you want to achieve and break down your big goal(s) into smaller goals to create a study routine. 
Today, I’d like to look at how you can make sure you reach these smaller goals successfully every day, so that you make quick progress towards your IELTS goal. 

 

In the business world, we often talk about setting SMART goals and we can apply this very easily to your IELTS studies. No, that is not smart in the British sense of the word meaning stylish or elegant. It is also not really in the American sense that the goal has to be clever. Having said that, setting SMART goals for your IELTS studies is probably a really clever idea.

So, what does SMART stand for? 

S: Specific

Instead of saying ‘study vocabulary’, set a goal like this: Study vocabulary to do with the workplace. Or, even better: Study p. 90-93 in Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS. If your goal isn’t specific, it’s really easy to get demotivated and lost in the sheer amount of work you still have to do. If you have a specific goal, however small, there’ll be a moment when you’ve achieved it and when you can celebrate completing this step of your journey. 

M: Measurable

This means that you need to have a clear marker that tells you when you have achieved your goal. (e.g. ‘when I can remember 80% of the words from the exercise’, or, ‘when I can spell 100% of the words from the exercise correctly.’) Sadly, completing a test or exercise in a book isn’t a measurement of having learnt anything, so think about what you want to be able to do at the end. 

A: Attainable

Attainable means that something is possible to achieve. So, ‘A’ could also stand for ‘Achievable’. Remember that your goals need to be small enough so they’re realistic. If you got an IELTS 5.5 in your most recent Writing test, it’s not a good idea to set an IELTS 7 as your goal. Of course, given enough time and practice, achieving a 7 is possible, but the goal is really too distant to be SMART. Instead, think like this: ‘In my most recent practice writing, I made 8 mistakes with active passive. In my next writing, I want to make no more than 2 mistakes with active/passive. In order to do so, I will study Unit 22 in Grammar for IELTS and then make sure I proofread carefully for active/passive mistakes in my next practice test.’ This way you have a much better chance of achieving your goal, which should help you stay motivated for your next goal.

R: Relevant

Make sure that the goal you set is really focused on what you need to study to achieve your goal. For example, studying informal English can be fun and help you stay motivated, but if you have booked your exam and you have not worked on you spelling for expressions used in the first part of the Writing test, the latter would be a much better goal to set.  


T: Time-bound

This one is especially important when you study independently: Set yourself a deadline. Write down when you want to complete a particular goal by and remember to be realistic. Some goals need a later deadline because they involve more work, others benefit from having a tight deadline to motivate you to just get it done. 

You are now ready to make a list of SMART goals, but do make sure it is not too long. Whenever you complete one item on your list, you can add another. When deciding which goals to start with, decide which ones are most relevant to your overall goal at the moment and don’t forget to celebrate each success by doing something you enjoy and by telling yourself: Well done. 

Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Cambridge Grammar for IELTS

Cambridge Grammar for IELTS provides clear explanations and extensive practice of all the grammar you need for IELTS. Grammar is presented through listening material, so your listening skills will also develop while you study. It includes a wide range of tasks from IELTS Academic and General Training Reading, Writing and Listening sections. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Study Group
TopTips
Join or create a study group

Are you finding it difficult to stay motivated in studying for IELTS? Do you sometimes lack self-discipline? One really good way to stay on track is working with others in a study group. A study group is a group of people who meet regularly, to encourage and support each other. This may be particularly helpful if you are easily distracted or if you don’t enjoy working on your own.  There are a few things to consider when organising an IELTS study group: Make sure the group is relatively small, so meetings are easy to organise and each member gets plenty of time to contribute.   Make sure you have a suitable online space to meet (Zoom is a great option). Agree on the length of the session in advance. A fixed end-time helps everybody stay focussed and motivated.  Make sure the session starts on time. Show respect to your group members and to your own studies by treating each session as an important appointment.  Make session time a social media-free zone. Put away your phones and focus on your studies.  Have plenty of breaks to chat and relax. This is especially important for longer study sessions. However, make sure you agree on the length of the break in advance.  Agree the date and time for the next session at the end of each meeting.  Identify a clear goal for each session. Find suitable materials to use for each session in advance.  Set ‘homework’ for members to complete in preparation for the next session.  Keep a list of goals you want to achieve with the group.  Celebrate your successes and reward yourselves.  It’s a good idea to appoint a session leader for each session in advance. Their job is to ensure that you stick to the rules above and to lead discussions, making sure all group members get to contribute. Then, they clearly communicate what the group has decided, e.g. the aim for the next session and the preparation to be done. They may, for example, send an email summary to everyone after their session. Session leaders will also be the one in charge of finding materials and activities for their session.  This could include some of the following activities:    Do you have any good ideas for study groups? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know.  If it’s well-organised, a study group is a great tool in helping you progress towards your IELTS goal and, if you remember to keep it positive and fun, you may even make some really good friends.  In my next blog in this series, I’ll be looking at setting SMART goals to help you stay motivated, so make sure to look out for it. Sophie PS. If you can’t find enough people to form a group, why not just work with a study buddy?  

Sophie Hodgson

29 April, 2020

Join or create a study group

Study Group

Are you finding it difficult to stay motivated in studying for IELTS? Do you sometimes lack self-discipline? One really good way to stay on track is working with others in a study group. A study group is a group of people who meet regularly, to encourage and support each other. This may be particularly helpful if you are easily distracted or if you don’t enjoy working on your own. 

There are a few things to consider when organising an IELTS study group:

Make sure the group is relatively small, so meetings are easy to organise and each member gets plenty of time to contribute.  

  • Make sure you have a suitable online space to meet (Zoom is a great option).
  • Agree on the length of the session in advance. A fixed end-time helps everybody stay focussed and motivated. 
  • Make sure the session starts on time. Show respect to your group members and to your own studies by treating each session as an important appointment. 
  • Make session time a social media-free zone. Put away your phones and focus on your studies. 
  • Have plenty of breaks to chat and relax. This is especially important for longer study sessions. However, make sure you agree on the length of the break in advance. 
  • Agree the date and time for the next session at the end of each meeting. 
  • Identify a clear goal for each session.
  • Find suitable materials to use for each session in advance. 
  • Set ‘homework’ for members to complete in preparation for the next session. 
  • Keep a list of goals you want to achieve with the group. 
  • Celebrate your successes and reward yourselves. 

It’s a good idea to appoint a session leader for each session in advance. Their job is to ensure that you stick to the rules above and to lead discussions, making sure all group members get to contribute. Then, they clearly communicate what the group has decided, e.g. the aim for the next session and the preparation to be done. They may, for example, send an email summary to everyone after their session. Session leaders will also be the one in charge of finding materials and activities for their session. 

This could include some of the following activities: 

Study Group Tips - We Love IELTS

 

Do you have any good ideas for study groups? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know. 

If it’s well-organised, a study group is a great tool in helping you progress towards your IELTS goal and, if you remember to keep it positive and fun, you may even make some really good friends. 

In my next blog in this series, I’ll be looking at setting SMART goals to help you stay motivated, so make sure to look out for it.

Sophie


PS. If you can’t find enough people to form a group, why not just work with a study buddy?
 

top-tip

Don’t forget, the preparation materials and content on We Love IELTS can be used as a guide for your study group!

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Top Tips for IELTS Academic

This pocket-sized revision guide gives you essential advice for each part of the IELTS Academic test. It includes clear examples and explanations to show you exactly what each tip means, general tips for each paper, and sections on how to revise and what to do on test day. It also comes with an interactive IELTS practice test on CD-ROM. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

FAQS-Product
TopTips
Find the right preparation materials for you

With so many websites and books offering IELTS preparation materials out there it's difficult to know where to find reliable, authentic resources. We get a lot of questions about our bestselling authentic resources, so today I will try to answer some of them.    Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read find the right preparation materials for you     1. What’s the difference between IELTS 10 and IELTS 15?  Both books are from a series of Authentic Practice Tests (books that feature tests that are exactly like the real exam). A new edition is published every year and IELTS 15 is the latest edition. Older versions, like IELTS  12 and 13 are still available to buy and there is no reason why you shouldn’t use them. Each of the books has 4 full practice tests, complete with answers to check your work. Find out more about IELTS 15 here. 2. I have 5 months until my test and I am not sure what to use to help me prepare? The most comprehensive preparation book is the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS. This study guide covers all areas of the test with in-depth skills practice, grammar and vocabulary exercises, test strategies and lots of tips and advice.  It also has practice tests so, if you’re only looking to get one book this is a great option.  If you’re not sure what is available then why not use our Resource Finder. It will help you to find the right preparation materials for you, all you need to do is answer five quick questions to find out what the best resources are to boost your preparation. Try it today! 3. I don’t know what practice tests I should use, what is the difference? Let’s break down our three most popular practice tests so you can find which one is best for you. IELTS Trainer 2 IELTS Trainer 2 provides practice tests AND guidance. First, you can build your confidence by following the step-by-step guidance, tips and strategies in the training and exam practice exercises in the first two tests. Then, you can apply what you’ve learned and develop your exam technique with the final four tests. This book comes with downloadable audio, audio scripts and answers with detailed explanations.  This is great if you want some guidance and tips as well as practice tests. IELTS 14 (IELTS 15 is now available) IELTS 14 contains four practice tests EXACTLY like the real exam. It comes with audio scripts, answer keys and sample Writing answers so you can check your own strengths and weaknesses. This book gives you an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with the test format and practise exam techniques using real-to-life test material written by the test makers (Cambridge Assessment English).  This one is perfect for test practice, and understanding where you might need to focus your study time. Official Practice Materials 2  This book contains practice test material covering all four skills and is suitable for both IELTS Academic and General Training modules. It comes with a DVD with the Listening test audio and three sample Speaking test answers. Examiner comments for Writing and Speaking sample answers will help you improve your score.  This one is the quickest to work through, so might be good if you have very limited study time 4. I already have IELTS materials to prepare but is there anything else you recommend to get my target band score? If you're struggling to reach your target band score then you might need to work on your general English. Some students make the mistake of  doing practice tests all the time and get frustrated when they don’t see any progress.  Remember that IELTS is a test of your English language level. Here on the We Love IELTS website we have a range of blog posts which include vocabulary, grammar and how to build your English language level. If you prefer to have a book to work from then the Grammar for IELTS and Vocabulary for IELTS books are both excellent self-study choices.  Best of luck with your preparation! Emma  

Emma Cosgrave

21 April, 2020

Find the right preparation materials for you

FAQS-Product

With so many websites and books offering IELTS preparation materials out there it's difficult to know where to find reliable, authentic resources. We get a lot of questions about our bestselling authentic resources, so today I will try to answer some of them.

 

Listening Icon Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read find the right preparation materials for you

 

 

1. What’s the difference between IELTS 10 and IELTS 15? 

Both books are from a series of Authentic Practice Tests (books that feature tests that are exactly like the real exam). A new edition is published every year and IELTS 15 is the latest edition. Older versions, like IELTS  12 and 13 are still available to buy and there is no reason why you shouldn’t use them. Each of the books has 4 full practice tests, complete with answers to check your work. Find out more about IELTS 15 here.

2. I have 5 months until my test and I am not sure what to use to help me prepare?

The most comprehensive preparation book is the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS. This study guide covers all areas of the test with in-depth skills practice, grammar and vocabulary exercises, test strategies and lots of tips and advice.  It also has practice tests so, if you’re only looking to get one book this is a great option. 

If you’re not sure what is available then why not use our Resource Finder. It will help you to find the right preparation materials for you, all you need to do is answer five quick questions to find out what the best resources are to boost your preparation. Try it today!

3. I don’t know what practice tests I should use, what is the difference?

Let’s break down our three most popular practice tests so you can find which one is best for you.

IELTS Trainer 2

IELTS Trainer 2 provides practice tests AND guidance. First, you can build your confidence by following the step-by-step guidance, tips and strategies in the training and exam practice exercises in the first two tests. Then, you can apply what you’ve learned and develop your exam technique with the final four tests. This book comes with downloadable audio, audio scripts and answers with detailed explanations. 

This is great if you want some guidance and tips as well as practice tests.

IELTS 14 (IELTS 15 is now available)

IELTS 14 contains four practice tests EXACTLY like the real exam. It comes with audio scripts, answer keys and sample Writing answers so you can check your own strengths and weaknesses.

This book gives you an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with the test format and practise exam techniques using real-to-life test material written by the test makers (Cambridge Assessment English). 

This one is perfect for test practice, and understanding where you might need to focus your study time.

Official Practice Materials 2 

This book contains practice test material covering all four skills and is suitable for both IELTS Academic and General Training modules. It comes with a DVD with the Listening test audio and three sample Speaking test answers. Examiner comments for Writing and Speaking sample answers will help you improve your score. 

This one is the quickest to work through, so might be good if you have very limited study time

4. I already have IELTS materials to prepare but is there anything else you recommend to get my target band score?

If you're struggling to reach your target band score then you might need to work on your general English. Some students make the mistake of  doing practice tests all the time and get frustrated when they don’t see any progress. 

Remember that IELTS is a test of your English language level. Here on the We Love IELTS website we have a range of blog posts which include vocabulary, grammar and how to build your English language level. If you prefer to have a book to work from then the Grammar for IELTS and Vocabulary for IELTS books are both excellent self-study choices. 

Best of luck with your preparation!

Emma

 

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
IELTS Trainer 2 Academic

IELTS Trainer 2 provides practice tests AND guidance. First, build your confidence by following the step-by-step guidance, tips and strategies in the training and exam practice exercises in the first two tests. Then apply what you’ve learned and develop your exam technique with the final four tests. This book contains six full practice tests with downloadable audio, audioscripts and answers with detailed explanations. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Studying at home
TopTips
Simple ways to study for IELTS at home

Are you wondering how to stay focused on your English if your IELTS classes have stopped? We Love IELTS is here to help! Here are some simple things that you can do from home to maintain your general English level.  1. Test yourself with practice questions Alternate between doing timed practices and allowing yourself as long as you need to really understand the questions and texts. If you have any of the IELTS Authentic Practice Tests, there are model answers and examiner comments to help you analyse your own work. If you don’t have access to the Cambridge IELTS practice tests series don’t worry, you can find official IELTS sample test questions on the IELTS website. 2. Record yourself doing an IELTS Speaking test If you have a friend who can practise with you, either at home or online, why not take turns being the examiner and the candidate. Listen back and evaluate your own performance. You could also try to note down everything you said, like a transcript, this will help you to identify any mistakes that you made. If you want to understand the IELTS Speaking test do read my recent blog. 3. Test out computer delivered IELTS Even if you have no intention of taking a computer-delivered IELTS test there are some really helpful practice materials available on the internet. The test is the same whether you take it on a computer or on paper so these activities will be useful to you. Perhaps you will decide that you would actually prefer to take your IELTS test on a computer.  Testbank-i is our official online practice test for IELTS, it's the perfect preparation for computer-delivered IELTS. Try in ‘Practice Mode’ multiple times with tips, feedback and answers. Then try in ‘Test Mode’ to see how you perform in exam-like conditions. Use code “PROMOIELTS” for 30% discount. ACADEMIC | GENERAL TRAINING 4. Check your bookshelf Have a look on your bookshelves and see what old textbooks you have. Now might be the perfect time to finally work through that grammar book you got when you were 16 and didn’t ever complete! If you have test preparation materials then why not do the questions. Even if you’ve already completed a reading comprehension task, the text itself is a really valuable resource which will be full of vocabulary that you can learn.  5. Take some time to learn all about the IELTS test Download the Official Guide for Candidates and make sure you read through carefully. Find out more about each skills: Reading Writing Listening  Speaking 6. Join in as much as you can online Write comments, answer and ask questions, do tasks and get feedback or just feel like part of a wider community of learners. You may even find some new friends along the way. On our Facebook page we are offering a range of live sessions, please do join or check back for recordings. 7. Keep your general English level up Do some fun stuff and don’t just focus on IELTS. If you want some ideas of what you could be doing, check out my blog post about ways to work on your general English at home.  8. The Academic Wordlist It was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The list contains 570 word families which were selected because they appear with great frequency in a broad range of academic texts. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have a great, free resource that you can access to learn these important vocabulary items. 9. Sign up to our newsletter We’re working hard to make great content for you and the best way to find out about what we’re doing is to sign up for our newsletter. Keep checking this website for new blog posts and other materials. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page as well as our Instagram and YouTube channels so that you don’t miss any updates. 10. Stay positive Last but not least, in these uncertain times when nothing seems to be normal, we hope you are able to stay safe, stay strong and stay positive. Watch my Facebook Live on how to maintain or even improve your English: {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/PLjYwRjd1QKGBtLKgpXDxfbqsXenWyVkBy.jpg?itok=cLgBf3ea","video_url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RybbyBuQ4CU&list=PLjYwRjd1QKGBtLKgpXDxfbqsXenWyVkBy","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":1},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive, autoplaying)."]}   Bye for now, Emma

Emma Cosgrave

23 March, 2020

Simple ways to study for IELTS at home

Studying at home

Are you wondering how to stay focused on your English if your IELTS classes have stopped? We Love IELTS is here to help!

Here are some simple things that you can do from home to maintain your general English level. 

1. Test yourself with practice questions

Alternate between doing timed practices and allowing yourself as long as you need to really understand the questions and texts. If you have any of the IELTS Authentic Practice Tests, there are model answers and examiner comments to help you analyse your own work.

If you don’t have access to the Cambridge IELTS practice tests series don’t worry, you can find official IELTS sample test questions on the IELTS website.

2. Record yourself doing an IELTS Speaking test

If you have a friend who can practise with you, either at home or online, why not take turns being the examiner and the candidate. Listen back and evaluate your own performance. You could also try to note down everything you said, like a transcript, this will help you to identify any mistakes that you made. If you want to understand the IELTS Speaking test do read my recent blog.

3. Test out computer delivered IELTS

Even if you have no intention of taking a computer-delivered IELTS test there are some really helpful practice materials available on the internet. The test is the same whether you take it on a computer or on paper so these activities will be useful to you. Perhaps you will decide that you would actually prefer to take your IELTS test on a computer. 

Testbank-i is our official online practice test for IELTS, it's the perfect preparation for computer-delivered IELTS. Try in ‘Practice Mode’ multiple times with tips, feedback and answers. Then try in ‘Test Mode’ to see how you perform in exam-like conditions. Use code “PROMOIELTS” for 30% discount.

ACADEMIC | GENERAL TRAINING

4. Check your bookshelf

Have a look on your bookshelves and see what old textbooks you have. Now might be the perfect time to finally work through that grammar book you got when you were 16 and didn’t ever complete! If you have test preparation materials then why not do the questions. Even if you’ve already completed a reading comprehension task, the text itself is a really valuable resource which will be full of vocabulary that you can learn. 

5. Take some time to learn all about the IELTS test

Download the Official Guide for Candidates and make sure you read through carefully.

Find out more about each skills:

6. Join in as much as you can online

Write comments, answer and ask questions, do tasks and get feedback or just feel like part of a wider community of learners. You may even find some new friends along the way. On our Facebook page we are offering a range of live sessions, please do join or check back for recordings.

7. Keep your general English level up

Do some fun stuff and don’t just focus on IELTS. If you want some ideas of what you could be doing, check out my blog post about ways to work on your general English at home. 

8. The Academic Wordlist

It was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The list contains 570 word families which were selected because they appear with great frequency in a broad range of academic texts. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have a great, free resource that you can access to learn these important vocabulary items.

9. Sign up to our newsletter

We’re working hard to make great content for you and the best way to find out about what we’re doing is to sign up for our newsletter. Keep checking this website for new blog posts and other materials. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page as well as our Instagram and YouTube channels so that you don’t miss any updates.

10. Stay positive

Last but not least, in these uncertain times when nothing seems to be normal, we hope you are able to stay safe, stay strong and stay positive.

Watch my Facebook Live on how to maintain or even improve your English:

 

Bye for now,

Emma

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Learning at home
TopTips
5 ways to keep learning from home

Are you stuck at home, wondering how to stay focussed on your English when all classes have stopped? We Love IELTS is here to help! Here are 5 simple things that you can do from the comfort of your own home without spending a lot of money to maintain your general English level.  1. Watch something in English Take notes, look up words, pause and repeat phrases that you like. Rather than just relaxing with your usual films or box sets try to watch documentaries. Choose a wide variety of topics so that you can improve your vocabulary in different fields. If you have a Netflix or similar subscription, great, you have a lot of options. Remember, you can change the language of many shows and also the language of the subtitles. Language Learning with Netflix is a Google Chrome extension that could be useful for you too. You don’t need to have a paid for TV subscription to watch English language documentaries, YouTube has plenty to offer too for free. Some of my favourite channels are National Geographic, Natural History Museum and Discovery Channel.  2. Surround yourself with English Some quick and easy ways to do this are: change your phone to English read English language news sites set your email to English  read magazines about the things you love to do in English listen to something in English while you do your everyday tasks - podcasts, audiobooks, radio plays, English language songs. BBC world service news review is just one example I suggest to my students. Join our social channels (Facebook & Instagram) to talk to fellow English and IELTS learners and take part in fun daily exercises! 3. Have some fun each day There are lots of ways you can improve your vocabulary without swallowing a dictionary. One of my favourite games to play is Freerice. You can choose to work on English vocabulary or grammar and if you’re feeling confident you could have a go at a different category e.g. literature. You’re even helping the World Food Program by playing this game!  4. Teach what you know If you’re at home with young children or relatives who don’t speak any English, you could teach them. Teaching someone is a great way to review what you already know. Basic vocabulary and grammar, simple conversations and so on. You can find plenty of websites that have activities for beginners. Who knows, you might find that you love teaching and it becomes a new lifelong passion. 5. Write in English Don’t only write in English for your IELTS practice questions, try writing  a diary in English, or why not start a short story? Everyday take 20 minutes to write, not for an examiner, simply to use the language that you have worked so hard to learn. Everything is easier with practise so keep trying, even if it is hard.  I hope that some of these ideas will help you. I’m going to write my next post about 5 things you can do to study for IELTS whilst you’re at home. Check back soon to read it.  Watch my Facebook Live on how to maintain or even improve your English: {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/PLjYwRjd1QKGBtLKgpXDxfbqsXenWyVkBy.jpg?itok=cLgBf3ea","video_url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RybbyBuQ4CU&list=PLjYwRjd1QKGBtLKgpXDxfbqsXenWyVkBy","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":1},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive, autoplaying)."]}   Bye for now, stay safe and study hard. Emma

Emma Cosgrave

20 March, 2020

5 ways to keep learning from home

Learning at home

Are you stuck at home, wondering how to stay focussed on your English when all classes have stopped? We Love IELTS is here to help!

Here are 5 simple things that you can do from the comfort of your own home without spending a lot of money to maintain your general English level. 

1. Watch something in English

Take notes, look up words, pause and repeat phrases that you like. Rather than just relaxing with your usual films or box sets try to watch documentaries. Choose a wide variety of topics so that you can improve your vocabulary in different fields. If you have a Netflix or similar subscription, great, you have a lot of options. Remember, you can change the language of many shows and also the language of the subtitles. Language Learning with Netflix is a Google Chrome extension that could be useful for you too.

You don’t need to have a paid for TV subscription to watch English language documentaries, YouTube has plenty to offer too for free. Some of my favourite channels are National Geographic, Natural History Museum and Discovery Channel

2. Surround yourself with English

Some quick and easy ways to do this are:

  • change your phone to English
  • read English language news sites
  • set your email to English 
  • read magazines about the things you love to do in English
  • listen to something in English while you do your everyday tasks - podcasts, audiobooks, radio plays, English language songs. BBC world service news review is just one example I suggest to my students.
  • Join our social channels (Facebook & Instagram) to talk to fellow English and IELTS learners and take part in fun daily exercises!

3. Have some fun each day

There are lots of ways you can improve your vocabulary without swallowing a dictionary. One of my favourite games to play is Freerice. You can choose to work on English vocabulary or grammar and if you’re feeling confident you could have a go at a different category e.g. literature. You’re even helping the World Food Program by playing this game! 

4. Teach what you know

If you’re at home with young children or relatives who don’t speak any English, you could teach them. Teaching someone is a great way to review what you already know. Basic vocabulary and grammar, simple conversations and so on. You can find plenty of websites that have activities for beginners. Who knows, you might find that you love teaching and it becomes a new lifelong passion.

5. Write in English

Don’t only write in English for your IELTS practice questions, try writing  a diary in English, or why not start a short story? Everyday take 20 minutes to write, not for an examiner, simply to use the language that you have worked so hard to learn. Everything is easier with practise so keep trying, even if it is hard. 

I hope that some of these ideas will help you. I’m going to write my next post about 5 things you can do to study for IELTS whilst you’re at home. Check back soon to read it. 

Watch my Facebook Live on how to maintain or even improve your English:

 

Bye for now, stay safe and study hard.

Emma

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

words
TopTips
Words, words, words – here’s a challenge for you

Do you enjoy a challenge? Do you want to push yourself to see how many words you know in English? Here’s a game I use in the classroom with my students. It works because a) it’s a game (who doesn’t like a game?) b) it’s played with a partner which makes it competitive (everybody loves a bit of competition, don’t they?) c) it makes you really think about the words you know, but don’t use (activating your passive vocabulary), d) … the list goes on. Let’s start. The objective is to make as many words as possible. First, you need to create a large square and divide it equally with the same amount of squares on each side. Then add a letter into each square. For example: There are a few rules to remember:       So, where does the competition come in? I always divide my class into teams (any number is good but not more than four people in a team is recommended). Here are the steps: Divide into teams (you could also just play this with one friend). Set the timer – everyone has 3 minutes to make as many words as possible. At the end of 3 minutes everyone stops.  Next, one person from each team slowly reads out their list of words. If someone on another team has the same word, that word is crossed out and nobody gets any points. If no other team has the same word, points are awarded. When one team finishes, another team reads out their words. Again, if someone from another team has the same word, nobody gets any points. The winner is the team with the most points. (See points table below) Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 sad 0 points lot 1 point lots 2 points sadly 3 points sad 0 points day 1 point fade 2 points fades 3 points sad 0 points told 2 points fast 2 points fastly 0 points (not a correct word) So, Team 1 is the winner with 7 points. The scores are as follows: 3-letter word = 1 point 4-letter word = 2 points 5-letter word = 3 points 6 + letters = 4 points You can adapt this to add more squares and more letters. You could even put in a secret word which is worth 5 points if no one guesses it. For example: The secret word in this example is ‘tourism’. If no team guesses the word in the round above, you could give everybody an extra minute to find the secret word. You could give them the first letter ‘t’ to start with and tell them how many letters there are in the word. The first team to find the word is awarded the extra 5 points. Or why not play it alone and on your phone? There are some online boggle games you could play while waiting for your train. Happy boggling! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

20 March, 2020

Words, words, words – here’s a challenge for you

words

Do you enjoy a challenge? Do you want to push yourself to see how many words you know in English?

Here’s a game I use in the classroom with my students. It works because a) it’s a game (who doesn’t like a game?) b) it’s played with a partner which makes it competitive (everybody loves a bit of competition, don’t they?) c) it makes you really think about the words you know, but don’t use (activating your passive vocabulary), d) … the list goes on.

Let’s start.

The objective is to make as many words as possible.

First, you need to create a large square and divide it equally with the same amount of squares on each side. Then add a letter into each square. For example:

Boggle 1

There are a few rules to remember:

Boggle Rules

 

Boggle Rule 2

 

Boggle Rule 2

 

So, where does the competition come in? I always divide my class into teams (any number is good but not more than four people in a team is recommended).

Here are the steps:

  1. Divide into teams (you could also just play this with one friend).
  2. Set the timer – everyone has 3 minutes to make as many words as possible.
  3. At the end of 3 minutes everyone stops. 
  4. Next, one person from each team slowly reads out their list of words. If someone on another team has the same word, that word is crossed out and nobody gets any points. If no other team has the same word, points are awarded.
  5. When one team finishes, another team reads out their words. Again, if someone from another team has the same word, nobody gets any points.
  6. The winner is the team with the most points. (See points table below)
Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
sad 0 points lot 1 point lots 2 points
sadly 3 points sad 0 points day 1 point
fade 2 points fades 3 points sad 0 points
told 2 points fast 2 points fastly 0 points (not a correct word)

So, Team 1 is the winner with 7 points.

The scores are as follows:

  • 3-letter word = 1 point
  • 4-letter word = 2 points
  • 5-letter word = 3 points
  • 6 + letters = 4 points

You can adapt this to add more squares and more letters. You could even put in a secret word which is worth 5 points if no one guesses it.

For example:

Boggle 4

The secret word in this example is ‘tourism’. If no team guesses the word in the round above, you could give everybody an extra minute to find the secret word. You could give them the first letter ‘t’ to start with and tell them how many letters there are in the word. The first team to find the word is awarded the extra 5 points.

Or why not play it alone and on your phone? There are some online boggle games you could play while waiting for your train. Happy boggling!

Liz

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

More about the author

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Recommended For You

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Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve up to band 6 in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

word families
TopTips
Word families: learn one new word and ‘meet' two more

‘My vocabulary is not very good.’ ‘I don’t know many words in English.’ Does this sound familiar? Do you feel the same? Would you like to expand your vocabulary? Did you know that words have families too? Words are related to other words – a bit like a cousin. Let's start with the word 'communicate' - this is a verb. Here it is in a sentence: It is difficult to communicate in a foreign language. Now let’s start the sentence with the noun from the same family: Communication in a foreign language is difficult.  The adjective is ‘communicative’; here’s the same sentence: It is difficult to be communicative in a foreign language.   When you learn a new word, it is a good idea to learn how to form the noun, verb and adjective if there is one. This way you’ll start to learn vocabulary not one word at a time, but in threes! To make nouns, verbs and adjectives, you need to add ‘suffixes’ to the end of a word. A suffix is a letter, or group of letters, that can be added to the end of a word to form a new word. Let’s look again at the words above. Verb – communicate. We add the suffix 'ate' to make some verbs. Here are some examples: translate, create, celebrate, participate. Noun – communication. We add the suffix 'tion' to make some nouns. Here are some examples: translation, creation, celebration and participation. Adjective – communicative. We add the suffix 'tive' to make some adjectives. Here are some examples: informative, creative, attentive. When you can make different forms of words then you can use them to express the same or similar ideas in different ways (as in the ‘communicate’ sentences above). Here are some more examples: Example 1: I am going to graduate next month. My graduation is next month. There is no adjective that can be made from ‘graduate.’   Example 2: It is important to collaborate with your team. Collaboration with your team is important. It is important to be collaborative when you’re working in a team.   Expanding your vocabulary will help you in all parts of the IELTS test. Using different forms of words shows you have a range of vocabulary and grammar. It’s also a good way to avoid repeating the same words, especially in the Writing and Speaking tests. Why not practise today? Choose one of the words below and write two sentences - one sentence using a verb, the other using a noun or an adjective. inform decorate imagine protect circulate compensate attract   It’s important to say there are more suffixes which have not been mentioned here. I'd recommend further practice from Vocabulary for IELTS (Unit 21). We’ll be covering more suffixes in later blogs so please come back for more. Liz

Liz Marqueiro

29 February, 2020

Word families: learn one new word and ‘meet' two more

word families

‘My vocabulary is not very good.’ ‘I don’t know many words in English.’ Does this sound familiar? Do you feel the same?
Would you like to expand your vocabulary? Did you know that words have families too? Words are related to other words – a bit like a cousin.

Let's start with the word 'communicate' - this is a verb. Here it is in a sentence:

It is difficult to communicate in a foreign language.

Now let’s start the sentence with the noun from the same family:

Communication in a foreign language is difficult. 

The adjective is ‘communicative’; here’s the same sentence:

It is difficult to be communicative in a foreign language.

 

When you learn a new word, it is a good idea to learn how to form the noun, verb and adjective if there is one. This way you’ll start to learn vocabulary not one word at a time, but in threes!

To make nouns, verbs and adjectives, you need to add ‘suffixes’ to the end of a word. A suffix is a letter, or group of letters, that can be added to the end of a word to form a new word.

Let’s look again at the words above.

Verb – communicate. We add the suffix 'ate' to make some verbs. Here are some examples: translate, create, celebrate, participate.

Noun – communication. We add the suffix 'tion' to make some nouns. Here are some examples: translation, creation, celebration and participation.

Adjective – communicative. We add the suffix 'tive' to make some adjectives. Here are some examples: informative, creative, attentive.

When you can make different forms of words then you can use them to express the same or similar ideas in different ways (as in the ‘communicate’ sentences above). Here are some more examples:

Example 1:

I am going to graduate next month.
My graduation is next month.
There is no adjective that can be made from ‘graduate.’

 

Example 2:

It is important to collaborate with your team.
Collaboration with your team is important.
It is important to be collaborative when you’re working in a team.

 

Expanding your vocabulary will help you in all parts of the IELTS test. Using different forms of words shows you have a range of vocabulary and grammar. It’s also a good way to avoid repeating the same words, especially in the Writing and Speaking tests.

Why not practise today? Choose one of the words below and write two sentences - one sentence using a verb, the other using a noun or an adjective.

inform decorate imagine protect

circulate compensate attract

 

It’s important to say there are more suffixes which have not been mentioned here. I'd recommend further practice from Vocabulary for IELTS (Unit 21).

We’ll be covering more suffixes in later blogs so please come back for more.

Liz

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

More about the author

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Recommended For You

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Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve band 6.5 and above in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

emma header 2
TopTips
5 top tips for test day

Prepare for test day with answers to five of the most frequently asked IELTS test day questions. I hope these help you in preparing for test day. 1.    What ID do I need to take with me to my IELTS test? You must bring the same identity document that you used in your application. If you’re taking the test outside your own country then you need to use a passport. If you’re in your home country then check with the test centre what forms of ID are accepted. If you don’t have the correct ID with you on the day you will not be allowed to take the IELTS test and you won’t be able to get a refund or transfer either. You’ll need to show this document when you check in for your test in the morning and again at the start of the IELTS Speaking test.  If there are any changes to your document between completing the IELTS application form and your test day then you must inform the test centre before the test date.  For more information see ielts.org 2.    What time should I get to the test centre? You should have written confirmation from your test centre of the time and date of your test. But you should aim to arrive at the test centre early because there are a few things you'll have to do before the test begins. This includes registering for the test, verifying your ID, storing your belongings and having your photograph taken.  If you arrive late you will not be allowed to take the test.  3.    Do I take all parts of the test on the same day? The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of the test are always completed immediately after each other and with no break. (That is a long morning so be sure to eat a good breakfast before you start!) Many test takers also sit the Speaking test on the same day, but it may be scheduled up to 7 days either before or after the test date. If you take computer-delivered IELTS, the Speaking test will be on the same day. 4.    Can I leave the room during the test? You’re not allowed to leave the test room during the first or last 10 minutes of any of the test sections. If you need to leave the test room to go to the bathroom at any other time, raise your hand and ask an invigilator. Do not leave your seat unless you have permission to do so.  When the test is finished, you must not leave your seat until all materials have been collected and you have been told you can go. If you have a problem (for example, you cannot hear the instructions, or you feel ill) raise your hand to attract the attention of the invigilator. Remember that the invigilators will not provide any explanation of the questions. 5.    Can I take my bag into the test room? The only items you may bring into the test room are your approved identity document, standard pen(s), pencil(s) and eraser(s), and a bottle of water (label-free). If you forget to bring a pencil, the test centre will be able to provide you with one. You must leave all other personal belongings in the designated belongings area. All electronic devices and watches must be switched off and left in the belongings area.  If you have any other questions, ask us on Instagram or Facebook. Emma

Emma Cosgrave

29 February, 2020

5 top tips for test day

emma header 2

Prepare for test day with answers to five of the most frequently asked IELTS test day questions. I hope these help you in preparing for test day.

1.    What ID do I need to take with me to my IELTS test?

You must bring the same identity document that you used in your application. If you’re taking the test outside your own country then you need to use a passport. If you’re in your home country then check with the test centre what forms of ID are accepted. If you don’t have the correct ID with you on the day you will not be allowed to take the IELTS test and you won’t be able to get a refund or transfer either. You’ll need to show this document when you check in for your test in the morning and again at the start of the IELTS Speaking test. 

If there are any changes to your document between completing the IELTS application form and your test day then you must inform the test centre before the test date. 

For more information see ielts.org

2.    What time should I get to the test centre?

You should have written confirmation from your test centre of the time and date of your test. But you should aim to arrive at the test centre early because there are a few things you'll have to do before the test begins. This includes registering for the test, verifying your ID, storing your belongings and having your photograph taken. 

If you arrive late you will not be allowed to take the test. 

3.    Do I take all parts of the test on the same day?

The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of the test are always completed immediately after each other and with no break. (That is a long morning so be sure to eat a good breakfast before you start!) Many test takers also sit the Speaking test on the same day, but it may be scheduled up to 7 days either before or after the test date. If you take computer-delivered IELTS, the Speaking test will be on the same day.

4.    Can I leave the room during the test?

You’re not allowed to leave the test room during the first or last 10 minutes of any of the test sections. If you need to leave the test room to go to the bathroom at any other time, raise your hand and ask an invigilator. Do not leave your seat unless you have permission to do so. 

When the test is finished, you must not leave your seat until all materials have been collected and you have been told you can go.

If you have a problem (for example, you cannot hear the instructions, or you feel ill) raise your hand to attract the attention of the invigilator. Remember that the invigilators will not provide any explanation of the questions.

5.    Can I take my bag into the test room?

The only items you may bring into the test room are your approved identity document, standard pen(s), pencil(s) and eraser(s), and a bottle of water (label-free). If you forget to bring a pencil, the test centre will be able to provide you with one.

You must leave all other personal belongings in the designated belongings area. All electronic devices and watches must be switched off and left in the belongings area. 

If you have any other questions, ask us on Instagram or Facebook.

Emma

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

More about the author

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Top Tips for IELTS Academic

This pocket-sized revision guide gives you essential advice for each part of the IELTS Academic test. It includes clear examples and explanations to show you exactly what each tip means, general tips for each paper, and sections on how to revise and what to do on test day. It also comes with an interactive IELTS practice test on CD-ROM. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

motivation
TopTips
Creating a motivational goals board

As part of our Top Tips series, we'll explore the importance of motivation. Find out how you can keep your goals at the forefront of your mind through creating a goals board. For the vast majority of test takers, IELTS is a means to an end rather than a goal in itself. This means that they study towards the test to achieve other goals in their life such as gaining citizenship of another country or studying abroad. These goals are, in turn, often stepping stones  towards other goals, such as becoming an engineer, or taking over the family business and beyond that’s often another set of goals, such as providing for one’s family or one day owning a nice house and a great car. Whatever your goals are, it’s really important to keep them at the forefront of your mind to keep motivation levels high. Goals boards are a great way to keep goals alive in our minds as we work hard towards achieving our dreams. They can also help us break down our ultimate goals into more achievable steps. Take a look at this example: (Click on image to enlarge) When you create YOUR own goals board, remember: Make it your own: There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people like to see pictures of their goals and others prefer to write about them. Some people like to use sticky notes, newspaper cuttings or even draw pictures while others prefer to use online apps.   Invest time in the dream: The more time you spend on mapping out your goals, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve them. Be specific: Rather than say ‘read a lot’, plan exactly what you’re going to read, how much and, if possible, when. That way you’ll know when you’ve achieved this goal. Track your progress: Once you’ve achieved a goal, move it to a different section on your goals board (or cross it out). This is really satisfying and will give your motivation a boost every time. Be realistic: It’s better to do more than you expected than to disappoint yourself by not achieving your targets. Start small and add activities to your daily and weekly goals as you go along and have a better idea of what you can cope with. Reward yourself: It’s really important to celebrate achieving all your goals. Depending on the size of your goal, set little rewards for each one. For example, you could reward yourself with a nice cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate for having completed your grammar exercises. You could give yourself an evening of playing computer games or a trip to the cinema for completing all your weekly targets and have something really nice in place for completing the IELTS test. These rewards do not have to be expensive: guilt-free time to do the things we like is often the best reward.    Have fun creating your goals board! Why not share your goals board with us on Instagram. We’ll be covering more top tips in later blogs so please come back for more. Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

27 February, 2020

Creating a motivational goals board

motivation

As part of our Top Tips series, we'll explore the importance of motivation. Find out how you can keep your goals at the forefront of your mind through creating a goals board.

For the vast majority of test takers, IELTS is a means to an end rather than a goal in itself. This means that they study towards the test to achieve other goals in their life such as gaining citizenship of another country or studying abroad.

These goals are, in turn, often stepping stones  towards other goals, such as becoming an engineer, or taking over the family business and beyond that’s often another set of goals, such as providing for one’s family or one day owning a nice house and a great car. Whatever your goals are, it’s really important to keep them at the forefront of your mind to keep motivation levels high.

Goals boards are a great way to keep goals alive in our minds as we work hard towards achieving our dreams. They can also help us break down our ultimate goals into more achievable steps. Take a look at this example:

Example Trello Motivational Goals Board

(Click on image to enlarge)

When you create YOUR own goals board, remember:

  • Make it your own: There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people like to see pictures of their goals and others prefer to write about them. Some people like to use sticky notes, newspaper cuttings or even draw pictures while others prefer to use online apps.  
  • Invest time in the dream: The more time you spend on mapping out your goals, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve them.
  • Be specific: Rather than say ‘read a lot’, plan exactly what you’re going to read, how much and, if possible, when. That way you’ll know when you’ve achieved this goal.
  • Track your progress: Once you’ve achieved a goal, move it to a different section on your goals board (or cross it out). This is really satisfying and will give your motivation a boost every time.
  • Be realistic: It’s better to do more than you expected than to disappoint yourself by not achieving your targets. Start small and add activities to your daily and weekly goals as you go along and have a better idea of what you can cope with.
  • Reward yourself: It’s really important to celebrate achieving all your goals. Depending on the size of your goal, set little rewards for each one. For example, you could reward yourself with a nice cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate for having completed your grammar exercises. You could give yourself an evening of playing computer games or a trip to the cinema for completing all your weekly targets and have something really nice in place for completing the IELTS test. These rewards do not have to be expensive: guilt-free time to do the things we like is often the best reward.   

Have fun creating your goals board! Why not share your goals board with us on Instagram. We’ll be covering more top tips in later blogs so please come back for more.

Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

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Top Tips for IELTS Academic

This pocket-sized revision guide gives you essential advice for each part of the IELTS Academic test. It includes clear examples and explanations to show you exactly what each tip means, general tips for each paper, and sections on how to revise and what to do on test day. It also comes with an interactive IELTS practice test on CD-ROM. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

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Episode 5: Top tips for IELTS Writing

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz give some top tips on the IELTS Writing Test.


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In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test.


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