A boxing glove punches a comma to signify the importance of commas in IELTS punctuation

Hey! I’m going to be honest with you – ask a native speaker where you have to use commas in a sentence, and most will look back at you with a blank face! Why? Well, most native speakers don’t care that much about them! Some sprinkle commas all over their writing, others use none at all – and most of the time, it doesn’t make a huge difference because English speakers are rarely judged by their comma use! But, in the IELTS exam, a mis-placed comma can make a BIG difference to your GRA score – particularly if you are aiming for a 7.0+. So, in today’s blog post, I want to go through the rules of where you definitely should,[…]

A cartoon image of a man stands under three arrows pointing at the letters A, B and C to represent how students choose answers for IELTS Multiple Choice Questions

IELTS test-takers often find that Multiple Choice Questions (or MCQ’s for short) are the most difficult to answer in the Listening Exam. This is perhaps not surprising as there is a lot for your brain to process while answering them. Unlike the other types of question that require you listen for ONE answer, MCQ’s require you to assess the viability of THREE possible correct answers – all while trying to follow the audio-script and not get lost!

Two men look at a number one the floor. The man on the left says "6" as this is what it looks like to him. The man on the right says "9" as this is wha the same number looks like to him. This picture signifies how different examiners can give different scores in the IELTS speaking and writing exam., and will help students understand if they should got for an IELTS re-mark

Every candidate has the chance to apply for an IELTS re-mark if they feel that their scores do not reflect their true exam performance. However, NOT every candidate who doesn’t get the band scores they need should do this! There are many factors that you should take into account before deciding on applying for an enquiry into your results – and a couple might surprise you! So, in today’s blog, we are going to look at the SEVEN QUESTIONS that any student considering a re-mark should ask themselves (and answer honestly!) before spending money on one. But, before we get into those, let’s start by looking at some…

The words Task Response appear in crimson on a yellow background. However, the final K of "task" and the "S" in response are slightly out of position to signify that the blog post will discuss 5 common mistakes with Task Response

Every week I mark dozens of IELTS essays, and each student has their own unique problems stopping them achieving a high score. Some struggle with subject/verb agreement, others have problems using joining their ideas, and many use unsuitable vocabulary . However, despite these differences, it never fails to amaze me that students make the same FIVE mistakes with Task Response, no matter which country they are from or what their level. So, in today’s blog post, I want to go through the 5 most common IELTS Task Response mistakes, and how you can avoid them 🚀

A thumbs up and thumbs down sit either side of a question marks. The picture depicts the uncertainty of whether or not I should include my opinion in the introduction to an IELTS Discuss Both Sides essay

Do I need to include my opinion in the introduction to an IELTS Discuss Both Sides essay? This is probably the most asked IELTS question on social media, and the one that shows me that most students are focussing their preparation in the wrong place! So, in today’s blog, I won’t just tell you the best way to introduce Discuss Both Sides essays, but I’ll explain the logic behind my belief, AND show you some better areas that you can focus your attention on now that you know the answer! But first, let’s spend a couple of minutes thinking about what a good introduction to an essay needs to do.

The symbols e dot g dot which are used to denote an example are sued to illustrate that the text is about how to add good examples to your IETS essay

Every IELTS essay question ends with the same instruction: Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from you own knowledge or experience Write at least 250 words Include relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Mmm – this instruction seems clear enough, but what does is actually mean? Can I give personal examples from my own life? Should I invent statistics to cite in my essays? Do I need an example in every paragraph? Well, these are the questions we’re going to answer in today’s blog. Plus, we’ll look at FIVE nice ways to add examples to your body paragraphs. But before we look at some good examples, why don’t we examine three examples of bad examples![…]

The side view a human head, with many cogs turning to symbolise the problem of generating ideas for your IELTS essay

So, you are sitting in the exam room feeling confident. You have prepared well. You know how to organise all the possible types of essay. You can use distancing, and referencing, and hedging. Your use of transition signals is superb. Everything is good in the world. But then, the exam starts, you open the question booklet, read the task and……………….Nothing 😯…………… You don’t have a single idea 🙄………. Not one 💀……… Your head is totally empty 🤔 ………………….. There’s just you, the question, and a growing sense of panic.😱 What do you do? 😰

A hand holds a pair of scales to signify the importance of adding balance in an IELTS agree/disagree essay

When you open your exam paper and see the instruction Discuss both views and give your own opinion, it’s obvious that you HAVE TO give equal space to both opinions in your essay to fully address all parts of the task. But, what happens when the instruction asks you To what extent do you agree or disagree? Is it still important to discuss both “sides” of an argument, or are you free to have a “strong” position? And, if you do consider the other position, how and where can you do this in your essay so that your position remains clear? I mean, how can you show “balance” when arguing your own opinion? Well, these are the complex questions I am going to be[…]

Many students who are just starting their IELTS journey ask the question: Which is better – IDP or the British Council?  And, I understand why, I mean, it’s logical – there has to be SOME difference between them, right? There can’t be two organisations offering exactly the same service to people, can there? Well, yes, there can! 😲

A cartoon image of 2 hands shaking inside a pink circle on a light blue background symbolise the importance of Subject / Verb Agreement in IELTS essays

So, you’ve finished writing your essay but there’s 2 minutes left in the exam – what do you check for first? ⏱ Well, there are lots of mistakes that students make in their essays – articles, unnecessary passives, fragments, bad use of contrast clauses, etc –  but perhaps none are as costly as  💀 NOT having subject / verb agreement 💀 So, in today’s post I want start by looking at what subject / verb agreement is, and how you can avoid the most common errors made by many IELTS test-takers.