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[…]

A skull and crossbones inside a dark grey circle sit on a pink background. The images symbolises the dangers of paraphrasing when writing an IELTS essay

So, if I was allowed to give one ONE tip to an IELTS test-taker before they sat their writing exam, it wouldn’t be to learn how to organise all of the different types of essay, it wouldn’t be make sure they included lots of complex sentences in their work, it wouldn’t even be to make sure they directly answer the question! No, it would be BE CAREFUL OF PARAPHRASING!

A beautifully half-sketched horse is completed with a rough outline of a head. The picture is used to symbolise what to do if you run out of time in the IELTS writing exam.

Imagine this – there’s five minutes left in the exam and you are only halfway through your second body paragraph! What do you do?!   WRITE A CONCLUSION!

An image of a tuxedo and a pair of jeans sit side-by-side on a red background to symbolise formal and informal letters

OK, you are a IELTS General Training student sitting in the writing exam. The invigilator tells you that you can open your test paper and begin. You look at the prompt for the letter. What are you hoping to see? An informal letter, a formal letter, or a semi-formal letter? In my experience, most test-takers would say informal. I mean, writing a letter to a friend is easy, right? WRONG! 🙅‍♀️ And that’s because 99% of the informal letters that I mark are MIXED TONE.💀

A lone black sheep looks back at a flock of what sheep. The picture symbolises over-generalising, which is a problem for many IELTS students when they write.

In the writing exam, it can be easy to make claims that are generally true, but NOT always true. This can limit your score for Task Achievement to a 7.0 (which I know for most people won’t be a problem, but for some test-takers an 8.0 in TA can be the difference between a 6.5 and a 7.0!) So, how can you avoid over-generalising?!  HEDGING!!!