IELTS: Five steps to write IELTS Task 2

How do you produce a decent piece of essay within 40 minutes or less to achieve your target band? Just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Understand the Question Type. (2 minutes)

Read the question (Is it Agree/Disagree, Advantage & Disadvantage, Problem & Solution, Discuss both issues + own opinion, Double Questions or Outweigh?)
Paraphrase the topic accordingly based on the question type and take your Position

Step 2: Brainstorming. (3 minutes)

Think of a few main points / specific reasons based on your taken position. Ask yourself if you can develop any 2 or maximum 3 of these into a full paragraph (of approx. 100 words). If no, discard the point/s; if yes, go ahead to step 3.

Step 3:   Planning. (5 minutes)

Now use a mind mapping, flowcharting or tabling technique to expand th main points. What specific related details can I add to this? What example/s (from my experience, observation or knowledge) can I use?

Step 4: Writing. (25 minutes)

a. Introduction – (3 sentences of 30-40 words in total, consisting of Background General statement + expansion + Position / Thesis Statement).

b. 2-3 Body paragraphs – 1 sentence of Main Point, 2-3 detailed explanations, 1-2 example sentences AND 1 final Recap to relate back to your Main Point.\

c. Conclusion – 2 sentences of 20-30 words in total, summary / conclusion of your essay + a general reason / prediction / condition / position of the subject matter.

Step 5: Checking (5 minutes)

Proofread your essay for Grammar, Vocabulary, Spelling, Punctuation and Relevance / Consistency for the best result.


Keep practising till you get the hang of this!


26 August 2017


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IELTS: Five Easy steps to plan to write Academic Task 1

How do you paragraph in this task? For many, this is very, very complicated. But it doesn’t always have to be like that. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Know how to plan Body Paragraphs

Take notes what to include in:

Body 1: Select main features / general trends (what do all these bars/lines/charts have in common?)

Body 2: Pick 2 differences/extremes and an exception (if any)

Step 2: Paraphrase the question in your first sentence of Introduction

Step 3:   Add another sentence (overview / summary of Body 1+2)

This will tell the reader what to expect next, in the Body.

Step 4: If there is a relationship between two graphs, you can summarise the correlation in one sentence as your summary statement.

Step 5: In case of graph indicating past and future, the past can be your 1st body and the future can be your 2nd. If it is a diagram or process / flowchart, make sure you know the head and the tail, and divide the process into two separate categories, hence two body paragraphs.


Remember, if you have two sentences in Introduction, then a Conclusion is not mandatory.


24 July 2017


IELTS: Scoring high in GT Task 1

Many students have the impression that they’ll score higher in GT writing than in Academic writing. Some score even lower in the former though. The reasons? They don’t know what kind of letter they should write. Here are things to know:

Depending on who the audience is, e.g. writing to your friend, teacher or neighbor or an organisation, you need to go through these steps:

  1. Decide on what register to use.

Informal, semi formal or formal?

      2. Decide on how to use for salutation.

Hi Mike, Dear Mike, Dear Mr. Tyson, or Dear Sir or Madam?

      3. Decide on the degree of formality.

Contractions? Conversational? Politeness? Directness? Respect?

      4. Decide on how to organise the content.

Para 1: Introduction/Greeting + Purpose.

Para 2 & 3: Discuss Questions 1, 2 and 3 in sequence.

Para 4: Goodwill (remember degree of formality).

      5. Decide on how to sign off.

This must be relevant to Step 2.

Informal: Best wishes / Cheers? Kind regards? Yours sincerely? Yours faithfully?

Lastly, remember to check your punctuation so you don’t end up losing marks! Good Luck!


24 June 2017


IELTS: Unlocking the Five Secrets in IELTS Writing Criteria

So how much do you understand the IELTS Writing criteria? Get to know them and make sure you satisfy them to get your desired score.

1. Task response / achievement.
Good brainstorming for ideas is a must here. Make sure you write at least 10% more than the minimum word limit. You need 2-3 main points thoroughly developed into respective 2-3 full body paragraphs with concrete examples. Plus, be consistent too and do not stray off topic!
2. Coherence and Cohesion.
Your essays need to be properly paragraph (with purpose in mind) and sentences and paragraphs are connected using a combination of eight types of connecting and cohesive devices appropriately punctuated to promote seamless flow and avoid word repetition.
3. Vocabulary.
You have to use precise and flexible correctly spelled words and expressions naturally used in English, including collocations, appropriate phrasal verbs and word forms.
4. Grammatical accuracy and range.
Use compound and complex sentences correctly and make sure count nouns are in plural forms, among other things. To score a 7 here, most of your sentences must be correct, and to score an 8, errors must be rare and hard to spot.
5. Your writing score.
Your final writing score will almost always be good if you can improve on brainstorming and minimise and fix grammatical mistakes while using good natural vocabulary.
We’’ll train you to work on all these criteria. See you at next month’s blog on IELTS Writing!

30 May 2017

IELTS: Five Secrets to Tips to finally pass the Writing Test

So many students dread the IELTS test primarily owing to the Writing Section. Let me tell you five (5) secrets to help you eventually make it!

Get your brain moving!

This means do brainstorming for ideas based on the some 20 topic categories of Task 2 essays.

Get to know the question types!

Do you know that there are six (6) types of questions in Task 2? You have to specifically tailor your introduction and body paragraphs based on each unique type. You can find some real questions from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS at

Get to know what vocabulary to use!

You need to utilise precise yet flexible expressions to score high in this criteria. Here are our recommendations: Collins Cobuild Key Words for IELTS Series (Book 1-3: Starter to Advanced). Get them at

Get to know what common grammatical mistakes to avoid!

Most common errors are whether to use singular or plural nouns and when to use ‘the’ and when to use no articles at all.

Get to know how to manage your time!

You need to allocate specific time frames for each of these:  brainstorming ideas, planning how to explain and what examples to use, writing the introduction, writing the body paragraphs, writing the conclusion, proofreading and then still have time to finish Task 1 within 20 minutes. You can find some sample essays from Complete IELTS (Band 4-5, 5-6.5 and 6.5-7.5) at the above website.

We’’ll train you on all these five secrets. See you at next month’s blog on IELTS Writing!


30 April 2017




10 Most Helpful Tips for Achieving a Better Band Score in Writing

  • Read the questions very carefully. Often the question will ask you to do three or four different things, aside from the main question. Write them down and make sure you address all of them in your answer. The IELTS examiner will be checking for this.
  • Practice writing tasks within the given time limits. It really doesn’t matter if you can write a beautiful answer in two hours. Always recreate the conditions of the exam as closely as possible, when doing any kind of practice exercises.
  • Plan before you write. Even though you feel under pressure for time, spend the first few minutes planning your writing. Decide what you’re going to say and how you’ll expand on it. When you know what to write, you can concentrate on how to write it best. Experiment with the great variety of outlining and mind-mapping techniques to help you sketch out a plan quickly. I’d recommend allocating up to 5 minutes for planning your essay.
  • Write in an organized way. When you’ve planned in advance, you’ll end up with a more organized, logical piece of writing, which will earn you higher marks. There are many ways to be organised – linear, circular, etc. – but in the end the final product must be cohesive which means that there must be a clear flow from the introduction through the body to the conclusion.
  • Stay on topic. You will be penalised if you stray off topic. This is where the initial few minutes of planning can help you a great deal.
  • Divide your writing into paragraphs. It is confusing to be faced with a block of writing, with no divisions. You wouldn’t expect to read a magazine article or book like this. Always divide your writing into paragraphs. Depending on the essay type, two or three paragraphs for the body of your essay.
  • Write clearly. This is not the time or place to experiment with new vocabulary or idioms. Use simple, clear English to get your ideas across in a powerful way.
  • Write legibly. Though marks are not granted or taken away for poor or messy writing, the examiner should be able to read what you have written without undue difficulty.
  • Spell correctly. Yes, this does affect your score so avoid careless mistakes. A careless mistake is when you have spelt the same word in various ways in the same piece of writing or when you misspell a word which is already given in the exam topic and all you have to do is copy it correctly. That’s not okay. Watch for this when you’re practising and resolve to overcome it.
  • Edit your essay. This part is often neglected by students, but it can end up paying out for you. Make sure you don’t just randomly review your essay. Understand your weaknesses and check specifically for them.

10 Tips on How to Approach The IELTS Reading

  1. It would be not advisable to read the whole passage before looking at the questions. We do not enough have time to read the whole passage unless your English is so good and you can read 300 or more words a minute.
  2. Go to the questions first in order to find key words.
  3. Look for synonyms, or words with the same meaning, in the passage.
  4. It is better to do the questions one by one. The most important thing to consider is that the answers to most questions within one set questions will follow the order of the information given in the text, so you will gradually read the whole passage anyway as you find the answers.
  5. Make sure that you fully understand the question which is especially important with TRUE/FALSE/YES/NO/Not Given questions, as in this question type a seemingly insignificant word may determine the final answer.
  6. Once you have identified key words from a question, read around that part of the text properly in order to understand it and get the right answer.
  7. IELTS designers paraphrase certain parts of the passage in order to create the question In other words, they pick up a word or phrase from the passage that they want to test you on, and they make a question using words which have a similar meaning.
  8. Another piece of advice, especially if you understand that you running out of time, is to do easy questions first. In case you got stuck with a difficult question skip it and move on.
  9. Many students get the wrong answer because they think too much! They worry about small differences in meaning. Don’t think too hard about small differences in meanings.
  10. The General Training reading test is a bit different to the Academic test. However, the techniques you need to use to find the answers are the same.

How to Improve Your Pronunciation When You are Aware of Your Accent and Want to Improve It

An IELTS trainer may have told you your pronunciation has problems, people may have told you your accent makes you hard to understand, or maybe you’ve heard your own voice and think it needs to be better. One way or another, you may feel you want to improve your accent. There are several ways to do this. Learn how the words are properly pronounced, search the shop or library, or join a pronunciation class.

To learn how the words are properly pronounced, go onto the internet and find websites which feature clips and transcripts in the archives. This is best done on websites for regular TV programmes. These sites feature past episodes and a matching transcript. You can find these on the ABC website in particular. Examples of programmes featured there are Four Corners, Media Watch & Good Game, and (Margaret and David) At The Movies. Lateline and the 7:30 Report also feature transcripts and related clips. While some clips and/or transcripts may be unavailable due to age, there is normally a good selection to choose from. The more recent the story the more likely you will find film clips and scripts. Simply listen to the clip and follow the transcript as it moves.

A number of shops or libraries cater for language students. Their shelves contain books on pronunciation of Australian or even British English. If not, they will help you adjust your accent and if successful your pronunciation may not be a problem. Another option is to join a pronunciation class at a language college. This is where you will receive the training and corrections you need. It will be a specialised class where the teacher focuses strictly on your accent and does not have to help correct people on their grammar, fluency or speed. Another option is to record yourself speak and listen to how you sound and if you are not happy with the accent you hear, try again. It’s been talked about, but no strong story exists.

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