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November, 2010:

The speaking exam – the first part.

The first part of the IELTS speaking exam only takes between 4 and 5 minutes. That’s not a lot of time – unless you have nothing to say. Read this post to find out how to give yourself time to think of what to say.
One thing that you can do before the exam is learn vocabulary and expressions relating to the different subjects that you might be asked about in this part of the exam. Make lists of the vocabulary and expressions you learn and try to use them in conversation with other English speakers. Don’t do this the night before your IELTS exam : it will be too late then. (more…)

I don’t know anything about that subject.

One common complaint that IELTS candidates make is that in the writing task they often don’t really know anything about the subject they are asked to write about. Very often the question asked, especially in Writing Task Two, seems to be asking for specialist knowledge that some IELTS candidates feel that they don’t have. The subject of the question might never have crossed their minds before.

Look at this question:

Cheap international flights lead to increased levels of tourism. Some people feel that this is a positive thing for the visited country but others do not.
What are your opinions on this issue?
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Don’t wear phrases out.

I was talking to a group of IELTS teachers about my post Thinking on your feet and they asked whether I had made it clear that some words and phrases should not be overused. I don’t think I made this clear. Sometimes it is possible to just answer a question.

When someone asks you your name, you don’t have to think about your answer. It is not an interesting question. There is a simple answer to the question. Just answer the question! (more…)

Thinking on your feet

When you are having a conversation, you don’t always know the answers to questions and sometimes, you might not know what to say next. In lots of conversations, you will have to pause for a moment to collect your thoughts and plan your next words. This is perfectly normal and natural in your own language but it can cause IELTS candidates to panic. They think they are in danger of getting a lower IELTS band score for their speaking exam because they don’t answer all questions immediately. (more…)