Writing about percentages

When describing a graph, use percentages creatively to show your range of language.

4% of students failed the exam.

The above sentence is accurate. There are other ways to refer to 4% though.


Consider the following:

A tiny fraction of students failed the exam.

A very small number of students failed the exam.

Very few students failed the exam.

An almost insignificant proportion of the students failed the exam.

A minority of students failed the exam.

What could you write instead of 25% ? Or 24% ? Or 32% ?

I don’t know that word

How to improve your English vocabulary before your IELTS exam.

Some English language students don’t seem to realise that the responsibility for learning is theirs. It is the student who has to commit to learning and make the effort to improve. Too many students complain that they don’t understand all the vocabulary in a reading but then do nothing about it. Sometimes, you simply have to get your dictionary out and look up the meaning of each word. This system really works. Do you do it or do you give up?

Look at these words. I’ll bet that you don’t know the meaning of most of them.


question mark

A serious IELTS candidate would now take out their dictionary and find out the meaning of each of these words. What kind of words are they? Verbs? Nouns? Adjectives? Can we use them to make other words e.g. a verb to noun transformation : ratify > ratification? What about opposites and synonyms? How do we pronounce each of the words? A serious IELTS student would try to use each of these words in a sentence – in both written and spoken form.

You can hear words said here or you can read this post.

You can also simply type “define nullify” in the Google search bar to see a definition and hear the pronunciation. Google is your IELTS friend.

Why not challenge yourself to use a word or phrase?

I wonder whether you do all of these things. I wonder whether you are really making an effort to improve your own vocabulary. Carlos and Jia Chen certainly weren’t (oh no! I mentioned their names 😉 ) but hopefully they will start making an effort after today.

Serious students have to take responsibility for their learning outside the classroom as well as inside it.

Are you looking for a teacher to help you to get the grade you need in your IELTS exam? Do you want someone to push you so that you make fantastic progress? There are discounts available at English Only for IELTS students from IELTS Only. If you are looking for online IELTS classes with a qualified and experienced teacher, use this contact form. You’ll get a 10% discount.

Use your commas correctly in your IELTS writing

Commas are important in your IELTS writing exam

an IELTS comma
Many IELTS students and other people learning English seem to have problems with the use of the comma when punctuating sentences in English. It is really important that you try to use punctuation correctly in your IELTS exam.

Answer IELTS part 1 line graph writing tasks

Here are the ten steps needed to write the best IELTS part 1 line graph writing task answer that you can.

Step One

Read the question carefully. Make sure that you understand what is being described by the line graph. Make absolutely sure that you know what you are being asked to write about.

Usually, this question will ask you to select and report the main features of the line graph and make comparisons where relevant. You are not asked to give reasons for trends shown in the graph. Continue reading “Answer IELTS part 1 line graph writing tasks”

Idioms for IELTS

A piece of cake

This refers to a task task that can be accomplished very easily.

Anybody who thinks that the IELTS exam is a piece of cake is fooling themselves.

Remember that you won’t do yourself any favours if you simply throw these idioms into conversation during your IELTS interview. You must practice using them appropriately before the exam.

More free listening practice for IELTS

Free listening practice for IELTS

It’s always great to discover a new source of fantastic listening practice material online. My students have been very enthusiatic about the range of listening practice materials, in video format, available on this site.
TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading in the areas of Technology, Entertainment and Design. The listening practice material is not specifically for IELTS students but sometimes IELTS students need to push the boundaries of their listening before they start to improve.

Here are six reasons why the TED talks are good IELTS listening practice material:

  1. There are hundreds of talks to listen to.
  2. You can search for talks subject – find something that interests you.
  3. You can search by length – some talks are only 3 minutes long.
  4. You can search by rating – eg funny, beautiful, inspiring.
  5. Some of the talks have subtitles in your language.
  6. This listening practice material is free to use

Visit the TED talks site right now to listen to some interesting and inspiring practice material.

Read about the position of adverbs here.