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September 24, 2009


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Hi, Simon.
I tried to purchise your e-book online, as you explain...but was always something wrong. It was declined (i paid by Visa) and i used two different cards.. is the book still on sale?

Thank you.

It was actually said this - "The card you entered cannot be used for this payment. Please enter a different credit or debit card number".

Hi Elena,

The book is on sale and it's working ok today. The problem must be something related to PayPal.

My advice is to go to the PayPal homepage for your country (just search for PayPal in Google in your language). Then read about payments in your country - PayPal seems to have different rules in some countries.

I hope this helps


I did it. Thank you.

Hope to hear from you soon)))

No problem Elena. I'm glad it worked. Enjoy the ebook!

Dear Simon,

I am teaching ielts and you are a great help. May God bless you more. I have your book Target Band 7; it was given as a gift. It's wonderful. Thanks.

hi simon can we choose to do writing task 2 first before writing 1? Or are the writing examinations conducted seperately which means we must finish writing task 1 in 20 minutres?

Hi Fin,

I'm glad you like the website, but "Target Band 7" is not my book. It belongs to another website: ielts-blog.


Hi Liy,

Yes, you can do task 2 first if you want. They are marked together.

hi simon,
im preaparing 4 ielts , read ur material its really so exam oriented
thanx & keep it up

No problem, thanks Pallavi.

Hi simon,
I have written ielts for 5 times, i got 7 for reading, 8 for speaking , 8.5 for listening,but only 6.5 for writing.i have to get 7 for each module. i don't know whats happening with my writing.Is it possible to sent one writing task, that i have written, so that u can give my some corrections.
Thank you

Hi Navya,

I'm afraid I can't help with essay checking. However, I agree that you need some feedback from a teacher at this point. Your level of English is clearly high enough for a band 7, so you must be doing something wrong. You definitely need to find someone who can check your writing and show you how to improve. I'm sorry I can't do that for you - I have too much work to do.

Dear Simon,

My main problem is I couldn't efficiently allocate my time in writing. I couldn't finish writing in all the 3 IELTS tests I have been in so far. Probably, it's due to my lack of practice. After I have gone through your lessons in this website, I found out that selecting/grouping information is extremely useful for task 1. I have done some brainstorm following your instruction, it turned out every time I could gather the key information almost the same as yours in the model essays.I guess I will save a lot of time in wrting task 1 from now on. Thank you very much, Simon.

About task 2, I strongely agree your opinion about the importance of good ideas/opinions for IELTS topics.So,would it be helpful that I outline some ideas( just few key words) before writing? Or, do you have any good idea that can help me to quicken my writing during the test? This problem has been annoying me for a very long time.

Best regards,

Hi Kacey,

I'm glad that my advice has helped you with task 1.

For task 2 you should definitely spend some time planning and noting some ideas before you start writing. Have a look at this lesson:


Hi Simon,
Is it ok to write in PENCIL in both task 1 and 2.

Yes, pencil is fine.

Hi Simon,

You mentioned in a previous post that opinions do not affect one's score, but what about glaring factual inaccuracies? For example, would a student who writes that the United States is part of Great Britain be penalised for that part? What about a less obvious factual error, such as "Venus is the closest gaseous planet to the sun"?

Hi Jean-Luc,

There is nothing in the examiner's mark scheme about factual errors, except perhaps that ideas should be 'relevant'. Your 'venus' example would certainly not affect the score. A glaring factual error shouldn't affect the score in theory, but in practice I'd expect such a huge factual mistake to be accompanied by problems with language comprehension or expression.

So here's my personal experience. I recently took the test myself, since it was being offered for free to graduating students at my university. As a native speaker who has written numerous 'B' to 'A' grade essays at undergraduate and postgraduate levels on topics far more cognitively and linguistically demanding, I was appalled to find out that I scored a 7.5 on the writing test.

I don't think I had any problems with grammar, spelling, structure, vocabulary, or reaching the required word count on either task, but these are the factors that probably worked against me:

  • Prior to the test I had zero practical preparation, besides reading Simon's tips on this blog.

  • I started writing without making an outline, like I always do for essays 250-350 words long. I've always gotten with away that in the past! Besides, the topic was very simple and the ideas came quickly to me.

  • My handwriting was barely legible; I hadn't handwritten anything longer than three sentences in the ten years before the test, and my hand was aching from the time pressure.

  • I'm not too disappointed since the test was free, and I don't really need the scores for any real purpose, but I have to say it did put a dent in my pride!

    Hi Jean-Luc,

    I'm surprised by your score. Maybe the problem was that the examiner found your handwriting too difficult to read (you admit it was barely legible). I'm sure you'd get a band 9 with a bit more preparation, clearer handwriting, and if you wrote a quick plan before starting.

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. It would be nice if there was a computer-based version of the IELTS, especially for the writing test. The academic writing test is designed to test university applicants, but I don't know anyone who had to handwrite a 150 + 250 = 400 word paper at university, and definitely not in one hour! And time is usually the least of your worries on a university exam.

    I'll stop whining now...

    No problem Jean-Luc. I agree that it's nothing like a real university paper!

    Hi Simon,

    I am a regular follower of your blog and I find it really useful. I have lost band 7 in my last 2 attempts for writing and since then I am following your blog to figure out how exactly writing task 2 has to be written. I am confident about my vocabulary and grammer. The way I wrote must have gone wrong.

    These are the rules I have deduced after seeing your ideas in blog. Plz correct me if I am wrong anywhere. I have a doubt on Type2 and Type 4. That is given along with.

    Type 1) Questions of type "To what extent do you agree or disagree?"

    Approach 1: Either agree or disagree in introduction (2 lines intro) and then give 2 supporting points in next two
    paragraphs and then a 2 line conclusion.

    Approach 2: I can also say " I agree to certain extend.." and then explain both views in each 2 body
    paragraphs and then a 2 line conclusion

    Type 2) Questions of type "Discuss both views and give you own opinion."

    Approach: Give my opinion in the introduction. Discuss each view in two seperate paragraphs. Restate my view
    again in conclusion.
    Do I have to take a nuetral approach here (like "I agree to both views ?) ?
    can I strongly support one and write each views (1 para each). In this case I worry
    how can I support my view with enough points in just one paragraph ? Will that suffice ?

    Type 3) Tasks having sub questions.
    Eg :What factors contribute to job satisfaction?
    How realistic is the expectation of job satisfaction for all workers?
    Approach: Write the intro covering both questions and answer the 2 questions in 2 seperate body
    paragraphs. Conclude by restating the question..

    Type 4) Tasks having sub questions and also asking for the opinion.
    eg: Children are depending on computers more now.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of this ?
    Give your opinion and support with your own examples.

    Approach: Give the intro and express my view (I would say disadvantages outweigh advantages).
    Give advantages in para 1.
    Give disadvantages in para2 and examples.
    Now conclude by restating the view.

    Again my doubt here is, will para2 be enough ?, as I am giving opinion that disadvantages are more.

    Expecting a response from you soon. It would be of great help.


    Hi Simon

    I appeared for my exam on 13th July. Today I got my IELTS score. Thanks to you I scored this much.

    Listening: 8.00
    Reading: 7.00
    Speaking: 6.50
    Writing: 7.50

    OverAllBandScore: 7.50

    Congratulations Kishor. I'm happy that my lessons helped!

    Hi Simon,

    I have some questions about writing task2. My teacher said when I am giving my reasons in a paragraph, I had to make sure they are equal points which means equal length. I can hardly agree with it. What do you think about it? And how long should the task 2 essays normally be if I am aiming for a band score of 7? About 350 words?

    Please let me know whether the marks would be cut if we cross 150 or 250 word limit

    hey Simon:

    Is IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 same as IELTS General Writing Task 2 ? From what I see it is needs similar preparation. Right?

    hi simon.. can we use only capital letters for both listening and reading answers? thank you

    Dear Simon,
    At this time, I'm trying to learn how to write a good Writing Task 2 essay.
    But I didn't see the solutions for what you mentioned
    "How to structure a good Task 2 essay.
    Preparation of ideas, opinions and good vocabulary for each IELTS topic.
    How to build and link sentences to create coherent paragraphs.
    Common mistakes in grammar and word usage."
    Plz show me how I can do that . Tks very much

    hiii all
    pls i would like u to help me i have exam on 25 this month

    what happens if i couldnt complete the conclusion part in an ielts academic essay? I did write one part but i couldn't summarize all main ideas in the essay, due to time running out.

    Hello everyone,

    I'm happy to let you know that I finally got 7 in each IELTS band. I was having problems with writing (academic). After five tries I finally passed. My results are:

    Listening: 8.5
    Reading: 8.5
    Writing: 7
    Speaking: 7.5
    Overall: 8

    Thanks Simon as I used your blog to guide my study.


    Hi simon,
    I am unable to open the link, can you please help!!

    Hi Mark,

    This link should work:


    I will go through all Simon`s posts about writing task 2 in this blog from today(20160125), hope I can improve my writing skill after this.

    Hi Simon,

    From reading your guidance I'm getting the impression that personal style will be graded in the tests.

    My communication style is naturally to use rich descriptions and to prize elegance. Please don't take this the wrong way, but when I read your sample answers they feel a bit "clunky" and forced. I'm not disputing your experience, but I'm concerned that I will have to cover my natural writing style to receive the top grade levels.

    I'm also a little concerned that much of the advice for the writing test seems to be focused on the content of the argument rather than the semantic and syntactic correctness of the presentation. Perhaps you could reassure me that I'm worrying about nothing?

    Hi Matthew,

    I do think you are worrying too much. There are many ways to write a good essay. As a teacher, I find it necessary to have a well-defined approach that works, and that I can easily communicate to students. But my way is certainly not the only way!

    By the way, there's no reason why your natural writing style should be incompatible with the advice that I give. Your rich descriptions can still shine through! Just remember that this is an exam, and that the examiner is marking according to a set of criteria. To meet these criteria, especially under the stress of exam conditions, it helps if you have a 'method'.

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the reassurance. I need to score at least eight points in all sections; no mean feat. I'm already arguing with one of the reading practice papers :)


    No problem. Good luck!

    Hi Simon,

    My target is 8 in each band. what are the materials and book you would suggest me. Please advise i.e. i would buy it online.

    awaiting your kind feedback.


    Hi Simon,

    I am preparing for General IELTS, could you help with writing tasks for General rather than Academic!

    Thank you in advance!

    Hi Simon,

    which pencil do u recommend me to use for IELTS writing, 0.5mm or 0.7mm mechanical pencil? 2B, B or HB?

    Much appreciate!


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