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August 21, 2010


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Hi Simon,
IELTS test today from Melbourne, Australia

Speaking task 1
Personal questions about current status, interests in collecting things and the first day of studying in Australia.

Speaking task 2
Describe a school you attended when you were young, you should say:
What was the location?
How was the classroom look like?
How was the teachers there?
And explain how you were enjoying the activities there?

Speaking task 3
various broad questions about young children's education, school, and class size

Writing task 1
A bar chart shows the percentages of broadband internet users who downloaded materials from three categories in the UK, Italy, Japan, the USA and China

Writing task 2
Nowadays many charities and other organisations carry out their activities by proposing special days such as "National Children's Day" and "National Non-smoking Day". Why do you think they are using special days? How do you think this is effective?

The following is my structure of writing task 2:

1. Introduction and state that I think it is quite effective.

2. Reasons for using special days
Firstly, as a way of advertising
Secondly, to raise people's awareness towards issues. Then I made an example.
Finally, help to raise funds.

3. Briefly say too many special days could lead to information overload. Then, explain how it can be effective. One is the effectiveness of raising people's awareness. Two is that it is effective in collecting funds, supplemented by an example.

4. Conclusion

Never saw this question before and I spent about 25 mins on task 1 so that I was really in a hurry. Finished this before last three minutes and did a quick grammar check.

So, Simon, could you please comment on my approach towards this task 2 in terms of logical structure and task response? and I did not use two special days listed in the question as examples. I used other days. Will that be a problem? and I did repeat "special days" several times, just couldn't think of substitutes, will that be too repetitive?


Hi Jack,

Thanks for remembering and sharing so much about your exam.

I think your 4-paragraph structure is perfect - it's exactly what I would have done. Also, your ideas seem really good. It doesn't matter at all that you use examples of your own - in fact, this is probably a positive thing in your favour. Your repetition of 'special days' is also fine. Sometimes it's important to repeat key words because you create a thread that runs through the essay. Students often use substitute words that don't mean exactly the same thing - this becomes confusing and the argument loses clarity.

It looks like you've done well. Let me know when you get your scores.



Hi Simon,
I'd like to contribute since this website has helped me so much.

Thanks for your comment and I really appreciate that. But I'd better not expect too much. Just in case being too disappointed like last time. Hehe.

Anyway, I will let you know how I am going.


Hi Simon,
Regarding the essay writing part 2, I think Jack has responded to the both parts of questions the same. Could you please give couple of outlines for both parts of question as I have also no clue to answer them separately.


No problem Jack.


Hi Felora,

I think the problem is that both parts of the question are so similar:
1. Why are they using special days?
2. How do you think they are effective?

I think Jack has got the right idea, and his 2 paragraphs do contain some different points.

If you want a really clear difference, maybe you could focus on advertising and raising awareness in the first body paragraph, and then move on to the results of raising awareness (increased funding and examples of success in the second body paragraph).

Hope this helps



Am planing to write ielts test 28 August 2010 coming this week. But my concern is that reading a passage and choose the right answer is difficult for me .I can read very well without problem but some times I found it extremely hard to understand. When you take good look at some of the passages examiners have written. it is too much complicated.

Secondly, what is high score marks in ielts test? it is reading? writing? Listening? speaking? advice me please

Hello Simon

Can I say " I went there before" or "I've been there before"?


Hi Mohammed,

If your problem is that you don't understand the passages, you need to work on your vocabulary knowledge. The only way to do this is by reading a lot, by using a dictionary to look up new words, and by writing new vocabulary in a notebook. Just keep working hard and you will improve.

I'm not really sure what you mean in your question about high scores. Can you explain it in a different way?


Hi Theresa,

"I've been there before" is correct as it stands. "I went there before" needs some more information e.g. "I went there before I came here" or "I went there before I started university" (in other words, "before something").

Hope this helps


Thanks, Simon!

No problem Theresa.

Hi Simon,
When describing two pie charts, let's say one is for 1980 and the other is 2000, is it correct to say "food expenditure covered 40% in 2000, while it was more than 50% twenty years ago"? I guess we cannot use "ago" in this case, right?

Please advise.


Hi Martin,

No, I wouldn't use "ago" because "ago" refers to 20 years before now (i.e. 1990). Use "20 years before that" or "20 years previously".

Hi Simon,
I am confusing about ‘before you left’OR "before you leave" which one is correct.

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