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November 11, 2011


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Hello Simon,
I'd like to thank you very much as I was able to improve my performance in both writing and speaking tests after a couple of weeks of studying the ideas presented here and on your e-book. My scores raised -in two consecutive attempts- from 6 and 6.5 to 7 and 7.5 in writing and speaking respectively.
On the other hand, unfortunately, my listening score is still 6.5.I need 7.5 in that section:(.The test center provides big loud speakers instead of wireless headphones, so I can't concentrate well on what I hear. I don't know how to overcome this problem. There is no near center that uses headphones.

Dear Simon,
Could I answer q1 in a diff way by saying that people of high income or those living in developed countries will definitely enjoy a bigger variety of leisure activity either because they have the money or because the country values leisure time.
I have been through the Cambridge IELTS book n my score was very good but I tried Practice exams in 404 essential tests for IELTS n my scores in reading were not good!how can I know real level.Even the listening exams were different.veryyyy frustrated coz it is only 7 days to my exam.please advise.Thanks again

hi simon
thank you for your advice.i usualy follow the lessones on your web.can we use abbravasions like(aren't)instead of (are not)in writing.

also it is difficult to andrestand the meaning of some key words or phrases during reading test.is there any way to solve the problem?

Hi Ahmed,

Congratulations on getting such good scores for writing and speaking. I'm sorry to hear about your problems with the listening test. I'm not sure what to advise - I think the only thing you can do is keep practising. Maybe you could practise at home with similar speakers so that you get used to that type of sound.


Hi Moka,

Yes, your way of answering is fine.

My advice is to rely on the Cambridge books only. Cambridge makes the real IELTS test and those books contain real past papers. The tests in other books are not 'real' and they are often much less reliable. I only ever use the Cambridge books with my students.


Hi Florence,

No, don't use contractions like "aren't" in your written essays. Use "are not".

The only way to improve your understanding of words and phrases is by learning more English vocabulary.

Read the advice in this lesson:


Oooh thanks a lot Simon!some Cambridge exams I already finished last summer,do u think it is ok to do reading exams I had done before but since months ago?
Any advice,thanks again and again.

Thanks a lot Simon. Regarding the listening problem, I was advised by a friend to take the test at the IDP instead of the British council. They provide earphones which I feel more comfortable with. But I am not sure about the difference between the IELTS exams offered by the IDP vs the British council!

Hi simon,
would you please give me a best strategy in the way that we do not get meaning of a question ?

Dear Simon,

Today i had a speaking Test and i was not very up to the mark this was my third attempt and in first and Second attempt i got 6.5 in speaking.I am after 7.0 but in all third attempts i found one thing that when in section 2 when i return the paper given for rough notes to Examiner she writes 8 so i am confused is it a secret code or what? will i be getting 6.5 again because of this code 8?

Hi Moka,

Yes, my advice is to repeat the exams in the Cambridge books. You don't have to do them as tests - study them carefully, make sure you understand all of the answers, note the key vocabulary etc.


Hi Ahmed,

There is no difference - they work together to create the exam.


Hi Shian,

The only thing you can do is try to understand the general meaning from the words that you do understand.


Hi Kashif,

There are no codes. I have no idea why the examiner wrote 8. My advice is to ignore what the examiner is doing, and focus on what you are saying. Good luck!

Thanks a lot Simon.Could you please give me examples about how a person can be adventurous ....that was a speaking part 2

A variety of ....... Should it be plural
A variety of activities ,could I say a variety of activity as in a variety of information

What is the diff between dependance and dependence

Hi Moka,

An adventurous person might try new things (food, hobbies, activities) or enjoy travelling to new places. Try Googling something like "adventure holidays" to see examples.

'Information' doesn't have a plural (you can't say 'informations'), but if there is a plural form, you should use it after "a variety of". So, it's better to write "A variety of activities".

'dependance' is the wrong spelling.

Thank you very much .I

When I talk about a favourite book or story in speaking ,should I use the present tense for the whole story?


Hi Moka,

Yes, you can use the present tense. Have a look for some book reviews on websites like Amazon.com to see some examples.

Hi Simon,
Thanks for the great tutorial.I have a doubt regarding Task 2 of speaking section.Suppose the topic is: Describe one sports you like. Can we speak about more than one game thatw e like?...

Hi Vasanth,

No, always do what the question says. Describe one sport.

sir how can i improve my writing essay in task-2 plz give me some tips

Hi Shakeel,

Have a look through my task 2 lessons - all of my best tips are there.

Dear Simon,

I have read through your examples about the speaking test from Nov 2011 to Jan 2012. It appears to me that many question ask about opinions toward two different groups, such as - do men and women enjoy the same type of leisure activities? In my opinion, these questions asks for "general" opinions. However, I believe those answers are meaningless, because there is always a huge deviation inside the given group (in the question of leisure activities, men also enjoy very different type of leisure activities).

I think there are many other question, which can test one's ability in analyzing situation or giving specific comments. I wonder what is the purpose of those "general" questions?

Sorry for bothering you with something not so related to the test itself.

Hi Melatonin,

I agree with you, but I've never been involved with writing the questions, so I can't really give you a good answer. I think the aim of these general questions is to make it easy for students of any ability level to speak and say something.

Hi Simon,

explain about activity (study or work) that you enjoy....this is question one of friend got for his speaking part 2...i too am attempting exam very soon....he was confused and explained about his work project and lost points. please give some examples what to explain for work activity and study activity..

Hlo Simon,
My question is in what ways people of village spend there free time?

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