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November 10, 2011


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I found this website recently and I have been very impressed in your advice about IELTS test.I think that your tips are very useful and it will help candidate to get higher score.I admire you as an excellent teacher!!!! I took ielts about 4 times and I still don't succeed to acheive required score as the university 's requirement. I really feel powerless!!! but I will try more.Tomorrow will be better and I think that your guide will help for this.
Simon,I have suspect about using words in part of speaking or perhaps it also may be in part of writing task2.If I use words of idiom, will it help me to improve score? words such as "in the nick of time" or "in the limelight" Are they natural words? I found these words in BBC english learning but I am not sure that they are used in common in native speaker whether or not. Are they good enough to use in part of speaking and writing task2? Compare between collocation and idioms, Which one is more important for IELTS?

hi simon
I found your website recently.it is very useful.I need band 7,can you advice me some useful ILETS books or some other ways to improve my writing and speaking.

Hi Simon,
I am writing this to tell you that your site & your way of teaching or giving suggestions have attracted me so much that in spite of not being a candidate for IELTS test, I am following you. You deserve, at least, big THANKS because of carrying on such a site that can help anyone regardless of whether he is an Examinee or not, like me.
One more thing - I'm an English literature student from Bangladesh. I Hope this boring note will not bore you. Thank you once again.
Be happy.

Hi Simon,

I want to ask you something is this writing topic:

1.Can i use the word "elements" to indicate: carbohydrates, protein, and fat?

2.In summary I write as following: In general, through three pie charts, in order to have good meal, people consume food having many much carbohydrates and much less fat.
Can i use "in order to have good meal"? because i am afraid that it is my opinion. I know that giving opinion in writing task 1 is not accepted.

Thanks & Regards,

Hi Patty,

The expressions you mentioned are nice for chatting with friends, but they're not really appropriate in more formal contexts. Try to avoid using that kind of expression in the writing test, and don't use more than one or two of them in the speaking test.

Collocations are groups of words that are often used together. "Make a decision" and "global warming" are collocations, so these are very important to know and use.

I'll write a lesson about some idiomatic expressions that you should avoid this Sunday.


Hi Florence,

There are so many books and websites for IELTS - to avoid confusion I tell my students to use my website for advice/techniques and use the Cambridge IELTS books for exam practice. It's also useful to take some lessons with a teacher if you can. It helps to have someone who can check your work and practise the speaking test with you.


Hi Sabbih,

That's really nice of you! Thanks for your support.


Hi UT,

I wouldn't use 'elements'. Maybe 'compounds' would be better.

I think you should change your summary sentence - the idea of 'having a good meal' does seem like an opinion, and the charts do not show information about good meals.

Hi Simon,

Thank you very much for your kind answer.It is really lucky for me because I almost use them in my ielts test.I misunderstood that they were words for speaking naturally.I will follow your lesson intensively about unsuitable idiomatic expressions on this Sunday.Also,If it is possible,it will be good for your suggestion of idiom which should be used for higher marks.

Thank you so much....You are really good teacher for me!!

No problem Patty.

Hi Simon ,
Could I say looking at the figures(even in pie charts) provided by the healthy diet for sport,it is noticeably clear that the majority is fat,forming60%of the whole constituents followed byprotein25%thenfat15%

Dear Simon ,
Could you please tell me whether the number of visits it attraction places could be expressed as number of visitors because that is what I saw in one model answer'while I itching that the visit could be by one visitor or more,please advise.

Morning, Simon!
I am a Chinese student and I love your website! I even print out all the lessons of writing task1. Thank you for your help so much!

So here is my introduction:
"The pie charts compare three types of diet by illustrating the different proportion of components they contain."

And this is my summary:
"Overall, carbohydrates account for the largest proportion in every diet, while the figure for fat is always the smallest in the charts. It is clear that the more healthy the diet is, the more carbohydrates it has. "

Please give me some suggestions. Thank you!


Hi Simon

here is my introduction :

The pie chart describes a different type of diet which is namely an average diet, a healthy diet, and a healthy diet for sport.

this is my summary :

As the pie chart shows that the athletes should follow up a diet which the carbohydrates higher percentage than an average diet or a healthy diet. While the average diet is the lowest rate of carbohydrates but it is the highest percent of protein.

plwase tell me how's it :s

Thank you ..

Dear Simon

You are really amazing. It is your generosity that you share all your priceless information with all around the world, even Iran.

Here is my introduction:
The pie charts compare 3 different type of diet trough the proportion of components they have contained.

and this is summary:
It is clear that the carbohydrate's proportion in all diets is significantly much more compare with other components, while fat contribution is the least.

are they too short? I appreciate if you tell me how it is.

Hi Simon,

I really like your idea to write summary in the second paragraph it helps me to go to details easier and write faster after writing the main idea, but will it be ok for the real test?
We won't lose any score if we do the same thing in our essay instead of putting the main/general idea at the end according to normal advices of most standard books.

Thanks in advance

Dear Simon,
Which preposition to use before different stages of their lives.
At or In

Hi Simon,

Thank you very much for your helping.


Hi Moka,

You can use "figure(s)" whenever you see numbers, but don't write "provided by the healthy diet" - the diet is not providing the figures. I always write "the figures FOR..."

I agree that 'visits' and 'visitors' is not exactly the same (e.g. one person could visit twice), but for the purposes of that essay I think it's fine to use either word.


Hi Choux, Hannah and Bahare,

You've all got the right idea. I'm afraid I don't give detailed feedback or corrections (I would receive too many essays if I did that).

Compare your paragraphs with my examples and with other students' work.


Hi Mona,

Yes, I find it easier too. Most books and teachers do give the standard advice about having a summary at the end, but examiners are not trained in that way - examiners just want to see a summary somewhere in the essay.


Hi Moka,

It's best to use "at".


No problem UT.

Hi Simon, Please help me!
I'm totally confuse when making approximation.
- slightly more than four out of every five and just over four-fifths, is it similar? why fifths (extra "s")?
- distinguish "almost a fifth and around a fifth" / "just under a fifth and just well a fifth"
- Should i use "just under a half" or "just under half"
Thanks alot ^^

Hi Ha Thu,

1. slightly more than four out of five and just over four fifths = the same. 'Fifths' is plural because there are four of them.

2. almost a fifth = just under a fifth
around a fifth = about a fifth
DON'T write "just well a fifth"

3. Both are correct, but I'd write 'just under half'.

Hi Simon.
I have made a list of trend words, but it feel a bit weird. i think some of them do not fit to the context of Task 1.Could you give me your view on this please.
Hit a peak
Stroke to
Show upward trend (general)
Outstripped (when compare two lies)
Ratcheted up(little by little)
Built up
Dipped to
Slumped to
Show downward trend (general)
Ratcheted down(little by little)
Fluctuated around
Went up and down wildly
Ranged from…to
Was volatile
Hover around
Changed fitfully
Remain sturdy
Remain steady
Leveled out
Stayed constant
Maintained the same level
Remained flat
Remained firm

that's it)

Hi Diana,

You only need to write one essay, so it will just confuse you if you learn so many ways to say the same thing!

As you said, some of the words in the list would not be appropriate. If you made a similar list with the 'trend' words that I have used in my task 1 essays and lessons, it would be much shorter and easier to learn.

Hi Simon, thanks for your website. I bought your ebook and I found it very helpful. I don't know why, but I had some problems to identify the appropriate vocabulary for this task. I am sitting my IELTS next Saturday and I am trying to complete the tasks in the right time and under test conditions (no internet or dictionary). I post my essay, it may be useful to somebody and all the corrections will be welcome!

The three pie charts show the percentage of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that are usually present in an average diet, their ideal proportions in an healthy diet and the percentage required in a diet tailored for a sportive person.

It can be observed that the proportion of carbohydrates appropriate in a healthy diet is higher than the one actually consumed by people in average, and that sportive people should assume even more carbohydrates reducing the calories intake of the other components.
In particular, an average person’s diet is made at 80% of carbohydrates and protein, in equal proportion, and at 20% of fat.
In a healthy diet, the proportion of proteins assumed daily is meant to be reduced by 10%, increasing the calories in shape of carbohydrates up to half of the total.
A sportive person needs even more carbohydrates, being the ideal percentage as high as 60% of the entire calories intake, leaving space for 25 % of proteins and just 15% of fats. (166 words).

Thanks for sharing Sara. I'm glad you like the ebook.

hi simon thats my detail paragraph about pie chart:-
carbhydrates are 60% in healty diet for sport, whereas average diet and healty diet has carbohydrate 40% and 50% respectivelly. 15% fat is found in healty diet for sport , while the figure for avrage diet and healthy diet has similar proportion a fifth. A quater of proportion of protien is found in healthy diet for sport,which is 5% low in compared to healthy diet and 10% lower than average diet.

can anybody read and find mistake above paragraph.help me

And why, may I ask, should a student not use "depict"? Surely tbat shows a greater range of vocabulary

a significantly higher proportion of carbohydrates >>> a significant higher proportion of carbohydrates

In my opinion, it could be added here, " Carbohydrate is the largest part in any type of diet and the fat is the smallest."

Hey Simon Sir!

I think you did mistake in second line of summery, have you noticed that same(40) percentage of carbohydrates and protein in average diet!

so, why did you write lowest and highest proportion for that?

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