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October 26, 2013


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Hi Simon
If I organised my paragraph by using Firstly, Secondly, Finally structure, Should I use " Last but not least " instead of Finally.
I will wait for your answer. Thanks

Hi Simon,
First of all i would like to say thanks to you because Your posts are so helpful

Some teachers say that using idiomatic expressions ( suffer from, in order to, as well, as well as, for good ) and idioms can help us to get 7 band in Lexical resources. Is it true ?

Hi Simon,

I just want to thank you for your tremendous help through the website. I got my IELTS result on 25th this month and got 7.5 in Writing and 7+ in all other modules. I needed 7's and had only a month and a half to study and this was my first attempt. Here is how I planned my study for everyone else out there.

Listening: Practice Cambridge Books 1 to 9 plus go through Simon's website exercises and tips.

Reading: Again practice Cambridge Books 1 to 9 plus go through Simon's website exercises and tips.

Writing: Use Simon's website and eBook and prepare everything you can find here. Trust me you wont need anything else if you just follow simon's website and Ebook.

Speaking: Speak English every single day to your friends / family / colleagues or to yourself in front of the mirror. Think in English and you will see you speak better in a few weeks. Apart from that practice Cambridge papers, just one paper everyday by standing in front of the mirror will do. If you get time also practice exercises on Simon's website.

If you follow this, there is no way you cant get 7+ in all modules.

Good luck!

HI Simon,

I want to extend my appreciation for your help. In my two previous two attempts, I got 6 in writing in academic version. I was trying to write difficult words and use synonyms as much as I could per the guidance I read from other websites ( or that was my impression after surfing many Ilets related websites). I didn't have time to practice to improve my writing skills. I didn't do any Cambridge books either.

I was able to get Band 7 this time without putting any significant amount of time compared to previous attempts. Only two things per your suggestion made a difference: Answer all the questions in the essay and write in simple language but with clarity to convey your response.

I don't believe my English improved with this additional 1 band score. Only better method helped me to get my desire band. Thank you very much!

Hi Simon,

In Book 9 Test 1 listening, the answer is 'west' and I wrote 'West' will I get a mark? Which option is correct and why? Please help me out. I am taking the test in 2 days.

Hi Medha ,
Can you explain what is the difference between 'west' and 'West' ?
If you are talking about capital letters then as far as i think it does not make a difference

Manh - They are exactly the same so you can use either

Inder - your examples are not really 'idiomatic expressions' (they are a mixture of verbs, adverbs and other linking devices). Native speakers use idiomatic expressions as part of their communication so if you use them correctly then this may help your LR score. They are generally only used in informal letters in Task 1 General, and the Speaking Test. Let me stress however, that idiomatic expressions used incorrectly sound very unnatural and will almost certainly not help you at all

Attiq - Simon's is the only website I recommend to candidates for this exact reason. Too many candidates are obsessed with creating complex, strange English

Medha - generally the listening test does not need capital letters, however we advise people to avoid this issue by writing their answers in all capital letters.

Hi sjm,
Thanks for your reply

Some people enjoy change, and they look forward to new experiences.
Others like their lives to stay the same, and they do not change their usual habits. Compare these two approaches to life. Which approach do you prefer? Explain why?
Hi, Simon. Can you help me because I am confused how to write this task.
A)Should I compare these two approaches in two mains paragraphes, and explain which I prefer in the conclusion?
B)I should compare two approaches in the first main paragraphe, and explain what I prefer in the second main paragraphe?
Please, can anybody help?
Simon, if you do not free time to answer me, just write A or B. I hope that you have enough time to write one word on the computer. :)
Thank you very much.

Hi, Simon,
I learn quite a lot from your blog. However, a new problem keeps haunting me. After writing the topic sentence of each paragraph, I am struck and have no idea how to expand and explain the idea. Can you give me advice. IELTS writing really frustrates me:(

Hi sjm
Are these format languages good?

there are formats for all question types,
one of them is like the following:

Do you like ... ?
---Well, in general, I would say that I’m quite keen on .... , to be more specific, I would probably say that I’m really into .... . This is mainly because ... .

Gary - it's very hard to give specific advice because it depends very much on HOW you deliver this type of speaking. The language you give there is a general answer, followed by some specifics, which is quite natural, so some of this language is fine. The problem I see all the time however is candidates focussing more on these introductory phrases rather than on the substance of the answer. The substance is where we tend to look for better vocabulary for example.

hello everyone
im going to register for ielts exam.as you know,listening and writing task 2 are same for both general and academic test on date of exam. some of my friends suggest me don't register for date that only academic test being held because the listening and reading test will be too difficult compare to a day that both general and academic test are held. is it true? does anyone have experience?

Hi Simon,
Can you give me advice about this question?
thank you Simon

In some countries, the average worker is obliged to retired at the age of 20, while in other countries people can work until they are 65 or 70. Meanwhile, we see some politicians enjoying power well into their eighties. Clearly there is little agreement on an appropriate retirement age. Until what age do you think people should be encouraged to remain in paid employment?

Amir - this is not true. On the exam day there are different Task 2 questions for academic and general. Also there is absolutely no difference between listening tests on days when there is only an academic test so you should just book a test whenever it suits you.

sjm- great thanks for your info

Hi Simon,

My sincere thanks for your efforts in this blog which are proving to be useful for several people out there including me :)

Gave my test in Melbourne,Australia on 12th Oct.Got my score today...

Listening: 7.5
Reading: 8
Writing: 7.5
Speaking: 7
Overall: 7.5
Needed: 7
Expected: 8-8.5 :(
Attempt: First
Module: General

Which band would I fall under Band 7 or Band 8,with my overall being 7.5?

Thanks again,

Dear all,

I need help.. Where the recommended link to download IELTS Cambridge Test 1 - 9?

Hello, I am having some difficulties writing the introduction of a subject with two ideas. Can you please tell me if my introduction responds in general the questions?
topic: Some people belive money is a less important factor than free time for quality life. What do you think about it? What other factors are necessary to live a good quality of lifestyle?
answer: Nowadays people tend to spend more time working in order to produce more money witch affects the quality of their life. Some people argue that free time for quality life is much more important than money. From my viewpoint money have a significant role in making peoples life unstressed and joyful alongside with other factors such as health and security.

Hi Zem,

wonderful job and thank for sharing your learning plan.

I am looking for 7 Bands in each module of IELTS. Anyone interested in improving speaking and writing? Please share your essays at [email protected].

I would also share mine with you with some suggestions from my knowledge.


Hi Simon,

I'm wondering why you say lexical resource. As a tutor, I would think that improving one's vocabulary is not as easy as students writing a more organized and cohesive essay.

I have a number of students coming to me who have very little time to prepare for the IELTS. Maybe I only have one or two lessons with them. And because of this, I would focus on getting them to write the essay with a better structure and with more cohesion.

Hi John,

Yes, I agree that essay structure is the first and easiest thing to improve, and I'm probably taking it for granted that my students (or regular readers) are already following my advice about organization.

The point I try to get across (which isn't very well explained in the lesson above) is that 'ideas' are the key to making real improvements in the overall score: if a student has good ideas, that usually means they respond to the task well and use a nice range of vocabulary. Without ideas, grammar and organization don't count for much.

Hello Simon,

I'm a language teacher and I'm writing to ask you a question about the scoring of each individual task in IELTS. Is the average of whole band scores for the four criteria of marking(TR, CC, LR, GRA) rounded down to a half band score or a whole band score? For example, if the average of these four criteria is 6.77, will it be rounded down to 6.5 or 6?

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