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October 24, 2013


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Hi Simon,
I was told that, in the speaking test, candidates scores are decided mostly only based on the first impression. (their performance of the first 3 minutes.)
Is that true?
I was also told that in part 2, I can use one answer to cover all different topics. e.g.
a short presentation about my travel to the UK.
if the question is about your favorite gift:
A ticket to the UK
if the question is about your friend:
A trip to the UK with my friend.

Are these two so-named tricks true?

Hi Simon,

The teacher also added the following:

Don't answer very simple question easily and directly.


Where are you from?

(he emphasized answers like: I am from Hangzhou, one of the most popular cities for tourism in China is bad. )

Well, I was born and grew up in Hangzhou, but at the moment I am living in Beijing and I am going to continue to live in this city.

However, candidates can answer complicated question in a very easy way.


what is friendship to you?

well, I haven't really thought about the question, Everyone has his owning understanding about this question, But I guess....

Hi Simon,

I think today's lesson is GREAT and extremely useful! I hope students can get the idea on how to analyse model essays and improve their writing scores.


Hi Gary,

Different IELTS teachers may give you different tips on answering speaking questions, but I think the point is to try to speak naturally as you would in your native language.

I suggest you go over Simon's previous speaking lessons and I'm sure you will find the answers to your questions/concerns.


hi simon

if i use that vocabularies such as "remnants of ink and glue" and "distinct stages",might examiner think as memoriseable.?

Hi Mert,

When learning a foreign language, whatever you write or say in that language is based on memorization.

If I'm not mistaken, IELTS examiners tend to look and listen to your overall English, and won't give you lower/higher scores only because of a few mistakes/good topic vocabularies you write/say.

It is obviously good to learn new vocabulary and different grammatical structures (to get band 7 or higher), but the point is whether you can use them appropriately and naturally without "being forced"... having an experienced teacher should be able to help you out in this aspect.


Hi Martin,
Thanks a lot for your help. Actually I have followed Simon's lessons quite closely. The reason why I asked these two questions is because these was by someone succeeded in the real exam, although I was still quite doubtful about those.


Hi Simon

I can't show my gratitude appropriately for this website. You select, from a sea of online information, what's good and suitable for us. IELTS or not, I'm learning a lot here, without worrying if i'm on the right tract.

Thank you so much.


Gary - there are no 'tricks' but it is certainly true that first impressions in the speaking test are absolutely crucial just as they are in all areas of life. Also part 2 of the speaking test is not really about what you say but more about how you say it. Remember there is no task response or task achievement box in speaking so it's all about fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary and rate of error. If you notice, two of those boxes focus mainly on delivery so it is no 'trick' to say that it is very wise to focus on that. Finally. Remember that it is very easy for examiners to spot a memorised part 2 and it often occurs when an answer is very off topic.

Thank you so much for your detailed explanation.
Can I take what you said as

the two points I mentioned above is acceptable and should be recommended to all candidates?


Great advice as usual from Martin and sjm. Thanks again!

Hi martin

Thanks a lot

Hi Gary.

Yes it is always acceptable to
1. Make a great first impression
2. Say you don't know if you don't know the answer, but give a reason because that is what a natural speaker would probably do
3. When answering part 1 questions simply answer the question and aim for giving another piece of information (if you look at Simon's examples this is what he tends to do because this is what natives normally do)

Remember these are not 'tricks'. They are just what we call common sense.

Hi, Simon! I have a curiosity regarding the marking rules at the Listening Part. Do the examiners give you one point only if the answer is completely correct or could we get a 0,5 point, if we write only half of the answer right? For example, when the correct answer is "insulation", or "student support" and we write "insolation" or "student suport", respectively. Thank you very much!

Thanks very much for your help. SJM


It's really a shocking news for me that I had got my IELTS result last week which was 6(L6, R6, W6, and S5.5). Meanwhile, I anticipated that I would get at least overall 6.5 and specifically 7 in listening and speaking. But, on the other hand, listening and speaking scores indeed disappointed me. I would expect experts' suggestions how can I overcome this situation.I am regular reader of this site.

Hi simon! Hi everyone! I have a question about tense of verb use in writing task 1. My ielts tutor told me that I should write in past tense if the chart shows time line (example: Common cause of absence in

    1999), but to use present tense if it has no time element (Common cause of absence in children).. I am really confuse on how to do this. Please enlighten me. Thanks!

Thank you very much.

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