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March 02, 2014


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Dear Simon,
We feel blessed to have a teacher like you, an intelligent and a passionate teacher!

hi simon and everyone,
I'm going to take my test on 15/03
Now I'm so confused about whether or not I can use a pencil to write my listening and reading answers on the answer sheet. Is is compulsory to write the answers by a ball-point pen?
And are the rules of IELTS tests the same in every countries?
Anyone knows about these please open my mind.
many thanks

Hi Hang yes you can use pencil in R,L and
W .I prefer use pencil and I never use pen in
my 3 attempt.Good luck and I wish you get
the score you need .

Hi Simon,
I took IELTS many times and always stuck at 6.5 band for writing. I am a registered nurse in US and wants to move to Canada. Any suggestions please??I have no idea what I am lacking and where I need improvement??
Email [email protected]

I'm so glad to hear it. Thanks for your encouragement. I'll try my best and I hope you so :D

I agree that we need more practice than testing ourselves.
By the way,do you mean that we should'nt put the time limit before we ask someone to check our writing ? And if we get the feedback from the teacher how can we improve writing skill with that?I really do no know what to do when I get the feedback. What I usually do is just to read and keep essential phrases.. I'm not sure whether it is enough to get 7

Hi Simon,
For any essay (opinion, discussion or open type), does writing the high level points in the introduction improve the coherence and cohesion. These points will further be explained, supported in the body paragraphs.


I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'high level' points but if you mean your main points (or 'arguments') then I would definitely say no. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, we don't like 'repetition' in IELTS and it actually decreases your cohesion. Secondly, topic and argument sentences exist for the exact reason you describe.

Always aim for a short and clear introduction (Simon's are good examples of this). This gives you more time and words to develop your arguments, which is important in achieving a high score.

Thanks for the reply SJM. I was referring to the outline of the main points.
It is very clear now.

Hi Simon, SJM

For an essay asking to discuss both the sides and state the opinion, can I request for clarification on the following points?

1. Can we skip the opinion in the introduction and state it after discussing both the sides? I am asking this question because unless we talk about both the sides, it may be biased to state our opinion

2. Should we balance the for and against sides or is it also fine to incline towards one of the sides to support our opinion later on?

3. If we balance both the sides equally, should we have additional supporting ideas for our opinion?

These are some the questions I am finding hard to get the clarity on.

Hi everyone! I just took my speaking exam 2 days ago. I was so frustrated with my performance that all I did after that speaking exam was mope in bed. To tell you honestly, I am quite confident with my English speaking skills. Most Australians I met here are impressed with my accent and fluency that sometimes they think I was born in America! I am in no way bragging here. I just wanted you to see where I'm coming from.

So part 1 was easy. I talked to the examiner casually. Now, this examiner just seemed to laugh all the time but it's obvious that it's just a polite laugh or should I say a fake one. I know he was doing that to calm my nerves because I really looked nervous and tense.

Come part 2 and boy, i was a mess! Really a mess! I mean, I was able to answer the questions but I noticed that words just spontaneously rolled out my mouth. I felt like I had no control with my words and that I don't make any sense. There were lots of fillers in between words too and there was even a time when I said "I'm sorry" because I ran out of ideas. And yeah, my ideas were quite repetitive. I was able to consume the whole 2 minutes.

But what worried me was I really spoke too fast in that interview. Really fast. I recorded my voice in the same speed I spoke back in the interview and I sounded unintelligible.

Do you think I'll fail to get a 7 because of that? I know that IELTS claim that their standard is the same for all countries but do you think taking an exam in an English-speaking country will somehow affect their scoring? They might think that I live in australia so I must have more practice than others who live in their native countries.

I know this is quite long which is typical of me. I have problems with being conscise. For instance, when the examiner asked me: "Do you think real estate will be a good business?" I answered like this: "Yes, I definitely agree that real estate has a good prospect in business. That's what my mom told me also : to invest in buying lands and properties because they get more expensive through time. I am actually planning to have a little apartment business back home but I'm still young. I have to save more." Assessing myself, I think that all the time I tend to personalize questions and associate it with myself. Is that alright to do in an exam?

I am trying to move on from my frustrating performance in that speaking exam because I still have 3 more components to take. Your insight on this matter is greatly appreciated.

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