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April 15, 2014


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Thank you - God Bless You Simon!

hello dear simon ....sorry for annoyment ...i am asking for the 2nd time,,,
i am very thankful for your great site it helped me a lot...my ielts score is between 6 and 6.5 and i need the four 7 ... i did 4 ielts exam before and i want to score the four seven in my next exam . i would like to attend ielts online preparation course , and i want from you to tell me if you know any good site for that (i hope you have one)...thanks again and i wish the success for all other candidates

Dear Simon/ Sjm

I have got two questions:

1. Can we use a pencil instead of a pen for the writing tasks in the exam?

2. For writing task 2- If somehow intentionally or unintentionally ,we use ideas or phrases from your essays or from any other source , will we be penalised for that?

Will appreciate your reply.

I want to add one more question please:

Can we use contractions in the exam ? For example it's in place of it is and etc. Thank you


1. Yes. Almost everyone uses pencil

2. Absolutely not! Ideas and words are not 'owned' by anyone and all teachers (I would expect) provide samples because we want non-natives to use our language, because it is natural and error free. However, it is plagiarism to memorise whole essays and write them in the test. In fact, a completely memorised essay will get a very low score. I have heard of examiners doing google searches and finding entire essays which have been recreated in the test.

3. There is no rule in IELTS about using contractions, but it is generally accepted that you should avoid them in Academic Task 1, the essay, and a formal letter. In an informal letter, you really should use them to express informality.

Dear Sjm,

I am so Grateful for your help!!

Actually, I always use a pen for writing and I have noticed that in an effort to correct something, I end up producing a messy piece of writing.

Your reply has relieved my concerns!

Millions of thanks!

dear simon
I have some questions regarding cambridge 8,test 3 listening. It is about the transcripts of'section 4. Q33:pick their brains, I cannot use it in writing, can I? Q35: to set up a duplicate system to replicate a successful process. what is the difference between duplicate and replicate? I checked on the net, but I did not find a clearer answer.
Q38:"And this in turn means……"what does "in turn" mean? by order?
thank you

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