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April 26, 2014


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This is not good. Usually our mind is fresh in the morning, so listening works best as first test. If listening is last, then chances are more that we will mess up

I wish I were in Australia taking the IELTS, constituting of that order, it would probably be much better for me.

Basically the exam papers are exactly same on the same date in both Autralia and China. It was reported a few weeks ago that some Chinese businessmen made use of the time difference between Australia and China (3 hours) to sell listening answrs. They appointed some candidates to take Austalian tests since Australian exams begins ealier than China, and then those candidates reported the exam questions and answers back to the businessmen according to their memory. The Cambridge ESOL investigated that day's candidates’ exam papers and found that some candidates achived almost full mark in listening section while only got around 5 in other sections. Therefore, Australia decided to change the order.

Dear invisible man,
Actually, I did like your explanation for changing the components of IELTS test order. It sounds reasonable and convincing.
In my opinion, IELTS test has become a successful business,making a lot of money from ambitious people who are trying to get better chances to improve their lives in different aspects such as education or career.
what it makes me sick is that the validity of the test is just 2 years, meaning they force us to pay for IELTS tests fees again and again.So, I don't blame Chinese business people for doing that. It is money talks

I took the test in Australia today, I had to say I felt more pressure and anxious when doing writing first and it did affect my emotion when I found I did not do it well. Reading is still in the middle, as for listening I think I become more relaxed aft finishing writing n reading, well I even think the rules and diciplines read by the examiner during writing and reading could be a good warm up for ur listening. ( But others will probably think it another around, as my frd felt tired when doing the listing ) overall, I personally think the order did not affect too much
Another thing I wanna to mention which probably related to this change is that i think the writing becomes EASY( tdy's topic is abt Internet give people freedom to work at home rather than going to office/school, discuss ad&dis+ opinion), while the listening tends to be HARD( there are more multiple choices in tdy's test, candidates usually find this type quite chanlleging). Relatively less TFNG questions r in reading but a lot more matching Qs ( sentences matching, para. Contains which sentence) I think matching is a bit difficult for me coz the answer is in no order, bit more time consuming, I jt finished on time.
It is y first attempt in OZ, m not so satisfied I will definetily take the test agn, need more practices in writing. Anyway, GOOD LUCK guys!! : D

Hi Simon,

My test is scheduled on 10th of May and I am going to take the test in Melbourne. Looking forward to sharing my experience and comments about the new test order.Fingers crossed!

Further more,I find the below IELTS band 7 explanation a bit confusing.

* presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to over-generalise and/or
* supporting ideas may lack focus

- How can we avoid generalising about topics like environment,education,music?)

- How does a supporting idea may lack focus?

I know you are very busy but I appreciate if you could point us the right direction. I am trying to find a specific example that illustrates the difference between band 7 and band 8 but did not get lucky so far.

Thank you

*edit: How can a supporting idea lack focus?



i heard the same news which you wrote above. i had the test on 15th march in beijing and then got the delayed score over 3weeks. someone said probably the cheating things happened on 15th march.anyway i did get the score i wanted.

Hi all,

I got lucky and came across with an example that illustrates the lack of focus in a supporting idea.Please see below.

However, I am still struggling with understanding over generalisation.
The topics are broad and general.I am not sure how I can give an example,for instance, in relation to environmental issues without over generalising.(E.g:Certain type of plants and animal species are becoming extinct.- is this ok?)

Any information/idea is much appreciated.Thank you.

Example for the Focused Supporting Idea:

Some people think that parents should teach their children how to be healthy and have a
balanced diet. Others, however, believe that school is the best place to learn this.
Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

a) parents can encourage children to be active in their free time (OK. supports the view that parents should teach their kids how to be healthy)

b) regular exercise is more important than a balanced diet (NOT OK. you are not asked to decide which is more important)

Focused supporting idea = Relevant,straight to the point,spot on,straightforward


1. 'Overgeneralisation' refers to the ability to communicate
a) the difference between fact and opinion
b) different levels of certainty

In English we use language like modal verbs ('can' 'could' 'may/might' etc), adverbs ('often' 'usually' 'occasionally' etc) and introductory phrases ('Many people believe that' 'It is often argued that' etc) to clearly communicate this. When something is 'overgeneralised', this means you are saying that something applies 'generally' when it is actually more 'limited' and you need language to communicate this. For example, if you said that 'teachers know more about health than parents', then this is far too general.

2. As you said, 'lack of focus' generally refers to relevancy. Often candidates provide no examples or supporting detail, or they give examples that don't seem to be relevant to their argument.

The difference between 7 and 8 is really just doing this at a higher level and more consistently over the whole essay. Remember, marking criteria do not just work in isolation - they tend to work together, so if there is overgeneralising it usually means the candidate is lacking vocabulary, or is making too many errors.

Some people above explained the reason for changing order of the test. What ever is the order of first three modules, candidates can only leave the test room after finishing exam. So changing order of test can not solve the problem of sending answer to others countries like China

I used to get above band 7 for my listening before they changed the listening to the last. Now, I gotten 6.5 for my listening.

I think it is better this way. Because writing is usually the hardest one, if you want to achieve, for example, 4 7s in ielts. Making it the first one allows people to walk in the exam with a fresh brain, and also people can use their short-term memory to keep some good vacabulary in mind. I got the 4 7s on the 12th April exam, which, I think, partially attributes to this change.
However, people can lose their confidence, if they think they did not do well in the writing. This happened to me on 5th April, when I actually got 7.5 in writing.

I also would like to thank Simon for his teaching on this great website. I found this website very practical. I have seen some course teaching very complex strcture for writing, and their example essays are generally more than 300 words. Surely, those are excellent essays from native speakers, but they are generally unachievable for second language learners, especially under exam conditions.

Well said Shenghao. I see this problem constantly and this is why I recommend Simon's site to everyone.

Thank you sjm for the clarification.Much appreciated and thank you Simon for this great website.Also, allowing us to comment and discuss exam related issues (even tough sometimes under the unrelated heading).

I can't help but agree with Shenghao on both his comments about the hard to achieve 300 word long essays and emotional effects of the reversed order.However,I will try to keep in mind that the impact of the new order was positive on his writing ,no matter how he felt about his own performance.

My listening score has been 8 and over,therefore it does not worry me much to take the listening part of the test last.On the other hand, I am a bit worried about feeling exhausted after the writing segment and loose marks due to lack of focus in reading part. Because that is also where I need to concentrate on picking up what is being asked from me, to find the correct answers.
Formal examinations like IELTS are known testing the performance on that specific day.
This test has become an important element in measuring the level of english for immigration and higher education purposes and effecting ever increasing number of people's lives every week.
Therefore,British Council might be trying to improve the fairness of this test to enable the test takers do the best they can.

I feel hardly to concentrate on listening. Candidates have already got exhausted in reading and writing sections,which makes it harder to focus on listening when it put last. Also, because we can not go to toilet when are doing listening, it does affect me. I was thinking about to go to toilet all the time.

I agree that it is more exhausted on top of that we are not allow to use restroom which makes situation worse.

Dear Simon,

Which one do you suggest to take IELTS? British Council or IDP? Is there any difference between them? Or the examiner are all the same but just belong two different association?

Thank you.

Hi Simon,

Actually it does not only happen in IDP...I took the test on 12th Apr at Navitas Centre in Sydney. I heard from some friends that it might be because they want to avoid any cheating due to the time difference in different countries, not sure though. Anyway, personally I definitely prefer to have writing first since I will not feel hungry or out of energy after long time sitting exam. And the proof of why it works really well to me is my writing has been increased from 5.5 to 6.5 this time. Although I learnt quite a lot from your blog and did practises, I prefer to have the hardest one when I am still awake. At the end, I truly appreciate what you have shared with all studnets. Your blog is really really helpful! And I will keep checking on your update! Thank you indeed! Hopefully I could achieve 7 in the near future=)

'invisibleman' and Rayla,

Thanks for the additional explanation - that does seem to explain the change. It obviously applies to all exam centres in Australia - thanks for confirming that Rayla.


It's great to read comments like the one from Shenghao. I really hope that more people abandon the 'complex structures' approach to IELTS!!

now i m prearing for my ielts exam through simon ielts...i hope soo this time i score good band........bt i m weak in reading and writing

hi folks

It happened at Hawthorn Melbourne as well.
writing was the first, followed by reading and then listening.

some seemed to be upset about the changes.
thank you, Simon. I could know it on this website.

I think it is a bit challenging to gather your thoughts and jot down ideas first thing in the test.The upside to it, you don't get distracted by hunger,thirst or the urge to visit the restroom while writing the essay.
Shenghao was right, I caught my self thinking about my writing performance later on during the test.It is not helping.

I did take the IELTS 3 times in Melbourne. My result changes significantly. I got 6.5 overall before they change structure (Listening 7.5, Wting and Speaking 6.0, and reading 6.5) but the next 2 times i just got overall 6.0 (with Listening 6.0 and 5.5, reading 6.0 and 6.0, the other skill remains) I felt very tired to concerntrate on Listening at the end. It really affected my results.

Works very well for me. Writing when I am still fresh is fantastic. I can focus better. That is with some trade-offs from listening focus of course, but I don't mind that.

I am the one who have just done the exam on 21 Jun. 2014 at CQ University in Rockhampton Australia. I did not know the exam order had been changed until I sat down and started to do the exam. I was extremely shocked. Because the information that CQ University gave us via E-mail was Listening at 9:00am-9:40am, and then Reading, and then Writing. We went early for the exam check in on the exam day and followed all the steps as usual. When everyone sat down after the long wait, and ready for the exam to start, Tracy who is in charge of the exam operation at CQ University just told us that we "start Writing now". There was an Asian man asked her why it starts writing first, Tracy said I will answer you later, but until the exam finished, she did not answer the question at all. After the Writing, Reading, and Listening exam finished, I went to the room which held our belongings and took the E-mail as an evidence to show her and asked her "We supposed to start Listening first, why you changed the exam order and did not even inform us in advance." SHE SAID: " I KNOW THE REASON, BUT I CAN NOT TELL YOU." and then she just ran away. What is this answer? WHAT IS THIS AMSWER? It is truly not fair for all the candidates on that day. They can inform us when we check in on the same day or should even let us know before few days of the exam day. Not wait until we all set down and ready for the listening, and train our brain to expect listening first. It is all about MONEY. They just want to make people fail and then they can make much more money from the candidates. It is a very very dirty way to steal money from people and cheating and it is very rude to treat people like this. I have no respect to them at all after I have got this experience. They let people pay the cost for their mistakes. They don't allow cheating during the exam, but they allow themselves to cheat people.

I took part in IELTS in Australia and in my opinion it has been the best change IELTS people have done ever. I was more confident when I was doing listening test and also I was much less stressed.

I registered for Griffith IELTS in Brisbane today. It seems they have changed the order too. It was not mentioned in their website. However, in their registration confirmation email, it is mentioned:
"TEST SCHEDULE: The morning test session will start when registration is completed - Writing, Reading, Listening."

Hi Simon,

I took my IELTS from Navitas this month and received S/L 8, R 7, W 6.5. I'm really disappointed with my writing score as I got an 8 in writing before. Do you think I should apply for a remark and it'll increase to 7 at least?

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