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July 28, 2018


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Dear Simon,
Thank you so much.
I totally agree with your advice that choose one consistent method.

Dear Simon,

Thank you so much for this blog. Its a huge

Today I appeared in the test, I think I did good in reading and listening, in writing I think , I stayed on the topic. However, I couldnt time to correct my mistakes. I am worried how much marks they are gonna cut if there are any spelling mistakes

Simon please so reply

Hi Simon,

Great advice! Consistency does matter.

I've also got a question. Do you think it's ok to frequently use 'engineered' words (e.g. add a prefix to a common word to make it less common) in writing tasks?

Personally, I would believe that successful 'engineering' can show your ability to use less common words, but there could also be risks like creating a word that doesn't exist in dictionaries...

@ Curtis

Band 9 refers to "natural" wording. If the wording you are using does not appear in a dictionary, or does not come up on google books in a similar context, then it is much safer to avoid it. So, for example, "soon-to-be-married couples", does come up once or twice, but "soon-to-be-parents couples" does not. Of course, "couples who are soon to be married" is more common, an easier option, and might well sound more natural.

In general, it seems better not to try and push "less common" wording into your essay, but just go for simple, straightforward, clear and concise wording. In particular, using unusual phrases gives the impression that you do not know the normal ones, whereas using the more common collocations tends to make your writing unarguably natural. Putting your point of view across without any weird wording is the best pathway to success.

@ Sara
Worrying is normal, but unproductive at this point: in five years' time it won't matter either way: so count your blessings and just keep working on your vocabulary and grammar.

@ Curtis
Google books:
"soon-to-be-married couples": nil
"prospective parents": over 300 instances
Which would sound more natural?

Correction: "soon-to-be-parents couples": nil

To Oleg,

Thanks for your reply! Your threads are very helpful to me.

Hi, can you help me plz.im not good in english ..how many time i required to prepration of ielts test for good band.plz suggest also first step to study

@ Sadia



->I am not good at english ..how much preparation time would be required to achieve an overall Band 7 in the IELTS Academic (or General?) test.

Judging purely by what you have written here, if you devoted at least three hours a day to English, and found a good method of study which included speaking practice and writing correction, it might take well over a year to achieve a good result overall, possibly two. The more you use English in your daily life (and think in English), the better your chances.

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