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July 31, 2018


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Hi Simon,

Could you write an essay with only complicated and “difficult” words just to show that a band 9 essay does not need to be like that?


hi simon,

which one of these is more effective to improve writing skills?

- reading writing samples which are written by native english

- reading writing samples which are written by english language learners..

Hi Simon and All,

At the moment, I am intensely doing Listening Tests and trying to understand the logic/strategy behind the Band 8-9 questions.

For example,
Question: "Local people do not ... crocodiles"
Transcript shows:".. the residents are not afraid of them"
Correct answer is "fear"
My question: why "afraid of" can't be chosen as a correct variant to "complete the sentences"? I have thought that there is preference on "what you are hearing in listening test".

My answer for another question where the location being asked was South-west.
But Southwest is the correct one.(One word only) Southwest London.
While southwest in oxford dictionaries is defined as the direction or region at an equal distance between south and west, there is no region in Google which is written as Southwest London. All searches show up as South West London.

Simon, could you please advice how to deal with this type of specific and tricky questions?

Many Thanks,


Question: You can find more information in a ... on my desk.

Transcript:...you will find it in a labelled blue folder on my desk in the enquiry section.

My answer: "labelled blue folder"
Correct answer: "blue folder"

Do examiners tag this type of answers as a wrong?

@ Invisible & rüknettin

To me, it is better to focus on the model answers produced by Simon. Other answers may be distracting and use a different approach and framework. There are "model answers" on the internet which I would question. For example:

"The ever-increasing popularity of package tours to rural areas offers definite perks. Regarding the locals, they can enjoy the amelioration in the living standard. To achieve an increment in tourist arrivals and cater for the growing demand of incoming tourists, more entertainment facilities and transport infrastructure within these locations are often established and improved. "
"Perks" here seems to be a poor choice as it is marked as informal in some dictionaries and is mostly used in the context of employee benefits.

"Amelioration in the living standard" does not come up on google books. Compare: "Improvement in living standards" and "betterment in living conditions/standards", which are both more common.

The third sentence seems unwieldy to me; perhaps better to put the infinitive clause at the end.

The phrase "regarding the locals" does not seem to provide proper flow or linking, as "locals" is a new idea. Even "for the locals" would generate better flow of ideas.


By contrast Simon's phrases may look simpler, but wording such as "shoulder responsibility" (as used recently) is more natural and demonstrates better command and awareness of context and tone.

@ Ilkin

In relation to England, it seems that the hyphenated version is more common, but "Southwest England" is also used.



1) The question says: Local people do not ... crocodiles

It would be Local people are not afraid of crocodiles

So "afraid of" does not fit grammatically.

2) Looking at the Listening answers here:


On page 122:

There alternative answers: eg
10: talk/presentation
31: garden(s)

Thus either "talk" or "presentation"
either garden or gardens.

Presumably the answer would also be "South-West" or "Southwest"

This type of listening question usually specifies "not more than two words" (or three), so that is a factor to take into consideration. The answer sheet might also specify: "(labelled) blue folder", which would mean the first word is optional but if present must be spelt correctly; and the last two words are essential in any case.

Ilkin: there are alternative answers.

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