Never assume you’ve failed in the IELTS test

We have discussed in the past how important it is to be psychologically prepared for the IELTS test and I’d like to go back to that discussion. It happens to many people during their exams that something unexpected happens and they panic. Some test takers assume they have failed (without even knowing it for sure) and naturally that affects their performance.

Here are a couple of a real life examples (the names are not real, but the stories are).

Alan wrote me a letter and asked: “I was in the middle of my Speaking exam, answering the Cue card and after I have talked for what felt to me like 2 minutes, I stopped. I was sitting there in silence until the examiner gave me a sign to continue because obviously he wanted me to keep going. Do you think that will significantly affect my score?”

I thought that this incident shouldn’t affect the score because Alan picked up right after the examiner asked him to continue. To verify my guess Alan and I agreed that when he gets his score, he’ll let me know. Alan got 8 in the Speaking test (no, he is not a native speaker)! If he had panicked and messed up the rest of his test, there is no way his score would have been anywhere near Band 8.

Sandra sent me an email and asked: “I have written an off-topic essay. I misunderstood the topic and wrote about something related, but different. Have I failed, how much marks will I lose?”.

I do know that writing off-topic is penalized, but have no idea how many marks exactly are deducted. Sandra and I decided to conduct a little experiment, I asked how much does she think the essay would get assuming it was on topic, she said 6.5 – 7 and agreed to let me know her score when it arrives. Her Writing score was Band 6, which probably means that the assessor deducted between 0.5 and 1 Band for the off-topic penalty.

What I’m trying to say here is this: it’s not over until it’s over. There are parts of the IELTS assessment that are confidential and in many cases we may think that something will ruin our score when in fact it may affect it a little or not at all.

IELTS Essay plan: Women ruling the world would reduce violence

I’ve received a letter from a student who ran out of ideas to write about in his IELTS essay. Nick (not his real name) was asking me if I could send him a plan for his essay and I thought that more people could find it useful, so here it is:

Essay topic: Some people think that if women were to rule the world, there would be less violence in it. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Essay plan

Introduction paragraph

In the introduction you can first state that there are people who think that women have a less violent nature than men and for this reason suggest that women would make the world a less violent place if they were in power. Then you could mention that putting the women in charge won’t necessarily have that effect, because there are arguments for and against.

First body paragraph 3 points against women in power

  • Ruling the world takes some cruelty that women might not have
  • Having more submissive nature than men, women can create even more violence
  • Women are not decisive enough to enforce order and thus reduce violence
  • Second body paragraph 3 points in favor of women in power

  • Women have less violent nature
  • Women have less tolerance for violence
  • Women are very concerned with making the world a safer place for the sake of the kids
  • Conclusion

    State your personal opinion (let’s assume that you’re in favor of women in power), then summarize what was said in the second paragraph.



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