Tips by an IELTS examiner

I was fortunate to have met a very special person, a former IELTS examiner. He sent me an email and it was filled with GREAT tips, real insider information and, of course, I wasn’t going to keep all of that to myself :).

IELTS Writing tips

It is better to write in regular, not very sophisticated English, than to use phrases or structures you don’t fully understand.

If you need Band 6 – no need for complex sentence structure. If your goal is Band 7 – then show advanced sentence structure, language and vocabulary.

Don’t write more than 260-265 words in IELTS Writing 2 task. Why? Not because you will get a lower mark, but because of these 2 reasons:

1) It takes more time
2) More words = more mistakes

If you are told to cover specific points in your essay/letter – cover every point, examiners do actually count them.

Don’t overuse connecting words (like However, Furthermore, Moreover, etc) – examiners are watching for you to do that.

IELTS Speaking – interview tips

Speak until they stop you, don’t just answer the question and stop. Display you best English. Behave as if it was a driving test – keep going straight until told to turn right, left or park.

It is quite possible that you have to speak about something you have never heard of, or have no opinion of. If you don’t know the subject – tell the examiner immediately, so he could ask you another question. If you don’t tell him and start trying to speak, he might think that it is not a knowledge problem, but a language problem.

IELTS speaking: what else to expect

In the Reading or Listening sections it is quite easy to predict what will be your IELTS score. You do some tests at home, count how many questions you answered correctly, do the math – for example 34 out of 40 equals approximately Band 7.

But how do you measure yourself when it comes to the Speaking test – that’s the question!

And here comes answer: using the same criteria your examiner is going to use. I was looking for that information and found it in the IELTS official site (of all places :))

So basically this is what they say:

You belong to a Band 5 level if you

  • Keep sentences coming slowly (without pauses), repeat words and correct yourself.
  • Can use simple sentences easily, but the complex ones are difficult for you and it shows (you stop, get confused or start to repeat yourself).
  • Cannot say the same thing in a different way (rephrase) or use a synonym for a word.
  • Use grammatically correct simple sentences most of the time. It is rare that you use more complex sentences and when you do – you make grammatical errors or it is difficult to understand what you’re saying.
  • You belong to a Band 6 level if you

  • Can speak for some time keeping the right speed (like in your first language), with little difficulties when you repeat words, correct yourself or get lost in words and stop making sense.
  • Use some connective words, even if they are not always appropriate.
  • Can discuss topics (familiar or not) for a long time, using wide vocabulary and making yourself clear.
  • Successfully rephrase and use synonyms.
  • Mix simple and complex sentences when you speak, but the in complex ones you make lots of mistakes. Those mistakes are mostly grammatical and the examiner can still understand you.
  • You belong to a Band 7 level if you

  • Have no problem speaking for some time keeping the right speed (like in your first language), your speech is smooth and easy to understand, it is rare that you pause and look for a word to say, repeat or correct yourself.
  • Can discuss any topic using a lot of smart words, and you use English expressions correctly.
  • Use complex sentences without many grammatical errors. There are many more correct sentences in your speech than incorrect.
  • I gave you here the descriptions of Bands 5,6 and 7 because these are the IELTS bands most people want to know about, but you can see the full description of all bands here.



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