Why You Shouldn’t Study IELTS to Improve Your English

Why You Shouldn’t Study IELTS to Improve Your English

Teachers and IELTS examiners talk/laugh about this more than anything else: the students who want to study IELTS now even though they are far away from the score they need.

Studying IELTS is for students who are .5 or 1 band away from their score. Going up 1 band can be accomplished with some test prep in anywhere from a day to a few months.

Students who are more than a point away from their score – the majority of students studying IELTS! – are making a terrible mistake that will cost them time and money.

It’s like deciding that you want to be an Olympic athlete a few months before the Olympics start. It isn’t a realistic goal.

Only once you’ve set a realistic goal can you start to plan out the steps that will give you a realistic chance of reaching your goal.

Before you read on make sure you know you current level and know how long it will take to get to the band score you want.

Then keep reading to learn why you shouldn’t be studying IELTS in order to improve your English.

 

 

Reason #1: Your English is Not Improving (Much)

Studying IELTS is not about improving your English.

It is about preparing for the test by learning test strategy (and making some small improvements in your English).

The biggest problem for IELTS is vocabulary. English has tons of words that you have to learn how to hear, read, write and speak.

That takes time. Most IELTS courses do not focus on vocabulary (except for some useful phrases) because they only have time to deal with the test itself.

I’ve seen so many students waste years and years studying IELTS while their English barely improves at all. They start as a 6 and two years later they are still a 6.

If they had been improving their English, and then studied some tips for the test at the end, they could have improved to a 7 or 8!

Instead, they wasted their time learning the same tips and tricks over and over again. They’ve been learning with a blindfold over their eyes.

It’s true that their English is improving somewhat (how could it not?). But this is not an efficient method.

You can read some more about efficient ways to improve your English here: Reading the New to Improve, Watching Movies/TV with Subtitles, Improving your Listening Skills, Improving your Spoken Vocabulary, Brainstorming Ideas, and Useful Grammar Websites.

 

 

Reason #2: It’s Boring

The single most important factor in improving your English (more than the school you choose, your teacher, the methods, etc.) is your motivation.

If you are well-motivated by external factors like getting a good job and living abroad or by internal ones like having fun learning you will improve over time. Guaranteed.

If you are not motivated, you can still do it. But it will be a long, painful journey and you are much more likely to give up or improve slowly. Read more about the importance of motivation here.

Because studying for IELTS is boring that means that your motivation will be low in the long-term.

In the short-term, it will be very high. You have a clear band score goal. You know what you need to do. You have a good reason to get IELTS.

Over a few months, IELTS students are usually really highly motivated.

The longer you spend doing boring practice tests and reading about boring topics, the less motivated you will become. Motivation for IELTS has a limit and you will reach it if you study for too long.

In order to keep your motivation high you should be watching movies and TV shows that you like, listening to music, reading interesting books, meeting people on Tinder and learning English in fun, motivating ways.

You will stay motivated, study harder and the things that you learn will be more likely to stick. As Leonardo DaVinci said over 500 years ago:

 

 

IELTS does not contain the fuel to keep you motivated for a long time. Your motivation will decrease over time and your English language improvement will plateau (stop improving).

 

 

Reason #3: You Can’t Trust the Schools

IELTS is a business. Not just for the company that owns IELTS (Cambridge) and its partners (IDP and BC) but also for all the schools that teach IELTS (um… and websites, too: http://howtodoielts.com/band-scores-and-writing-corrections/)

It is sometimes in the best interests of schools to lie to students. Schools tell students they can get a score that is not realistic. Students study IELTS again and again for years without improving.

Schools are afraid to tell students that they should not be studying IELTS because they know the student will just chase impossible promises somewhere else.

To improve your English, you need to put in a lot of work outside class and find interesting materials that are not related to IELTS. That’s much harder for schools to sell.

So schools will lie to you to get you to sign up. They will tell you that you can move up a band or 2 by studying IELTS long-term with them.

Schools are not going to tell you that you are 3 or 4 years away from your score and you need to improve your English first and think about IELTS later.

This is how students end up studying for years at a school without making the improvements you would expect for the money they spend. It’s an abusive relationship based on the insecurity of students and the greed of schools.

Don’t get trapped by schools promising you the world and delivering nothing.

Not all schools are like this. For example, British Council is honest to students about what scores they should expect and their long-term study plans.

 

 

What now?

Now you need to know the key question: Should you be studying English? Or improving your English? Read this post to know your score so that you can make a plan and make sure you aren’t wasting your time!

If you’re still reading, you obviously can’t get enough of us. Here’s some more to feed your addiction: Our Instagram, Facebook and YouTube!

 

 

Comment below: Are you ready to be studying IELTS?

Here’s some help getting started with your comment:

I’m not sure, but I think…

I know I’m ready because…

I guess I should focus on … for now … because …

It might be a good idea for me to …

How to Make an IELTS Study Plan

How to Make an IELTS Study Plan

Before you make your IELTS study plan you need to know 2 things.

First, read here to determine what your current level and IELTS band score is.

Next, take a look at approximately how long it will take you to get the score you need.

Those are just estimates, of course. But now you have some idea of where you are and the realistic timeframe for reaching your goal.

The best way to reach your goal quickly is to put in more hours every day, every week and every month – all under a yearly plan.

A day is made up of various units just like the human body is made of body parts, muscles, tissues and cells. Each day breaks down into parts of the day, hours, minutes and seconds. Focus on each individual second and the boundaries of ‘day’ expand dramatically and you will have more time than you originally thought.

This is more important than signing up for an IELTS class at a school. Self-study is better than taking a class because you will be responsible for your own learning and take a more active (rather than passive) role in your improvement.

So let’s go through a sample plan together. I recommend that you buy a new notebook and start now!

 

 

Sample Study Plan

Here’s my new notebook and I’m going to put my current level and goal on the cover and the date when I am starting.

You can include an end date for your goal – but it must be realistic or it will be demotivating. Again, check out the links at the top if you’re not sure about your current level and time frame.

 

On the first page I’m putting a daily and monthly overview of what I’ll be doing. I don’t expect to keep to this exactly, but it will still be helpful. You might want to add a weekly one as well.

 

Here comes the important part – all the days and hours! The above plans will help you stay organized but this is the engine to your car.

If you don’t put in the daily work the car won’t go anywhere!

Here I write down first what I plan to do for the day. Then later in the day I tick the things that I did and make an X for the things I didn’t do. Don’t feel bad about what you didn’t do. Your attitude to your mistakes will determine your IELTS success.

The most important part of your plan is that you update it consistently. Even if you did nothing – write it down.

Here is the full video process and some advice from me:

 

 

A Better Way

The above method is very traditional and suits a lot of people. Most people like to plan things out in advance of doing them. But I think there’s a better way. I think it’s a bad habit to plan things out so I don’t use checklists that often.

A better habit, in my opinion, is to keep track of your work after you do it rather than making a checklist before. This way you won’t get the feeling of accomplishment, peace, and satisfaction that comes with making a checklist.

Instead, briefly sketch out in your head some of the things you want to get done. Maybe jot them down – it’s not a problem to make some notes. But get started doing them right away!

At the end of the day, write down all the things that you did.

This way, you will always be focused on getting things done, not on planning things out.

Don’t stress too much when your plans don’t work out – laugh about it and get back to work!

Take some inspiration from my favorite cartoonist, Chris Hallbeck:

Find out more about Chris Hallbeck here: https://linktr.ee/chrishallbeck

 

You’ll soon get into the habit of getting more done because otherwise you’ll be facing a disappointed, accusatory blank page at the end of the day. That angry blank page will be the reason you don’t get the score you want.

But if you can fill up that page with accomplishments by the end of everyday and make that page happy, that will be the reason that you do reach your goal!

Best of luck!

 

 

Comment below – what score do you need to get on IELTS?

You can use these phrases to help write your comments:

I really need a …

I’d like to get …

If I don’t get … I won’t be able to …

In the next … months, I have to have a band …

‘What’s My Current English Level and IELTS Band Score?’

‘What’s My Current English Level and IELTS Band Score?’

To be honest, you can’t really know your IELTS band score without a qualified teacher.

Wait, don’t go! I’m not wasting your time!

You won’t be able to get a completely accurate score but it is possible to figure out within a band score what you should be getting for each part of IELTS.

I’m a former IELTS examiner so I know the band scores well.

Read below to learn how to test yourself, figure out your score, and afterwards be sure to also check out my sister post on How Long it Will Take to Get Your IELTS Score.

 

 

How to Figure Out Your IELTS Speaking Score

This will take some time and effort but if you follow my instructions you will have a good idea of your speaking score without having to overpay a teacher!

This is Nguyen, the first ever customer for our Band Scores and Writing Corrections Service and a current employee. She lived in Australia for years and her speaking (and overall) scores on two recent tests for speaking were 7.5 and 8.

She uses tons of natural language, accurate vocabulary and has a nice accent.

To figure out your speaking level you are going to compare yourself with her.

Here is the Part 2 Speaking question she will be talking about:

Describe a sci-fi film that you watched.

Practice and record yourself answering the question above for about 2 minutes. Keep the recording – you will need it.

Listen to her response (In this video she speaks for more than 2 minutes. That’s not what will happen on the real test – it is just for you to get as much practice as possible!)

If you can understand 80 – 100% that doesn’t mean you are a band 8 – it just means your listening skills are good. You can’t always use all the language that you understand.

Now it is time to compare your response and hers. Some of the hesitations, repetition, and grammatical mistakes in this answer could bring her fluency and grammar down and make this a 7.5. Her level in this video is 7.5/8.

I’m a former examiner so let me show you exactly what is going through the mind of the examiner when he is listening to you speak.

Examiners always have the band descriptors out and look at them before and after the test. In their small heads with their tiny brains, they are highlighting them to get an idea of your score.

Here are Nguyen’s scores (which are mainly from Band 8 with some parts from Band 7):

Her score might go up or down depending on the part and part 2 speaking is usually full of the most hesitations. If she uses more complex structures and hesitates a little less she should be able to get an 8.

Most examiners would give her a 7.5 based on this section of the test because of hesitations and the grammatical mistakes.

Here is some of the good vocabulary that she uses:

had a chance, basically, astronaut crew, revive, dead alien cell, in the end, just a few days, full-grown octopus shape, manages to break free, at this point, horror, gory, killing spree, prevent, reaching earth, threat, human race, locked himself in, eliminate, back into space, for some reason, take control of, twist.

Use your recording to make a list of the vocabulary that you used. You don’t know exactly how accurate or good the vocabulary that you used is – that’s OK. Look it up in the dictionary to check what you can.

Here are some of the different types of grammatical structures that she uses:

Past Simple: had a chance, killed

Present Simple: the movie is about, they succeed, he manages to, the movie turns out to be, etc.

Passive Voice: the astronauts are being killed, the astronauts are killed

Present continuous: are trying, driving them

‘Will’ for future: there will be

Here is the full transcript (the bolded words are corrections):

Recently I had a chance to watch a sci-fi movie called ‘Life.’ Basically the movie’s about an astronaut crew living in space and they were trying to – they are trying to revive a dead alien cell. And the succeed in the end and they name the cell Kevin. And Kevin grows so fast that its size increases incredibly after just a few days into a full grown octopus shaped creature. And Kevin tries to escape from the cage where he was kept inside for so long for the experiments. And in the end he manages to break free. And at this point, the movie turns out to be a horror film and a gory sort of movie because Kevin goes on a killing spree. And the astronauts are being killed slowly, one by one. And the astronauts’ mission now is to survive and prevent Kevin from reaching Earth because they believe that Kevin is a dangerous threat to the human race. After the chasing and the killing I think all the astronauts are killed and only one manages to survive. And I think in the end, he locks himself into a space capsule with Kevin and tries to eliminate Kevin by driving both of them back out into space instead of going back to Earth. But then somehow Kevin manages to take control of the spaceship and both of them land on Earth. And the movie ends there. So I think there will be a part 2 (sequel) for the movie. ‘Did you enjoy the movie?’ It was a good twist at the end and I’m kind of excited to see what will happen next.

Use your recording to make a list of the grammar that you used. When talking about a movie you can refer to it in the past or the present or use a combination. Nguyen smartly sticks to present simple to talk about the events of the film.

Check out one of these grammar sites to see how accurate your grammar is: http://howtodoielts.com/ielts-five-grammar-websites/

If there is a grammatical mistake in every sentence you will not be getting above a 5 or possibly 6 for your grammar score.

You should now have a general feeling how her response compares to yours. Are you at Nguyen’s level? Lower? Higher?

Now try searching for some band 6 and 7 speaking tests on YouTube and repeating the same method.

You can also try this same method with another of Nguyen’s tests here (subscribe to our YouTube channel here):

 

 

I recommend practicing that same technique with as many speaking tests on YouTube as you can find. Here is another example with Minh who also got a Band 8 for IELTS speaking:

 

After watching a few and recording your own responses you should know your score to within 1 full band.

If you are still not sure, you can comment below and I will message you and we can work out another way to know your speaking score.

 

 

How to Figure Out Your IELTS Listening and Reading Scores

This is the easiest one to do. Without too much trouble you can figure out what both your listening and reading scores are!

Buy the past Cambridge Practice Tests. You can get the latest one here: https://goo.gl/t3vDVJ or take a look and see if they are available at the local bookstore in your country.

These are all past tests. Don’t worry about which number book. Anything from 7 to the most current one is fine (ones before 7 are also OK, there are just some small ways in which the test has changed).

Do it under real test conditions. The listening test is 30 minutes and the reading test is 1 hour.

Check your answers in the back of the book and use this guide to roughly figure out your score (scores vary slightly based on the difficulty of the test that week):

IELTS Listening

IELTS Reading (Academic)

IELTS Reading (General Training)

Band score

Raw score out of 40

Band score

Raw score out of 40

Band score

Raw score out of 40

5

16

5

15

4

15

6

23

6

23

5

23

7

30

7

30

6

30

8

35

8

35

7

34

Don’t just do 1 test! It might not give you an accurate score (maybe you were lucky or unlucky with the topics).

Do at least 3 listening and reading tests. If the scores are similar that is your level – now you know before you go to the real exam.

If the scores are very different each time, keep doing them until the scores become more similar – it shouldn’t take too many practice tests for that to happen.

Here are the 6 Basic Tips You’ll Learn in Every IELTS Course and here is The Most Important Skill for the Reading Test.

 

 

How to Figure Out Your IELTS Writing Band Scores

For writing, there are a number of services online that you can use to get a very accurate Band Score estimate. Well actually, there’s only 1 that’s very accurate because it comes from former examiners.

You can trust and rely on the marks we give you. We highlight the band descriptors and give a report on each category to ensure complete accuracy and transparency.

For $9 (for that price in April only!) you can get your band scores for your Writing Task 1 or 2!

IELTS costs between $200 and $300! If you use our service, you can figure out your score and won’t waste as much money later.

If you also want to get complete writing corrections along with your band scores that is more expensive ($29) but could end up making a huge difference for you!

 

 

Using the CEFR to Guide you

There’s one other way that might help you know your English level and IELTS band score.

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is the most important, internationally recognized system for defining English ability.

Here is how it defines each level:

Beginner (A1): You can interact in the most basic ways if the other speaker talks slowly and is helpful. You can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions bout where you live, people you know and things you have.

Elementary (A2): You can understand some sentences and frequently used expressions related to personal and family information, shopping, local geography and the environment. You can communicate in simple and routine tasks on familiar topics.

Intermediate (B1): You can deal with most situations while traveling abroad. You can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Upper Intermediate (B2): You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without difficulty for either part.

Advanced (C1): You can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. You can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes.

Master (C2): You can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. You can express yourself spontaneously, very fluently, and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations. You understood this paragraph easily.

Here is how those levels compare with IELTS according to their official website. Most examiners would say these scores are a little low. As an Intermediate you should be able to get up to around a 6, for example.

I hope that is helpful but I fear you might just be guessing. That’s why I strongly recommend that you take some time and try the tips I talked about earlier in the post so that you get a more accurate idea of your current level.

Now let’s move on to the big question – not where you are – where you are going

 

‘How Long Will it Take Me to Get to Band ____?’

It’s really hard to say. So hard that I wrote a whole other post about it: ‘How Long do I Need to Study to get my IELTS Score?’

Best of luck!

Oh and if you’re still reading don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube or even all 3 if you’re a fanatic!

 

Comment below: What’s your current level?

Here’s some help starting your comment:

I think my level is probably around…

On my last test I got …. but I think I have improved to a …

I’m not sure but it isn’t below …

I still don’t really know. The band score I need is …

Ask a Former IELTS Examiner a Question!

Ask a Former IELTS Examiner a Question!

I was an IELTS examiner and teacher at British Council for years and you can trust my answers 100%. I stopped examining in order to run this website and help you!

Everyday I get hundreds of people (it seems like thousands) asking me questions on my Facebook account, on Instagram and on my YouTube.

A lot of the questions are the same so this is a way of collecting all the most important questions and sharing them with everyone!

What are you waiting for? Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask!

Ask your questions in the comments below and I will answer as soon as possible.

 

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer: Museums

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer: Museums

This is the IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer from March 24th 2018 on the topic of whether or not museums and art galleries should show more items from their own country or other countries.

It’s actually very similar to a question from a few weeks earlier on the test!

I’m going to do something a little bit different with this sample answer. Students are always asking about these ‘to what extent do you agree’ questions.

Can you say you completely disagree? Yes. Can you completely agree? Yes. Can you partly agree or disagree and discuss both sides? Yes, and that is the approach I recommend.

Just make sure that you state your opinion very clearly. I wrote two sample answers for this question.

In the first one, I mostly disagree. In the second one, I mostly agree.

Read on for a sample answer from a former examiner, analysis, vocabulary practice and some handwritten notes!

For more, check out our other sample answers here: IELTS Sample Answers.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel for some IELTS Speaking Sample Answers: HowtodoIELTS YouTube.

 

SAMPLE ANSWER 1: MOSTLY DISAGREE

Museums and art galleries should focus on works that show the history and culture of their own country rather than works of other parts of the world.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Many people claim that it is more important for museums to display work from the country where they are located rather than draw from other places around the world. I partly agree that museums are a valuable educational tool to learn about one’s own country but overall museums should aspire to broaden people’s perspective rather than narrow and deepen it.

Proponents of museums mainly showcasing works from their own country often point out that they help people connect with their country’s culture and history. Children all over the United States learn about American history from their textbooks. They learn about the constitution, the founding fathers, and the various wars of liberation America has fought. However, if they go to a museum to see the actual historical documents from the period this will likely have a more memorable impression. Seeing a famous work of art or historical document up close, they may notice notice details that were not in their book and feel a more personal connection to their country.

Although there is a strong argument to be made for museums specialising in this way, I feel it is more important for people to gain a broader view of cultures around the world. Most people cannot afford to travel abroad and even if they do, they are unlikely to experience another culture deeply as a tourist. Museums are a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about other countries. Someone visiting the British Museum in London will see artifacts from every continent in the world without a plane ticket. Over the years if they keep returning to the museum they will learn more and more.

Museums will inevitable show a mixture of works from their own country as well as other countries. In my opinion, it is more important for people to take in the breadth of culture of the whole world rather than just their country. If children start from a young age learning about the world they are likely to grow up more tolerant.

 

SAMPLE ANSWER 2: MOSTLY AGREE

There is natural debate around the issue of whether or not museums should be showcasing works mainly from their own country or other countries. Although it is important to learn about other cultures through museums, countries have the right and responsibility to preserve and maintain their own cultural history.

Proponents of museums showing a variety of works from many different countries rightly argue that people’s lives are enriched through all these different cultures. For example, Europe is a relatively small area that packs in dozens of distinct national identities. Someone going to a museum in a cosmopolitan city like Berlin is likely to find Italian Renaissance paintings next to modernist Spanish sculpture as well as German works. This allows people to feel they are travelling around the world and taking in a variety of viewpoints. Through this exposure to culture they may come to better understand other nations and have greater insight into what connects and differentiates countries from each other.

Despite the clear benefits of learning about other cultures, countries have the right to house the relics of their own history. Many of the museums displaying works from other countries took them without permission. For example, the British Museum’s collection was mainly sourced during the height of the British Empire. Many nations have disputed the right of the museum to house their country’s artifacts and some have been returned. It is only right that countries keep what was made in their country so that they can educate their own people about their history. Anything that has been taken without explicit permission should be returned, just as a thief is required to return what they have stolen if they are caught.

I think that there is tremendous value in museums displaying works from other countries but it does not override the basic right of nations to look after their own history. One way forward would be to encourage museums to have frequent exchanges and temporary exhibitions.

 

SAMPLE ANSWER 1 ANALYSIS: MOSTLY DISAGREE

Many people claim that it is more important for museums to display work from the country where they are located rather than draw from other places around the world. I partly agree that museums are a valuable educational tool to learn about one’s own country but overall museums should aspire to broaden people’s perspective rather than narrow and deepen it.

  • In the introduction, I begin by rephrasing the question. Then I make my opinion totally clear by saying that I partly agree but overall disagree. I also give my main reasons why.

Proponents of museums mainly showcasing works from their own country often point out that they help people connect with their country’s culture and history. Children all over the United States learn about American history from their textbooks. They learn about the constitution, the founding fathers, and the various wars of liberation America has fought. However, if they go to a museum to see the actual historical documents from the period this will likely have a more memorable impression. Seeing a famous work of art or historical document up close, they may notice notice details that were not in their book and feel a more personal connection to their country.

  • In my first body paragraph, I talk about why I partly agree. The reason is that people can connect better with their country by seeing real items from their history. I give the example of a student in America looking at works of art or historical documents and feeling a personal connection.

Although there is a strong argument to be made for museums specialising in this way, I feel it is more important for people to gain a broader view of cultures around the world. Most people cannot afford to travel abroad and even if they do, they are unlikely to experience another culture deeply as a tourist. Museums are a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about other countries. Someone visiting the British Museum in London will see artifacts from every continent in the world without a plane ticket. Over the years if they keep returning to the museum they will learn more and more.

  • In my second body paragraph (which has my overall opinion), I say it is more important to learn about other countries. I put this in the context of people who can’t afford to travel or are just tourists and give  the example of a famous museum in London.

Museums will inevitable show a mixture of works from their own country as well as other countries. In my opinion, it is more important for people to take in the breadth of culture of the whole world rather than just their country. If children start from a young age learning about the world they are likely to grow up more tolerant.

  • In my conclusion, I summarise my arguments and restate my overall opinion and the reason for it. I also include one extra sentence to say why I think broadening one’s perspective is important.

SAMPLE ANSWER 2 ANALYSIS: MOSTLY AGREE

There is natural debate around the issue of whether or not museums should be showcasing works mainly from their own country or other countries. Although it is important to learn about other cultures through museums, countries have the right and responsibility to preserve and maintain their own cultural history.

  • In the introduction, I begin by rephrasing the question. Then I make my opinion totally clear by saying that I mostly agree and the reason why I mostly agree.

Proponents of museums showing a variety of works from many different countries rightly argue that people’s lives are enriched through all these different cultures. For example, Europe is a relatively small area that packs in dozens of distinct national identities. Someone going to a museum in a cosmopolitan city like Berlin is likely to find Italian Renaissance paintings next to modernist Spanish sculpture as well as German works. This allows people to feel they are travelling around the world and taking in a variety of viewpoints. Through this exposure to culture they may come to better understand other nations and have greater insight into what connects and differentiates countries from each other.

  • In my first body paragraph, I talk about the other side – why it is a good idea to have works from different countries in a museum. I give the example of a museum in Europe and the effect that might have on a person.

Despite the clear benefits of learning about other cultures, countries have the right to house the relics of their own history. Many of the museums displaying works from other countries took them without permission. For example, the British Museum’s collection was mainly sourced during the height of the British Empire. Many nations have disputed the right of the museum to house their country’s artifacts and some have been returned. It is only right that countries keep what was made in their country so that they can educate their own people about their history. Anything that has been taken without explicit permission should be returned, just as a thief is required to return what they have stolen if they are caught.

  • In my second body paragraph (which has my opinion), I talk about why museums should mainly focus on their country. I give the example of the British Museum and the works it has taken from other countries. My argument is that countries should be able to keep their own artifacts to show to their own citizens.

I think that there is tremendous value in museums displaying works from other countries but it does not override the basic right of nations to look after their own history. One way forward would be to encourage museums to have frequent exchanges and temporary exhibitions.

  • In my conclusion, I summarise my arguments and restate my overall opinion and the reason for it. I also include one extra sentence to say how I think this could be implemented in the future.

 

VOCABULARY PRACTICE AND ANALYSIS

I have highlighted 5 of the best vocabulary expressions from the sample answer. This is the type of natural, specific vocabulary that will get you a Band 7+.

Before looking at the definitions I recommend you take out a notebook and try to write down the definitions or a new sentence with the vocabulary. Then check using the definitions below!

Sample Answer 1

Although there is a strong argument to be made for museums specialising in this way, I feel it is more important for people to gain a broader view of cultures around the world. Most people cannot afford to travel abroad and even if they do, they are unlikely to experience another culture deeply as a tourist. Museums are a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about other countries. Someone visiting the British Museum in London will see artifacts from every continent in the world without a plane ticket. Over the years if they keep returning to the museum they will learn more and more.

Sample Answer 2

Despite the clear benefits of learning about other cultures, countries have the right to house the relics of their own history. Many of the museums displaying works from other countries took them without permission. For example, the British Museum’s collection was mainly sourced during the height of the British Empire. Many nations have disputed the right of the museum to house their country’s artifacts and some have been returned. It is only right that countries keep what was made in their country so that they can educate their own people about their history. Anything that has been taken without explicit permission should be returned, just as a thief is required to return what they have stolen if they are caught.

VOCABULARY DEFINITIONS

specialising (verb): to do one thing very well or be an expert at it

gain a broader view (verb phrase): to understand a greater variety / lots of different things

experience another culture deeply (verb phrase): to get to know another culture very well

a great opportunity (adj + noun): a good chance to do or learn something

over the years (prepositional phrase): for a long period of time

clear benefits (adj. + noun): obvious advantages

without permission (adverb + noun): not allowed to

sourced (verb): comes from / taken from

disputed (adj/verb): in disagreement / argue with / counter / disagree

explicit permission (adj. + noun): clear written or spoken approval or agreement

 

GRAMMAR ANALYSIS: ‘RATHER THAN’

Rather than is what is known as a ‘coordinating conjunction.’ This means that you can use it exactly like you use ‘and,’ ‘or,’ ‘but.’

It means something is more important or preferable to do. It is always a comparison. For example: ‘Rather than checking your Facebook, you should be learning about IELTS.’

So you can have a verb phrase after it (checking your Facebook) or any other kind of main clause (I like cats, rather than dogs. Rather than some superhero movie, we should try watching something different.)

It can be used in writing because it is formal but it is also informal enough for speaking. That makes it really useful! You can find more useful grammar on our HowtodoIELTS Facebook Group.

It is really common in headlines for articles. Here are some recent examples from the news:

 

 

EXAMPLE NOTES

Here are some notes I made about using rather than (check out more on our Instagram page)!

IELTS grammar notes!

There are two mistakes I *deliberately* put in Example 2 – can you spot them and comment below?

 

CHECK OUT GOOGLE MUSEUMS! 

We’re done with the boring stuff. Let’s take a look at an amazing website put together by Google that has works of art and analysis from museums all over the world! Here it is: https://artsandculture.google.com/explore

 

 

COMMENT BELOW

What is the name of the most famous museum in your country? Use these phrases to help write your comments:

In my country, the most famous museum is…

A lot of people where I’m from like going to …

Tourists especially enjoy the …

I don’t know if it is the most popular, but the one I like the most is …

 

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