What is the difference between British Council and IDP?

What is the difference between British Council and IDP?

This is a question I see A LOT on online groups, and there seems to be a lot of misinformation about it. Some students suggest that taking your test with one is easier than the other. The short answer is there is NO difference between taking your test with British Council or with IDP. Check out this article for a longer explanation of why they are the same.

Who owns IELTS?

IELTS is owned by Cambridge English Language Assessment, British Council and IDP. Cambridge writes the test and British Council and IDP deliver the test. All three organisations work together as one company to make sure the test is the same in all countries, regardless of whether you book your test through British Council or IDP.

Are British Council and IDP Examiners the Same?

For writing and speaking the examiners at BC and IDP have been given exactly the same training, they ask the same questions, they use the same marking criteria and they will be monitored regularly using the same system to make sure they are following the same standards. In fact some examiners work for IDP and British Council in the same town or city. So this is clear evidence that it’s the same.

Are the BC and IDP Reading and Listening Exams Scored the Same?

For the reading and listening exams, local staff mark the same tests following the same answer keys from Cambridge. So, again this is the same for BC and IDP.

In Conclusion 

So it’s pretty damn clear that the exam is exactly the same. If anyone tells you that taking your test with IDP or BC is better because you will get a higher score then they are telling you a porkie. But if you have any real evidence that supports this then please message us.

Now it’s Your Turn! Comment below!

Do you agree? Which will / did you use to take your best?

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IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Analyse a Process

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Analyse a Process

It’s very important to study and practice all the different Task 1 types so you can be fully prepared for your exam, including an IELTS Writing Task 1 Process.

A lot of IELTS students (and teachers & books) focus too much on charts and tables, and not enough on other types such as maps and processes.

Recently, process diagrams have been appearing more and more in the IELTS Writing exam. In this post we look at how to analyse a process carefully including the kind of process, how many steps and main stages, and knowing what is happening at each step.

The Kind of Process

The process diagram below is based on a real IELTS exam from Jan 2018, and shows how orange juice is made. Click here for a sample answer for this question with line by line analysis.

As you can see I’ve written on the top of the diagram (in red), to help me remember two important points:

  • It’s a man-made process, which means it is carried out by people, compared to a natural process (e.g. the salmon life cycle below).

  • It’s a linear process. This means it starts and finishes in different places. It doesn’t repeat itself. In a cyclical process (salmon life cycle below), at the end of the process it goes back to the beginning – it repeats.

Steps and Stages

After confirming the kind of process, you should identify (find) how many steps there are, and categorise them logically into main stages.

Count and Order the Steps Logically

The first task is easy – just follow the process logically (following the arrows) and number them as you go (see my example below). From this it’s clear to see that there are a total of 17 steps

Remember to number the steps logically so that it follows the process (following the arrows), which helps you to see the process and its main stages. Compare my numbering above with the one below.

The 2nd example also shows 17 steps but I numbered them left to right, which is not as helpful for analysing the diagram.

Divide the Steps into Stages

Similar to other Task 1 question types, if you want a band 7 or above for Task Achievement you need a clear overview that summarises the whole diagram. For a process diagram, this means the examiner wants you to divide the process into main stages.

This is tricky (difficult) as there is often more than one possible way. Choose whichever way you think is logical, and draw lines on the diagram to help you analyse and remember the stages.

In the first example (see below), I have divided the process into three main stages. This is logical because it matches the three main industrial processes in three different factory locations:

  • Purple: (Extraction) – producing & delivering fresh juice to supermarkets (and its by-product to farms).

  • Blue: (Evaporation) – creating concentrated juice for storage.

  • Pink: (Rehydration)  – producing reconstituted orange juice for supermarkets.

Alternatively, you could break the process down into four main stages (see below). Again I have used lines to help me analyse and remember:

  • Purple: (Extraction) – processing fresh juice and its by-product

  • Green: (Delivery) – the fresh juice is taken to supermarkets, and the solid waste to farms

  • Blue: (Evaporation) – creating concentrated juice for storage.

  • Pink: (Rehydration) – producing reconstituted orange juice for supermarkets.

Analyse Every Step – What, Where, How, Why

You need to analyse every step of the process and identify what kind of step it is, and therefore what is happening to the oranges at each step. For example:

  • Does it show an activity? (e.g. packaging) or a product? (e.g. fresh juice)

  • Is it a main industrial activity? (e.g. evaporation, extraction, rehydration)

  • Is it preparation for a main industrial activity? (e.g. washing)

  • Does it involve a break in the process? (e.g. storage)

  • Does it involve transportation? (being taken from one factory to another, or to a warehouse or shop)

  • Does it involve packaging? (e.g. canning)

  • Is something being added or removed? (e.g. water in evaporation / rehydration)

  • Does it involve a by-product of the main process? (e.g. producing animal feed from solid waste)

  • Is it labelled? (e.g. rehydration doesn’t have the word. It just says factory + water)

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

Using my notes write some sentences to describe this process.

Check your ideas with my model answer here.

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IELTS Writing Task 1 Sample Answer: Orange Juice (Process)

IELTS Writing Task 1 Sample Answer: Orange Juice (Process)

This sample answer is based on a real IELTS Writing Task 1 question from Jan 2018. But there is so much more in this post than just a sample answer. Aren’t you guys lucky? I’ve also included:

  • A quick analysis of the question – check here for more detailed analysis.

  • Line by line analysis of the sample answer.

  • Useful Vocabulary from the sample answer and links to practice games and exercises.

  • Cool topic-related links about all things orangey.

As well as our Task 1 sample answers, check out our Task 2 sample essays here: IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answers.

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

Question Analysis 

Looking at the diagram above, you can see the question focuses on how fresh and reconstituted orange juice is produced. An exciting topic!

If you need more help with analysing this process, check out my recent post on how to identify the kind of process, how to divide the process into its main stages, and how to recognise what is happening at every step.

I suggest making notes on the diagram in the exam, in order to number the steps and divide them logically into main stages. Your question paper should end up looking something like this:

Sample Answer

The diagram illustrates the linear process of producing fresh and concentrated orange juice for the purposes of selling in supermarkets. There are total of 17 steps which can be organised into three main stages. These include producing and delivering fresh orange juice to supermarkets, processing the fresh juice to create concentrated juice for storage, and finally producing reconstituted orange juice which is then sold to the general public.

The process commences with fresh oranges being delivered to a factory, where the raw product is washed and juice is extracted with excess solid waste being used as animal feed. At this point in the process the fresh juice is either delivered in refrigerated trucks for evaporation or packaged and transported to supermarkets for selling to customers. Evaporation is carried out at a separate facility, removing water and resulting in the production of concentrated orange juice, which is subsequently canned and stored in a warehouse. As required, the orange concentrate is then processed in a third and final plant, where it is mixed with water in order to produce reconstituted orange juice, which is then packaged and ultimately delivered to supermarkets.

Analysis 

Firstly, it’s important to note that this answer has clear paragraphing.

The first paragraph contains an introductory sentence and the overview. The second paragraph presents the detailed figures.

Although in IELTS Writing Task 1, paragraphing isn’t mentioned in the band descriptors below band 8, it is still a good idea to use paragraphs to organise your writing as it makes it more logical.

This helps the examiner to read your answer, and that is always a good thing!

Paragraph 1: Introduction and Overview

The diagram illustrates the linear process of producing fresh and concentrated orange juice for the purposes of selling in supermarkets. There are total of 17 steps which can be organised into three main stages. These include producing and delivering fresh orange juice to supermarkets, processing the fresh juice to create concentrated juice for storage, and finally producing reconstituted orange juice which is then sold to the general public.

  • The first sentence introduces the process, by paraphrasing (not copying) the question.

  • The second sentence begins the overview of the process by confirming the number of steps and main stages.

  • The third sentence completes the overview by summarising the whole process by identifying the three main stages. 

Paragraph 2: Detailed Figures

The process commences with fresh oranges being delivered to a factory, where the raw product is washed and juice is extracted with excess solid waste being used as animal feed. At this point in the process the fresh juice is either delivered in refrigerated trucks for evaporation or packaged and transported to supermarkets for selling to customers. Evaporation is carried out at a separate facility, removing water and resulting in the production of concentrated orange juice, which is subsequently canned and stored in a warehouse. As required, the orange concentrate is then processed in a third and final plant, where it is mixed with water in order to produce reconstituted orange juice, which is then packaged and ultimately delivered to supermarkets.

  • The first sentence begins the description of the detail of the process by describing the first six steps. 

  • The second sentence describes steps 7-10. 

  • The third sentence describes steps 11-14.

  • The fourth sentence completes the detailed description of the process by describing steps 15-17. No conclusion is required for Task 1 writing. 

Useful Vocabulary (see Quizlet link below for practice activities)

a diagram (n) –  a picture

illustrates (v) – shows

a linear process (n) – a process happening in a line

fresh (adj) – recently picked or prepared

concentrated (adj) – made stronger by removing water

purpose (n) – a reason for doing something

reconstituted (adj) – to add water to something

raw (adJ) – not cooked or processed

extraction (n) – to remove something

excess (n) – too much

solid waste (n) – leftover hard material (not a liquid or gas)

animal feed (n) – food for animals

evaporation (n) – remove water by heating

a facility (n) – a place with a special purpose

packaged (v) – to put in a packet or box for selling

transported (v) – to be moved from one place to another

delivered (v) – to be transported to the end user or customer

subsequently (adv) – after something else happened

a plant (n) – a factory

ultimately (adv) – finally

FREE Online Vocabulary Practice 

I’ve prepared some practice games and vocab exercises on Quizlet for these words taken from the sample answer. Quizlet is a really fun and convenient way to learn and practice vocab and it’s free!

Try it out, and use it whenever you have a spare few minutes.

If you need more help using Quizlet, check out this video lesson (starts from 34m36s).

Check out Quizlet for great online vocabulary activities for free!

Learn more about everything Orange! – Related Articles and Videos

Check out these links for fun and interesting videos and articles about all things orange!

Find out why Donald Trump is so orange.

Orange Juice’s Dirty Secret

How Orange Juice is Made

Cool Facts about Oranges

Health Benefits of Oranges

Unusual Uses of Orange

Why is Donald Trump’s Skin Orange?

Why do People Eat Oranges in the Shower?

Why do Dutch People Love the Colour Orange?

 

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IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Analyse Pie Charts (Changes Over Time)

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Analyse Pie Charts (Changes Over Time)

I recently wrote a post about how to analyse tables and it was so popular that I decided to do the same for pie charts, which lots of student also find very difficult to analyse.

So, again I will show you how to make simple notes, that will make analysing pie charts easier, helping you to recognise (see) and remember all of the important trends.

Why Pie Charts are Difficult

It’s no surprise that students struggle with pie charts. After all, it is much easier to see the overall trend in a line chart or a bar graph than in a pie chart.

In a pie chart you are looking at two or three specific time points so you have to look carefully to identify (find) the trends.

And the chart in the real exam is ALWAYS in black and white, which makes it more difficult to see the trends and make comparisons quickly.

First you need to know what you are looking at. For the chart below, taken from a previous IELTS exam (Cambridge 8), you are looking at the same kind of data (total school spending), divided into five fields in three different years.

Make Notes about Figures

In the charts below you can see I’ve followed the charts for each of the five fields from 1981 via

(through) 1991 to 2001, and drawn an arrow to show the overall trends and calculated the overall changes.

For example, Insurance went from 2% to 3% to 8% so that is a clear upward trend, so I made a note on the final pie chart of x4 (four times), and I drew a straight upward arrow to show a clear large increase.

In contrast, Teachers’ salaries initially went up from 40% to 50% before falling to 45%, so it was an overall increase of 5% (or about 10% of the original 40%).

So I made a note on the final pie chart of +10% and I drew a fluctuating arrow but with a clear increase overall.

Make Notes about Positions

Next, in the chart below you can see I noted all the positions in the first and last years so I can clearly see any changes overall.

For example, in 1999 Other workers’ salaries was the 2nd largest area of school spending, whereas in 2001 it had dropped to the 3rd largest area.

So I wrote 2 and 3 next to that part of the pie chart for 2001, and I drew with an arrow to show the direction of the change.

Select, Group and Compare

Now you can see the trends easily, all you need to do is recognise any general patterns and identify which are the most important trends.

For example, it is now clear that three areas experienced an upward trend, whereas two areas had a downward trend.

It is also clear that according to the three charts, Teachers’ salaries remained the largest area of spending throughout the twenty year period.

In contrast, the percentage of money spent on Furniture and equipment became the second largest area of spending, overtaking Other workers’ salaries.

For a band 7+ you should be making comparisons where possible.

So you could note that by the end of the period twice as much is spent on Teachers’ Salaries compared to Furniture and equipment.

Furthermore you could note that by 2001 three times as much is spent on Teachers’ Salaries compared to Other workers’ salaries.

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

Look again at the charts. What other trends can you see?

Write some example sentences like mine.

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IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Analyse Tables (Changes Over Time)

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Analyse Tables (Changes Over Time)

Which kind of Task 1 Writing questions are the most difficult? In my experience as an IELTS Teacher and Examiner, most students say it’s tables!

In this article I show you how to make simple notes on the table, so that it will be easier to recognise (see) and remember all of the important trends.

Tables are Challenging

It’s no surprise that students struggle with tables. After all, it is much easier to see the overall trends in a line chart or a bar graph.

But in a table you are just looking at the naked data. Just look at the example below taken from a previous IELTS writing exam (taken from Cambridge 10).

There are a lot of figures to process and it’s practically (nearly) impossible to see the trends quickly and then remember them as you are writing your report.

So what you need to do is make notes on the table about all the important changes. For the table above you need to note changes in sales and also changes in position.

Let’s look at changes in sales first.

Make Notes about Figures

In the table below you can see I’ve roughly calculated the changes in sales of coffee and bananas for each country between 1999 and 2004, and I’ve made notes at the side of the most recent figures.

For example, in the UK the amount of coffee sold increased by more than 10 times so I’ve made a note of that as x10+, and I drew an arrow to show a large increase.

Similarly, for Sweden it increased by a very small amount (compared to other countries) so I only drew an arrow to show a very slight increase and no figure.

Make Notes about Positions

Next, in the table below you can see I noted all the positions for both time periods so I can clearly see any changes.

For example, in 1999 the UK sold the 3rd largest amount of coffee, whereas in 2004 it sold the most amount of coffee.

So I wrote 3 and 1 in the columns for 1999 and 2004 respectively, and I drew with an arrow to show the direction of the change.

By the way, it is now easy to spot (see) that the order of the country names for both Coffee and Bananas matches their positions in 2004.

Group, Select and Compare Trends

Now you can see the trends easily, what you need to do next is recognise any general patterns and identify (decide) which are the most important trends.

For example, it is now clear that sales of coffee in all five countries experienced (had) an upward trend, whereas for Bananas two of the the three countries saw a downward trend.

Similarly,  it is clear that the leading seller of coffee changed from Switzerland to the UK, going from 3rd to 1st and increasing by over 10 times.

In contrast Switzerland remained the top seller of Bananas and increased their share by 3 times.

For a band 7+ you should notice important comparisons if possible.

So you could note that the UK ended up selling four times as much coffee as Switzerland in 2004.

 You could also note that Switzerland ended up selling nearly five times as many Bananas as the UK in 2004.

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

Look again at the table. What other trends can you see?

Write some example sentences like mine.

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