Practice your IELTS Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking with The Avengers

Practice your IELTS Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking with The Avengers

First of all, let me apologise: IELTS is supposed to be boring. Sometimes I can’t resist making an interesting lesson about IELTS.

In this post, you’re going to do some practice and learn some tips for IELTS speaking, listening, reading, and writing (while talking about The Avengers).

For speaking, we are going to learn about Part 2 with two different sample answers.

For listening, we are going to focus on Part 1 of IELTS listening and writing down names and letters.

For reading, I’ll show you how to deal with True/False/Not Given questions.

Finally, we will take a look at a possible Writing Task 2 question and writing your main ideas for it.

Let’s go! Here is the full video – watch it and then read the analysis below:

 

SPEAKING

In the speaking I focused on Part 2 Speaking.

The question was:

Talk about a superhero you admire. You should say:

Who it is

Why you admire him/her

Other heroes you admire

Here is my full answer:

The superhero that I want to talk about is Batman and the reason that I admire Batman is because he doesn’t have any superpowers. So in the last movie he was in was the Justice League – he has to come together to protect the world to bat– there’s a battle between good and evil – a threat has come out and they have to try to fight it together. So he needs needs Wonder Woman’s help and he has to go get all these other superheroes to work together to fight the evil threat and again the reason I admire him is cuz he has no superpowers – he’s just a normal kind of crazy, angry, violent man but really amazing because all the other heroes they’re fighting and they’re not gonna die – they’re fine you know, even if they lose they won’t die – just all the people in the world will die but for Batman it’s different he could actually die – all the other superheroes it’s like it doesn’t really matter. Worst case scenario: the other people die, the whole world dies but least they are okay. But Batman it could actually be him who dies.

admire (verb): look up to or respect. “I admire Elon Musk because he dates a lot of celebrities.”

come together (verb): work as part of a team. “If we come together on this, we can accomplish anything.”

a battle between good and evil (noun phrase): a fight between the good guys and the bad guys. “Every Hollywood movie basically boils down to a battle before good and evil.”

threat (noun): Something that could harm or hurt you. “The threat of prison prevents most people from committing crimes.”

work together (verb): work as part of a team (same as above). “If we work as part of a team, we can accomplish anything.”

actually (adverb): in fact or really. “I’m not into superhero movies. Actually, I hate them.”

doesn’t really matter (expression): it is not important. “It doesn’t really matter how long you practice, you’re going to end up with the same score.”

worst case scenario (expression): the worst thing that could possibly happen. “Worst case scenario we will have to find a new place to work.”

I also gave a second example answer for the same question:

I want to talk about another superhero from the Marvel movies and his name is Captain America. Now I’m an American – that isn’t the reason why I like Captain America but it doesn’t hurt. So I like Captain America because in fact actually before the last Avengers movie I didn’t like Captain America he was my least favorite and that was because he’s always on his high horse – he always thinks he’s the best and he’s so self-righteous. He thinks he’s such a good guy and I always hate characters like that. I like characters more like the polar opposite – like a Tony Stark Iron Man – guys who are full of themselves and arrogant and fun but in the last movie I did feel that the actor who plays him – his character – because he’s got so much conviction he believes what he says so much that that I started to respect his character – I even liked his character more than the other characters.

on his high horse (idiom): feels superior/smarter/more ethical that everyone else. “Don’t get on your high horse with me.”

self-righteous (adjective): consider yourself to be right all the time. “Don’t get that self-righteous attitude with me.”

polar opposite (noun): completely different, 100% opposite. “We’re polar opposites – we can’t agree on anything!”

full of themselves (verb phrase): thinking very highly of yourself, arrogant. “My boss is so full of himself – I can’t stand him!”

arrogant (adjective): thinking very highly of yourself, full of yourself. “I’m not arrogant – I’m very humble!”

conviction (noun): believing strongly in something. “One of the key qualities of a leader is conviction.”

 

I recommend that you take the time to record, write down, and keep practicing your part 2 speaking answers until they get better!

You can also try practicing with my answers to build up your confidence.

Get some help from the Avengers on IELTS!

 

LISTENING

In part 1 of the listening test, you are being tested on 1 simple things: you ability to listen and write.

The vocabulary is simple so it won’t be a big problem in this part. There also aren’t many distractors or synonyms (which you will find in listening parts 2, 3, and 4(.

If you are trying to get above band 6, you probably need to get all the questions in part 1 correct.

Luckily, it is the easiest section to practice for! Just practice listening and writing.

Here are some ideas for how to practice:

1. Use the video above. Listen and write down the names that I spell out. Remember that the key to listening is repetition.

2. Find another video on YouTube (I recommend BBC One Minute World News). Listen and write down the key words. Listen repeatedly. Or listen and write all the nouns or verbs. Try different ways – just make sure you are listening and writing something.

3. Use an IELTS practice test – but don’t do the whole test! Listen to section 1 again and again. Then read and listen to the tapescript. Focus on the ones that were hard or you got wrong. Figure out why you got it wrong and then practice that. For example, if you always miss the letter ‘s’, listen to a YouTube video and write down all the words with ‘s’.

READING

In my experience as a teacher and IELTS examiner, students struggle the most with True/False/Not Given questions (actually, even native English speakers struggle with them!).

Here’s the same example from the video above:

Avenger’s 4’s first weekend at the box office was the highest grossing for any film ever.

True/False/Not Given?

1. Avenger’s 4 made more money than any other superhero movie in its first weekend.

2. Avengers 4 is a popular film.

3. Avengers 4 has made more money than any other film.

The answers are:

1. True

2. True

3. Not Given

The first one is true because if it made more money that ANY film, that also includes other superhero movies, even though it didn’t mention other superhero movies you can infer this logically.

The second one is true because if a movie makes a ton of money then it has to be popular. This is also logical (common sense).

The third one is not given because even thought it may become true later, it is only talking about the opening weekend – not the total amount of money made.

For True/False/Not Given you need to be careful of: questions that are almost true – but not quite. Those are going to be not given.

Let’s try one more example of a question that is ALMOST true – but not quite:

Dave was an IELTS  examiner.

True/False/Not Given

1. Dave worked for the IELTS department at either BC or IDP.

2. Dave is still a current IELTS examiner.

3. Dave also teachers IELTS.

Number 1 is true because BC and IDP are the only two places where you can take IELTS and to do IELTS you obviously have to work for the IELTS department.

Number 2 is false because it says that I was in the past. If it was still true it would say ‘Dave has been an IELTS examiner for years.’

Number 3 is not given. You can assume it is true but it doesn’t actually say it – so false. These are the ones you have to be most careful of – that ones that are ALMOST true.

 

WRITING

Here is the question from the video above:

Some people think that governments should have authority over superheroes. To what extent do you agree?

Based on the movie Captain America: Civil War, there are two main sides – what Iron Man (Tony Stark) thinks and Captain America (Steve Rogers).

If Iron Man were taking IELTS he would agree 100% because he thinks governments are elected by the people and the people should have power of the decisions of superheroes.

If Captain America were taking IELTS he would completely disagree because he doesn’t think governments can be trusted and superheroes are more responsible and ethical.

If you were doing it – well why don’t you tell me!

Write your own sample answer in the comments below (using my main ideas or your own). I will give band scores for free for anyone who comments a full sample answer!

15 Activities to Improve your IELTS Speaking Without a Speaking Partner

15 Activities to Improve your IELTS Speaking Without a Speaking Partner

One of the questions I hear people asking about most frequently on our Facebook page and our Instagram is about speaking partners.

Everyone wants a speaking partner to help them improve their English. Don’t get me wrong – you should find one if you can!

Unfortunately, most people probably don’t want to talk to you – or at least it is hard to find a partner with a good level of English and something interesting to say.

Fortunately, you don’t need one!

Read below for some tips and activities for improving your IELTS speaking by yourself!

You can also take a look at this related article about using Google Voice Search to Improve Your Pronunciation.

 

How to Talk to Yourself (and Not Look Crazy)

  1. Amateur Dubbing: Choose a movie or TV show or YouTube video you like (check out this playlist for some ideas). Tap into your inner actor and try acting out what each character is saying. Don’t try to say it exactly the same as in the actual scene but try to keep the meaning more or less the same. Or completely change the meaning and make it funny! Try recording yourself because maybe you’ll become a famous YouTube star doing this.

  2. Mirror Pep Talk: I know, I know, you already spend a few hours a day talking to yourself in the mirror. Here are some ideas about what you can say to yourself: your to-do list for the day, give yourself a pep talk, insult yourself, give a summary of what you did that day, tell the mirror your darkest secrets, practice failing to say tongue twisters. If you’ve got any other creepy ideas please keep them to yourself!

  3. Pause and Predict: When watching something on TV or the internet (interviews are really good for this) – pause it and predict aloud what they will say next. After you listen to their response, practice repeating it (not word for word, but try to repeat the basic meaning).

  4. Bore a Pet: Talk to your cat/dog/fish. You will feel less embarrassed even though you are basically still talking to yourself. Use a Part 2 Speaking Cue card to practice.

  5. A Song a Day: Learn a song a day. Put the lyrics on your phone and sing it throughout the day softly until you’ve completely learned. Use every break you can to do this – in the shower, waiting for the bus, etc. If you don’t want to use a song – maybe learn part of a famous speech or scene from a film.

  6. IELTS Speaking Tests: The examiner is basically just a tape recorder reading questions off a piece of paper – you can replace them with a piece of paper! Read and answer the questions yourself. Record yourself and go back and try to do better the next time!

  7. Going to Bed: Research has shows that practicing in your head can be just as effective as physical practice. In experiments, basketball players that imagined themselves shooting improved as much as ones who were actually shooting. The best time to do this is at night as your brain will continue the practice through your sleep. Think in English. Have a conversation or remember a conversation you had earlier as you drift off to sleep…

  8. Dictation Diary: Start a speech dictation diary of your daily activities. This will work well because you will repeat a lot of the same words every day (brush my teeth, not bother to shower, etc) and get better at saying those. You will also work in new vocabulary each day (met my future wife today, had terrible diarrhoea, etc.)

  9. Simple, Simple: Read one of our sample answers aloud. Read it until it is 100% accurate. This will help you improve for the speaking test format and your pronunciation. You can read it into a transcription program like voice dictation in Google drive to make sure you are saying the words correctly. Try it with a passage from a book as well.

  10. Practice IELTS Speaking Tests: Use these practice speaking tests on YouTube. Pause before Nguyen answers the question. Say your own answer. Listen to hers and take some notes on good vocabulary and grammar. Practice saying hers a few times before moving on to the next question. Do this at least once a day and you’ll improve a ton!

  11. Say the Song: Listen to a song and try to say (not sing, haha) the lyrics after pausing the song. It will sound embarrassing but so what?

  12. Translation Comparison: Write down a conversation that you had in your native language. Try to translate it into English and read it aloud. This will help you make comparisons between your native language and English. Combine this with #7 Going to Bed.

  13. Word Game: Start by saying one word (monkey). Add another (A monkey) and keep going adding 1 word to the sentence each time until the sentence is long (A monkey and a donkey walk into a bar and get into an argument with the bartender about a banana). You could also do this with phrases, not individual words.

  14. Morning / Evening Routine: Describe everything you can see in the room around you when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed. Once you finish with one room, try another room in your house/apartment/school. If you’re lonely trying having a conversation with your bed, chair, blanket, toilet, significant other, etc.

  15. Act it Out First: Google a script for a movie or TV show that you like. Try acting out the different parts with the script. Then watch the show and see how it is different. Try acting it out again. Record yourself so that someone can have a laugh.

 

Choose Your Top 3

There are a lot of amazing activities for you to try! There are probably too many. It’s better to choose a top 3 and focus on getting good at them.

Then come back to this post when you feel like you need a new activity.

Here are some sample notes I took on my Top 3 Speaking Activities Without a Partner. If you can’t decide, feel free to take my notes and make them your own!

Top 3 IELTS speaking activities without a partner

Oh and if you’re still reading (and haven’t starting talking to yourself yet!) don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube!

 

Comment Below: Do you need an IELTS speaking partner?

My English isn’t that great and I’m looking to practice with someone…

Yes, I really need to talk with another intermediate level student!

Yeah, I’m an upper-intermediate and I need someone to practice with!

I’m a very advanced speaker and I need someone who is at the same level!

No need! I can just use the activities above!

How to Improve your IELTS Speaking Pronunciation Score Quickly with Google Voice Search

How to Improve your IELTS Speaking Pronunciation Score Quickly with Google Voice Search

So many students spend so long trying to improve their pronunciation for IELTS speaking but never get any better.

Here’s a solution that I guarantee will work for everyone who tries it!

You can read here about some more activities to try.

 

 

Voice Dictation

Do you know how telemarketers in India improve their pronunciation to be understood by native English speakers over the phone?

Many of them practice speaking into dictation software on a computer.

They say a sentence. The computer writes it. They say it again and again and again until it is 100% correct.

Talk to your phone. It is your annoying friend who corrects everything you say.

 

In the past, voice dictation software was poor. But now the quality is really good!

If there’s a mistake in what is written, it is because of your pronunciation. It is not the phone’s fault!

Check out the video below to see exactly what you should be doing:

 

This is such a valuable tool for you!

All you have to do is practice speaking into a computer or phone until your pronunciation is accurate.

This will guarantee you at least a 6 for pronunciation because the examiner will be able to understand you – just like the phone!

*A little warning – this won’t get you to a Band 9 for pronunciation because the phone will still understand some words mispronounced and because you might speak a little slowly and not link together sounds naturally, which is needed for the highest band scores.

 

5 Programs/Apps for Voice Dictation

Google voice search: If you use a phone that runs on Android (Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, etc) click on the microphone image in the search bar (you can install this on your computer as well: http://bit.ly/2xYVbwA).

Google docs dictation: If you already use Google Drive (drive.google.com) just create a new doc and choose Tools>Voice Typing. Start talking nonsense!

Apple dictation: Here is the link for how to set it up on your computer: https://support.apple.com/en-ph/HT202584

Siri: If you have a mac or an iPhone then you have Siri already. Try doing an internet search or asking Siri to “make a note” or “set a reminder” for you (https://www.apple.com/ios/siri/).

Windows Speech Recognition: Just like Apple Dictation, you can set this up if your computer runs windows: http://bit.ly/2iuWkWc

 

10 Speech Dictation Practice Ideas

  1. Start a speech dictation diary of your daily activities. This will work well because you will repeat a lot of the same words every day (brush my teeth, not bother to shower, etc) and get better at saying those. You will also work in new vocabulary each day (met my future wife today, had terrible diarrhoea, etc.)

  2. Read one of our sample answers aloud. Read it until it is 100% accurate. This will help you improve for the speaking test format and your pronunciation.

  3. Read aloud one of your favourite passages from a book (or a quote or something from the news).

  4. Use this practice speaking test on YouTube. Pause before Nguyen answers the question. Say your own answer again and again until the computer gets it 100% correct.

  5. Listen to a song and try to say (not sing, haha) the lyrics after pausing the song. This will improve your ability to hear song lyrics, which is a very valuable IELTS skill 😉

  6. Write down a conversation that you had in your native language. Try to translate it into English and read it aloud. This will help you make comparisons between your native language and English.

  7. Start by saying one word (monkey). Make sure it is recorded correctly. Add another (A monkey) and keep going adding 1 word to the sentence each time until the sentence is long (A monkey and a donkey walk into a bar and get into an argument with the bartender about a banana). You could also do this with phrases, not individual words.

  8. Make 10 bold predictions about the future. Repeat them until they are written 100% correct. For example, Donald Trump will become king of the world.

  9. Describe everything you can see in the room around you. Keep repeating it until it is correct. Once you finish with one room, try another room in your house/apartment/school.

  10. Watch a movie or TV show and repeat your favourite lines into a google drive document. Keep different docs for different shows with collections of your favourite quotes.

 

 

Top 3 Notes

All those ideas are amazing but you should try to focus on using a few and making them daily habits.

Here are my top 3 to focus on every day:

Top 3 IELTS speaking activities to improve pronunciation

 

 

 

Now it’s Your Turn! 

Comment below an idea for a sentence that people can say into their phone:

I think I can! I think I can!

I’m going to get band 10 on IELTS!

Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it!

I feel weird talking to my phone…

Will you marry me, Siri?

‘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 …

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Sample Answer (Band 8): A Person from History

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Sample Answer (Band 8): A Person from History

Talking about a person from history is a really common topic for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and IELTS speaking in general.

It sometimes comes up on speaking part 1 or 3 as well.

This is a sample answer from Nguyen on our YouTube Channel, our first ever customer for Band Scores and Corrections and a current employee.

Here are some other speaking samples: phones, friends, school, and a full test from Dave!

She lived in Australia for years, which you can tell from her really nice accent and the range of natural vocabulary that she uses.

I’m a former IELTS examiner and I’m going to go over exactly how I would mark her for this section and give you some great vocabulary and grammar to practice to make sure you can get at lease a band 7!

 

LEONARDO DAVINCI

Nguyen’s topic for this section was to talk about a person from history and she chose Leonardo DaVinci.

Let’s let Nguyen talk:

And here is the full tapescript with corrections in magenta:

Ok so a person from history I’m going to talk about today is Leonardo DaVinci. Leonardo DaVinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath whose areas of interest included invention architecture, sculpting, science and there are so many more that I can’t remember them all right now. But in general he was a multi-talented man. Um … and he’s also considered one of the greatest painters of all time. And many historians and scholars regard Leonardo DaVinci as a universal genius or a Renaissance man. And among his works the Mona Lisa is the most famous and duplicated portrait with ‘The Last Supper’ being the most reproduced religious painting of all time. And I think one – there was a historian – that I can’t remember the name – once said that “Leonardo DaVinci went beyond his time” – that he could – he could think of inventions that were so advanced that most of his work and designs weren’t feasible during his lifetime, and most of his designs weren’t recognised or realised until 100 years later. And during his time, which was like 500 years ago, he was able to conceptualise the flying machine, armored fighting vehicle and even concentrated solar power. The reason why I admire him is because I think that he – I agree with all other historians and scholars that he was one of the greatest painters of all time and somehow I think his personality and – his personality was quite mysterious and remote in a way that it has made me more curious to learn more about him.

Ok, back to me.

When examiners are marking, they usually have the band descriptors on the chair next to them (so you can’t see them). They might consult them during or after your test.

Here is how I would mark Nguyen based on the IELTS band descriptors.

 

FLUENCY – 7

This is the weakest part of Nguyen’s answer so I would give her a band 7.

Here’s why: She hesitates a lot during the answer!

If you look at the band descriptors, there is a difference between hesitating because you are thinking of language and when you are thinking of an idea.

That means if the examiner thinks you are hesitating to think of the English words you will lose marks. If you hesitate to think of an idea, you shouldn’t lost any marks.

Some of Nguyen’s hesitations are related to ideas (and remembering information about DaVinci) but many are language related.

That’s the negative side of her fluency score.

What’s good is that she maintains a flow of speech for the full time and her answer is coherent. She begins by introducing DaVinci, then describes why he is famous and ends by talking about what historians have said about him and his legacy.

Like a movie, her answer has a clear beginning, middle and end that makes it easy for the listener to understand.

I gave Nguyen a band 7 for fluency but I think she will end up with band 8 across the whole test. Part 2 is usually the worst for fluency for most students. It’s hard even for a native speaker to talk that long without a lot of hesitations!

 

 

VOCABULARY – 8

This is one of the stronger parts of the answer so I would give her a band 8 for vocabulary. This is a very strong 8.

Vocabulary is based on two things: accuracy and range.

There aren’t any mistakes in terms of accuracy but some additions would make it better: quintessential renaissance man, ahead of his time.

There are lots of examples of high-level vocabulary: Italian Renaissance polymath, multi-talented, of all time, historians and scholars, universal genius, duplicated portrait, feasible during his lifetime, recognised or realised, conceptualise, concentrated solar power, admire, quite mysterious and remote.

What does high-level vocabulary mean? It means that the vocabulary fits the context very well. It is descriptive and rich.

Instead of saying ‘he could do many things’ she says ‘multi-talented.’ Instead of ‘invent’ she says ‘conceptualise’ Because he didn’t produce many things, he merely drew sketches of flying machines for example, the word conceptualise is much more descriptive.

Here are some notes for your reference with some vocabulary that you can use to talk about a person from history:

 

 

 

GRAMMAR – 8

There are enough little slips in grammar that I almost gave her a 7, but in fact it deserves an 8 for grammar.

Grammar is about the same two things as vocabulary: accuracy and range.

Here are some of the mistakes that Nguyen makes: one incorrect preposition, one subject/verb disagreement, a mistake with plurals, one incorrect tense.

It’s not a lot of mistakes but they are clearly there throughout. Luckily she doesn’t keep making the same mistake and that means the mistakes are non-systemic. If you keep using the wrong article then the mistake is systemic and will hurt your score more according to the band descriptors.

For the good, she is comfortable using past and present forms as well as active, passive and subordinate structures.

Because her mistakes are minor and rare and do not affect understanding and she uses a variety of grammar, I have given her an 8. It is very close to a 7, though. Her grammar is not quite as strong as her vocabulary.

For some more information about grammar, take a look here at using modals to talk about possibility.

 

 

PRONUNCIATION – 8

Nguyen has a nice accent and only makes minor slips with some words so I think she deserved a band 8 for pronunciation.

Pronunciation is marked on an incredibly complex range of features. Most examiners don’t have any idea of makes up pronunciation!

But some of the common areas that examiners look for include: final sounds, intonation, consonant clusters, linking between words (chunking), and individual sounds (phonemes).

Nguyen makes some mistakes with individual phonemes: science (/ts/), universal (/s/).

And there are some moments where she could link together words more naturally using weak sounds so that her chunking is more natural.

Overall, her accent is really nice and her speech is natural and easy to understand throughout.

With three 8s and a 7 her score for the speaking would be 7.5, but Part 2 tends to be when students lose the most marks for fluency and on the real IELTS she got an 8. You can think of her as a good example of a Band 7.5/8.

 

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IELTS Speaking: How to Talk about Holidays

IELTS Speaking: How to Talk about Holidays

 

Surprisingly, one topic that seems to confuse a lot of my students is holidays.

A simple question like ‘What’s your favourite holiday?’ often produces some strange answers.

This is partly because in different cultures it can mean different things.

In this blog post we are going to look at three different topics to do with holiday so you will be able to successfully talk about them.

Here are some of my other IELTS speaking Model Answers: friends here, phones here, and school here.

 

1. To have a holiday:

Meaning: time off from working or studying. This might be a day, a week or even longer.

e.g. What do you like to do when you have a holiday?

– I like to hang out with my friends/family…

– I like to have a party and invite my family and friends…

– I like to go to the beach…

– I like to travel somewhere new…

– I like to catch up on my sleep and just relax at home…

e.g. Do you like to have a holiday?

– Yes, definitely. I like to spend it hanging out with my friends/family…

– Not really. I prefer just to work/study. I think holidays are boring…

2. National holidays

Meaning: a special day/time of the year, related to a festival e.g. Christmas, New Year, or an important day e.g. International Labor Day.

In some countries, people are given time off. This is a national holiday, or ‘public holidays (USA) /  ‘bank holidays’ (UK).

Every country is different. For example people in the UK don’t get a day off for International Labor Day.

And Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated as a national holiday in the UK or the USA.

e.g. What’s your favourite holiday?

– My favourite holiday is definitely Christmas…

– I really like Lunar New Year…

– I love Valentine’s Day, even though it isn’t a national holiday in my country.

e.g. What are some important holidays in your country?

– In my country Christmas and New Year are the most important, but Easter and Mother’s Day are also important.

3. To go on holiday (UK) / go on vacation (USA)

Meaning: an activity when you travel and stay in another place for fun.

e.g. What was the best holiday you’ve ever had?

– In 2010, when I went backpacking across Asia for 6 months…

– Disneyland, Paris…

e.g. Where do you usually like to go on holiday?

– I love going to the beach…

– I like going somewhere quiet…

– I love staying in a resort…

– I love going to Singapore…

– I don’t like going anywhere. I usually have a staycation…

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

What do you like to do when you have a holiday?

Do you like to have a holiday?

What’s your favourite holiday?

What are some important holidays in your country?

What was the best holiday you’ve ever had?

Where do you usually like to go on holiday?

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