Jay vs IELTS: Round Two | Predicting my IELTS score!

It’s Jay vs IELTS: head-to-head in the ring for round two. Want to know how to get a high IELTS score? Learn all about Jay’s experience taking the IELTS exam for a second time. 

Watch this video: ‘Jay talks about taking the IELTS exam’

Jay reflects on taking the IELTS for a second time…

So, I took the IELTS again on the weekend. Why? Because I want to get straight 9s.

Hmmm, so I took the IELTS Academic about eight months ago and my IELTS score was:

  • Reading 9
  • Speaking 9
  • Listening 8.5 (must have missed a question or two) and…
  • Writing 6.5. WHAT! Yes, you heard me, 6.5.

I didn’t believe it so I sent it back to IELTS for a rescore. I then received a 7.5. Hmmm, they increased my score by one whole band, which is quite significant. To this day, I’m convinced that this was not a true reflection of my writing abilities. I’m a native English speaker and English teacher with a masters degree in applied linguistics! I am not an IELTS 6.5 in writing, nor a 7.5; I would like to think that someone like me could at least get an 8!

So, I took the IELTS again on the weekend. Why? Because I want to get straight 9s. I want to see if that is actually possible. From speaking to thousands of IELTS candidates I have never heard of someone scoring straight 9s and it should be possible, even in writing. Right?

What I learned the second time around

Writing Task 1

Writing Task 1 this time was seriously tricky! Instead of one line graph, this time the IELTS gave us three line graphs, each with two trends. Imagine seeing three of these on the paper in front of you:

IELTS score

Imagine the look on everyone’s faces when they saw not one, not two but three of these line graphs staring back at them!

Whoa! I made sure that I looked very carefully at the graphs. I carefully constructed my piece of writing and finished in 22 minutes. Overall, I thought it was a solid piece of writing but I could have structured it a little more elegantly. I reckon I would have lost .5 for coherence and cohesion.

My guess: IELTS score 8.5

Writing Task 2

Having spent 22 minutes on Writing Task 1, I had 38 minutes left for my essay. The question prompt was relatively straightforward. (Knowing the 7 question types really paid off.) It was a ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree’ prompt that asked:

Humans have invented many different things (including the wheel). Some people think that the internet is the most important invention.

 To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Okay, not bad. I completely disagreed with the question prompt and argued that while all inventions seem important at the time they are inevitably overtaken by the next big invention; so the internet is only temporarily important. I thought I wrote it extremely well. (Hopefully it was not too nuanced!)

The big take home message from this task though is that writing more than 250 words is hard work. And here’s the biggest trick of them all: You MUST use a second piece of paper. You see, the IELTS give you one piece of paper to write your essay on. You can use both sides but for me this allows me to write only 170 words. In my first test I thought I had written 250 words because I had filled both pages and hence the reason I scored 7.5.

IELTS score

If your handwriting is as big as mine then you will need two answer sheets to write your 250 word essay. Unfortunately the IELTS only give you one. Is it a trick?

I wasn’t so silly this time. I counted every word of every sentence of every paragraph. In the end I wrote more than 270 words. But make no mistake: COUNT YOUR WORDS. If you do not write more than 250 words then you will lose a point or more!

My guess: IELTS score 9

Reading

When I opened the test booklet for reading I was shocked by the first passage. It was about an Island in Greece that needed a desalination plant. It was really tough reading. I felt sorry for the non-native English speakers (I think I was the only native English speaker in the crowd!) I can’t believe how difficult some of those passages are…

I got a range of different question types including both TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN and YES/NO/NOT GIVEN. Overall, I thought I answered every question correctly, though, there were two questions that took me a long time to get right.

My guess: IELTS score 9

Listening

Listening might be my nemesis! I’m a native speaker and I understood EVERYTHING that was played in the audio, but coordinating the question types, writing the answers and listening to the audio was extremely tough! IELTS Listening is really a test of understanding the IELTS test questions, and less about listening; at least, that’s how I feel about it. Anyway, I missed one question right at the start in the easiest section, and perhaps one more later on.

My guess: IELTS score 8.5/9

Speaking

The first time I took the IELTS I was completely unprepared for the psychological experience of the speaking test. It was SCARY! I didn’t need a score and was only taking the test for experience but I still found the speaking test intimidating. I was completely fine for Part 1 and Part 3, but Part 2 — the two minute monologue — completely baffled me. In the one minute preparation time I remember staring at the task card thinking WHAT?!

This time I employed E2’s PPF method, which was EXCELLENT. I relaxed, thought of three stories and BANG, I spoke easily for two minutes without going round and round.

My topic was not particularly easy. It said something like:

Talk about an advertisement you recently saw. You should say:

  • What it was advertising
  • Where you saw the advertisement
  • What it looked like

 And say whether or not it was effective.

 I wrote on my piece of paper:

Bicycle

Car

Robot

Easy. Although, I must say that the minute preparation time FLIES. You barely have time to think let alone write anything down. I thought of three stories and wrote three words down and then the examiner politely said “Okay, now you can start.”

The PPF method worked beautifully: I told a past story about seeing an advertisement for a bicycle in a magazine when I was a kid. I then talked about the present, about how I have been looking at car advertisements online. Finally, I said one sentence about wanting to see advertisements for robots in the future, before the examiner stopped me.

We then had a very complex discussion about advertising and the psychological effects it has on people. The questions kept coming and I gave deep, philosophical answers being conscious of my grammar and vocabulary.

My guess: IELTS score 9

Well, now I have to wait to see what the IELTS gives me. I’m hoping for straight 9s, but you never know with the IELTS! I’ll let you know, so stay tuned 🙂

Read about Jay’s first IELTS score The Impossible IELTS: My IELTS Writing Test Disaster after initially receiving a 6.5 in the Writing test.  

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

 

Written by Jay. 

PTE Written Discourse: Everything Explained | Preparation Checklist and Sample Answer!

PTE Written Discourse training gets packaged and re-packaged all the time. It requires a lot of written and comprehension skills and it’s no wonder so many students trip-up on PTE Writing.

Let’s reveal why and present a useful test-preparation checklist and build a sample answer for PTE Written Discourse.  

What is PTE Written Discourse?

A common question that students ask is: “Why is my PTE Written Discourse mark so low?” Then following this, “What is Written Discourse?!

If you check the meaning of ‘discourse,’ it means a formal conversation where one expresses one’s ideas in a logical flow and progression.

In the PTE score guide, in regard to PTE Written Discourse they say:

‘Written discourse skills are represented in the structure of a written text: entailing its internal coherence, logical development and the range of linguistic resources used to express meaning precisely. Scores for enabling skills are not awarded when responses are inappropriate for the items in either content or form.’

Which question types does PTE Written Discourse relate to?

So, what on earth does all that mean for you in the test and which questions does it affect?

Basically, it’s referring to a few things: firstly, the meaning and logical sequence of your content, also, your sentence, paragraph overall essay or summary structures, in addition to usage of linking words, correct punctuation and accuracy in how your express your ideas.

Importantly, as noted above, if you go off topic in your essay or do not get all the main points in your summary, and/or do not follow the requirements of the word count you, will miss out on marks in the PTE Written Discourse enabling skills.

Therefore, your PTE Written Discourse score will be determined by your essay and summary content, for both the written text and spoken text summary questions in terms of content and structure quality as above.

How can I improve my PTE Written Discourse score in my essay?

PTE Written Discourse
Read the PTE written discourse advice and learn how the response is constructed below!
#1 Check that you understand the topic 100% and follow the instructions

Take time to deeply understand the essay topic: check what is the general/ broader topic, and then in your own words interpret the specific topic and question being asked.

So if you had the essay question:‘ In the past 100 years there have been many inventions, such as antibiotics, airplanes and computers. Which do you think is the most important invention and why?’

The broader topic is about great inventions in the modern era, and the question or specific topic is about which you believe to be the most significant one; then the instruction is to choose one and explain why you believe that to be the case.

#2 Refine your essay and paragraph structure and academic tone

Follow a structure, for your whole essay, including an introduction, 2 main body paragraphs and a conclusion, as well as a structure for each paragraph. Also, make sure that you use appropriate formal tone, academic words, as well as linking words.

For example, for the above topic you could introduce your first main body paragraph as such: Firstly, computers have had an enormous positive impact on communication in the workplace.

This is a simple but clear topic sentence to introduce the main idea of the whole paragraph: the linking word, Firstly, is used to indicate it’s the start of your main argument and academic words and collocations such as, have an enormous positive impact on… and workplace are effective, natural-sounding word choices to make your initial point in a powerful way.

Compare the above to: Computers are very good to use at work for your job. While this second version is correct, it sounds much less formal/academic and has less impact. However, at the same, be sure not to go to the other extreme, meaning, you don’t have to go crazy with difficult vocabulary that you aren’t at all familiar with!

This can lead to lack of clarity and sounds ‘flowery’ (overly wordy) and unnatural, which is not what you are aiming for.

For example, don’t write: Computerised systems in venues of employment have prolifically infiltrated the world of work to exponentially enhance the work experience and add significant value to our workplace practices!

This sounds ridiculous as it’s so convoluted and the reader is left thinking: what exactly does that mean and what is wrong with the person who wrote it as it sounds so strange!

For PTE preparation materials you can’t live without, have a read and follow the links on the article: PTE Review Materials You Can’t Miss!

#3 Improve your sentence structure and punctuation skills

As well as addressing essay and paragraph structure, it is important use a range of sentence structures, such as compound (sentences which contain 2 independent clauses) and complex sentences (ones which contain an independent clause and a dependent clause).

Also, it’s important to check you know English punctuation rules, including comma usage, colons, semi-colons and apostrophes.

For example, following on from our topic sentence above, we could use a complex sentence structure with appropriate punctuation to explain our topic sentence and give evidence:

Firstly, computers have had an enormous positive impact on communication in the workplace. In general, they have increased the speed and ease of communication at work, which consequently improves efficiency and thus leads to business growth.

For some quick written discourse advice, watch this video with Kaia from E2 PTE: Increase Your Written Discourse Score!

#4 Finally, we need to have a logical flow in ideas and development in structure.

To illustrate, we could conclude our paragraph by adding an example to support our main idea and a concluding sentence for our paragraph relating back to the topic sentence and overall essay topic.

So our complete paragraph will look like this:

Click Here to See our PTE Written Discourse Sample Answer!

PTE Written Discourse Answer

Firstly, computers have had an enormous positive impact on communication in the workplace. In general, they have increased the speed and ease of communication at work, which consequently improves efficiency and thus leads to business growth. For example, a national business could easily become global these days as both advertising and customer- communication can be solely conducted online regardless of time zones, cost constraints and location. In this way, computers have revolutionised opportunities for businesses and have made the world a lot ‘smaller. 

In summary, this is how you can address and improve on your PTE Written Discourse enabling skills:

  1. Use relevant content
  2. Adopt a good structure
  3. Use linking words
  4. Mix it up with a range of sentence types
  5. Correct punctuation
  6. Adopt appropriate tone and accurate vocabulary
  7. Present a logical sequence of ideas.

And of course: FEEDBACK! When it comes to PTE Writing practice, teacher feedback is almost always necessary for getting a clear sense of how to improve. Take a look at the article: Yes, You Definitely Need Feedback On Your PTE Writing Practice!’

For further advice on PTE Written Discourse please take a look at this PTE video: ‘Ask Jay Anything: High PTE Written Discourse Score but Low Overall Writing Score?’

For PTE scoring advice regarding PTE Written Discourse enabling skills, click on the article: ‘PTE Scoring for Newbies: Key Questions Answered!’

For some great PTE writing tips, head over to: PTE Writing Tips: How to Improve Your Essay

Happy PTE Written Discourse writing!

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE! 

 

Written By Danielle. 

 

Your One-Stop Guide to TOEFL Speaking Preparation

This article from E2Language provides running examples of TOEFL speaking preparation along with pre-test strategies that will broaden your knowledge and expand your horizons … Seriously! 

TOEFL speaking Preparation
Want to ace your TOEFL speaking prepration? We’re going to break-it down for you ~ TOEFL style. 

Here’s the TOEFL Speaking Preparation low-down

There are six speaking tasks in the TOEFL. Two of these are independent where you speak about given topics.

Four of them are integrated where you’re given information to combine into a spoken summary.

Independent Speaking

The two independent speaking tasks are: Description and Summary.

Description

In the Description, you could be asked to talk about anything from your personal experience. For example:

Describe a teacher who had an influence on you. Or:

Describe a book that you liked to read as a child or something of the sort.

Opinion

In the opinion, you’ll need to give your opinion on a topic and explain why you think that. For example, you might be asked whether you agree or disagree with a statement, like:

All children should play a sport. You will need to support your opinion with reasons.

For the two independent speaking tasks, you’ll have 15 seconds to think about what you want to say and note down any ideas, and you’ll have to speak for 45 seconds into a microphone.

Integrated Speaking

These tasks include either listening, or reading, or both. For all four of these tasks, you’ll have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak into a microphone.

 Summarize opinion

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a conversation related to the text
  • Summarize the opinion of the speakers

Summarize reading and lecture

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a lecture related to the text
  • Summarize the reading and lecture, linking the main ideas

Summarize problem

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a conversation
  • Summarize the problem and solutions discussed
  • State chosen solution and explain why

Summarize lecture

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a lecture
  • Summarize the main ideas
TOEFL speaking TED
Ari Wallach, TED

Pre-Test TOEFL Speaking Preparation Strategies

Firstly, preparing for the independent speaking tasks is easy.

Remember, for task 1 you need to describe something familiar, and for task 2 you need to give an opinion.

So, for task 1, you can prepare by brainstorming a list of familiar topics like:

  • Music (specific types/songs)
  • Books (favorite books/childhood books)
  • Travel experience
  • Important objects/gifts
  • Important life events
  • Important people from history
  • Influential people in your life.

These are just a few examples of possible topics.

Think about personal stories related to these topics and practice narrating these to yourself or your friends and family.

For task 2, you should practice giving your opinion on different topics. Research topics which inspire different opinions. These can be related to things like:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Children
  • Animal rights
  • The environment

Note: These are just some examples and there are plenty more examples out there! 

Read about issues related to these topics and think about where you stand. Make sure you practice giving detailed reasons to support your opinion.

This will help you to form opinions about a variety of topics and build up your fluency and expression in English.

For more targeted TOEFL preparation, each day, choose a random topic from this in the list to research and practice a one-minute response for it.

Integrated Speaking

To prepare for the Integrated Speaking tasks, you need to prepare by building different skills – reading, listening, speaking, summarizing, and integrating, or combining information.

To build these skills, you will need to practice summarizing information from a reading passage.

You should read short texts on a variety of academic topics. National Geographic is a great website that has many different topics such as history, geography, culture and the environment.

Read an article a day, taking notes, and then practice speaking for a minute about what you have read.

TOEFL speaking preparation
You can read magazines of interest and find articles that spark your curiosity.

Also, you will need to practice summarizing information from an audio recording. TED and TED-Ed are great sources of academic lectures.

Listen to a lecture a day to practice note-taking skills. This is extremely important for the integrated speaking tasks. Then, give yourself 30 seconds to prepare a summary.

You can then practice speaking for one minute, summarizing the information in the lecture and focusing on main ideas and their related examples.

Another major skill that you need to develop for the integrated speaking is integrating information to give a spoken summary. So, find an article on a topic and then look for a lecture on the same topic.

Practice your reading and listening note-taking skills. Then use your notes from the reading and lecture to prepare a summary that integrates views from both sources.

Practice talking about the different views presented in each source and how they relate to each other.

As you can see, to build your skills for the TOEFL speaking, you need to read, listen and speak and practice integrating all of these skills.

Jump straight into E2 TOEFL Speaking with the expert TOEFL teacher, Lucy! 

Start planning your TOEFL speaking preparation time by following the link to this TOEFL Preparation blog post!

And make sure you check out our quality TOEFL learning materials too!

You can find our TOEFL preparation course on our website: E2Language.com

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

All the best with your TOEFL Speaking preparation!

Written by Jamal Abilmona

Answer these PTE Describe Image Practice Questions | Boost your score!

Note: This article follows on from How to Crack PTE Describe Image: Formula & FAQS

Kick-start your PTE Describe Image practice by using the 4-sentence formula to answer these tricky example questions!  

So, these questions are designed to test your speaking skills.

Remember that you only have 25 seconds to prepare for the PTE Describe Image. You need to understand an image, think quickly and deliver fluent, grammatical and relevant sentences within a 40 second timeframe. What a challenge!

Use the 4-sentence formula (explained in the previous article above) and attempt the following PTE Describe Image practice charts by speaking to the following types:

  • Process/cycle
  • Flowchart
  • Line graph
  • Table
  • Bar graph
  • Picture
pte describe image   Practice recording your answers! 
PTE Describe Image Practice: Example of a Process or Cycle

PTE describe imageYour turn. Describe the process above.

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The image shows the design process for a new house. The process begins when the client completes a questionnaire and ends when a light-filled comfortable house is created. After a free initial consultation the design phase begins. Next is the pre-construction phase which is followed by construction.  During the final phase the keys are handed over and there is a maintenance check. After this the clients can enjoy their new home.

Language for PTE Describe Image 

Make sure you are confident with the language for images and that you can pronounce key words correctly. Your correct use of grammar and vocabulary will drastically improve your overall score.

PTE describe image

PTE describe image

PTE describe image

PTE Describe Image Practice

You’ve got the language. You’ve got the techniques. Now to truly feel comfortable with this task, you need to practice.

Here are some images. You have 25 seconds to prepare and 40 seconds to speak.

Example 1 – Flowchart

PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The image shows the Enquiry Process and Terms of Reference for Australia in 2015. The process begins with the Terms of Reference and ends with the Government response. At the beginning there is initial research and consultation followed by an Issues Paper and a call for submissions. Then there is a Review of Submissions. Later a Discussion paper is produced. This is reviewed and after further consultation a final report is produced. This then goes to the government and a response is given which may involve a change in the law.

Example 2 – Line graph

PTE describe imagePossible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The line graph shows the crude death rate for infectious diseases in the US from 1900 to 1996. The highest rate of deaths was in 1920 whereas the lowest was in 1980. The number of deaths fell consistently over the period apart from the peak in 1920 and a rise after 1980. Possible reasons for the overall fall in deaths from infectious diseases may be related to the introduction of penicillin and vaccines.

Example 3 – Table

PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The table shows the demographic composition of white-tailed deer pre-hunting populations in North Carolina on a 30,000 acre area from 1965 to 2000. The largest total number of deer occurred in 1965 while the smallest number occurred in 1985. Numbers of males declined throughout the period while female numbers fluctuated, but were always higher than males. A possible reason for fluctuations in numbers may be related to climate conditions.

Example 4 – Bar chart

 PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The bar graph shows the distribution of vehicles by origin and type. The most common vehicles were sedans whereas the least common where hybrids.  The majority of sports cars and wagons came from Europe, but overall the largest numbers of cars came from Asia and the USA.  A possible reason for the popularity of the sedan may be that it is a family car and is suitable for a vast range of consumers. The hybrid may be the least popular because it is expensive.

Example 5 – Picture

 PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The map shows the Republic of Cyprus. The largest region on the map is the Republic of Northern Cyprus while the smallest is Episkopi in the south. The island is in the Mediterranean Sea and the north and south are separated by a UN buffer zone. The Troodos Mountains run through the regions of Paphos and Limassol in the south. A possible reason for the UN buffer zone may be political differences.

Note: Be flexible with maps. An extra sentence was added before the conclusion in order to make 30 seconds.

There you have it! Some great PTE describe image practice questions that are similar to what you will get on test-day!

For more specific PTE task practice, try these PTE Repeat sentence practice activities from our blog! 

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE! 



Written by Melinda. 

The Most Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them!

Let’s talk about IELTS Speaking. More specifically, it’s time we focus on those common IELTS speaking mistakes.

This article addresses each section of the Speaking test and shares the most common IELTS speaking mistakes test-takers “trip up” on during each part.

common IELTS speaking mistakes
Avoid these common mistakes on test-day! 

Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes #1

Part 1: Answers are too short.

In this part of the test it’s important to elaborate! Provide enough information to make the interaction feel “conversational”.

You should try to aim for a 2-3 sentence answer.

Here’s an example:

“Where did you grow up?”

Bad Response: “A small city in Nigeria.”

Good Response: “I grew up in a small city in Nigeria. It’s about 2 hours from the capital city. The surrounding area is known to be very beautiful. But I moved away when I was only 4 years old. So…  honestly, I don’t remember it clearly.”

Now, let’s talk about these responses.

Remember, during this portion of the test the examiner needs to evaluate the quality of your spoken English! Therefore, it’s important that we give them something to evaluate!

Of course you need to stay on topic and answer their question directly, but, don’t be afraid to also add details to your responses.

Watch this speaking simulation for Part 1:

Common IELTS Speaking Mistake #2

Part 2: Not elaborating enough. 

common ielts speaking mistakes
Silence is not going to help. Remember to sound “conversational” when you speak. Your fluency will determine this.

In any of the three parts, giving responses that are too short is one of the most common IELTS speaking mistakes.

It can be quite hard to speak for such an extended amount of time!

Especially in PART 2 where you are required to speak continually for two minutes. (Note: IELTS time specifications are important!)

It helps to try and tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. This will help you produce a lengthier response while still giving a “well-organized” and clear answer.

For more help with Part 2 watch this webinar:

Common IELTS Speaking Mistake #3

Part 3: Silence … is not golden? 

This section of the Speaking test can be intimidating. It requires you to think critically and give your opinion.

Remember, it is important to not only give your opinion but also explain your reasoning. You may want to give an example or even explain by using a story from your own personal experience.

You want to avoid false starts during any part of the Speaking test.

So, if necessary, you may need to think about your answer. In particular, when you are asked to give these opinion type responses in Part 3, you may feel the urge to pause.

But rather than thinking silently or mumbling, “Uhhhhh..”, try to save yourself time.

While you think start by saying, “That’s a good question…” or, “Wow, I really haven’t thought of about that before…

For more tips on Part 3 check out this short Lesson video:

3 Most Common IELTS Mistakes Recap

common ielts speaking mistakes
So there you have it! Did you get all that? Read on for some IELTS speaking tips! 

Overall here’s what to remember:

In general, avoid pauses and false starts. If you make a mistake, keep going. The examiner wants to see that you can have a conversation and express yourself without issues. Mistakes are okay – just keep talking!

You need to remember that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. You are not being judged on the opinions you give! So try to relax and keep all your responses as conversational as possible.

Some of the most straightforward advice we can give you is to stick to what you know and use on a daily basis. This way you will avoid long pauses and eliminate stressing yourself out.

Again, it comes down to how well you can communicate fluently. It’s not about speaking absolutely perfectly. You just need to make sense.

So, to fine-tune your presentation skills practice with this webinar:

Another great way to improve is by recording yourself as you answer different questions. This way you’ll be able to critique your own mistakes and better notice subtleties that may make your speech a little harder to comprehend.

Remember, these common IELTS speaking mistakes are easily avoidable. With the right amount of revision and practice, you’ll be well on your way!

For more information on the IELTS speaking, including test format and preparation tips, visit the IELTS speaking preparation overview article.

For an account of Jay’s experience getting an “impossible” IELTS 9 in Speaking, visit the article on How to get an IELTS 9 in Speaking.

What are your common IELTS speaking mistakes? Be sure to let us know what yours are in the comments! 

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

Written by Olivia B. 

How To Crack PTE Describe Image: Effective Formula & FAQs

This article for PTE describe image will feature methods and practice examples to prepare you for the trickiest PTE task on test-day! 

Unpacking PTE Describe Image

PTE describe image task seems to strike terror into even the most competent speaker. And, it’s not surprising!

You only have a few seconds to prepare for the PTE Describe Image and you need to understand an image, think quickly and deliver fluent, grammatical and relevant sentences within a 40 second timeframe. That’s clearly challenging.

So the big question is … are there any tricks or methods that will help? And the answer is ‘yes’ you can certainly reduce the difficulty; and you do this by reducing the decision making.

PTE describe image
Clever decision making will make the PTE describe image task more manageable. Let’s us show you how!

4-Sentence Formula 

Each image is different, but you can use a 4-sentence formula which will work for most images.

  1. Introduction
  2. Compare highest – lowest, most – least, maximum – minimum, and so on.
  3. Create a sentence about either similarities or about something unusual.
  4. Conclusion – summary, reason or prediction

This structure enables you to talk about three main features and if you keep your sentences simple, you’ll be able to do that in around 35 seconds.

Let’s break the four sentences down.

Sentence 1 – Introduction

Tell the listener what is at the top and bottom of the screen.

Instruction

Look at the graph below. In 25 seconds, please speak into the microphone and describe in detail what the graph is showing. You will have 40 seconds to give your response.

PTE describe image graph

Sentence 1: This line graph shows projected births in Australia from 2011 to 2101.

Sentence 2 – Body 1

Compare two things. This creates a complex sentence which is good for your fluency mark.

Sentence 2: The highest projected births are in 2101 whereas the lowest are in 2011.  

Don’t get too ambitious. Just stick to the formula. Don’t add information from the y axis because as soon as you start looking at numbers and trying to work out exactly what they mean, your fluency goes down.

[eg. “The lowest was in 2011 at 300 … no, maybe um, ah, 3 … 80. Yes 380. 380 what? Million? No. The lowest was in 2011 at 380 thousand. Yes.”] The Y axis is your enemy. Avoid it.

Sentence 3 – Body 2

Look for either similarities or something unusual. It doesn’t matter which. Go for whichever one you see first.

Sentence 3: Projections for Series C remain relatively steady throughout the period while Series B shows double the number of births by 2101 and series A has the highest increase.

Sentence 3 is the most challenging sentence. Sentences 1 and 2 are fairly formulaic. However, in sentence 3 you need to make some decisions.

You have an idea of what to look for (similarities or something unusual), but you need to decide what to talk about and how much to say. Be flexible here.

Sentence 4 – Conclusion

Keep this simple. For the conclusion, you can do one of three things:

Summary:

In conclusion the image shows that all predictions for birth rates in Australia show increases.

OR Reason:

A possible reason for the varied predictions may be that immigration figures will affect the growth.

OR Prediction:

It could be predicted that birth rates will continue to climb after 2101.

PTE describe image answer

Visit the article on PTE speaking preparation for expert speaking tips which will help boost your pronunciation and oral fluency skills.

Frequently Asked Questions for PTE Describe Image

PTE describe image
Got any questions about the PTE Describe Image task? Try some common FAQs below.

Q1. What should I do if I get stuck on content?

If you get stuck, go for fluency. It is better to say something relevant than to umm and err and say nothing much at all. If you are going for PTE 79, you will need to have strong content, but your fluency must also be high.

Q2. How can I get 5 out of 5 for content?

The criteria tell us that if you talk about all elements of an image you can get 4 or 5, if you talk about most elements, you can get 3 and if you talk about fewer, you can only score 1 – 2 for content.

What are the elements? They are not the things you see on the X or Y axis. They are the things in the legend.

In the image above, they are series A, B and C.  Note that in the example PTE Describe Image response above, the speaker mentioned all three elements.

So to get high content marks you need to aim to talk about all elements. Again you need to balance fluency and content, so if you can’t see how to group elements to cover all of them, go for fluency.

Q3. How long should it be?

Anywhere between 30 and 40 seconds is fine.

Q4. What can I do for a process or a cycle?

These are a bit different. Use this structure.

Sentence 1: What are we looking at? – Title.

Sentence 2: Start and end of the process. The process begins with X and ends with Y.

Sentence/s 3/4 : Talk about some of the steps using some of the language on the image.

Sentence 4/5: What will happen next (after the last step on the image)?

Check out E2 PTE Channel for PTE Describe Image videos like this one below: 

Part 2 of PTE Describe Image will provide example questions that allow you to practice the 4-sentence formula.

In the meantime, check out a list of excellent PTE review materials and resources from E2Language! 

Be sure to follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

Written by Melinda.

TOEFL Reading Tasks | Common Question Types Answered

Don’t be intimidated by the TOEFL reading tasks! They’re straight forward if you know what you’re doing. 

This article will prepare you for the most common TOEFL reading question types, including Summarizing Information and Make Inferences.

TOEFL reading
TOEFL reading requires comprehension and understanding of what is being tested of you. Build your skills around the common TOEFL reading question types.

Introduction to TOEFL reading

In the TOEFL reading section, you’ll get three to four reading passages, each with 12-14 questions.

They’re extracts from university textbooks or academic articles on a wide range of topics. These will be similar to the types of texts you’d find in college.

Although you don’t need to be familiar with the topics, the more you read during your preparation, the more you will understand.

You’ll have 20 minutes to read each passage, and answer its associated questions. Depending on how many passages you get, the reading section will last between 60-80 minutes.

TOEFL reading question types

There are 10 different question types you might encounter, each requiring a different skill. These are:

  • Summarize Information in a passage
  • Guess vocabulary from context
  • Make Inferences about what the author means
  • Identify a reference
  • Identify a fact
  • Understand rhetorical Purpose – why the writer included particular information
  • Identify a negative fact (a fact that was NOT included in the passage)
  • Insert a word or sentence into the appropriate place in a paragraph
  • Simplify information by identifying the correct paraphrase
  • Complete a table by dragging and dropping sentences

Common TOEFL reading question types

Below are some tips for how you can build specific skills for some of the most common question types. It’s very important to build up these skills.

To do so, you’ll need to read daily, especially university level books and articles covering a wide range of topics related to the arts, humanities, nature or social science.

TOEFL reading
Topical newspaper articles are an excellent way to practice your reading comprehension.
Summarizing Information

This type of question requires you to complete a summary of a reading passage by choosing three out of six sentences provided.

You’ll need to drag and drop the correct three sentences into boxes provided on the screen and identify main ideas (which belong in a summary) from details (which don’t).

To build this skill, read an article a day and write a short summary by paraphrasing important ideas from the article.

Take notice of main ideas – these are general, and details – which are specific. A summary should only include main ideas.

Guess Vocabulary from Context

For this question, a word in the passage will be highlighted. The question asks you which word from a list of four best matches the meaning of the highlighted word. Here, context will help you, and so will a wide vocabulary.

To develop your vocabulary, you need to read. Reading is the best way to see how words are used in context. You don’t have to read complicated books.

The best way is to make reading fun by reading things that interest you: Food, gardening, fashion, celebrity news, economics, science, politics, etc.

As you read, you will discover new words in context. Try to get the meaning of an unknown word by understanding the whole sentence.

Then, look up the word on dictionary.com or on thesaurus.com to see if your guess was correct. This skill will help you with the guess vocabulary from context question.

Also, try to learn a word a day.

Check the English Learner’s Dictionary word of the day for a new word each day with the definition, pronunciation, word form and example sentences.

Make Inferences

Inference is about understanding what the author is trying to say, without actually saying it.

TOEFL reading
Making an inference is liked making an educated guess: you have drawn an idea or conclusion from evidence, reasoning and experience.

You’ll be asked something like “what does the author mean by…”.

With this kind of question, you won’t find the answer directly in the text. It will be implied, so you’ll need to infer the meaning.

To do that, you need to go beyond the text which means using higher-level thinking skills.

A good way to develop this is to do riddles. There are plenty of inference riddles that you can find online that will help you practice making inferences.

Making inferences relies on what it says in the text plus your background knowledge and ability to connect information to draw conclusions.

Another way to build this skill is, as you read, ask yourself questions about the meaning behind what is written and make guesses.

Find connecting points and bring them together to draw a conclusion. Make predictions about the information provided.

Identify a Reference

This question type is all about understanding what a word or words in a sentence refers to.

For example, “I watched Star Wars yesterday. It was a great movie”. Here the word “it” refers to “Star Wars”.

Of course, this type of question will be a bit more challenging in the actual TOEFL reading. So, you need to build up your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure.

As you read different articles, highlight any reference words like it, they, they, which, whose, who, etc. Then ask yourself, what does that word refer to?

To answer that question, you’ll need to identify the subject of the previous sentence. This is an exercise you should keep in mind when doing your daily reading practice.

It will help prepare you for this very common TOEFL reading question.

Identify a Fact
TOEFL reading
Facts are snippets of concrete evidence drawn from your reading.

In the TOEFL reading, you might be asked to find a fact from the passage.

Facts are the supporting information that tell more about the main idea. Facts often tell about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the main idea.

The fact question is based upon information which is actually stated in the passage.  You must find the part of the passage which deals with what is being asked.

The best way to build this skill is to practice reading and answering comprehension questions.

Rhetorical Purpose

This kind of question asks you why the author mentioned something. Authors say things for different purposes.

For example:

  • To persuade the reader of something
  • To describe something
  • To make a suggestion
  • To illustrate a point
  • To prove a theory

Like the inference question, the answer will not be stated in the passage. You will need to infer.

A good way to build this skill in preparation for this type of question, is to read critically. That means, as you read, ask yourself:

  • Why did the author mention that?
  • What was the purpose of including that information?  
Simplify Information

This question type asks you to pick the best paraphrase of a sentence from a passage. You’ll be given four options to choose from.

Paraphrasing is all about expressing the same idea in a simpler way. To build this skill, read an article and pick a paragraph to paraphrase.

Write a couple of sentences using your own words to capture the same idea that the paragraph expresses.  Then read your paraphrase and compare it to the original paragraph.

Keep refining your paraphrasing skills by doing this each time you read an article.

Jump onto Youtube to watch free E2Language TOEFL videos and start learning TOEFL reading methods today! 

Start planning your TOEFL preparation time by following the link to this blog post here!

Follow a list of of link to quality TOEFL learning material right here!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Jamal Abilmona

IELTS preparation | Maximising your IELTS Reading Test Score!

This article will teach you some relevant tips on how to maximise your score in the IELTS Reading Test. Be sure to practice the 3-Steps to improve your reading comprehension and make your preparation time count on test-day! 

IELTS reading test
Get ready to: “knock your opponent of the table”(aka the IELTS exam!) using the following test preparation strategies for IELTS reading.

How can I improve my IELTS reading test score?

A great way to get off to a strong start with your IELTS reading test study is to firstly do some IELTS reading practice tests to find out or ‘diagnose’ what kind of mistakes you are making, and from there where you need to improve.

You might need to focus on increasing your academic vocabulary, improving your grammar or simply your speed of reading and ability to take in the meaning quickly – so tightening up your reading comprehension skills is a great start!

Next, start to read widely from a variety of sources to build up your vocabulary on a range of academic topics and improve your overall reading skills.

IELTS reading tests contain authentic reading passages, so as well as reading IELTS reading tests, articles that can be found in good newspapers, such as:

Also, for more advanced reading material try:

Thirdly and very importantly, it’s not only what you read but how you read! If you just let the information you read ‘go in one ear and out the other,’ and brush over unknown words like they don’t matter, you probably won’t be improving your reading skills much!

If you want suggestions on generalized IELTS study tips (IELTS general and academic), follow the link to the blog here!

3-Steps for IELTS reading practise

In order to achieve a high score in the IELTS reading test, it’s really beneficial to practice your reading comprehension skills using these 3-steps:

Step 1: Skim the passage first

Have a quick look at the whole thing to find out what it’s about and then your mind will start predicting information: read the heading, then the topic or first sentence of each paragraph and quickly speed read through the whole thing.

This will help you with ‘global’ IELTS questions, such as assessing the attitude or the author of the passage or in choosing the best title or heading for the whole passage.

Step 2: Summarise each paragraph as you read

Get into the habit of looking up after each paragraph you have read and then summarise the main idea/points in the paragraph in your own words in just 1-2 sentences.

Not only will this really exercise your brain, it will greatly improve your reading speed and comprehension skills.

Step 3: Keep a record of new vocabulary

After reading an article, note down any new words you have discovered and their meaning on an Excel spread sheet or in a notebook.

Then read this sheet/list everyday whenever you can: before work, during your lunch break, after work, on the train, before bed (!) etc.

IELTS reading test
Even spending a few minutes at the train station reading a news article online, would count as practice towards your IELTS reading exam. 

To note, it’s said that it takes 6 revisits or reviews of a new word or expression in order to remember it properly.

This is at the point where it becomes part of your personal lexicon ( … a new word for you? I will be kind and tell you the meaning this time to help you start your own IELTS reading test vocabulary list!)

A lexicon is the vocabulary of a person, a language or branch of knowledge; it is a countable noun so we can use ’a’ in front of it or put it in plural form by adding ‘s.’ For example: ‘People in the IT industry need to learn a lexicon of computer terms.’

Like I have just done, it is always a good idea to put new words into a sample sentence, so that you ‘engage’ with the word and bring it to life, thus making it easier to retain in your memory.

Overall, widening your academic vocabulary in this way will certainly be helpful for both the IELTS reading test and writing test components.

Even though it might seem like a bit of a ‘hassle’ (something that’s a bit annoying to do and seems like hard work) at the time, you will thank yourself later, and also your overall confidence in your English skills will grow 10-fold!

Making use of your time on test-day

Finally, to achieve a high score in the IELTS reading test, use the full hour to check over your answers once more, even if you have already, or feel confident and that it was ‘easy’.

You may have missed an answer, or made a careless error or an accidental mistake when transferring your answers from the test to the IELTS reading test answer sheet; you might have misread the instructions so you have put 3 words instead of 2, etc.

ielts reading test
Remember: “Practice makes perfect”, so read regularly and stay up-to-date with news items. 

Surprisingly, on test-day it is always quite amazing to observe the number of IELTS test takers who finish early and decide it’s a good idea to have a little sleep or start drawing cartoons when they have finished and are waiting for the hour to be up!

I wonder if they all achieved their target IELTS reading test scores?!

Learn about the format of the IELTS reading test on this informative IELTS Reading Tips article!

Watch the E2 IELTS video below to practice in a real life IELTS Reading mock test!

Do you have any tips for tackling the IELTS reading section? Be sure to let us know what your top strategies are in the comments! 

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Danielle K. 

10 PTE Repeat Sentence Practice Activities You Can Do Right Now!

A focused, methodical approach to PTE Repeat Sentence Practice is more important than you might realize. A lot of test-takers underestimate just how difficult it is to try and remember the exact formula of a sentence in their first language, let alone another language! 

To make matters worse, I have explored every corner of the internet to see what kinds of free PTE repeat sentence practice is actually available to PTE exam hopefuls- and I’m not very impressed with what I have seen. A lot of the repeat sentence examples and samples out there are flawed; they are usually either far too easy or far too difficult.

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice
When it comes to Repeat Sentence practice questions, you need the perfect balance!

The other (incredibly important!) point to consider is that it’s not enough to just practice PTE repeat sentence samples over and over again. Although practice is certainly key to success on this task, you also need to learn the right strategies for increasing your memory capacity and maintaining appropriate pronunciation and oral fluency.

First, Let’s Get You Prepared for the Repeat Sentence Task!

If you haven’t already, read our PTE Repeat Sentence Tips article before you attempt the practice questions below!

Check out Jay’s PTE Repeat Sentence SUPER STRATEGY class from our E2PTE Youtube Channel too!

By the way, you can fill out the form below to receive a free PTE study timetable and an E2Language PTE preparation course recommendation!


10 PTE Repeat Sentence Practice Activities

Okay, now that you’ve reviewed the tips and techniques for tackling this PTE speaking task, you’re ready for some practice. Click the audio boxes below to listen to the speaker. To reveal each sentence, click the “Answer” box.

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice
Listen carefully to the audio samples!

Make sure you listen carefully to each recording, some of them are quite tricky! You may also have to adjust to a different accent than you are accustomed to hearing. Don’t feel bad if you have to listen another time; this is just for practice!

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 1

Click to View Answer

I would prefer if you could call my cellphone rather than my landline next time.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 2

Click to View Answer

Solar power is going to replace coal and oil as our primary energy source in the near future.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 3

Click to View Answer

Please make sure that you collect all of your belongings and take them with you.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 4

Click to View Answer

Last winter, my heating bill was 3X the cost of the winter before AND I was still cold all the time!

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 5

Click to View Answer

The best advice a teacher ever gave me was to take organized and detailed notes in class.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 6

Click to View Answer

Cats are incredibly intelligent creatures, but nowhere near as friendly and affectionate as dogs.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 7

Click to View Answer

If you’re interested in free education, there are more opportunities than ever before to sign up for free online courses.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 8

Click to View Answer

Follow the signs directing you to the North parking lot and pick up a parking pass from the parking officer.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 9

Click to View Answer

It is estimated that over 500 sea turtles die as a result of plastic consumption every year.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 10

Click to View Answer

This year, you will not need a textbook because all required readings will be posted in the student portal.

 

Are you an expert at the PTE Repeat Sentence task yet? Be sure to let us know what your top strategies are in the comments! 

Be sure to follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

 

Effective PTE Time Management Tips | Every Task Explained!

Managing your time is critical for achieving the PTE test result you need! Jay will explain how to increase your PTE time management for the PTE Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening sections. 

PTE time management
Counting down to the date of your PTE exam? Start effectively preparing your time wisely! Read on. 

In this blog article I will tell you the basics of PTE time mangement. Indeed, it is one of the main skills that you need.

In short, you need to move ‘efficiently’ yet ‘accurately’ through the tasks. Some of the tasks are individually timed, in which case you don’t need to worry.

For example, in Describe Image, you have 40 seconds and that’s that. No time management needed. But while doing the Listening section and the Reading section you will need to know how long to spend on each task before clicking NEXT, because it is up to you to click NEXT.

PTE Time Management

PTE Speaking

In PTE Speaking each of the tasks are individually timed, meaning that you do not need to worry. You just need to follow the instructions and watch the clock. Below are the times given for each of the tasks including preparation time and speaking time.

  1. Read Aloud
  • Prepare for between 30-40 seconds
  • Read aloud for between 30-40 seconds

The length of the paragraph determines the length of time you get.

  1. Repeat Sentence
  • Listen to the sentence
  • Repeat the sentence

The sentence will be between 3-5 seconds in length and you should repeat it back in the same length of time. Keep in mind that if you pause for longer than 3 seconds your answer will be void.

  1. Describe Image
  • Prepare for 25 seconds
  • Describe the image for 40 seconds

We recommend speaking up to about 35 seconds. Keep in mind that you do not want to keep speaking at the 40 second mark or the timer will chop your final sentence in half (which may decrease your grammar score!)

  1. Retell Lecture
  • Listen to the lecture ~90 seconds
  • Prepare for 10 seconds
  • Retell the lecture for 40 seconds
  1. Answer Short Question
  • Listen to the question for 3-5 seconds
  • Answer the question in 1-2 seconds

Again, make sure you start answering within 3 seconds or you the task will move on.

PTE Time Management

PTE Writing

PTE Writing Practice
Follow the instructions on-screen. No need to take notes.

In PTE Writing each of the tasks are individually timed, meaning that you do not need to worry. You just need to follow the instructions and watch the clock. Below are the times given for each of the tasks.

Keep in mind that time DOES NOT carry over meaning that if you finish two minutes before the clock that two minutes DOES NOT carry over the next task.

  1. Summarize Written Text
  • 10 minutes to read, prepare, write and edit

Use all of the time because saved time DOES NOT carry over to the other tasks.

  1. Write Essay
  • 20 minutes to prepare, write and edit

Use all of the time because saved time DOES NOT carry over to the other tasks.

PTE Time Management

PTE Reading

In PTE Reading you are set a ‘total’ time of between 32-41 minutes. During this time you will receive 15-20 questions. I have done some mathematics and also timed 100s of students taking these questions live and have formulated ‘recommended time management’ for PTE Reading.

PTE time management

Put simply, to get through all of the reading questions you should spend the following amount of time:

  1. Multiple choice, single answer: ~ 2 minutes.
  2. Multiple choice, multiple answers: ~3 minutes
  3. Reorder paragraphs: ~ 1 min 30 seconds
  4. Fill in the Blanks: ~ 1 minute
  5. Reading and Writing, fill in the blanks: ~ 3 minutes

PTE Time Management

PTE Listening

In PTE Listening the first task — Summarize Spoken Text — is individually timed for ten minutes. You can consider this task ‘separate’ to the other six listening tasks.

For the other 7 tasks, you must manage your own time making sure that you move efficiently yet accurately through them. Don’t waste time in PTE Listening because it is vitally important that you make it to the final task which is called Write from Dictation.

I have seen many candidates get low writing and listening scores because they did not move quickly enough through PTE Listening and as such missed some of the Write from Dictation questions.

In PTE Listening you will get the answers during the audio or immediately after the audio. Therefore, you really should not spend time ‘looking’ at the answers. If you listened carefully and took notes then you can match your notes (and your memory) to the correct answer option in just a few seconds.

Take Select Missing Word, for example. In this task you will hear a short audio of about 30 seconds. The final word or words is missing and you must select from a list of around 5 options which word is missing.

You should select ‘immediately’. If you missed it, you missed it; don’t waste time looking at those five answer options because the audio can only be played once and is not coming back.

The same goes for the other tasks. For MCSA and Highlight Correct Summary, for example, you should match your notes to the correct answer.

This means that you should only spend about 30 seconds after the audio has finished before you move on to the next question because all you do is match your notes to the correct answer option. Reading through the answer options should only take you about 30 seconds.

Remember, the audio is not coming back; you can’t replay it. If you don’t know the answer guess and move on; don’t waste precious time.

  1. Summarize Spoken Text
  • 10 minutes to listen to the lecture, take notes, write and edit your summary

Use all of the time because saved time DOES NOT carry over to the other tasks.

PTE time management
So, what’s next?

For the rest of the Listening tasks you must:

  • Listen
  • (Take notes)
  • Select the answer(s)
  • Click NEXT

Ultimately, it comes down to methods and practice. Once you learn the E2 methods you then need to practice them. You’ll find that you will get quicker and quicker once you learn HOW to complete each task.

Watch our E2 PTE YouTube Channel for effective methods that work!

Check out the PTE Speaking Describe Image Super Method below! 

In a couple of words, it’s about efficiency and accuracy for PTE time management. Find the balance, score 90!

Check out our E2 Blog article on PTE preparation materials HERE

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE! 

 

 

Written by Jay.