IELTS General Tips: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing!

Let’s say you’ve passed your IELTS exam with flying colours after 3 attempts! Imagine if you could’ve passed on your first attempt … (perhaps you hadn’t seen anything on IELTS general tips before!) 

IELTS general tips
Put your study hat on and try to anticipate what your expectations are! 

Looking back is easy, but having the foresight to realize your success in the future is more difficult. Hopefully this article from E2Language will equip you with tips and knowledge for success! 

Alright! I know you want to see ALL the best IELTS general tips in one spot … So here they are!

There’s not a lot of free quality IELTS study material on the internet. So, it’s important to have a study strategy and learn some crucial tips that will guide you in the right direction.

The TOP 3 IELTS general tips you can’t miss! 

#1 Know the format

You’ll see this repeated throughout this article and that’s because it’s NO JOKE. Having a familiarity with the types of questions you’ll get on test day will save you the time of figuring out “what is being asked of you” for each task.

#2 Timed Practice 

Whether preparing for writing or speaking, reading or listening, practice with a TIMER! The time restrictions within the exam is often what trips up test takers! Adding this pressure will make you comfortable with responding to questions in a timely manner. 

#3 Strengthen your language skills

Grammar, spelling and vocabulary MATTER! Make sure you use the correct articles, and be careful you don’t record a noun as singular if it was supposed to be plural! These seemingly “little” mistakes can cost you your desired score!

IELTS General Tips for Listening

IELTS general tips
Be prepared to listen carefully to the audio recordings.
TIP #1

Read the questions before the audio starts. This will help you pick out the right information! I used this same tip in my French Language Fluency exam and it made all the difference!

TIP #2

It’s important to write down your answers in the booklet you’re given! TRUST ME! Under that kind of pressure you’ll need the notes! Be sure to transfer them onto the answer sheet correctly.

TIP #3

WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Handwriting is important! Because if the examiner marking your test can’t read your answer, it will be marked as incorrect! Don’t lose points on a question you know the answer for.

TIP #4

If you think you’ve missed an answer … stay focused! You may miss the next if you spend your time freaking out. Move on and try to answer the next question.

TIP #5

Follow directions! If they specify “write no more than one word”, don’t write more than one! It’ll be marked as incorrect! So pay attention to word count specifications!

For more suggestions check out this blog post on IELTS Listening Tips: How to Boost Your Score! 

IELTS General Tips for Reading

PTE speaking preparation

TIP #1

If you don’t already, read plenty of English books and articles in your spare time! Practice summarizing, identifying key information, and main ideas within texts.

TIP #2

Know the format! Don’t underestimate the difficulty of this section simply because you’re an avid reader and you feel like the Reading section is the last thing you need to spend time preparing for.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: IELTS success is largely centered around whether or not the test taker knows the format of the test.

TIP #3

Not only should you know the test’s format but practice answering those same type of questions! Having a strategy for each task is as important as knowing what they are.

For more on IELTS reading tips, check out the E2Language article here

IELTS General Tips for Writing

TIP #1

Have an essay structure! This is a tip I use regardless of whether I’m writing in my second language or first! Having a clear structure and flow is CRITICAL. The best way to write is by following a structure!

TIP #2

Practice! Just like summarizing articles try writing about a passage you’ve read! Use a variety of essay question types and recreate your own scenario.

Here are the 5 types of IELTS essay types:

Writing is hard for everyone and it most definitely does NOT come easily. So be patient with yourself. Practice, read it over and try to learn from the mistakes you make.

TIP #3

Don’t forget Task 1! It’s easy to get scared and focus only on practicing for Write Essay. But remember that there are other tasks in IELTS General Writing!

Use videos like this one to prepare for Task 1:

IELTS General Tips for Speaking

Tip #1

Find a TV series in English you like. Or maybe, movies are more your thing. The most important thing is you watch regularly. This is a great way to improve your pronunciation.

Tip #2

Read out loud. Grab a book or pull up an article and find a place you can comfortably read out loud. Listen to yourself.  I promise it’s worth every minute of practice! Sometimes you feel silly but I’m telling you: the better you get the more confident you’ll feel!

Tip #3

Recording yourself as you speak is another great way to evaluate where you’re at. Try answering simple questions about your hobbies, your family, where you grew up, and your favourite movies.

NOTE: Make sure your answers aren’t too short. But don’t make your responses too long it’s easy to get off topic, and it’s more important to directly answer the question.

Now, rewatch the recording. Do you have a “nervous tick”? Maybe you use a certain word or phrase too often when you’re thinking.

Others have a certain sound that they repeat which can make understanding them difficult. Sometimes it’s a “Mmmmh..” or “Urrrrmms”. These ticks are all giveaways that you’re struggling to find the right words.

REMEMBER: Confidence goes a long way. Try to cut back on any habits that make you look hesitant.

PTE Summarize Spoken Text
This guy could be listening carefully to his recordings (…or maybe he’s sleeping)
Tip #4

If you slip up, try not to let that distract you. Keep going! It’s easy to pause or stutter when, in your mind, you’ve realized you’ve made a mistake on the way you pronounced a word.

But focus on what you’re saying. Don’t try to apologize too much. If you can finish your answer and show confidence in your speaking the examiner is less likely to focus on tiny mistakes.

Tip #5

Make eye contact! This is a great way to show your confidence. Try not to end up staring down too often or spend your time looking at the table. I know it can be scary, but you’ve got this!

Tip #6

Another great way to make yourself seem very confident and comfortable speaking the English language is to use common phrases, and slangs.

You may even want to try turning “It is” to “it’s” or “He is” to “He’s”. These little changes will make your speech sound smoother and more natural.

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Written by: Olivia   

IELTS Writing Topics & Essay Structure | IELTS Writing Task 2

Passing the IELTS Writing Task can be tough! Here you’ll find some useful IELTS writing topics plus a consistent essay formula that will help structure your essay and paragraphs. 

IELTS Writing Task 2: An overview

The essay writing task is included in both the general and academic IELTS. You will have 40 minutes to write a 250-word response to an essay question. Your essay should include four paragraphs (an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion).

Although there is a consistent essay formula that will help you to structure your essay and paragraphs, you need to be aware of the different types of essay questions there are. The way you use the formula will differ according to the type of question.

IELTS Essay Structure

A typical essay structure looks like this:

IELTS writing topics. preparation, essay structure
It is important to have a planned essay structure for responding to the IELTS writing topics.

You can use this to answer any essay question type, but your essay must be tailor made for the question type.

IELTS Writing Question Types

Below is a list of six of the most common essay question types:


The agree/disagree essay question gives you a topic and asks if you agree or disagree with an idea related to that topic. For example:

Less and less parents these days are smacking their children. Some people think that this is leading to a generation of misbehaved children. Do you agree or disagree with this view?

This question is related to the topic of smacking children. The idea that not smacking is actually a bad thing. The question is asking if you agree with that idea. Your essay will have to answer that question by giving your opinion and then explaining why with supporting ideas and examples.


The advantage/disadvantage essay question gives you a topic, and then asks you to discuss the advantages and disadvantages. A sample advantage/disadvantage essay question looks like this:

Some graduates prefer to travel for a year between graduation and gaining full-time employment. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this.

Here you will need to present both sides of the argument (one per paragraph) with supporting ideas and examples for each.

Discuss both views

The discuss both views question gives you two views or opinions related to a topic and asks you to discuss both. For example:

Some people think it’s the government’s responsibility to tackle environmental issues. Others believe it is up to each individual to be environmentally responsible. Discuss both sides.

Here you need to spend one body paragraph on each opinion, giving explanations and examples for why people may hold each view.

Discuss both views and give your opinion

The discuss both views and give your opinion question is very similar, but instead of just asking you to discuss two views, it also asks you to state which one you agree with. For example:

Some people think it’s better to educate boys and girls in separate schools. However, others believe that boys and girls benefit more from attending the same school. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

In response to this essay question, you’d need to discuss both opinions (one in each paragraph) and give explanations and examples to support each one. You’d also have to say which one you agree with. You can do that within the body paragraph.


The problem/solution essay question presents you with an issue which you need to discuss and then provide possible solutions for. For example:

The overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems. Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments can tackle these problems.

Here you would talk about the problems caused by overpopulation in the first body paragraph, and suggest some government-led solutions in the second body paragraph.

Double question

In the double question essay, you’re actually asked two questions, and you need to make sure you answer both. For example:

Today more people are travelling than ever before. Why is this the case? What are the benefits of travelling for the traveller?

Here you have two questions to answer. 1. Why are people travelling more than before. 2. What are the benefits of travelling. You should spend one paragraph on answering each question.

IELTS Writing Topics

There are common themes in IELTS writing topics, though the specifics of each question vary. Common themes include:

IELTS writing topics

The best way to be ready to write about these topics is to be familiar with them. You will need to generate ideas during the test and come up with examples from your own knowledge and experience.

This is why you should read about general topics to broaden your general knowledge. This will have the double effect of widening your vocabulary and reading skills as well as giving you knowledge that you can then use to generate ideas for your essay.

So, read a blog or social media article or watch a Ted talk and documentary per day on the IELTS writing topics listed above.

For more formal test preparation, professional IELTS coaching from experts will help you apply the essay formula to different essay questions. Feedback is another important aspect of preparing for the IELTS writing task.

Learning IELTS online with E2language will provide you with effective methods, practice essays and expert feedback to feel confident and prepared to write your IELTS essay.

Be sure to watch the E2 IELTS YouTube channel for videos on IELTS Writing Task 2: 

To boost your preparation for IELTS, register and attend the E2Language IELTS General and Academic Live Classes. And check out E2Language’s Blog to practice IELTS activities

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!



Written by: Jamal 


The Impossible IELTS: My IELTS Writing Test Disaster

I have a very embarrassing story to tell you about the IELTS writing test. I just received my IELTS Academic results after a 13 day wait and around 32 years of preparation. But before I tell you what my results are, let me tell you a bit about myself.

A little bit about Jay from E2Language (me!)

My name is Jay and I’m a native English speaker; I was born and raised in an English speaking household in Australia.

IELTS Writing Test
This is me!

I have always had a passion for language. I read hungrily as a child. When I graduated from high school I was top of my class in English. I studied English literature in my undergraduate degree where I read the classics. I received a teaching diploma in English and last year I graduated with a masters degree with first class honours in applied linguistics from the University of Melbourne – a top ranked university with a top 10 linguistics program in the world – where I now give annual guest lectures. While studying for my masters degree I also published peer-reviewed academic literature on English language learning.

Importantly, I have taught English for nine years at high schools and universities in Australia and overseas and now I teach online for E2Language – arguably the world’s most sophisticated online English test preparation website. Some of my IELTS and PTE Webinars have reached over 100,000 viewers, received excellent reviews and have helped thousands of people from around the world pass their English exams.

I failed the IELTS writing test

Despite all of my training, education and passion for the English language, I failed the IELTS writing test. (Well… that’s not exactly true because you can’t really ‘fail’ the IELTS, but I feel like I’ve failed.) I scored 6.5. While I was very surprised I was not that worried because luckily for me — and perhaps unlike you — my immediate future does not depend on this result. I took the IELTS because I am an English teacher who wanted to have the experience of doing the test, to gain valuable insights into the test and to ‘put myself in your shoes’, so to speak, so I can help you to pass your test more easily and more quickly.

Hmmm, that’s awkward.

It would be even more awkward had I not taken the PTE Academic three months earlier. In that test I scored a perfect 90, or 100%, in writing, which I consider to be a true reflection of my abilities.

Here’s my PTE-A report card:

My PTE Academic report card where I scored a perfect 90 in all the skills including writing:

IELTS Writing Test
My PTE Academic Scores

How the IELTS writing test affected my confidence

If the IELTS Academic were the only measurement of my English abilities then I think my confidence would now be destroyed. Could I continue to teach English, for example? I can only imagine the damage a disappointing English grade would do to a non-native English speaker’s self-confidence especially if they were planning to move to an English speaking country to start a new job or to enter university or to speak with the locals. To learn a second language is to always be unsure because it’s unnatural. And to be told that you are substandard would hurt a lot, I imagine, because we trust the validity of the results we receive from credible institutions such as Cambridge University or Pearson.

I don’t want you to think that the PTE Academic is the better or easier test though. That’s not my point. Indeed, my colleague, who is a native English speaker with a native Canadian accent scored poorly on the speaking section due to – we believe – a technological fault, which you can read about in her PTE speaking test article. She has since taken it again and scored a perfect PTE 90 but there was certainly an issue there.

By now you’re probably thinking that perhaps Jay didn’t prepare properly for his IELTS or that Jay probably doesn’t understand the IELTS marking criteria. Firstly, I did prepare; as I said, I’ve been preparing for 32 years and I understand full well what the IELTS writing test criteria are.

Hmmm, the criteria are actually a great place to begin to understand what may have gone wrong and I’m sorry to bore you but this is absolutely critical. If you don’t understand the criteria, you should – they are what the examiners look for in your writing.

Here are the criteria and why I struggle to accept that I scored so poorly on each:

Task Achievement: This means “Did you describe the graph accurately (in Task 1)?” and “Did you write about the essay topic (in Task 2)?” The answer to both of these questions is without a doubt. I am utterly convinced that my graph description was very accurate and my essay was completely on the money.

Lexical Resource: This means “word choice”. I believe that I was articulate and meaningful throughout both tasks. My word choices were precise and purposeful.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy: This means “grammar”. I have always thought – at least until now – that my grammar was perfect. How could I possibly have lost a single point here? After all I am acutely aware of subject-verb agreement, prepositional phrases and unclear antecedents. I wrote both short, simple sentences and longer, more complex sentences.

Coherence and Cohesion: This means “Did you structure your graph description and essay well?” While my graph description was perfectly structured (I am supremely confident of that), I must admit something to you…

My IELTS Writing Test Confession

In the essay, I wrote below the word count and I sat there for ten minutes thinking how easy it was to write that essay. 10 minutes before the hour was up, I glanced at the piece of paper which I had filled from top to bottom and thought my job was done. Then I looked more closely and saw the instruction “You must write at least 250 words.” I assumed that my essay was over 250 words but I thought I’d better check. My blood pressure shot up as I did some rough math. My estimate came to 187 words. I needed at least another 63 words! And I only had ten minutes left! I needed to write another paragraph and I needed to do it fast. All of a sudden the fact that I was a native English speaker with extensive experience studying and teaching English became completely irrelevant. I were one of you and the test became very real.

However, I’m good under pressure. Strangely, I’ve always liked exams. Where some people freeze, other people fly and that’s what I did. I whipped up another relevant and logical paragraph that fitted neatly into my essay and I drew a big arrow to it on the other page.

Could this formatting issue have been my downfall? Did the examiner see a big arrow and presume that I was a 6.5 despite the fact that my essay was entirely logical from beginning to end, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence, word to word, first capital letter to final full stop? Did the examiner see the arrow and then doubt my Task 1? Did the examiner see the arrow and lose faith in my grammar, vocabulary and topical relevance?

There are some other broader possibilities of why I failed that are worth considering:

Illegible handwriting – the examiner couldn’t read your writing.

While my handwriting is not particularly “neat”, it is legible. In fact, I tested it on my colleagues at E2Language and they could all read my writing easily. (Mind you, I have not written with a grey-lead pencil since I was twelve!)

IELTS Writing Test
It’s possible (but highly unlikely!) that my handwriting was illegible to the IELTS examiner.

Word count – you didn’t write enough words.

After my little mishap, I counted every single word and both tasks were definitely within the word limits.

Formality – you wrote too informally “dude”.

That’s ridic’ ‘coz I know what’s right and wrong talkin’ in particular joints. (Actually, I took a socio-linguistics class on this.)

Too wordy – you wrote such verbose, turgid and academic prose that the poor examiner could not decipher it.

Did I? I thought it was clear and meaningful. And even if it were “verbose”, it should never be indecipherable because one would hope that the examiner were an absolute expert in the English language, right?

Incomprehensible ideas – you wrote such profound and “other-worldly” nonsense that the examiner didn’t know what you were going on about.

But… no. No. No! My ideas were straightforward and relevant.

Your ‘style’ was off – you did not write using short and long sentences or use discourse markers such as ‘however’ or ‘therefore’.

Well, this is an interesting point because what constitutes ‘good writing’ is debatable. I am indeed a lover of short sentences. I am not a fan of long winded sentences that make absolutely no sense but look incredibly amazing. And I am certainly not a fan of the overuse of discourse markers such as ‘however’ and ‘moreover’; I think they should be used sparingly. To wit, my style of writing, which is to use short sharp sentences, is backed by research in cognitive science (or so says Harvard professor Steven Pinker, the premier linguist in the world, in his most recent book).

You can find IELTS writing test lessons like this one on the E2 IELTS Youtube Channel:

My Conclusions

In conclusion… I have no idea why I scored 6.5 in IELTS writing considering that what you are reading now is how I write in real life and how I wrote in my IELTS exam. But I will say this: Let complacency be a lesson to you. Count your words! One thing that may have resulted in my 6.5 could have been that cursed arrow, which, if the case, I believe to be unfair. Subtracting 28% off an overall mark because of formatting seems over the top…

Listen: if you scored poorly on the IELTS writing test, then don’t feel bad about it. ‘It happens to the best of us’ as they say. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. But before you try again, come and speak to us about what we can do to help you out. The IELTS is an incredibly complex and challenging test. Language is a complex and challenging phenomenon! While we have our cracks, that is where our light gets in. As far as I know, we are the only organisation that requires its teachers to take these tests. We are real where others are not.

Note: I applied for an IELTS rescore and my IELTS writing test score was increased from a 6.5 to a 7.5. I plan on taking IELTS again soon so I can have another shot at an IELTS 9 on the writing test!

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!



Written by Jay Merlo.

Paraphrasing Tips for IELTS Writing Task 2

If you’re good at paraphrasing, you’ve already got an essential skill for succeeding on IELTS writing task 2. If you’re not, we’re here to help!

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is when you take an original idea and re-write it to express the same meaning, but in a different way. This might be by changing words, word forms, sentence structure, or using synonyms. If you think this is just for writing academic papers, think again. We actually paraphrase all the time!

When you read a book, article, or watch a movie and tell your friends about it, you are paraphrasing. When you tell your friend or colleague about a conversation you had with your boss, you are paraphrasing. You are not repeating the original conversation word for word. You are giving them the main idea of the conversation using your own words.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Why do you need to paraphrase?

Paraphrasing is important to the IELTS writing task 2 because your introduction paragraph is basically a paraphrase of the essay prompt. You will need to re-write the essay prompt in your own words to introduce your essay.

Watch Jay break down the IELTS writing task 2 introduction right here:

Three ways to paraphrase for IELTS writing task 2

Before you attempt to paraphrase, you need to make sure that you understand the gist, or meaning of the paragraph. Paraphrasing is more than just changing words. Your paraphrase needs to make sense and still convey the original message. So, you should read the original text a couple of times to make sure you understand the message it conveys. Then turn the ideas over in your mind. Think of how you would express the same ideas to a friend.

Below are three techniques to paraphrase. Rather than exclusively using one of them, a good paraphrase includes all methods. 

  1. Use synonyms

Synonyms are different words that express the same or similar meaning.

For example: Interesting, fascinating, curious and amusing are all synonyms.

But! Some synonyms can have a slightly different meaning. For example, fascinating has a stronger meaning than interesting. So be careful when using synonyms. We need to make sure that the words we are using convey the same level of meaning as the original.


Original: Many people think that cars should not be allowed in city centres.

Paraphrase: Many people believe that motor vehicles should be banned in urban areas.


think –> believe

cars –> motor vehicles

should not be allowed –> should be banned

city centres –> urban areas

IELTS writing task 2
More synonyms to add to your vocabulary!
  1. Change the word forms

Another way to paraphrase is to change word forms. For example, changing a noun into a verb, a verb into a noun or an adjective into a noun or vice versa.


Original: Many people find watching tennis interesting (interesting = adjective).

Paraphrase: Many people have an interest in watching tennis (interest = noun).


Original: Some people think Facebook is an invasion of privacy (invasion = noun).

Paraphrase: Some people think Facebook has invaded our privacy (has invaded = verb).

  1. Change the sentence structure

A third way to paraphrase is to change sentence structure. This could be by changing the sentence from passive to active or vice versa, or changing the order of the clauses. Let’s have a look.

Active to Passive

Original: The hurricane destroyed the city.

Paraphrase: The city was destroyed by the hurricane.

In the sentence above, the subject (the hurricane) became the object, and the object (the city) became the subject.

To be passive, we also changed the verb destroyed into past perfect (was/were + past participle).

Passive to Active

Original: The public transport system was developed by the city council.

Paraphrase: The city council developed the public transport system.

In the sentence above the subject (the public transport system) became the object, and the object (the city council) became the subject.

 Order of clauses

A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb. Some sentences can be a single clause. Some sentences can be made up of two or more clauses.

For example: It is difficult to say whether the economy will improve.

The two clauses are: It is difficult to say / whether the economy will improve.

 One way to paraphrase is by changing the order of the clauses.

For example: Whether the economy will improve, it is difficult to say.

Let’s look at another example:

Original: During the summer, many people visit the temple.

Paraphrase: Many people visit the temple during the summer.

Paraphrasing an essay prompt to write your introduction

In IELTS Writing Task 2, you write your introduction by paraphrasing the essay prompt. In order to do this, you will need to unpack, or break the essay prompt into parts. Usually, an essay prompt consists of three parts:

A general statement that introduces the topic

A specific statement that gives you the specific idea about the topic

Finally, your instructions/question

IELTS Writing Task 2
We all know that Boromir from Lord of the Rings gives the best advice…

Let’s look at an example:

Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-speaking countries to learn the international language – English. It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it. Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

To unpack this prompt, the first sentence is the general statement. Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-speaking countries to learn the international language – English. This tells us what the essay topic is.

The second sentence is the specific statement. It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it. It gives an opinion about the topic.

The third sentence is the question. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement? This means you have to express your opinion on the second sentence.

So! In order to write your introduction, you need to paraphrase the three parts of this essay prompt.

Let’s look at an example of a paraphrase of each:

Sentence 1: Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-speaking countries to learn the international language – English

Paraphrase: In recent times, a growing number of international students are learning English in English-speaking countries.

Sentence 2: It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it.

Paraphrase: Although it is beneficial to learn English in a country where it is natively spoken, there are other effective ways to learn it.

Sentence 3: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

Paraphrase: I agree with this statement to a large degree.

Putting it all together:

Original (essay prompt): Nowadays, more and more foreign students are going to English-Speaking countries to learn the “international language – English”. It is undoubtedly true that studying English in an English-speaking country is the best way, but it is not the only way to learn it. Do you agree or disagree with the above statement? 

Paraphrase (introduction): In recent times, a growing number of international students are learning English in English-speaking countries. Although it is most beneficial to learn English in a country where it is natively spoken, there are other effective ways to learn it. I agree with this statement to a large degree.


Using a combination of the above techniques (synonyms, word forms, sentence structure), write an introduction to the following essay by paraphrasing the prompt below.

The overuse of natural resources ultimately exhausts them. This causes huge harm to the environment. Therefore, the government should discourage people from overusing such resources. To what extent do you support or oppose this idea?

 There are three possible correct answers:

Click here to show/hide answer 1

Exploiting natural resources will ultimately deplete them and lead to environmental harm. Therefore, the overuse of these resources should be discouraged by governments. I totally agree with this statement.

Click here to show/hide answer 2

The exploitation of natural resources results in their exhaustion. This causes environmental damage. Thus, governments should encourage people to take care not to overuse these resources. I agree with this to a large extent.

Click here to show/hide answer 3

Natural resources will ultimately be exhausted if we continue to overuse them. It damages the environment and should therefore be discouraged by governments. I agree with this statement to a large degree.

So, more than one paraphrase can be correct. There are many ways to say the same thing. There is also more than one way to paraphrase. The best way to paraphrase for IELTS Writing Task 2 is to use a combination of these techniques (synonyms, sentence structure and clause order).

Practice makes perfect!

Our E2Language IELTS experts can help you learn the rest of the method for IELTS Writing Task 2!


Jamal Abilmona is an expert IELTS teacher, curriculum designer and language buff. She has taught English for general and academic purposes in classrooms around the world and currently writes e-learning material for, providing online IELTS preparation for students all around the world.


How to Develop Your IELTS Vocabulary

The development of comprehensive IELTS vocabulary is crucial to your IELTS score.

Vocabulary is one of the building blocks of language and a necessary requirement for success in the IELTS. Being ready for the IELTS requires a lot of preparation, including understanding the test, knowing the strategies, and practicing. In addition to all of that, you need vocabulary. It is essential for the reading section, the listening section, for writing a good essay and for being able to speak impressively in the speaking test. To do well, you need to know words. It is believed that it takes 15-20 exposures to a new word for it to become part of your vocabulary. So here are my top 10 methods for integrating new words into your English library.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Read, read, read!

The more you read, the more words you’ll be exposed to. This is essential for IELTS preparation, and for increasing your English fluency. Reading doesn’t have to be boring. Read about things that interest you: Food, gardening, fashion, celebrity news, economics, science, politics, etc. As you read, you will discover new words in context. You can infer the meaning of new words from the context of the sentence. If not, then look the word up in an English to English dictionary.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Use an English to English dictionary and thesaurus.

You can use hard copies or online versions such as and  When you come across a new word, look it up in the dictionary. An online dictionary will give you the definition and will let you hear the pronunciation. It’s important not to just use a translation tool. A translation may be helpful for you to understand the meaning of the word in your native language, but it will not help you integrate the word into your English mental library. You need to be able to think of the word in English, and not rely on a translation. Otherwise you will be thinking of the word in your own language and will have difficulty recovering it in English when you need it. Then use the thesaurus to find synonyms. You don’t have to memorise every synonym (there may be too many). Choose a couple of interesting ones and add them to your vocabulary journal.

IELTS Vocabulary

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Use a vocabulary journal.

This can be a little notebook that you keep with you where you record new words that you hear or read. Steps 4-7 will explain useful ways to use a vocabulary journal.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Organise your journal thematically.

Group words together that relate to a similar topic to make it easier to remember and relate them. These categories could be food, hobbies, nature, society, etc.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: List the different forms of the word.

For example its noun, verb, adjective and adverb form, as well as its past participle. Let’s take the word “manage”. It is a verb. The noun form is “management”, the adjective is “manageable” and the adverb is “manageably”. The past participle is “managed. Now you know five new words instead of one! This will impress your IELTS examiner and increase your mental word bank. A dictionary will usually give you the different word forms abbreviated as (n) for noun (v) for verb, (adj) for adjective and (adv) for adverb.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Collocate!

List words that the word collocates with. For example, manage effectively; manage competently; efficient management; competent management, etc.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Write, write, write!

Writing helps to ingrain new words into your memory. When we hear and see a new word, it becomes part of our passive Our passive vocabulary includes words that we can understand but not use. We want to make new words part of our active vocabulary. This means we can both understand and use new words. To do this, we need to use them! One way is to write sentences using the new word in two or more of its word forms. Even better, integrate reading with writing by writing a short summary of an article you have read using 2 or 3 new words from the article in their various forms. Remember to check your spelling! At the end of each week, go back to your list. Pick 10 words from that week and write a short story, even if it’s just 100 words. It can be a personal reflection, a review of something you read that week, or a practice IELTS essay.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Listen!

Hearing words in context will help you hear how words are used and also familiarise you with their pronunciation. Watch music videos or short movie clips on YouTube with English subtitles. When you hear a word that you don’t know, or have difficulty pronouncing, play it again and sound it out. Also, Ted ESL and Ted Ed are great sources for interesting and inspiring talks on a variety of topics. You can watch videos and read the transcripts to see the spelling of new words that you hear in the talks. This will help you understand the pronunciation of words, how they are used in context, and how they are spelt.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: 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. Add them to your journal list and use them in your journal writing and IELTS writing practice.

IELTS Vocabulary Tip: Speak!

Incorporate the new words into your everyday conversation. Talk to your friends about a movie you saw or an article you read, or a hobby you did, using new words you learned that week. The best way to remember words is to use them! This will grow your vocabulary and make the word part of your mental word bank. This will increase your speaking fluency which will help you in the IELTS speaking test, and in your everyday English development.

Learn about Jay’s experiences in his IELTS Speaking Exam, on How to get an IELTS 9.

Check out our Free Webinars on YouTube, including our recent IELTS reading webinar:

Do you have any questions about IELTS vocabulary or IELTS preparation? Ask us on our Free Forum!

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Written by Jamal Abilmona.

Jamal Abilmona is an expert IELTS teacher, curriculum designer and language buff. She has taught English for general and academic purposes in classrooms around the world and currently writes e-learning material for

How to crack IELTS Writing Task 1

This article will give you some essential IELTS exam tips, especially for IELTS writing task 1.

In order to get a get a top score (like an IELTS 8.0) for IELTS Writing Task 1, there is a formula that you need to follow. This formula can be applied to any graph description no matter if it is a table, pie chart, bar graph, line graph or diagram (but diagram is a little different!). If you don’t use a formula you will only get an IELTS 5.0 or maybe an IELTS 6.0 but no more.

Before we look at the formula, and before you begin writing, you need to understand what you’re looking at. If you don’t understand what you’re looking at, you won’t be able to describe it. Logical, right? It is. And don’t neglect the importance of understanding of what you’re looking at. Spend a minute looking at it. Understand it. Comprehend it. Get it.

Pre-Writing: Understand what you’re looking at

Spend a minute looking at this IELTS line graph:

IELTS Writing taks 1

Read the title. What’s ‘sweetener’? Sugars, syrups and sweeteners.

IELTS Writing task 1

Read the sub-title. It means how much sweetener was available, on average, to each person..

IELTS writing task 1

Look at the y-axis. This gives the specific number of pounds available to each person.

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Look at the x-axis. It starts in 1966 and moves in increments of five years ending in 2011.

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Now look at the different sweeteners. Let’s look at the ‘Total’ first. What does the line do? Would you say that there is a noticeable increase before it drops off? I would!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Look at ‘Refined cane and beet sugars’. Would you say that it starts our relatively high and then decreases before stabilizing? I would! Okay, now we’re getting up to IELTS 7.5!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Look at ‘Corn sweeteners’. It increases quite dramatically, then steadies, then peaks, then decreases, right?!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Now look at ‘Honey’ and ‘Edible syrups’. They remain relatively stable and quite low, don’t they?!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

The Task Description

Every IELTS Writing Task 1 will come with a brief description of the graph and a set of instructions as to what you must do, which will look like this:

The graph below shows the availability of various sweeteners in the USA from 1966 to 2012.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Step 1: Re-write the Task Description

The first step is simple and does not require and creative thinking. You just need to re-write the first part of the Task Description IN YOUR OWN WORDS:

You could write something like:

The given line graph represents how much sweetener was available in the United States over a 45 year period.

Compare this to the original:

The graph below shows the availability of various sweeteners in the USA from 1966 to 2012.

I’ve written the same thing but in different words… This is the first sentence and the introduction of your IELTS Writing Task 1!

Easy 😉

Step 2: Describe the main trends

The next step is to describe the main trends. You might need an IELTS vocabulary list. You can use years but stay away from the y-axis. We don’t want to use numbers just yet… What do you see? Let’s look at the graph again.

IELTS Writing taks 1

Here’s a general overview of the trends… Follow along with each sentence.

In total, sweetener availability increased until around the year 2000 before it receded. The amount of refined cane and beet sugars decreased and then plateaued. Corn sweeteners increase consistently until 1982 and then steadied before beginning to fall from around 1999. The availability of honey and edible syrups remained relatively low and stable over the period.

Step 3: Compare the data (in detail)

Now we can get into the numbers… And now we have to compare the trends. We want to know what sweeteners are doing compared to sugars. We want to compare honey and syrup versus the other sweeteners. Now we can get into the y-axis to support our comparisons. Read along and follow these comparisons:

IELTS Writing taks 1

From 1966 to 1985, refined cane and beet sugars and corn sweeteners followed a very different trend. The sugars started at around 100 pounds per person while corn sweetener started at around 18 pounds per person. By 1985, however, the two sweeteners met at approximately 62 pounds. From there they diverged again before meeting meeting again in 2007 at around 63 pounds. In contrast to sugars and sweeteners, honey and syrups barely changed. They started at around 15 pounds each and by the end of the period were almost the same.

Step 4: Summarize in a single sentence

Okay, now we have introduced the graph, described the general trends, compared the data and now we have to write a single concluding sentence to summarize what’s happening in the graph. We want to say the simplest possible description of the graph.

Look at the ‘total’. This will help us.

IELTS Writing taks 1

How about: Sweetener availability in the United States increased until around 1998 before decreasing.

Post-writing: Check your work!

Okay, you’re nearly done. You need to quickly check your work though for silly grammar mistakes or accidental spelling mistakes.

This method works. And once you practice it a few times you will be able to memorize it. The steps are memorable, easily implementable and they satisfy the IELTS examiners. In fact, the IELTS examiners will LOVE this. If you do it right, you might even get an IELTS 9.

But you will need IELTS writing task 1 practice. You should check out the video for this method on Jay or Jamal will explain it to you step by step and give you HEAPS of practice so by the date of your IELTS exam comes you will be absolutely ready to rock n’ roll!

Are you ready for IELTS writing task 1? Sign up for FREE for our newly launched IELTS course and get started on your journey to IELTS success! 


Written by Jay Merlo.


Is this write? Common IELTS Writing Mistakes People Make

How to combat common IELTS writing mistakes:

We all make mistakes, like the saying goes, ‘you learn from your mistakes.’ But when it comes to sitting the IELTS exam, mistakes are not something we want to make.

 Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing your writing as much as possible will help, but unless you review your work or get a teacher to check it, then you are basically going to make the same mistakes over and over again. What to do? Write – read – correct- write – read – correct. Once you have finished writing a paragraph, go back and read it again before writing more. If you sign up to, we offer face to face feedback. It is vital to be aware of your mistakes in order to improve your overall IELTS writing score.

IELTS Writing
Practice makes perfect!

Common writing mistakes In IELTS writing

Not understanding the whole essay question

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” (John Powell)

 All IELTS essay questions will have an instructional sentence, telling students exactly what they are supposed to do in their written response.

TIP: use a highlighter or underline the instruction: discuss, analyses, argue, etc.

There will be trigger words, such as; discuss, analyze, argue, support and the student is expected to respond accordingly.

For example:

Some people argue that universities should provide students with more practical training for their future career. Should university education be more vocational or academic? Discuss and state your opinion.

In this example be aware of what it is you are supposed to do, i.e. discuss the argument that Universities should provide students with more practical training for their future career. Then give your opinion, do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? Be sure to analyse both sides of the argument.

When giving your opinion, it is always a good idea to draw upon your own experience, that way you will be writing about something you are comfortable with.

 Writing about something that does not directly answer the essay question

Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.   (Phyllis Theroux)

When answering the essay question, make sure you actually answer it. For example:                     Question. Cats are more loyal than dogs, discuss?

When answering this question make sure you address the statement, Cats ae more loyal than dogs. Look at why people may believe this and then discuss the other side of the argument as well, i.e. dogs are more loyal than cats. The examiner doesn’t want to read a story about your cat and its adventures with the local barn yard mouse, they want clear arguments backed up with evidence. They want to see more than one opinion. It is fine to use examples, but use them wisely sand make sure they relate to the actual IELTS essay question. You can repeat words that appear in your essay question to keep you on track, sometimes trying to rephrase the question can confuse you and you will end up answering it incorrectly. If in doubt read the question again and again!

Making too many grammatical mistakes

“Consider every mistake you do make as an asset”. (Paul J. Meyer)

One of the most common grammar mistakes students make when writing their IELTS exam are sentence fragments, run-on sentences, improper preposition usage, verb tense issues and mistakes in a student’s lexical selection. The best advice I can give here is to go back and practice some good old grammar exercises, refresh your memory and sharpen up you grammar skills before the big day. If you sign up with we have a large variety of grammar exercises at all different levels. Having someone review your writing and help you identify you most reoccurring mistakes it also helpful.

Another TIP is to compose your essay entirely of short, concise sentences and to link these sentences with cohesive phrases.

Common IELTS Writing Mistakes: Grammar errors

  1. Use of the word ‘the’

We use the:

  • when there is only one of something: the internet
  • with cardinal numbers: the first
  • with superlatives: the worst
  • with places where the name refers to a group of islands or states: the USA
  • before nouns which describe general things: exercise is good for the body,
  • before abstract nouns used to describe a situation, process, quality or a change2.
  1. Countable and Uncountable Nouns: She has three dogs. I own a house.
  1. Noun Verb Agreement

The verb must agree with the noun. If you use a plural noun, you must use a plural verb and vice versa.

  1. –ing or to + infinitive

We use to + infinitive verb after the following verbs: learn how, would like, want, seem, refuse, promise, prepare, offer, learn, hope, help, deserve, decide, afford, and ask.

  1. Use of Articles before Noun Phrases

You should include a/an before adjective singular noun combinations: a very small percentage, a really strong argument.

Some exceptions include the word ‘of’ after the noun phrase: a wide range of, an equal number of, a large/small number of, a small/large/equal proportion of.

Exceptions: quite a few people, to a certain extent/degree

  1. Use of Commas

In the IELTS writing test we often use phrases called ‘discourse markers’ or ‘liking phrases’ to link our ideas together, such as, firstly, secondly, in conclusion, in summary.

We normally use a comma after a discourse marker that introduces a sentence:

  • Firstly, the main cause of pollution is motor vehicles.
  • On the one hand, motor vehicles are said to be the main cause.
  1. Verb Tenses

Always consider which of tense you should use

  1. Prepositions after Adjectives and Nouns

Students often get confused about which prepositions to use after adjectives and nouns.

Some more TOP TIPS to improve your IELTS test score:

  • Link your paragraphs
  • Be clear about what you want to say, don’t over complicate it.
  • Don’t leave out any key ideas
  • Write about a topic you feel comfortable with.
  • Make sure you use examples that connect to the main idea.
  • Don’t write a book, be aware of your word count, writing more than you need you is not going to earn you extra points.

In conclusion, no matter what the quote or saying may be, it is very important that you learn from your mistakes if you want to get a great IELTS writing score.