IELTS Difficulty: How Hard is IELTS? Know What to Expect

So, how hard is the IELTS? Many test takers struggle with similar issues when it comes to the IELTS exam. ‘IELTS difficulty’ is no rare occurrence. Today we’ll examine the areas of IELTS difficulties our students face.

We’re going to address the most challenging IELTS test parts.  We’ll discuss the common IELTS challenges and key E2Language tips and strategies to avoid these problems.

IELTS difficulty
Test preparation is more rewarding if you’ve got a good study plan in place!

Speaking Part 2

IELTS Difficulty: Don’t repeat yourself! 

In this section you’re given a task card. You will then have to speak for 2 minutes. Unknowingly repeating the same story is a common speaking mistake in the test.

The real problem is most people finish their actual “story” in about 40 seconds and then just repeat it again and again.

The key is to use the PPF (Past, Present, Future) Method to tackle IELTS Speaking. This way you will be able to tell three different stories based on the task card.

Learn everything you need to know about the PPF Method with Jay:

You see! Not only will it get you to 2 minutes but it’ll also make you use a range of verbs.

Yes, mistakes are plenty on the IELTS Speaking. Avoid them today! The Most Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes!

Which IELTS test should you choose? Let’s help you decide: IELTS Academic vs IELTS General

Writing Task 2

IELTS Difficulty: Writing to the word count!

Do NOT fall short of the required word count!

Around 20% of candidates don’t write 250 words or more. You will lose a whole band score or more for the criterion called task response. Don’t underestimate this, in fact, listen to what Jay has to say in this recent video on IELTS Writing Task 2.

TIP: Jay says that your word count ‘may possibly be the single most important tip for IELTS Writing.’

Find these #7 IELTS Study Tips to get you in the study mindset.

General Writing Task 1

IELTS Difficulty: Don’t mix your paragraphs!

Each paragraph should cover one dot point on the task card.

In other words, keep it organised. Make sure to watch the webinars we have up on the E2 IELTS YouTube Channel which cover the best ways to structure paragraphs.

Academic Writing Task 1

IELTS Difficulty: Comparing relevant data.

Choose two aspects of the graph and compare them.

For example, compare men and women or Thailand’s imports vs Cambodia’s imports (or something similar). Be specific and make sure you include percentages, numbers or other data.


IELTS Difficulty: Misunderstanding the question types!

Learn the question types.

Some of these tasks are honestly conceptually hard to understand. Two really tricky task types are: True / False / Not Given and Yes / No / Not Given.

Others like ‘Match Sentence Endings’ are just confusing!

Here’s a helpful lesson video on Yes / No / Not Given:

Learn ALL of the in’s and out’s for your IELTS test preparation. 


IELTS Difficulty: Misunderstanding the question types!

Like reading, you must know what the question types are because you do not have time to understand them as you go.

The best advice when it comes to both IELTS Reading and Listening is: set enough time aside to PRACTICE.

IELTS difficulty can be diluted with the right amount of preparation and understanding. Your desired score is very much possible. Be willing to learn the right methods, and put those strategies to practice.

Register for free IELTS Live Classes!

Don’t let IELTS difficulty discourage you. Instead, kick-start your IELTS preparation by registering for one of the E2 Free Live Classes.
Know what to expect on test day by reading: IELTS Listening Tips: How to Boost Your Score!

Check out Jay vs IELTS: Round 2 | Predicting My IELTS Score to hear about what his experiences were like on test day.


Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

Written by Olivia. 

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. 

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.

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

Written by: Olivia   

Choosing the PTE or IELTS? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions!

Are you thinking about taking an English proficiency test for immigration or study purposes, but you’re unsure which test to take: the PTE or IELTS? This article will get you asking yourself questions about which test is right for you!

Should I take PTE or IELTS?

Ask yourself these 3 questions…

Let’s say you’re applying for permanent residency in Australia and you need to take an English exam to prove your proficiency. Sound familiar?

You take the PTE Academic because word on the street is that it’s easier than the IELTS. One of your friends, for example, took the PTE and scored straight 90s or close enough. ‘It must be easier than the IELTS!’ you tell yourself, for your English is just as good as your friend’s.

So you book a PTE and sit the test. The results are ready in 48 hours and what you see shocks you:

Listening = 89  |  Reading = 86  |   Speaking = 59  |  Writing = 90

(*These results are REAL by the way! I received them today from a shocked candidate.)

How can this be? You have basically aced the PTE. Your writing score is literally perfect and your listening and reading scores are almost perfect. Speaking, however, is a disaster.

The first thought that comes to mind is technical error. Your microphone must have been broken! Oh no! I demand a rescore!

Don’t. Do you know what the PTE do if you demand a rescore? They charge you an exorbitant fee and then run your speaking through the exact same computer algorithm which will no doubt yield the exact same result.

There really is no point in asking for a re-score. And they tell you this explicitly before you pay the fee to do it. Unless you said something during the test and the invigilator agreed with you that there was a technical error, don’t re-score; it’s a complete waste of time and money.

But if it’s not a technical problem, then what is it? I mean, you probably speak English at work; you might even speak English every day with your husband or wife? Your English is excellent!

Do these 3 things for choosing PTE or IELTS

If you’re wondering whether to take the PTE or IELTS then there are three things you should do.

#1 Take the PTE mock test at

Pearson are a good organisation. They don’t want you to waste your money on the PTE. That’s why they provide you with an official mock test, which uses the exact same computer algorithm as the real exam.

In other words, the results you will get on the mock test will be nearly identical to the results you will receive if you paid $330AUD and took the real test. They’re accurate. And, the mock test is a tenth of the price of the real test.

(The only thing you need to consider with this mock test is that you should use a good microphone – not your in-built computer microphone. Your headphones from your phone will work just fine; just test them before you start.)

#2 Analyse your results from the mock test

Sometimes it’s dead-easy to see that that PTE is not for you. For example, the scores I showed you before are a red-flag for taking the PTE:

Listening = 89  |  Reading = 86  |  Speaking = 59  |  Writing = 90

This person CLEARLY has great English, but the PTE doesn’t like her pronunciation. The PTE is STRICT on pronunciation.

It doesn’t matter how perfect your grammar is or how precise your vocabulary is, if you have a non-native English (and I mean non-British, non-Australian, non-American, non-Canadian, non-New Zealander) – if you have any accent at all, the PTE will penalise you.

#3 How good is your writing score?

The person above should take the IELTS – no doubt about it – especially if she can take IELTS General, because that’s an easier test altogether. The main reason she should take the IELTS is because her writing score is excellent.

The trouble with IELTS is writing. Just like the PTE is strict on speaking, the IELTS is strict on writing. REALLY STRICT. If your grammar, vocabulary and essay writing skills are limited, then you have a tough choice to make.

PTE or IELTS? Really it comes down to:

Improve my speaking for the PTE?     


Improve my writing for the IELTS?

Find more insights into PTE or IELTS on the major differences and which test is easier here!

Which skill is easier to improve?

It depends on yet a couple more things…
Improving PTE Speaking

Firstly, how old are you? How ingrained is your accent? Can you neutralise your accent? Do you have methods to complete the PTE tasks? How much practice have you done? Do you get nervous on test day? Do you have a speech impediment – like a stutter?

There are a number of questions that you need to ask yourself before you choose to take on the PTE rather than the IELTS. All of the above questions are legitimate.

Speaking is a difficult skill to improve. And the older you are, the harder it becomes because our brains ‘fossilize’; they cannot mimic native English pronunciation anymore. They get ‘stuck’ with the original accent.

E2Language can definitely help you out by providing you with an initial assessment (Study Plan consultation), feedback, tutorials and probably and just as importantly, METHODS. However, in some situations, it’s a no-go zone. One of our experts might instruct you to switch to IELTS instead rather than take on PTE’s speaking algorithm.

Improving IELTS Writing

IELTS is notorious for giving 6.5 to its candidates. Score such as this are common:

IELTS Listening: 9  |  IELTS Reading: 8.5  |  IELTS Speaking: 8.5  | IELTS Writing: 6.5

Getting an IELTS 8 for writing has become a near-impossibility for some. To improve writing you really have to get your sentences straight grammar-wise. You really need to sharpen your vocabulary. You really need to learn the structures for the five different IELTS essay types.

Most importantly, you need FEEDBACK. You need to know what you’re doing wrong; otherwise, you are roaming around in the dark now knowing what’s good and correct and what’s incorrect.

If you do choose to take on IELTS writing instead of PTE speaking then check out for tutorials, writing feedback and just as importantly METHODS for the different tasks.

So here’s my two cents when it comes to choosing the PTE or IELTS.

Learn about the differences between PTE and the IELTS in this video on E2 YouTube channel below: 

So, PTE or IELTS? Ask yourself:

1. Which is better: My speaking or my writing?

If speaking, choose PTE.

If writing, choose IELTS.

2. Which test do I need to take? PTE Academic, IELTS Academic or IELTS General?

If IELTS General, choose IELTS General. It’s easier.

3. Should I prepare before I take this test?

Absolutely. At least sign up for the E2Language “budget” package to learn the methods and get access to quality practice materials. It’ll help enormously.

Check this video as Jay answers some FAQS from students for IELTS, PTE or OET

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE and IELTS! 

Written by Jay. 

IELTS Coaching: Crack the Top 3 IELTS Conspiracy Theories

Jay’s IELTS coaching article will blow IELTS conspiracy theories right off this planet! (No, not literally!). See for yourself, uncover the truth behind the conspiracies and learn some interesting facts along the way! 

IELTS coaching
A conspiracy theory is a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event … Caution!

IELTS coaching | Do you know what a conspiracy theory is?

Well, it’s an underground theory that hasn’t been confirmed. Think ALIENS. Think OBAMA’s birth certificate. Think the FAKE moon landing of 1969. (Where is Obama REALLY from? And why is the FLAG blowing on the moon when there is no wind up there!?)

Conspiracy theories are usually a bit of fun. They’re good conversation topics when you have some friends over and everyone goes ‘WOW’ isn’t the world a mysterious and scary place?!

But conspiracy theories relating to IELTS are not fun. They are not fun because whether or not they are true, there are people suffering. I’ve met many, many confused, depressed, zig-zagging students looking for the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”.

My question is: Are any of these conspiracies true?

Let’s look at the top three IELTS conspiracy theories and whether there is any evidence to support them. Remember, we need FACTS and EVIDENCE to prove whether something is TRUE, right?

Let’s lay it all on the table to see what’s what. I’ll stick up for IELTS coaching by playing ‘devil’s advocate’ but please write your own experiences into the comments below!

1. It’s impossible to get over 6.5 for IELTS writing

Did you receive an IELTS 6.5 for your writing? Well so did everyone else. Or, at least, that’s how it seems. There seems to be ANECDOTAL evidence (not statistical evidence) that everyone gets 6.5 for writing. How can this be? Are the IELTS examiners biased? Does the IELTS empire extort you to make money?

Or could it be that most people sit around the 6.5 level with writing?

Not everyone reaches perfection in their second language. Many start and many fail to get past a week’s worth of study. For those people who are more ambitious, they fall on a spectrum of failure and success, or beginner to advanced. Some just become conversational, some become relatively fluent and very, very few make it to the upper limits of what it means to be ‘ADVANCED’.

Take a quick look at the article on IELTS writing task 2 here!

Do you know what a ‘bell curve’ is?

It describes where most people sit on a spectrum. Imagine this one describes IELTS 4.5 to IELTS 9. MOST people would sit around 6.5 for writing. So the fact that IELTS does give 6.5 for writing to most people does make sense. It’s statistically more likely than 4 or 8. The problem for most people is that they need 8. And there’s a BIG difference between an IELTS 6.5 and an 8.

Specifically, to get to an 8 from a 6.5 is like running the 100 meters in 10 seconds rather than 20 seconds. Most people can run the 100 meters in under 20 seconds, but sub-10 is a whole new ball game! It’s tough and requires massive amounts of training!

IELTS coaching
Bell curve: Where do people sit? 

First, your vocabulary has to increase MASSIVELY. An IELTS 6.5 writer would probably know about 10,000 English words. That’s heaps, right? Well, that’s about a third of what a well educated native English speaker knows. So, to estimate, an IELTS 8 writer would know and be able to use about 25,000 words in comparison. That’s more than twice as many words as the 6.5er.

Not only that, but the grammatical differences between an 8 scorer and a 6.5er are significant. While the 8 scorer makes the ‘odd’ grammatical with complex stuff, the 6.5er is making LOTS of errors, and probably making lots of common errors such as PUTTING “S” ON THE END OF PLURAL NOUNS!

In terms of structure, the 8 scorer would have a far more logically connected essay, whereby the introduction flows into paragraph 1, and into paragraph 2 and into the conclusion which then links back to the two paragraphs and back to the conclusion.

This would all be done ‘effortlessly’ like you are reading a very well written news article. A 6.5er, by contrast, would probably be writing a bit of a ‘clunky’ essay. It kind of connects, but it kind of doesn’t as well.

The IELTS examiners, for your interest, have a marking tool upon which they base their decision to give you a 6.5 or an 8. It’s not ‘arbitrary’. It’s not ‘guesswork’. They have a framework where they mark you according to:


And whether or not you wrote ON TOPIC.

Contained within each of these criteria are little descriptions such as: Can use collocations.

Can you use collocations? Do you know what they are?

Collocations are a type of vocabulary which you can think of as a ‘natural sounding phrase’ such as an adjective noun combination like “major reason” or “overall well-being”. These are the same phrases that native-speakers use all the time.

In other words, a 6.5er would use English words while an 8 scorer would use ‘natural’ words… or combinations of natural words that sound NORMAL to a native speaker not Google translated.

To put this all into context, it might FEEL unfair when you receive a 6.5 but ask yourself: How good am I compared to a native speaker? Because that’s who you are ultimately being scored against. Your average native English speaker — without preparation — would probably receive an 8 and with some preparation would probably receive an 8.5 or 9.

Making the stretch from 6.5 to 8 is not easy; it’s challenging. There are so many little details in language that can make the difference. And do you know what will help you to achieve an 8? Expert feedback. I can’t stress this enough for IELTS coaching.

2. Taking your IELTS in a non-native English speaking country makes it easier

IELTS Speaking is done via humans… “What?”, you ask… “Humans?!” That’s right. IELTS robots don’t exist just yet. In the meantime, you’re going to have to talk to a human on test day. And you know what? Humans are BIASED. Yes they are. Countless scientific studies have shown just how biased we are. We pre-judge based on just about any characteristic – hair cut, hair colour, hair length, curly hair, straight hair, dyed hair, bald! We are judgmental machines and we do it effortlessly and immediately.

IELTS coaching
Unlike the PTE, your IELTS examiner won’t be a computer!

So what should you do if you live in a country where English is the first language? Because surely it would be more competitive than taking the test where English is poorly spoken.

I know a terrible idea: Take your IELTS test overseas. It’ll cost you at least $2,000 and you know what? The IELTS examiners will use the same set of criteria – or marking tool – that they do in the country which you just left.

That’s right… just like the writing, the IELTS examiners have a guide in front of them that breaks down your speaking into four categories:


It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, that guide — those criteria — doesn’t change. And HOPEFULLY, the IELTS examiner’s opinion of your speaking — not you — will not change. Be friendly, but know that there are guidelines for your speaking.

You know what you could spend your money on instead of taking a week off work, paying $300 for the same test overseas, accommodation, food and flights? Get some expert speaking feedback from one of the trained IELTS coaching teachers at E2Language!

3. Tick ‘other’ when you register for IELTS so they don’t know what score you want

This is the newest one I’ve heard and the most interesting, not because it’s true or even really plausible but just plain silly. Apparently, if you tick ‘other’ when registering for IELTS then they don’t know what score you need and will be more generous when dishing out the grades. The funny thing is, the examiners never see this information anyway, so it really doesn’t determine anything. It’s just collected data for IELTS to use in whichever way they see fit.

Unless the 1000s of IELTS examiners located around the world are all in on the scam?!

I doubt it very much. But I am interested to see what you think.

What I think is going on from my experience IELTS coaching, is people are frustrated because IELTS don’t provide any indication of where you might have gone wrong on your writing or speaking and that sucks. It would be great to know WHY you scored so poorly in writing, right? Or what you did wrong in speaking? That would be great; but for that to happen IELTS would have to increase the price of the test substantially so that the examiners could return it with comments.

Imagine if IELTS examiners gave your essay back with comments illustrating what you did right and what you did wrong?

That’s called FEEDBACK people, and we offer IELTS coaching in the form of written assessments and expert tutorials and that’s what will get you the elusive IELTS 8.

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

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

Written by Jay.  

IELTS Speaking Preparation Overview | Tips & Topics for IELTS success!

This article on IELTS speaking preparation explores the 3 parts of the IELTS speaking section and provides a list of IELTS topics along with useful tips for test day! 

The speaking section of the IELTS test is included in both the general and academic IELTS. It lasts for less than 15 minutes and includes 3 parts which will be examined in more detail:

Part 1: Interview

Part 2: Presentation

Part 3: Discussion

Interview (IELTS speaking preparation)

In part 1, the examiner will ask you some simple questions about yourself, such as:

  • What did you study?
  • What do you do for work?
  • What’s your hometown like?
  • What kind of food do you like?
  • Do you enjoy going to the movies?

As you can see from these examples, these questions are pretty easy to answer. The trick is, not to give answers that are too short.

For example, if the examiner asks you what kind of food you like, try to elaborate. Rather than just saying: “I like all kinds of food”, you can say something like: “I have eclectic taste in food. I enjoy trying foods from different countries and experiencing their flavours. I especially like Greek, Italian and Thai food”.

Presentation (IELTS speaking preparation)

In part 2, you will be given a task card that looks something like this:

ielts speaking preparation

As you can see from the example, the topic will always be related to a personal experience you have had. You will have 1 minute to note down ideas and then you will be given 2 minutes to speak continuously on the topic.

Discussion (IELTS speaking preparation)

Part 3 is a discussion.

Here, the examiner will ask you some more questions related to the topic of part 2. But these questions will be more abstract and related to your opinion rather than your experience.

For example, based on the topic above, some discussion questions could be:

  • In your opinion, are national celebrations an important part of a country’s identity?
  • Are any traditional celebrations in your country disappearing? Why do you think that is?
  • Do you think these days that celebrations in your country are over-commercialised or have lost their original meaning?

IELTS speaking topics

There are common themes in IELTS speaking topics, though the specifics of each question vary.

See a list of common themes below!

ielts speaking preparation

The examiner is looking for four things:

#1 Fluency and coherence: Your ability to speak fluently without hesitation, repetition or loss of ideas

#2 Lexical resource: The range and accuracy of your vocabulary

#3 Grammatical range and accuracy: Your ability to speak using accurate complex and simple sentences without serious grammatical errors

#4 Pronunciation: Your ability to be understood when you speak

IELTS Speaking Test Tips

Below are some useful tips for test-day preparation:

Tip #1  Develop your answers by giving examples. This means using personal experiences or knowledge to add more information to your answers and keep your speech fluid.

Tip #2  Give your opinion. This will show the examiner that you can think in English and express yourself on a variety of topics.

Tip #3  Keep your speech fluent. Try to stick to things you know so you don’t get stuck. This will also show the examiner that you can speak at length without too much hesitation.

Tip #4  Ask for clarification. This is not a listening test. If you don’t hear a question, or don’t understand it, it is totally acceptable to ask the examiner to repeat or explain the question. This means you will be able to answer it properly.

Tip #5  Although you need to be prepared, try not to repeat memorized answers. You will come across as robotic and unnatural. The examiner will also know and will change the questions.

Before test-day:

Tip #6  Practice, practice, practice! Role play at home with a friend or family member. Let them be the examiner and you practice answering questions about a variety of different topics. You can also record yourself and listen back to see where you can improve (fluency, vocabulary, etc.).

Tip #7  Read about general topics to broaden your general knowledge. This will help you generate ideas during the test and come up with examples from your own knowledge and experience.

This will have the widening your vocabulary for reading, 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 per day, or watch at least one Ted talk or documentary daily on the topics listed above.

Learn how to Ace the IELTS with further preparation tips and strategies.  

Check out the E2 IELTS YouTube Channel, with loads of methods and strategies including this one on IELTS speaking preparation! 

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.

Get Jay’s insight into taking the IELTS Speaking Test: IELTS Success Tips: How to get an IELTS 9 in Speaking

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!



Written by Jamal A. 


IELTS Preparation: Tips and Strategies | How to Ace the IELTS!

Entering your IELTS exam after adequate preparation is a key component for achieving IELTS success. Start preparing for your IELTS by learning some crucial tips and strategies on how to ace the IELTS! 

So, how do you prepare to ace the IELTS? Check out 5 important tips below and apply our effective strategies to your IELTS preparation! 

ace the ielts

Tip #1 Be realistic about your IELTS preparation 

Taking the IELTS doesn’t have to be scary even though a lot can depend on your success in this high-stakes test. Test preparation doesn’t have to be long, boring, frustrating or exhausting. There are many ways you can prepare to achieve success, after all, preparation is the number one key if you want to ace the IELTS.

Allocate 4 weeks study time 

Firstly, allow yourself a decent amount of time – at least four weeks of devoted study. Spend a couple of days learning the test format. You will really understand the different parts of the test, what’s included, and the timing of each section. This will help you know what to expect on test-day.

Tip #2 Learn the test format  

Knowing the structure of the test format will ensure that you can prepare adequately for each section on the test. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • 30 minutes
  • 4 audio recordings
  • 40 questions
  • 60 minutes
  • 4 passages (academic) 3 passages (general)
  • 40 questions
  • 60 minutes
  • Task 1: 150 words (20 minutes)
  • Letter (general) – Describe chart/graph (academic)
  • Task 2: 250 words (40 minutes)
  • Essay (general and academic)
  • 11-14 minutes
  • Part 1: Interview (personal information)
  • Part 2: Short presentation (2 minutes)
  • Part 3: Discussion

Allocate formal study time each day to learn methods and apply them to practice. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will encounter in the test. These are very specific to the IELTS, so practice is necessary.

Tip #3 Do some timed practice

Time-management during the test is another major key to achieving a successful result. Once you have learned the parts of the test, and practiced the methods, do some timed practice. Allow yourself 50 minutes to read 3-4 articles and answer 40 questions.

Learn the writing formulas that are very specific to the IELTS. Then, practice writing a letter or chart description in 20 minutes and an essay in 40 minutes. Have a native speaker or an English teacher look over them and give you some feedback.

Practice the three parts of the speaking test. Role-playing with a friend is a good way to do this. This way, you can experience what it’s like to answer questions, create a short presentation, and speak spontaneously about different topics. You need to know you can do all of this before the day of the test to have confidence in your ability to speak, read and write in the allocated time.

Tip #4 Practice topics of interest 

Conduct your own casual study your by reading English articles or listening to English video clips; a great way to enhance much-needed reading and listening skills as well as vocabulary. You can do this on the train on the way to work or school, or on your lunch break, or anytime you have free. Remember, this doesn’t have to be boring!

Find an interesting podcast, or listen to YouTube videos or talks on a range of different topics. You might read English articles in magazines or on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. The topic doesn’t matter. As long as you read! It’s always best to stick with something you find interesting, as that’s the best way to actually learn.

How to Ace the IELTS … Read a variety of articles

ace the IELTS

Tip #5 Practice your core English skills

Broaden your writing skills by writing a short summary of what you’ve read or heard. Try to identify the main idea of the reading or talk and think of three main points the writer or speaker mentioned and summarize them. This will help with your paraphrasing skills, vocabulary development, and ability to read and listen critically which are important skills for IELTS success.

Put theory into practice and integrate speaking by talking to your friends or colleagues about something interesting you read about or heard. Tell them what it was about, describe some interesting points, and explain why you found it interesting. This helps you to think spontaneously in English and to incorporate vocabulary that you read or heard. Speaking in a conversational manner helps you to generate ideas, and that is a very useful skill for the IELTS writing and speaking.

For more IELTS Study Tips, try our E2 IELTS YouTube Channel, with loads of methods and strategies including this one on IELTS speaking: How to get an IELTS 9! 

All the best on your road to IELTS success!

To ace the 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.

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 


IELTS Study Tips: How to prepare for IELTS Success

There are many ways to prepare for the IELTS. It can seem like a daunting task, but we’re going to give you some helpful IELTS study tips to help you refine your study habits.

#7 IELTS Study Tips

Tip #1 You must focus on building your Core English Skills

A major mistake some IELTS candidates make when preparing for the test is focusing only on mock tests. Many think that the more mock tests they do, the better prepared they will be. This is a misconception.

The test is skill-based, not knowledge-based. This means that each mock test you do will contain different content that you can’t study for. It’s about the quality of your skills, and not the quantity of your mock tests.

Language (and all its parts) is a skill. So, you need to learn reading skills, writing skills, listening skills and speaking skills. You can’t approach building your language skills the same way when you do mock tests. Although familiarity with the test format is half the battle, don’t underestimate the need to develop your language skills.

So, find a good English teacher, take an English course and immerse yourself in the language through books, newspapers, music and movies. Find some English-speaking friends and organise an English only conversation club. The more natural the language becomes to you, the more comfortable you are going to feel in the test.

For practice on your language skills, try our E2 Core Skills YouTube Channel to build your Core English Skills for IELTS in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

IELTS Study Tips: Focus on building your overall language skills!

IELTS Study Tips
Learn 7 IELTS Study Tips for success!

Tip #2 Learn from your weaknesses 

Learning from your mistakes and being conscious of your habits and weaknesses is an important step towards success. As a teacher, I have given written feedback to students who have then submitted another writing sample with the same mistakes!

Take your time to really understand your errors. Are they related to spelling? If so, then practice writing these misspelled words correctly. Are your errors related to verb tense? Then go back and re-learn verb tenses and how to use them correctly. Are your errors related to vocabulary? You get my point. Take your mistakes as opportunities to recognize them, correct them and avoid making them again.

Tip #3 Structure your essay writing

Develop your writing skills by learning how to structure an essay paragraph by paragraph. Practice reading and understanding essay questions. It is easy to go off topic or not directly answer the question. Also, read many different sample essay questions and write sample responses.

The more practice you get writing responses to different IELTS essay questions, the more comfortable you will feel with various topics. Be careful not to memorize sample essays. I have seen many candidates make this mistake. Even if you get the same or similar topic in the test, the focus of the question will be different and therefore the answer will have to specifically address the question.

IELTS examiners know how to spot memorized essays and they will give zero no matter how well written it is. It’s also important to practice handwriting 250 words in timed conditions. Your handwriting must the neat and legible. So, if you don’t feel comfortable with writing by hand, then this is a skill you definitely need to practice!

Tip #4 Practice your speaking

The same goes with speaking. Practice as many sample speaking tests with a friend. Become comfortable speaking about yourself and your experiences. You can have some general answers pre-prepared related to your basic information related to the first part of the test, but this should come out as spontaneous and natural.

Also remember to avoid memorizing presentations for part 2. The examiner will know if you are repeating memorized answers. Remember, you are speaking about yourself, your experiences and your opinion. So try to do this on a daily basis before the exam. Even if it means speaking to yourself!

Tip #5 Read a diverse range of articles 

Read up on general topics such as news, current affairs, science, climate change, animals, history, economics, sociology, etc. The more you read, the more familiar you will become with new vocabulary in context.

IELTS Study Tips
Collect a ‘swipe file’ on articles of interest on different topics.

This help you expand your knowledge of English and feel more comfortable with the reading passages in the test. If you are doing IELTS academic, but have never read an academic passage until the day of the test, you might be in trouble. So, use sites like National Geographic, the Economist, the New Internationalist and Science Daily to become and academic reader.

Tip #6 Learn native-like fluency

Become comfortable with different accents and pronunciation by listening to podcasts and Ted talks. Not only can this help you understand different accents, but is also a great way to expose yourself to new vocabulary and different interesting topics. Remember, the broader your general language and general knowledge, the more comfortable you will be with the language and topics in the test.

Tip #7 Know the test tips and strategies

Finally, learn the test tips and strategies and apply them to practice tests. This will help you learn how to manage your time and how to use it effectively to complete each section of the test. One key to success in the test comes down to time-management and test tricks, but this will only take you so far on the road to success if your language skills aren’t up to scratch!

Take time to learn the parts of the test individually. For example, understand the reading test – how many passages there are, how long they are, how many questions there are, the types of questions there are, etc. All of this will help you to know how to manage your time. Learning the question types will also help you to have no surprises on test-day. Once you feel comfortable answering True, False, Not Given questions for example, then you won’t be afraid of them when you see them on test-day.

For more IELTS Study Tips, try our E2 IELTS YouTube Channel, with loads of methods and strategies including this one on IELTS Speaking!

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 

IELTS Listening Tips: How to Boost your Score!

Having the right amount of IELTS preparation is critical for your success. In this article, Jamal provides some crucial IELTS listening tips to improve your score. 

IELTS Listening Tips: An Overview

There are four parts to the IELTS listening test. Each part is about a different topic and gets increasingly more difficult.

The first audio is usually an informal dialogue in a social or everyday situation. For example, a conversation about opening a bank account, or someone inquiring about accommodation or a training course.

The second audio is usually a non-academic monologue. This could be one person giving information on something such as a guided museum tour, information about a conference or tourist information.

The third audio is usually a discussion (between 3-4 people) related to education/training. This may be a discussion between 2 students and a tutor about a group assignment, or among a group of students talking about a project.

The fourth and final audio is usually a university style lecture. This could be related to any academic topic.

Remember to speak to the examiner immediately if you’re having audio problems! 

IELTS listening tips
Listen carefully to the audio sounds, if you cannot hear the audio well, you might need to invest in some bigger ears!

Summary of the Listening Test

  1.  Part 1 – Social context (2 speakers)
  2.  Part 2 – Social context (1 speaker)
  3.  Part 3 – Education/training (2-4 speakers)
  4.  Part 4 – Academic context (1 speaker)

No specialist subject knowledge is necessary. All the answers you need will be provided in the recordings.

The total test time is 40 minutes: 30 minutes of listening, and 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the test sheet onto the answer sheet. There will be 40 questions in total.

Helpful Hints for IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening answer sheet is a very important piece of paper! Your listening scores are calculated according you what you have written on your answer sheet. Therefore, you must make sure you have completed your answer sheet before the end of the time allocated and filled it in correctly.

When transferring your answers from your test booklet to your answer sheet, there are some important things to consider.

Hint #1 Grammar

Incorrect grammar will cost you points. So, be careful with things like plural and singular nouns. There may be clues such as an indefinite article in front of the blank space for the answer which would indicate the answer is a singular noun. Also, be careful with tenses and subject/verb agreement. If the answer is second person singular, don’t forget the ‘s’ at the end of the noun.

Take care with verb tenses. An incorrect noun form or verb tense will be considered an incorrect answer (even if your answer is right!). Capitalization of proper nouns is also important. For example, names of countries, cities or geographical locations (among other things) must be capitalized. For example, if you write “Australia” as “australia” your answer will be marked as incorrect.

Hint #2 Spelling

The same goes for spelling. Incorrect spelling will be marked as an incorrect answer. So, take care.

Hint #3 Handwriting

Although you may feel rushed for time, handwriting is important. If the examiner cannot read what you have written, it will be marked incorrect.

Hint #4 Use all capitals

If you have messy handwriting, or aren’t sure which words you need to capitalize, it might be safer to write your answers in all CAPITALS. For one, words written in all capitals are usually neater and easier to read. Also, you don’t have to worry about losing marks for not capitalizing a word that needs to be capitalized.

Our E2 IELTS YouTube Channel has some useful IELTS Listening tips, including this one:

IELTS Listening Tips

Here are some important IELTS listening tips to remember:

Tip #1: You will be given some time to read the questions before each recording is played. Read the questions very carefully as you will hear each recording only once, so you want to be familiar with the questions before you hear the recording

Tip #2: As you listen, write your answers in your test booklet and then transfer them at the end of the listening test. You will be given 10 minutes to do this. Be sure to check that you have transferred your answers correctly and remember to check your spelling and grammar. Also, be sure to complete your answer sheet. An incomplete answer sheet means and incomplete score.

Tip #3: Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything you hear. Listen out for the keywords from the questions and focus on what you need to be listening out for.

Tip #4: If you miss a question, don’t dwell on it because you may miss the answer to the next one. So, if you miss one, move on.

Tip #5: Make sure you follow the word count in the instructions of each question. For example, if the instructions say “write no more than one word” and you write “the train” instead of “train”, your answer will be marked as incorrect.

Tip #6: There is no negative marking, so you will just get a zero for an incorrect or incomplete answer.

Tip #7: Always cross check your answers from your answer sheet to your listening booklet.

Adopt these useful strategies on How To Develop Your IELTS Vocabulary. 

The IELTS Listening and Reading Test Sheet

IELTS Listening Tips
View this sample of the IELTS Listening and Reading answer sheet from the British Council.

To do well in the IELTS Listening Test, register and attend the E2Language IELTS General and Academic Live Classes. And check out the E2Language Blog IELTS activities for more practice!

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!



Written by Jamal A.