IELTS: speaking, writing, thinking the IELTS way

29th March 2022

Complex sentences, which use relative pronouns and subordinate clauses, are imperative in attaining a respectable IELTS score.

You will, no doubt, experience a feeling of triumph once you have mastered this technique which, I admit, does require extra effort on your part but will, without a shadow of a doubt, enable you to attain the score for which you are aiming.

And now, without further ado, let’s kick off. First, a warm-up. Of today’s three highlighted expressions, which would you use:

1 when you are certain or 100% sure about something

2 to start immediately, with no more interruptions

3 to express great happiness when you have achieved or won something

Answers at end of blog

Here are some standard IELTS-type questions, followed by a typical answer and then, by way of comparison, an extended response to demonstrate improvements.

1 Tell me about your hometown

2 How often do you go online ?

3 What jobs will be important in your country in the future ?

4 Tell me about a time you received good news

An average answer, which would probably result in a middle score, around 4 – 5 would be, to take one example, (Number 2):

I go online every day because I need the internet to help me study. I use the internet to check new words in English. I go online for information for my work.

What do you notice about this ? Firstly, what are the mistakes ?

The candidate answers the question immediately; a sentence leading into the response will make for a longer answer.

The second sentence is acceptable for providing more information although I advise students to be careful in case they start deviating from the subject.

Lastly, the third sentence just repeats what has already been said, even using the same phrase “I go online“, and then explaining the reason for using the internet NOT how often it is used.

Here’s a different way of answering

Well, that’s interesting because I have internet access at school, at home and on my phone so I would say I’m absolutely online every day. How much time I spend online varies from day to day, but I am probably online about three hours daily, sometimes more if I have a project or if I’m playing a cool game.

See how this answer only uses two sentences , but is far superior. Let’s break down how it earns points.

Initially, we have a short introduction and then the question is answered directly in the first, extended sentence.

Secondly, the opening sentence includes a list of three, so this is a chance to practise speech rhythm (one, two and three) – remember, you get points by HOW you say something as well as what you say.

Thirdly, the answer uses three everyday adverbs (highlighted); ‘so‘ can also be used as an adverb, but here it is a conjunction (a word such as ‘and’, ‘but’, etc).

Additionally, the sentences employs an expression, “from day to day,” which examiners like to hear, as it shows familiarity with vernacular language.

Lastly, the candidate explains the reasons for being online, and how it affects the time spent on the internet.

Now … your turn 

Try to answer the same question, following this pattern.

Now … let’s move on.

Question 1: Tell me about your hometown.

This time, I will give you facts and you arrange in an answer.

My hometown is Da Nang. Fifth largest city in Viet Nam. Is in Central Vietnam. Near historic town Hoi An. Important port. Many tourists. Has a cable car and a dragon bridge. Famous for its beach.

Thank you for letting me introduce to you my hometown which is Da Nang, one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, although it is much smaller than Ha Noi or Sai Gon. My hometown is in the middle, sorry, I mean in central Viet Nam, and had many tourists. They come to see many things such as the Dragon Bridge, go on the cable car or for swimming. Also, Da Nang is very near many famous place such as Hoi An. As it is on the coast, my hometown is also a busy port.

Check for

Introduction

Information in first sentence

Discourse marker ‘although

Correcting a mistake in line 3

A list of three items in lines 4 and 5

Can you spot two grammatical errors ?

Change of sentence structure in the last line: instead of saying,

“My hometown is also a busy port because it is on the coast,”

I started with the end of that sentence (“it is on the coast,”) and replaced ‘because’ with ‘as’ (though because would also be all right to use).

Dragon Bridge at Da Nang. Bye bye – see you next blog

Answers:

1 = without a shadow of a doubt

2 = without further ado

3 = feeling of triumph

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