IELTS Writing: Two words – amount & number

Recently, some of my students made the mistakes of using “amount” and “number” in their IELTS writing task2.

The most common mistake of this kind is to refer to an “amount” of people instead of a “number” of people.

The confusion between the two categories of words relating to amount and number is so pervasive that those of us who still distinguish between them constitute an endangered species; but if you want to avoid our ire, learn the difference. Amount words relate to quantities of things that are measured in bulk; number to things that can be counted.

For instance: This is a vast subject. I will try to limit the number of words I expend on it so as not to use up too great an amount of space. 

In the second sentence above, it would have been improper to write “the amount of words” because words are discrete entities which can be counted, or numbered.

Here is a handy chart to distinguish the two categories of words:
Amount: quantity | little | less | much
Number: number | few | fewer | many

You can eat fewer cookies, but you drink less milk. If you eat too many cookies, people would probably think you’ve had too much dessert. If the thing being measured is being considered in countable units, then use number words. Even a substance which is considered in bulk can also be measured by number of units. For instance, you shouldn’t drink too much wine, but you should also avoid drinking too many glasses of wine. Note that here you are counting glasses. They can be numbered.

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IELTS Speaking: How to Improve Your Fluency

"Fluency" refers to how well your language "flows". When the examiner judges your fluency, he or she is looking at two things: a) How well you can "keep going", i.e., how well you can continue speaking and, b) Whether your speaking speed is natural.


'Speaking continuously' means not stopping for unnaturally long periods of time. Of course, when people speak even in their native languages, they sometimes pause to think and this is quite natural for you to do in the Speaking test.

There are several factors that determine how well you speak continuously. Let's look at each factor.

1.     Your Attitude towards the Test and towards the Examiner

Remember that the test is supposed to represent two people, of more or less equal status, communicating in spoken English. The test is not a very formal situation. If you think the test is quite formal, or if you think the examiner is greatly superior to you in status or if you think the test is only testing your grammatical accuracy and how impressive your vocabulary is, you won't be very willing to speak freely. Instead, you will tend to give minimum answers to questions.

You should enter the test with a strong willingness to speak freely to the examiner and a strong desire to give information to the examiner and this information includes your personal feelings and opinions – these items are important pieces of information!

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IELTS Writing: some ideas about the human race copying each other

The tendency of human race copying each other is shown in the popularity of fashion in clothes and other consumer products. To what extend do you agree or disagree?

When I read the topic, it took me a while to understand the question. As most, if not all people would agree that, many people from all over the world do copy other people’s work or ideas. I think the majority do copy, whereas, the minority don’t. They are classified as leaders. They set the scene and tone and are recognized as industry leaders and trend setters. The others, that is, competitors or followers, would need to emulate their ideas to keep up with the pace or risk falling behind which means loss of profit, growth, market share, sales, opportunities etc. 

In other words, I would say that I 'partly agree' with this opinion. Here are some ideas:

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IELTS Reading : Memory and Age

Here is another IELTS Reading Pracitce about Memory and Age. Please time yourself when you do this practice (no more than 20 minutes). Click here to download this passage and questions. (You’d better print this out.)


1 C
2 D
3 B
4 C
5 Memory
6 psychological
7 semantic memory
8 episodic memory / event memory
9 algebra
10 vocabulary
11 E
12 B
13 A
14 C

OET Reading and Listening: two tips

The OET Reading Test is in two parts and takes one hour. Changes to Part A of the test have been in place since March 2010.
Part A of OET Reading is four short pieces of text / statistical information / dot point list / short paragraphs – which candidates need to read and then complete 25 – 30 gaps in the summary document. 15 minutes is allowed for this test. Time management is critical.
Part B of OET Reading requires the candidates to read two short pieces of text and then answer 7 or 8 multiple choice questions for each short piece. Again, time management is critical.  

The OET Listening Test is in two parts:
Part A is a consultation – two people speaking – usually lasts 8 to 10 minutes
Part B is a short lecture – one person speaking – usually lasts 25 to 30 minutes

The Listening Test takes one hour to complete and candidates need to take notes while listening and complete a questionaire.
Key skills to pass this test:  being able to anticipate what someone is going to say; being able to take notes in English while listening to English.

Here are the two tips:

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