IELTS Writing: Quick Punctuation Guide

Here is a quick guidance of punctuation.

1. Use full-stops (/ . /) only at the end of a sentence. Begin sentences with a capital letter. Proper nouns also require capital letters.

2. Use commas (/ , /) to separate parts of a sentence to avoid any confusion with meaning. Additional information is enclosed within commas.
e.g. the pollution of rivers, which is often caused by chemical waste and fertilizer, is causing enormous problems for fishermen, especially in Britain. (The comma after ‘fishermen’ ensures that ‘especially’ connects with ‘Britain’ not ‘fishermen’.)

A comma is used after most connectives (linking words), and usually before and after a connective in mid-sentence. Commas separate clauses in most conditional sentences.
e.g. Therefore, the use of chemicals on farms should be better controlled. However, even if such laws were passed tomorrow, most rivers would take years to recover.

3. Semi-colons (/ ; /) are used to separate sub-groups within lists, but more often to join two independent clauses that are grammatically complete but closely related. However, in the latter case, you can always use a full-stop instead.
e.g. Chemical waste from factories is still drained into river systems; it is hard to believe that this practice is still allowed by law in some areas.

4. You may use a colon (/ : /) if you need to draw attention to what is to follow.
e.g. The environment is important for the following reasons:

5. Use quotation marks (/ “ ” /) for quotes and titles. Apostrophes (/ ‘ ’ /) show possession or contraction.

6. Do not use contractions (e.g. don’t, shouldn’t, can’t etc.) in formal writing. Use the full form instead. However, you may use them in the General Training Task 1, in the case of writing an informal letter.

Continue reading

OET Listening

Why do people choose the OET (Occupational English Test) rather than the more popular IELTS (International English Language Testing System)? One major reason is because overall the OET is 'easier', except for the listening.

OET listening requires very fast understanding and very fast note-taking. To get good at these skills, you need to practise them… a lot.

Here are some of the best places to practise your OET-style listening:

OET home
The OET website sells practice materials.
- expensive
- you don't get much for your money: eg. 'Practice Materials, Listening, 2010' is 3 full listening tests (parts A&B) and their transcripts

- the most realistic practice for the OET test
Many learners buy these materials with friends to keep the price down. If you're in Australia or New Zealand, you might find them in your local college/university library.

Better Health Channel
- slow talking speed

- useful topics (read the 'conditions & treatments' articles to improve your understanding of these topics, ready for the OET test)
- these MP3s will help you recognise the Australian pronunciation of the condition/treatment names

Continue reading

IELTS Listening: practice from the official materials

Here is one section of IELTS Listening Practice from the Official IELTS Practice Materials.


Questions 21 and 22
Complete the sentences below.

Research Project

- Harry and Katy have to concentrate on coastal change for their next project.
21. Their work could be delayed by the…………………………
- They plan to get help from the Marine Biology Unit.
22. Before they go to the beach, they need to visit the…………………………

Questions 23and 26
Who will do each of the following tasks?
A. Katy
B. Harry
C. Both Katy and Harry
Write the correct letter, A, B or C, next to questions 23 -26

23. Take photographs         ……
24. Collect samples             ……
25. Interview people             ……
26. Analyse data                  ……

Continue reading

IELTS Speaking: an important plant in your country

Here is a common IELTS Speaking Part2 topic and questions in the recent IELTS exam.

Describe an important plant in your country
You should say:
- What the plant is
- How you know it
- Why it is important
And explain how much you like the plant.

I’m going to share the advice and sample answers from one of my colleagues in 51IELTS Centre in Melbourne, Australia. The key point for you is not copying the answer or memorizes them; you should learn the way he prepares it. (He is from Israel and has been learning English for only 4 years so far, but he got band 9 in IELTS Speaking.)




Here is the answer script.

Continue reading