IELTS Writing: a hackneyed phrase

The phrase “With the development of science and technology, …” that many candidates like to use in IELTS Writing Task 2, and it becomes overused and misused. This phrase is not wrong or bad English and there are topics where it is suitable to use. Here is an example that an ex-examiner encountered – he said: I used to see situations where the topic was something such as, ‘Do you think students have too much homework?’ and the first sentence the essay was, "With the development of science and technology, …". Boring.

Continue reading

IELTS Listening: a section one practice

Here is an IELTS Listening section one practice.

Section 1 Questions 1 – 9
Questions 1 – 6
Complete the table comparing the two towns. Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
IELTS Listening Section 1

Questions 7 – 9
Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

7 What does Gordon like about where he is living now?

8 When does Maureen think she might go back to Albany?

9 How long is Gordon's new contract?


1. 12000 /12 thousand
2. boring / no entertainment
3. fishing
4. expensive
5. cold and wet
6. (large) park
7. the weather
8. when she retires
9. 5 years



In Section I you will hear two people talking about the towns where they grew up. First, you will have some time to look at questions 1 to 9.
    20 seconds
    You will see that there is an example which has been done for you. On this occasion only, the conversation relating to this will be played first.

Maureen Time goes so quickly — I can't believe that I will have been here for five years on Saturday.
Gordon That's a long time. Where did you live before that?
Maureen I lived in a small town, about 150 miles from Perth, on the southwest coast of Australia, called Albany.

    Now we shall begin. You should answer the questions as you listen because you will not hear the recording a second time. First, you have another chance to look at questions 1 to 3.
    10 seconds
    Listen carfully and answer questions 1 to 3.

Maureen Time goes so quickly — I can't believe that I will have been here for five years on Saturday.
Gordon That's a long time. Where did you live before that?
Maureen I lived in a small town, about 150 miles from Perth, on the southwest coast of Australia, called Albany.
Gordon When you say 'small', how small do you mean?
Maureen Oh around 12000 people.
Gordon What is it like growing up somewhere that small?
Maureen Well, it has its advantages. People tend to be much more friendly in small towns. You seem to get to know more people. The pace of life is much slower. Everyone seems to have more time to talk, and generally the lifestyle is much more relaxed. On the other hand, small — town life can be pretty boring. Obviously, you haven't got the same range of entertainments available as in the city, and unless you want to go into farming you have to move elsewhere to look for a job.
Gordon So farming is the main industry then?
Maureen Well, actually, no. There is a lot of sheep and cattle farming and more recently a lot of people have started to grow potatoes. however, the town was first established as a whaling base and although there isn't any whaling today, most people are still employed by the fishing industry.
Gordon What's the weather like?
Maureen In summer you get some fairly nice days, but it gets very windy. In winter, I guess the average temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius, and it gets really windy and it's very, very wet.
Gordon Sounds lovely, I can see why you are here.
Maureen Oh come on, it's not all that bad. It's got a beautiful coastline, and beautiful beaches. You can drive for about 45 minutes and you will come to absolutely deserted white beaches. You can be the only person swimming there.
Gordon With that wind, I'm not surprised!
Maureen Don't be like that, we do get some good days. Anyway, where do you come from?

Maureen goes on to ask Gordon about his home town. Look at questions 4 to 9.
    20 seconds
    Write the answers to questions 4 to 9

Gordon I come from a town called Watford, about 17 miles from the centre of London.
Maureen Is it a big town?
Gordon Not really, It has a population of around 80,000 – 90,000 but the whole area is built up so it is hard to say where Watford finishes and the other towns begin.
Maureen Did you enjoy living there?
Gordon Well, being so close to London has advantages. You get the latest films and music. There is always something going on and there is such a wide variety of different people and cultures that it is difficult to get bored. Of course all this has its downside — the cost of living is so expensive and most people can't really afford to go out very often. So although the entertainment is available you've really got to have a lot of money to enjoy it. Another problem is like most big cities there is a lot of crime and there are areas of London that are very dangerous.
Maureen What are the main industries in Watford?
Gordon Well, of course a lot of people commute (into London but there is also a lot of local industry. Before desktop publishing, Watford used to be the centre of the printing industry in Britain. Also, there used to be a big factory manufacturing helicopter engines but that closed down about two years ago. Nowadays, I suppose the biggest industries are electronics and light engineering.
Maureen I suppose that it gets a lot of snow being in England?
Gordon Not really. It usually snows once a year and it rarely lasts for more than two or three days. The weather is mainly cold and wet. Sometimes you get a light rain that lasts for weeks.
Maureen It's a bit like Albany there. Is there anything you particularly miss about living there?
Gordon Near my parents' house there is a large park. Must be about 10 square miles in size and it has a canal and a river running through the middle of it. Some good walks, you can go fishing and there are good sports facilities. Sometimes I miss that.
Maureen Would you like to go back?
Gordon I don't know, I'm quite happy here at the moment. I like the weather. It's great to get up in the morning and know that it is going to be sunny. What about you?
Maureen Probably, but not for a long time yet. At the moment I enjoy the excitement of the city. My work and most of my friends are here and it is nice to know that there are so many facilities available. However, I think that Albany might be a good place to retire. It's safe and it's easy to make friends there.
Gordon Yeah I'm going to be here for a while too. I have just signed a new contract for my job which means that I'll be living here for at least another five years.


O.E.T Listening: Part A Tips

OET Listening Part A: Tips:

  1. Write as much as you can in note form, because this is a note-taking activity.
  2. Don’t copy what you hear word for word.
  3. Don’t write in complete sentences.
  4. Aim for a clear, concise, condensed and detailed presentation of information
    oet listening
  5. If the patient uses descriptive expressions particularly to describe his or her condition, you can either:

    • Take the exact words and put them in quotes, e.g. ‘under the weather’ 2 weeks and off food
    • Or paraphrase, like this: feeling unwell 2/52, no appetite
  6. Be careful to put your information under the relevant heading. If you write in the wrong section, don’t waste time erasing or re-copying; just use arrows to indicate the shift.
  7. Handwriting is important. It’s hard to write legibly under time pressure, but remember, if your work is unreadable you won’t gain marks.

IELTS Speaking: Places near water

Here are some IELTS Speaking questions and sample answers given by John – a native IELTS instructor.

1. Why do so many people like going to places with water, such as lakes, rivers or the ocean?
Well I guess the main reason is that water has a kind of calming effect on people. And when you consider all the stress that people are under these days, then I think it’s easy to understand why people gravitate to places near water.
(gravitate: be attracted to)

2. What kinds of leisure activities do people like to do in places such as on the ocean, or at a beach?
All kinds of things really, you know, some people like doing exciting things like jet-skiing or scuba diving, while others prefer doing more relaxing things, such as just lying down on a deck chair with a book. So it really kind of varies!

Continue reading

IELTS Tests Applications for 2014

For all prospective IELTS candidates in Melbourne, Australia:

Any candidate who wishes to take the IELTS test in RMIT University, the applications now MUST made online. Any candidate who wishes to take the IELTS test in Deakin University in 2014, the applications can now be made online.

You will need:

  • - A scanned copy of your valid passport or national identity card
  • - A credit card for payment

Click here to book your 2014 IELTS test