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Tuesday, April 03, 2012


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1. I have a question: many times I am confused whether I should use could or can; would or will in the academic writing,PS: I know i should always use could and would in the past tense.

eg: when we talk about consequence of some actions, I may say XX will/would or can/could have a negative influence on people's lives.

I don't know which is more formal or correct?

2. Should I always use plural after plural nouns

eg: People's lives or people's life?

Thank you very much indeed .

hi simon,

I am currently reviewing ielts in a review center. My problem was that everytime i show my writing task to my tutor,he was not checking it because they have their own method and i'm following yours. Sometimes i think that i should not attend anymore coaching sessions as i'm just wasting my time there..no one from them wants to check my work. :C i'm so nervous because am going to take ielts few weeks from now.. i should i do simon? tnx

Hi Zhengyu,

You can use all of them in academic writing. If you want to know the exact differences, you probably need a grammar book or website. For example:


You can use singular or plural depending on the idea you want to express. For example:

- it is the students' decision (= one decision that will be taken by all the students)
- students' lives have been affected (the life of each student)


Hi Dave,

Getting feedback on your work is very important because it will help you to learn from your mistakes. I can give you the contact details of a colleague who offers essay correction if you want:


Thanks Simon for all your informations , they are really helpful . Can I just enquire on the answer for the listening test :

Usually they will have a conversation on an advertisement post for job seeker. It goes by saying they are hiring waiters but they are no longer hiring porters .

Q : Vacancies for __________
A : Waiter

My question is , if I had my answer as waitering , is that acceptable in the context?
Vacancies for waiter doesn't sound too right .

Hi Simon. I want to know, is this important to write words correctly as an answer in listening! For instance, I write "show room", but the correct answer is "Showroom". Will it be accepted as a correct answer in real exam? Please reply me soon, i am going to sit my exam tomorrow.

Hi Azerson,

If the question instruction says that you are allowed to write 2 words, both "showroom" and "show room" would be accepted. However, if only one word is allowed, the answer must be "showroom".

Hi, i have a question, in ielts listening section 1 where a form is filled and occupation of a person is asked, do we need to write it with capital or lower case letter. Like he is an engineer, this engineer should be written with capital E or with small e, many thx

Hi, I had a few doubts regarding use of hyphens in listening section. Do words like 'North-West' require a hyphen or is it correct to write it as 'Northwest'? And can 'coordination' be written as 'co-ordination'.
Secondly, what is the rule regarding use of brackets in answers. Can words like a/an/the or relevant adjectives like small/plenty be included in brackets.

Hi Swati,

Don't worry about hyphens. Both versions will be accepted. Don't put words in brackets. Just decide on an answer and put that.

hii simon..ur website is really helpful for me during my prepartion in writing task..i folled ur 4-stage method.but i attempt to score only 5.5 in reading dont know whats wrong.Now i need a suggestion in listening task if we didnot use captial letters do we loose the score.
Ex:CDs and...(5)...
in the above mentioned example i used "Books" capital but in the key it was given "books"
in lower case im not knowing the difference..?plz help me out

Hi Swaps,

Don't worry about capital letters - they don't make any difference in the reading and listening tests. "Books" and "books" would both be correct.

Even if your approach is perfect, you still need a high level of English language knowledge too. Using my method is a good start, but you need to keep improving your grammar and vocabulary if you want a high score. Keep practising!

thank u simon,
im writing ielts idp academic module test nd how to score in reading within imelimit 6 and how to score a band 6.5-7.0 in speaking.?last tym in part2 i was asked a topic on the baby u see often.what he does how u were impressed.its more easy to scoreband 6 in speaking i suppose,can u help me out..

Hi dear Simon.
first of all, I want to thank you because of this awesome blog. it helped me to prepare myself for the exam. Simon I have a question about plural and singular answers. If I write a singular answer in plural form will I lose points?
E.g: Consumption of Beer is the answer but I wrote Beers in m answer sheet.
please help

hi, can i write all answers in capital letters for the listening test

Hi Simon,
i wonder whether i can write all answers in capital letter in listening and reading, and can i write for eg shop(s), cloth(es)?

In ielts test key answer their are words inlistening between brackets i want to know are those optional words or a must to be written

Hi Simon,
In some books there are answers like;
(a) cat or cat(s) do we have to write them between brackets? If I don't use brackets and for example if I write cats or a cat will I lose points? Thank you for your interest Simon!

Hi Simon,
Is it ok if I use the paraphrase but it is not given in the correct answers. For example, the correct answer is "number", but mine is "figure".


I have a question : when should I put capital letters in listening ?

and what about direction ( east , west , north , south )
should I write the first letter capital or not ?

thanks for the helpful comments, i have a question:
is it okay if i write minibus while the answer is By minibus??
this is a question on the section 1 filling form on listening exam of IELTS.
please i need to know cause i did a lot of such mistakes.

Thank Simon,

It is fine if I fill the answer with: september instead of September, england instead of England?

Hi Simon,

Would I lose points if I write car park instead of car-park?

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