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Monday, June 04, 2012


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Simon, may I bother you with an extra puzzling questions?

When in the listening section you listen to "from 6 pm to 8 pm" and you are required to fill the form with TWO WORDS/NUMBERS ONLY, is PM an extra word or is it part of the number?

thank you for your patience and the reading websites suggested

daniela ( -5 days to ielts...)

Hi Simon, if I see many new words in newspapers and magazines and I easily confused and do not understand the ideas of these, what will I do?

Here is another link (from the British Council website) to some interesting articles: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/magazine

The best thing about the "Magazine" is that you can either read or listen to the articles, and then you get the chance to test your reading/listening skills by doing some simple questions.

Have fun!!!

I forgot to mention, here is another nice website (similar to National Geographic) for daily reading: www.takepart.com

I always try to encourage students to read for fun and not simply for the IELTS exam (otherwise it could be too stressful and boring!). Also, reading can (or should) help someone become more knowledgeable and aware of the world.


Hello Hoami882,

My friend and "protege" asks me this question a lot and my answer is the same every time: consult a dictionary! Sometimes the dictionary definition will contain words that you don't understand, and you'll find the need to recursively look those up as well.

Often it is easier to learn by example, and Google is a great tool for this. If you don't understand a word or phrase, type it in Google and you will see plenty of examples. If you're googling a phrase, then remember to put quotation marks around it. For example, to google the meaning of "illicit a response", type the phrase in Google including the quotation marks.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to learn a new word or phrase. The good news is that the more your English improves, the easier it becomes to learn difficult words and phrases!

Hi Martin,

That's so true! A lot of students take an "exam mode" approach to learning English, which is boring and less effective than reading material that interests you. Some of them purposely avoid magazines and interesting novels because they think they won't learn "proper IELTS skills" from them, when in fact these materials can contain, in my opinion, writing of far better quality than an examiner could ever expect to see.

Please Simon,kindly explain how the number is counted in ielts writting.Like 68, pm,am and km .Are they counted as one word?
In task 1,do you write 58% or 58percent.

Thank you Eunice.

Hi Daniela and Eunice,

6pm and 58% would each be considered as one word.

I'd write % instead of 'percent' in writing task 1.


Great advice Martin and Jean-Luc. Reading should never be a chore!

thank Jean-Luc!

Hi Simon,
There is an idea that we don't need to learn new words, just read and look up new words on dictionary. By this way, we can remember new words spontaneously.
Do you agree with this idea?

Hi Hoami882,

If you're suggesting that a dictionary shouldn't be used as the starting point for learning new words, then I agree; that's a rather boring way to learn new vocabulary.

But absorbing new vocabulary appropriate to your level is rarely a spontaneous process. If you haven't studied a new word in at least five different contexts, you shouldn't assume that you understand it yet.

I agree that the best way to learn new words is by reading and listening to things that interest you, rather than by studying.

Hi simon, i got an ielts of 6.5 in each and i needed a grade of 7. And im having difficulty in reading and writing. In reading, i have done some pracrice test in which i got a passing score and some of it is in 6.5 band score. Is it necessary that i need to pass all the reading practice test before i can say that i am ready for the exam? Thanks

Hi Michelle,

How is a "pass" defined in your practice books? As far as I know, the major standardised English tests such as the IELTS, TOEFL, and TOEIC don't have a defined pass mark.

If you consistently obtain a certain score on practice tests, you can be fairly confident that you will get a similar score on the actual IELTS test. But many factors can affect your actual score, such as familiarity with the topic, how you're feeling, etc.

Hi simon,
I forgot that there is no passing or failing grade in ielts. Sorry for using thr wrong word. What i mean by passing grade is in a band score of 7. Because as i am doing some practice test, i got a band score of 7 and some of it is in 6.5 band score. I am worried if sometimes i dont get the band i needed after doing some tests. Give me more advice please. Thanks

Hi Michelle,

The difference between 6.5 and 7 is quite small. The fact that you sometimes get 6.5 and sometimes get 7 is not unusual or surprising - it just means that you sometimes get one or two more questions right or wrong. You're obviously a 6.5/7 level student at the moment, and you just need to keep practising. Keep working hard, and you'll improve!

Thanks Simon. I have got my IELTS result today and got what I was looking for. Band 7 in each and every part and I got exactly the same. I have had some problems in reading which I successfully resolved using the tips given on this website.

Hi Simon,
I got 6.5 in reading this time,but in my last attempt i got 7.i need 7 individually.should i need more practice to improve the score or what else should i do to improve from 6.5 to 7 or above?pls suggest.thanks.

Congratulations Aman. That's great news!


Hi Gangchil,

Just keep practising! Don't change your approach / technique. You're nearly there, so keep trying.

dear sir,

please send to me Ielts question and answer.

Sir ,please help me in ielts. I want to get 8band in ielts . Help me. Give me some strong tips how can I increase my vocabulary.

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