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May 18, 2016


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I do not know whether it is because I did not apply your methods correctly or they are not suitable at China's tests any more. I did exactly what you taught in my test with practice many time before the test; still I got a 5.5.

Hi Nancy,

I'm from China as well. Here are some suggestions in my experience:

1. Examiners are working in the same way like they do in other test centres across the world, so never believe the rumour saying that they discriminate against Chinese candidates.

2. Methods are there to help people work effectively and consistently, but they cannot be equated with exam success. In other words, you cannot expect higher scores only if you write in a 'firstly, secondly, finally' structure or you complete the main body paragraph within five sentences. These methods are NOT part of the marking descriptor.

3. Examiners don't mind which method you adopt as long as you are able to fully answer the task and develop your ideas in a logical way with fewer grammatical mistakes.

4. Some people assert that personal examples are not preferred but I would argue this is completely wrong. In my exam, I introduced two examples in my life and I was also awarded a 7. Remember examples are used to support your opinion.

I hope this helps.

@ James Z
You got really good score in your ielts congrats for that.can you please tell me what you did to improve your reading score.i will really thankful to you if you help me in this regard.

These phrases are "generic" which means they can be use in any topic.

They are "too formal" to the extent that they are seen as unnatural and forced.

Hi Simon,

I have no idea why this phrases are not suggested but I think, these phrases are including lots of general approach we need to determine more than. For example, The most effective way in dealing with this situation is ( In my opinion, after this phrases we need to explain our opinion about this problem. How deal with that problem and we should give some suggestions about this problem.

Overall, This phrases should include real solution.


Hi Kiran,

My idea is that the more practice you do, the better accuracy you are likely to achieve. Please follow the way Simon does to make your own keyword tables. It's laborious but you'll benefit from your hard work in the end.

Good luck

In my opinion, these phrases seems to be forced; native English users do not attempt them at all.

@ James Z.

Hi, glad to see you here. Stay with us until I succeed.

Can anyone tell me the reasons for the correct answers from the Cambridge book 6, test 1, passage 3.

27. Paragraph B
28. Paragraph C
40. .......produce is particularly expensive.

1. Rescuers in Sri Lanka are searching for scores of people missing after massive landslides following days of rain.

2. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Brazil to show support to President Dilma Rousseff, who is facing calls for her impeachment.

What are the meanings of "scores" and "Tens of thousands"?


Scores means "lots of" other words " a large number of"

Tens of thousands means similar to above explanations.

I hope it works for you.

Hi simon i want my essays to be checked by you what is the process thanks

Are searching for score of people
Tens of thousands people

Two phrases are described a large number of people

H. A. Kader,

What do think the answers should be instead? It might help if you found 27 and 28 difficult to solve other headings and then you would have 4 options to choose from. I found the answers logical? So what do you think the answers should be so that we can discuss why the others are not the right ones.
For 40, I got that wrong as well and I was confused to put provisions or meat which both were wrong, then I thought that the question sentence say "particularly expensive" so provisions is too general for the word "particularly" and meat is not clear whether it is obtained by hunting or by import, so finally I thought that imported is fine and meat is replaced in the question by produce

Hope this was clear and helpful

Answering the question, the way I understand those phrases is that they have so many words about nothing. In other word, they sound almost same as 'that problem can be solve like this', and I don't mean as figurative but literally. I guess examiners wouldn't like those phrases since they utilize many fancy and difficult words to explain nothing.

@Simon, upon practicing writing, I was very confused and need some advice. Right to the example, the sample question for Writing Task 2 is following: "Parents today give their children more freedom than they did in the past. Do you think this is a positive or negative development?"
My confusion is that I do not agree that today's parents give more freedom than before at all. But the question is whether is pos or neg development. If the question was whether I agree or disagree, then I would most definitely answer the question. Can you shed some light on my confusion?
Thank you in advance.

I guess the idea may be that native speakers don't speak like this?


I think there're a lot of repeats in the sentences. Also they have no details and extensions about the topics.


There are various reasons why I don't like these sentences. I'll explain the overall problem in Saturday's lesson here on the blog.

For now, I'll just say that some of the vocabulary could be described as unnatural or even pompous*. For example:

- considerably escalated increasing awareness
- Notwithstanding the fact that
- undertaken to tackle this nuisance
- exterminate the problem
- turning urgent attention to

Please DON'T use these phrases in your IELTS test. As a native speaker, I would never use them, so I recommend that you don't either.

* pompous: when people use pompous language, they are trying to show off, but they go too far, and the result is something that sounds unnatural or even funny.

To Simon

I would like to request SIMON to provide us an explanation about correct answers for THE TRANSPORT REVOLUTION, gap filling, questions 23-26; from Cambridge book 6, test 1, passage 2.

@James Z
Thanks for your advice I really appreciate

In my opinion, I would use

Raise awareness instead of escalated increasing awareness

Although instead of Notwithstanding the fact that

Tackle the problem instead of exterminate the problem

Pay attention to instead of turning urgent attention to

Or identifying instead of turning urgent attention to

From Lee (IELTS Teacher)

You have some interesting sentences here.

I dislike them because they're because they 1) use too many words and 2) use infrequent, generic, and even unnatural expressions/collocations ("exterminate the problem"). It looks like the writer is trying to show off some complicated, memorized sentences This makes the sentences difficult and unpleasant to read.

If I were to rewrite the first sentence to make it more natural, I would probably say something like...
"Public concern about environmental pollution has increased in recent years."

Any thoughts?

1) One must ask where on earth the student found such odious, nonsensical English? No native speaker would ever write such garbage.
2) If one wishes to get a good score in IELTS writing, one should begin by reading good English, such as is often found in quality newspapers and journals. Why would anyone be looking elsewhere for examples? Why would one think that someone on a website in some foreign clime could offer better advice than a native speaker?

Dear Simon,

I am wondering if it is OK to use personal examples in Writing Task 2? I find you did not do like this. Thank you very much!

@ James Z

Thanks for this, James. I was just confused as I got all other three tests more than 7 while a 5.5 writing. And 4.30 writing is widely commented an easy one.

They don't focus on the real content, I reckon.

Hi Nancy, without reading your essay, I suggest you write down your essay and see if you have fully addressed the task and how you have presented your ideas in a logical way. I'm happy to give you feedback if you feel comfortable to share your essay here.

I know the feeling of keeping trying IELTS. Please calm down and learn from your mistakes. Keep up the good work and do believe your hard work will all pay off in the end :)

Hi simon, I have a question. In the listening test, can we write all answers to an answer sheet in a capital letter to avoid some mistakes? Is it a problem?
Thank you very much..


Yes you can. it is not a problem However do not make any spelling mistakes.

@James Z

Be with us for a while.

redundancy of words?

1. This is not easy to read and it is not bcoz I have a IQ of 3rd grader :(

2. How dose these sentences sound when you read out loud ? Horrible isn't it? If my ears can't stand them why would a examiner bother to mark them in detail and give a higher score ?

3. Too many advanced words sequeezed into one single sentence . It seems like the sentences are suffocating . SOS !! Give me some fresh air for the god sake .

4. Damn boring yeah the language is dry and lacks character . Types of rubrics in medieval books of the dead . HOLO welcome the 21st century :)

Correction :
2. An examiner not A
4. It resembles the types of rubrics

I Apologize for the inconvenience . Guess I should learn to check while typing . Better late than never :)

these sentence do not have any identity, and I think it can be used to most topics.
And also, it is unatural~


I agree with people's negative comments about the sentences. In the lesson linked below, I explain another aspect of the problem:


They are nothing more than are run-on sentences which prevent concise ideas.

The opinion that Simon doesn't like those phrases does not mean that you won't receive a good score by using "some" of them. I have achieved an excellent exam result by using a sentence structure similar to the first phrase. What simon says is for your reference. Don't believe all.

Hi everyone, My name is Yen. I will get my Ielts test in this June. I will correct your essays for free if you do for mine. I'm not a professional teacher or else, but what I can do for you essays are reading every detail in your essays, googling the phrases or sentences you used and in a different view, I can find something is not logical in your essays.
If you are interested in my idea, pls contact me through my email: huayen.jeremy@gmail.com

Those phrases are too wordy and unemphatic so you cannot really expect the examiners to be impressed with your writing when you use them. These might be useful for those who need a band score of 6.0 and below though.

I think effective use of lexical terms also depends on the content of essay, not how impressive the words are. The words are better to be straightforward and effortless to understand.

I think it can be simply explained that all these sentences are super general, somehow you can learn by heart and apply for all essay which can therefore cannot tell examiner who you are. You need to clarify point in different task and reveal your capacity of writing in a variety of IELTS topics.

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