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Wednesday, January 24, 2018


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Good day, Simon!
I follow/ purchased your lessons on your web site and I´m having difficulties to improve my writing band score. Ive passed the first exam at listening, reading, speaking, except for writing and I need some guidance from an ex- Ielts examiner. Could you suggest me any teacher who could correct my essays (could be hourly virtual classes, as well), preferentially here in Sydney, Australia. If you could provide on-line corrections, how much would you charge in Australian dollars?
Kind regards,

This is very useful and straightforward advice. As part of my method, I underline ALL the instructions given by the examiner in the task 2 question.

When I then make my essay plan, I make sure that I have followed every instruction. I can then be sure that I have answered the question fully.


My writing teacher told me that "The only instance where the words “I, me, my, we, us, our” are allowed to be used is when you answer the question in the introduction and when you reiterate your opinion/stand in the conclusion paragraph. The examiner wants to know what you think, but presented as a rational, objective argument." So I am confused about that because I remembered that you used to say we can use kinda words in IELTS writing tasks,right?
In addition, my teacher also told me that we do not use 'the' for nonspecific ideas, for example, it is wrong to write"the most useful subjects in universities", "the"should be rejected, but honestly I don't agree with that.
How do you think the above problems I mentioned? Hopefully you don't get me wrong:)


It depends on the meaning.

"The easiest subjects" = all the subjects that are far easier than the rest.

"Most easy subjects" = the majority of easy subjects.


"The most useful subjects" = all the subjects that are far more useful than the rest.

"Most useful subjects" = the majority of useful subjects.


For task 1, "I", "we", "you", "my" etc should be avoided, although Simon does use "we can see that", "If we look at".

In task two, phrases such as "I believe that" regularly crop up in model answers including Simon's, and those provided by British Council.





Thank you so much, Gabi. You help me a lot. But I still can't understand the explanation you mention "all the subjects that are far more useful than the rest", I though "the most useful subject" only represent one subject which is the top vale subject...


"The most useful subject" does indeed only represent one subject.

But in my example "subjects" is plural.

If we awarded each subject between zero and a hundred points for usefulness, then "the most useful subjects" would be those in, say, the top five percent.

For example, the most useful subjects are: agriculture, marketing, and English language, because you will then get a good job.

Hello simon
I just want to know is it okay if I start my wrirting with 'It is true...' as you always do?
or it may reduce my score because it is a copy.


Band 9 requires "very natural and sophisticated control of lexical features". For statistical and practical purposes "natural" is here taken to mean "normal"; that is that the word or phrase has been used in a similar way before, in a similar context and genre.

So if Simon uses a phrase, then by all means feel free to copy it.


Hello Simon,

I have a very interesting question about the difference between the discussion and argument question types.

I noticed that you give your opinion in the introduction, one of the main bodies and in conclusion. But, the textbook "Cambridge IELTS consultants" advice to give a personal opinion only in the conclusions when writing the discussion type essay.

They explain it as the task in this type of question asks a writer to discuss both sides of an argument objectively, and if a writer tries to add an opinion it seems a little bit one-sided.

And in addition the argument type. The same textbook offer to briefly discuss the opposite opinion, which sometimes you avoid doing in your essays. Can it possibly damage the score, and what is the right way of writing it?

I think that those questions are really interesting to cover in the next lesson. I am sorry if you already covered it in previous lessons, and would appreciate it if someone could give me a link to it. Thank you.

@Filipp Mozolevskiy




In Sept 2012 Simon also wrote:
"The examiners' band descriptor sheet states that a band 7 essay "presents a clear position throughout the response".

A "clear position" means that your opinion must be clear (if the question asks for it), and "throughout the response" means from the beginning to the end of your essay.

For this reason, it's a bad idea to save your opinion for the conclusion. We don't like 'surprise conclusions' in English academic writing. Instead, you should state your position in the introduction, support it in your main paragraphs, and repeat or summarise it in the conclusion."

@Filipp Mozolevskiy

I was able to view their vocabulary Band 9 model answers here:


It seemed to me that these answers were densely packed with topic vocabulary, but Simon's model answers seem easier to read. Maybe it is in the planning and cohesion.

Thank you M'ambo for the above link! very useful by me.

Hello Sir,

Your teaching techniques are easily understandable, very much helpful, and I think, most effective for which I am so grateful to you.

I have here two queries:

1. If a Discussion essay is 'without opinion', I can understand the body paragraphs where two sides of view need to write in separate paragraphs, BUT how to write Introduction and Conclusion?

2. How to plan writing in two body paragraphs, what if an essay asks only for 'Solutions'?

''what is your view of examinations?''

Could I ask you this above question if it is ''your opinion'' question type? Thank you

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