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Thursday, March 15, 2018


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Hi Simon,
My name is Stefania. I follow your online lessons. Thank you very much for your help in IELTS and for the materials you share, your work is precious.
Today I take my third Ielts test, I need 7.5 overall and not less than 7 in every skill.
Last times I reached 7, but it was not enough.
This time I'm really satisfied about my listening, reading and writing but I'm extremely concerned about speaking.
I was brilliant in speaking part 1 and 2, I used good vocabulary with good fluency. But then in speaking part 3 I struggled to answer, I talked but without good ideas.
Do you believe the examiner could give me 7 anyway?
I hope you can answer, it would be very important for me.
Thank you very much.Have a good weekend.


It is hard to know without hearing you. Check the IELTS speaking criteria for Band 7 below. Notice that unlike writing, in speaking there is no assessment of task achievement (ideas), instead there are pronunciation benchmarks. The examiner needs to tick 'Yes' to every feature below for you to attain band 7.

• speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence
• may demonstrate language-related hesitation at times, or some repetition and/or self-correction
• uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility

• uses vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics
• uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices
• uses paraphrase effectively

• uses a range of complex structures with some flexibility
• frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist

• uses a wide range of pronunciation features
• sustains flexible use of features, with only occasional lapses
• is easy to understand throughout; L1 accent has minimal effect on intelligibility (L1 is your native language)


Band 7 requires lots of practice and correction, which usually means finding a good partner or teacher.

Thank you very much for your answer. I have just to wait....It was a pity that I wasn't enough focused in part 3...anyway. Thank for your important help.

Stefania, there are two mistakes in your posting: "Today I take..." "Last times". Also "important help" is not very idiomatic - such a great help.

Here is my (brutally prescriptive) suggestion for your contingency plan in case you do not get Band 7. There are two essential skills to acquire for Band 7. Firstly, it is no good thinking in your own language and translating into English; you must be used to thinking in English, and for this you need lots of practice. Secondly, you must be adept at explaining stuff. So here is the training program:

1) Find a teacher, or study partner who can correct your grammar and pronunciation. At least six hours a week will be needed.

2) Before each session read a news article in English and prepare to explain it to your partner.

3) Write ten questions about the article, five factual "comprehension" questions to check if your partner has got the detail (What exactly was the problem?.. ), and five "discussion" questions (What do you think about...? What would you do if you were president...? )

3) In each session, you must explain the article to your partner, who must (a) take notes, and (b) interrupt and stop you whenever something is not clear.

4) At the end of your explanation, your partner must use their notes to feed the news back to you and clarify exactly what they have understood.

Repeat, sleep, prepare, repeat, sleep, prepare, repeat for six months. Take the exam again.

Oh, and of course step (5), ask your questions!



I wasn't enough focused -> I wasn't focused enough

"It was a pity that I wasn't ..." -> It is a pity that I wasn't ...


Fascinating speeches:






Thank You Simon for your resourceful website.

I got my result yesterday and it is: AC:Overall-7(L-8.5, R-7, W-6, S-7).

I thought i could have done better if i had gone through more of your writing lessons and gave more time writing by myself.

At the beginning, when i started reading/analyzing your lessons, i was confused about what would be the syllabus for IELTS. But i was relieved to understand the fact that if i could go through all of your previous lessons on your website it would be fair enough for me and also for students who are aiming for band 7 and higher. I have also learned a lot from the comments posted below each lessons. And there is a wonderful culture of pupils helping each other in this website that i liked very much(Special thanks to Martin).

Please pardon me for my writing mistakes as you can see the result.:)
Wish you all good luck and stay with this wonderful website.

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