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Ryan’s Latest Blog Post

Posted on February 17, 2018
IELTS study hacks (and other Q&A!)

The resources seen in the video are:

Are you interested in studying with me online? Send an email to ryan@ieltsielts.com and tell me about your IELTS goals. I will let you know what I can do to help.

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Posted in (Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing) | Comments are off
See earlier blog posts…

Ryan's Recent Posts Posts

IELTS study hacks (and other Q&A!)

The resources seen in the video are:

Are you interested in studying with me online? Send an email to ryan@ieltsielts.com and tell me about your IELTS goals. I will let you know what I can do to help.

Carry on with your IELTS training! Click to buy an ebook:

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This way to band 9…

The essay in this video was written by a practicing IELTS examiner.

This question was seen last year in Moscow:

Some people contend that all young people should attend university after high school, while others maintain that this is not always the best option. Discuss both views and give your opinion. Give reasons for your answer and include examples from your own experience where appropriate.

Some feel that all young people should attend university, while others point out this may not be a suitable path for everyone. I am of the latter view. I believe that career training in other areas may serve the interests of many young people far better than undergraduate studies.

On the one hand, there is convincing support for university education for all. Firstly, a liberal education encourages the broadening of the mind. For example, students of history, art and literature tend to be tolerant and thoughtful and fulfil useful service careers in teaching, journalism, public relations and politics. Encouraging everyone to enrol in university would also push people towards lucrative professional roles, such as those held by doctors and lawyers, positions that also bring great social prestige.

However, despite these benefits, universal tertiary education would be problematic at both the societal and personal levels. It should be noted that the building of houses and offices, the transporting of goods, and the production of furniture and appliances are essential to society and require skilled manual workers and tradespeople. Further, many young men and women naturally excel when working with their hands. Forcing them to study disciplines of abstract thought would clearly be a waste of their time and potential. Thus, encouraging people to choose a path that allows them to invest in their natural strengths is better for both the individual and society as a whole.

Overall, it can be seen that although pursuing a university education has many merits, it may be more of a hindrance than a help to some people. In my own case, being very bad with my hands but quite handy with words, university was the right option for me. As this essay has shown, everyone is different and no one course in life fits all.

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How to get full marks for Task Achievement

The essay in this video was written by IELTS Examiner C. This question was seen recently in Sydney:

These days many people prefer to rent rather than buy their own house. Why is this this so? Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of renting or buying, and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and examples from your personal experience where appropriate.

Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

In most major cities in the west, people are opting to rent a home instead of buy. This is mostly because house prices have increased dramatically while personal income has not, a trend that means mortgage repayments now account for a much larger share of income than in the past. Renters have more disposable income every week than buyers and this is a big attraction. However, in my opinion, this is a false economy and in the long run I believe that the advantages of buying a property greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

While it is certainly cheaper week-by-week to rent than pay a mortgage, the renter misses out on the large capital gains to be made when buying a home. When I took out my own mortgage on my two-bedroom apartment, my repayments on a $400,000 loan were about $600 a week, compared with $500 for rental value on a similar property. However, over the past three years my apartment has appreciated by more than $250,000, greatly outweighing the $15,000 I would have saved by renting. In addition to this, my mortgage payments secured an acquisition of property that will remain valuable for my family into the future. Financial growth of this sort is not possible through renting.

Renters do not only lose out on capital gains, they also lose in terms of security and peace of mind. The roof over their heads once their lease is over is always at the mercy of the landlord, who might at any time decide to sell the property. The landlord can also put up the rent when they feel the market warrants it. Further, unless the renter invests their savings judiciously, the money they save will be frittered on day-to-day life, leaving them very much poorer than the buyer once retirement looms.

In conclusion, while a first mortgage will cost more each week than renting, the advantages of buying, including capital appreciation and housing security, greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

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Just 60 minutes to better IELTS Speaking!

Click here to download an MP3 copy of the conversation.

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Band 9 writing under an X-ray!

Thanks to ‘Examiner C’ for this model. Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Many people think that public celebrations (like national holidays, festivals, etc.) are a waste of money and that the government should spend these funds in a better way.

Do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and examples from personal experience where appropriate.

National holidays cost countries and their governments a lot of money. Wages need to be paid to employees despite their absence from work, and a national loss in productivity is experienced. For these reasons, some people suggest governments do away with holidays and instead spend the money on worthy projects. While this might seem at first to be a practical suggestion, I disagree strongly for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is axiomatic that a country’s production of goods declines when workers are not working; however, this is a tiny part of a much larger economic picture. Productivity is a function not only of hours worked but also of energy, drive, and morale. Thus, national holidays, which give workers a chance to relax and to celebrate aspects of their country and their lives, make for a happier and more productive workforce. In Australia, for example, the long weekend is a tradition that helps to unify society by making all feel rewarded and valued in a common enterprise and identity. It is for these reasons that labelling public celebrations ‘a waste of money’ cannot be supported.

Further, having the financial means to start new national projects is a good thing, but the question of apportioning funds in a manner that an entire society agrees is ‘a better way’ is simply unrealistic. A further consideration is the ramifications of pressure put on workers to work 52 straight weeks a year, a policy that could lead to stress-related illnesses and serious social problems. As this shows, the cancelling of public holidays and redirection of funds is an implausible suggestion.

In conclusion, I must affirm that while it is tempting to realise the short-term increase in productivity and savings that would result from abolishing public holidays, the overall cost greatly outweighs the gains.

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A former examiner wrote this band 9 essay…

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Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Many people believe that a large proportion of a country’s health budget should be diverted from treatment to spending on health education and preventative measures. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give examples from personal experience where appropriate.

Modern medicine has evolved along two lines: prevention and cure. Many believe that too much emphasis is placed on the latter and that the balance of national health spending should shift to prevention. I am inclined to agree; however, my support is with the stipulation that an imbalance in the other direction should be avoided.

Many modern diseases that require pharmaceutical or surgical intervention, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, are induced by poor lifestyle choices. There is an abundance of evidence that these conditions are brought on by such factors as smoking, excessive dietary fat and sugar, and a lack of physical exercise. I have myself lost several family members to cancers and heart disease caused by smoking. Because the cost of treating these diseases is very high, and the prognosis uncertain, the need for preventative intervention is clear.

Fulfilling this need could be exercised in a number of ways. For one, the government could provide more health and fitness centres, and mount a public awareness campaign to encourage people to use them. In addition to this, taxes could be placed on excessive salt or sugar in processed foods, and special taxes could be added to tobacco products to discourage their use. I believe that measures such as these will in the long term dramatically reduce the incidence of certain deadly diseases.

However, it should be remembered that not all examples of modern disease are preventable or predictable, and it is critical to maintain research into cures for all diseases. Thus, in diverting health spending from treatment to preventative measures, countries should encourage a balanced approach to help extend lifespans and maximise quality of life. Prevention may be better than cure, but it can never wholly replace it.

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Here is the task and response as they appear in the video:

Consumers are exposed to an extreme amount of advertising in the modern era. To what extent do you think people are influenced by ads? What measures would you suggest to protect them?

Modern approaches to marketing have become increasingly intrusive, and this has exposed people to more advertising than ever before in history. Because many of these advertisements successfully manipulate the viewer’s lifestyle and opinions, I feel their influence is profound. This essay will analyse examples that demonstrate this influence. It will also offer suggestions regarding how society can guard itself against the powers of advertising.

The influence of advertising can change lifestyles and societal values in dangerous ways. For example, fast food, such as that served by McDonald’s and KFC, is often presented as the diet of athletic people. To the public, these images normalise and validate what many scientific studies have confirmed is a very unhealthy dietary choice. In addition to altering lifestyles, marketing campaigns can also confuse the public about important societal events. For instance, a recently released video depicts a group of marching protestors defusing a confrontation with the police by giving them a Pepsi. Many people correctly pointed out that such imagery trivialises the purpose of protest and the professional role of the police, images that could dangerously alter the opinions of impressionable young people. Thus, as the above examples show, advertising in the modern era is extremely influential.

To protect people from these negative effects, one approach is to regulate the number of times a marketing campaign can target a specific person’s social media account. This has been effective in Canada, where marketers are only allowed to present their promotional Facebook imagery to people old enough to know they are being advertised to. A second strategy could be to create awareness programs in high schools that educate young people about advertisements and their influence. These two policies would help preserve the public’s ability to remain critical of what they see.

Although advertising is an economic necessity, its influence should be recognised and kept under control. As the above has shown, societies should work to guard their freedom to make decisions unaltered by the interests of large companies.

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Please remember to send me your success story after your IELTS. Here is one I received this week:

Dear Ryan,

I must give all my gratitude to you and if I had not used your correction service, I would definitely have not achieved writing band 7 so smoothly!

Recent success story

If you need any testimonial, just feel free to ask me to do that. 

I have recommended your website, YouTube video lessons and correction service to many of my clients, who also have the same IELTS requirement for the migration purpose. 

One thousand thanks are not enough for you, indeed!!!


 Here’s another one from a few weeks earlier:

Dear Ryan,

I am writing this email to genuinely thank you for helping me crack IELTS writing. I wouldn’t have been able to do that, if it wasn’t for your ebooks.

I scored 8 in writing only because I followed your blogs, watched writing videos and read your ebooks for task 1 and task 2. It took me six months to raise my score in writing from 7.5 to 8 but it was all worth it. I was in desperate need for this perfect score so I could become eligible for my permanent residency application process and now I can gladly say that I am.

So thank you for the amazing work that you are doing to help out thousands of people who are struggling to achieve their target score.


Big congratulations on the success and thanks for sharing, guys!  😎

Transition your sentences at the band 9 level!

Click here to study with Ryan!

Here is the template seen in this video (scroll down for the full text of the essay):

Do you feel the money governments spend to protect the environment would be better used elsewhere?

_____________ the world over typically _____________. There are reasons to support and refute this practice. Using examples from_____________, I will discuss both positions before declaring a personal stance.

Firstly,_____________ is beneficial for many reasons. For example, in _____________, _____________, such as _____________. This _____________ is important because it not only_____________, but it also _____________. Because such _____________ are common among most countries, it is clear why __________________.

However, despite these benefits, _____________ has undeniable merit. In _____________, for example, _____________. Similar _____________ can be seen among _____________, such as _____________. Thus, it is clear that for _____________, _____________ may be better _____________.

Following this examination, I support _____________, but I strongly feel this _____________. This is _____________, and I hope to see it _____________.

Do you feel the money governments spend to protect the environment would be better used elsewhere?

Governments the world over typically allocate a portion of their spending to preserving the environment of their respective countries. There are reasons to support and refute this practice. Using examples from my country, I will discuss both positions before declaring a personal stance.

Firstly, government-funded protection of a country’s environment is beneficial for many reasons. For example, in my country, the Canadian government has spent a tremendous amount of money to ensure large swathes of land, such as Algonquin Park in Ontario, are inaccessible to resource-hungry companies and city sprawl. This policy is important because it not only ensures the natural beauty and wildlife of Canada are maintained for future generations, but it also preserves Canadian identity, which is tied closely to the vastness and untainted nature of the land. Because such values are common among most countries, it is clear why many people the world over support government-funded protection of the environment.

However, despite these benefits, reallocating such funding to other needs has undeniable merit. In Canada, for example, preserving the integrity of the environment seems somewhat hypocritical when so many First Nations peoples, who have been historically driven off the land, are in need of resources that allow them to preserve and pass on their languages and cultures to their descendants. Similar needs can be seen among the native populations of other nations formed out of the colonial period, such as the United States and Australia. Thus, it is clear that for select countries, government funding may be better channeled to the preservation of not only the land but also its indigenous peoples.

Following this examination, I support the government-funded preservation of a country’s environment, but I strongly feel this funding should also be directed to promoting the health of other aboriginal facets, namely the cultures and languages of a nation’s indigenous peoples. This is a much more holistic approach to environmental preservation, and I hope to see it adopted by countries around the world.

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IELTS Academic and General Task 2 - How to write at a band 9 level

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Here is a transcript of the conversation heard in the video:

Please give me your identification.

Here you are.

Thank you. Now, in this first part, I’d like to ask you some questions about yourself. Do you come from a large or small family?

My family is relatively large. There are 5 of us: my parents, brother, sister and me.

OK. And do the members of your family live together?

No. My parents live in the same house I grew up in. This house is in a town called Pembroke. At the moment, my sister is living there, too. But she is only there because she is on break from her studies at university. My brother lives and works in Toronto, and I am living in Toronto, too.

Do you have a lot in common with the other members of your family?

Umm, not really, but we are nevertheless very close. We always love getting together and catching up on each other’s news. My parents have a quiet, country lifestyle. It’s very different from the busy city lifestyle of Toronto. My brother enjoys watching sports and camping and hiking in the mountains; he’s very outdoorsy. My sister is a bit of a socialite, so she likes going out with friends and arranging little get-togethers. I’m a bit on the quiet side. At the moment, I mostly just focus on my studies.

Are you currently working?

I am, but only part time. I am a part time university student.

Can you tell me about your studies?

Well, I’m completing an undergraduate Arts degree with a major of criminology. Because

I am a part time student, I only have 9 hours of class a week. I have three-hour lectures every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am really enjoying the courses. The professors are interesting.

That’s wonderful. And what sort of part time work do you do?

I am waiter in a restaurant on the campus of my university.

I see. Do you enjoy that kind of work?

Honestly, not really. I’m not naturally a very social person, and waiting tables tends to demand this sort of personality. Also, university students do not tend to leave handsome tips.

But, I shouldn’t complain. It’s a job and it does help fund my studies.

Let’s talk about friends. Do you have many friends at your university?

Yes, I have a small handful of friends. But I suppose I would describe our relationship as more study partners than friends. We don’t really socialize outside of course-related topics.

Do you think friendships change as people get older?

Yes, definitely. I think life often makes demands of people and this can pull friends closer or push them away. A good friend of mine recently had a baby. I am very happy for him, but I know that this new development in his life will mean he and I will spend less time together. This is fine, I mean, of course he needs to spend time with his baby, but I think these sorts of life developments can change the dynamics of a friendship.

What sort of person do you easily make friends with?

I like people that have opinions. I enjoy talking with people about different subjects and hearing what they have to say about those subjects. I think I easily make friends with people that are good communicators. I don’t think we need to like all of the same things, but if we do share a few interests, that is obviously a plus. Character wise, I prefer quiet people to loud people.

Thank you. OK, let’s change topics. What do you do in your free time?

I have several hobbies. I enjoy jogging. I try to get a jog in every day. I also have a dog, so I spend quite a bit of time at the park. Um, I enjoy reading and surfing the net. I keep an online blog. It is a diary of my day-to-day life. I enjoy watching movies. I guess those are the main things I do in my free time.

What sort of pastimes are popular among Canadians?

Most Canadians like to play and watch hockey. I would say this is a very popular pastime. Canadians also like the outdoors, so hiking in the mountains, camping and canoeing are all popular hobbies. Um, Canada is a multicultural place, so I feel there are a lot of cross-cultural hobbies. Many Canadians like learning how to cook foods from other countries, for

example. These are probably the most popular Canadian hobbies.

Thank you. Now I’d like to ask you to speak one to two minutes on a topic.

Normally, you would have one minute to plan your answer, but for the sake of this recording we are going to skip this step.

Your cue card reads:

Describe someone who has had an important influence on your life.

You should say:

-Who the person is

-How long you have known him/her

-What qualities this person has

Explain why they have had such an influence on you.

Remember you have one to two minutes to deliver this monologue. I’ll tell you when the time is up. Start speaking now, please.

I am going to talk about my high school music teacher, Mr. McGrady, and how he has influenced my life. I have known Mr. McGrady for about five years. He is a very patient man and an excellent teacher, and I feel he instills music appreciation and understanding in all of the students he teaches. He is also a very dedicated teacher. I remember he would come to school early four days a week to conduct our high school band. In doing this, I think he demonstrated a lot of commitment and leadership, and I believe these qualities rubbed off on the students he taught. I haven’t seen him in a few years, but I do not doubt he is just as much the positive image today as he was when I was his student.

For me personally, Mr. McGrady has influenced the way I see the subject of music. I played saxophone in the high school band, and by watching Mr. McGrady interact with the different instrument groups, I saw first hand how these orchestral sections operate and come together to create music.

Mr. McGrady was also always trying to push students outside of their comfort zones, and this greatly influenced me. For example, he encouraged me to join a singing group that he had organized. I couldn’t sing then and I can’t sing now, but it was encouraging to feel that he believed enough in me to ask me to join.

So, overall, I feel Mr. McGrady, firstly, acted as a wonderful role model. Secondly, he taught me how to look at music differently. And thirdly he pushed me to try new things. These are the three main ways he influenced me, and I’m very thankful I had a teacher like him.

Thank you. You mentioned you hadn’t see Mr. McGrady in a few years. Do you think you will see him again?

I hope so. I know he’s busy teaching his classes these days. I should drop by my old high school and see him and thank him again for the things he has done for me.

How important is it for people to have positive role models during their formative years?

I think it is quite key. Young people are very impressionistic, in my opinion. They are willing to mimic the actions of those around them. Surrounding a young person with positive role models gives these young people something healthy to aspire to be.

Do you think the role models young people look up to today are similar to the role models young people looked up to 25 years ago?

Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I would say that the core values of today’s role models are the same as 25 years ago. I think qualities like integrity, diligence, benevolence and reliability will always be considered positive. I suppose a difference today is that young people are exposed to more people through different media channels, so the pool of potential role models increases. I would say this is a positive thing, so long as parents ensure the role models young people look up to are healthy ones. But to answer your question, yes, I would say the majority of today’s role models are more or less the same as 25 years ago.

What sorts of people make poor role models in your opinion?

People with serious personal problems, I think. Anger problems or people that have become generally disappointed with life. I don’t think they inspire hard work or ambition. Of course, people with substance abuse problems. Role models should be individuals that you can aspire to be. If that person has serious problems, then aspiring to be like them may not be healthy.

Do you think pop icons make good role models?

By pop icons you mean…

…singers, actors…

Well, I think they can be role models. But the fact that they aren’t completely accessible to young people makes them significantly different. Young people can’t call up a pop icon and ask them for advice, for example. But, so long as the star is a good person, I don’t think they are a negative influence on a young person. So, yes, pop icons can make good role models. But young people also need role models they can talk to and learn directly from.

Are you anyone’s role model?

Am I anyone’s role model… Yes. My cousin has a son, named Ethan. He’s 5, and I see him every other week because they live here in Toronto. I think Ethan looks up to me. I guess that’s partly because I am a man in his life that is a little younger than his father. I try my best to be a positive person so that he will aspire to be one, too.

Thank you. That is the end of the speaking test.

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