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Don’t stop at 7. Go and get that 9!

Dear Ryan,
Thanks to your guidance, I was able to increase my writing score from 6.5 to 7.5, and then to 8.5! I really don't believe I could have done it without you.
-Imam Mohamed

Hi Ryan,
I am so happy to inform you that I scored 7.5 in writing!
-Sunish Manalody

Hi Ryan,
Thanks for your help, I’ve scored band 8 in writing.
-Vladan Martinovic

Hi Ryan,
I prepared just by looking at your videos and scored 7.5! Thank you!
-Rahul Paldiwal

Hi Ryan,
I would like to thank you for your very helpful lessons. I finally got 7 in all modules and can now start residency processing for New Zealand!
-Kiran Kiccha

Hi Ryan,
I obtained a writing score of 8.5. Your videos were instrumental in helping me achieving this score. Thanks, mate!
-Carlos Flores

Hi Ryan,
Thank you for my 8.0 writing score. You ebook played a pivotal role in my success!
-Awais Butt

Hi Ryan,
I read your blog every day and scored 7.5 in writing!
-Vikrant Mahajan

I went from band 6.0 to 7.5 following Ryan’s coaching!
-Viacheslav Porotikov

How to start and end sentences in your IELTS Task 2 discussion essay (video)

Posted on March 31, 2011 by - 4 Comments

Here’s a quick video I threw together providing some tips on starting and ending sentences in your essay.

 

Effective examples versus ineffective examples on your Task 2 essay?

Posted on March 30, 2011 by - Comments are off

Let me offer an analogy regarding the importance of examples: Examples are to an IELTS essay as a tent pole is to a tent. In other words, examples are what hold up an argument in an essay (whether that argument is yours or someone else’s). Without them, an argument simply fails to hold much water and is impossible to prove. Thus to succeed on your IELTS Task 2 essay question, you’ve got to choose effective examples carefully.

So what makes a good example good and a bad example bad?
The answer is simple: (1) Good examples are specific. Bad examples are vague. (2) Good examples demonstrate the argument in action. Bad examples show little connection to the argument at all. (3) Good examples are displayed in a manner that does not disrupt the flow of the writer’s work. Bad examples feel like they have been randomly dropped into the essay.

When it comes to choosing an effective IELTS Task 2 essay example, specific is always the goal. Take the following, for example:

Don’t be ambiguous…
For instance, mobile phone growth in some countries has been dramatic.

Instead try being more specific…
For instance, mobile phone growth in China and India has been dramatic.

Don’t write in a manner that will make your IELTS examiner guess at your meaning…
Cars are the example.

Tell your examiner clearly what the link is between the argument you are trying to support and your evidence…
Cars play a good example here as they are the largest source of carbon emissions in the developing eastern world.

IELTS discussion essay writing process videos

Posted on March 30, 2011 by - Comments are off

Here is a 2-part video series I put together this morning regarding the discussion essay writing process. We also go over discussion essay question analysis.

Here are the IELTS textbooks I would recommend…

Posted on March 29, 2011 by - 2 Comments

There are thousands of IELTS books out there and most of them aren’t cheap. As an IELTS writing instructor, I have taught using many of these books and can conclude that some of them are overrated. An exam prep book, in my humble opinion, has to go beyond simply providing sample test questions and sample test answers. A good exam prep book needs to be able to describe effective thinking patterns, analytical reasoning and effective test taking strategies.

The following is a list of the textbooks I feel best outline the skills an IELTS test taker should know (click the images for more info):

1. How to prepare for IELTS (British Council, Ray de Witt) – This book provides an excellent summary of all section of the exam, plus helpful tips that clearly show what the student’s thought processes should be while engaging the IELTS test. Personally, I feel the sample questions in this book tend to be more challenging than those faced on the real exam, which makes this study guide a real mental workout for students of all levels.

2. Insight into IELTS (Cambridge Examinations Publishing) – I can hear you students out there groaning! Yes, this old series is definitely among the best IELTS prep books out there. What I like most is the open-ended lesson structures they provide that really show students how to think and how to train themselves to engage the examination with flexibility.  I’ve used parts of this book in my classroom for over five years.

3. Kaplan IELTS (Kaplan Publishing) – I feel the Kaplan textbook series (for all tests, not just IELTS) present the test-taking thought process in a gradual and easy to understand manner. I’ve used Kaplan’s IELTS series for both classroom IELTS courses as well as private 1-to-1 classes and students always appreciate the layout of the text, which is very straightforward (perfect for independent study).

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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.

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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.

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

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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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