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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

Archive for 2012

Anyone from Pune? Rahul nabs 8.5 in Reading and Listening using alternative study methods!

Posted on December 10, 2012 by - 5 Comments

I recently had a great chat with Rahul about his experiences with the IELTS exam.  Rahul’s approach to General Reading is interesting, as he approaches passages 1 and 2 differently from passage 3.  As you will hear in the interview, Rahul has found that this strategy allowed him to accelerate the speed with which he worked through the readings.  What this meant was more time to check over his answers.  His 8.5 reflects that this strategy works.

Tune in to our conversation and hear Rahul explain this and other strategies in his own words.  You can download the entire interview here.  (If you find these videos motivating, please consider leaving me a 5 star rating in iTunes.)

Attention:  I am looking for more successful IELTS students to interview.  I know from reading your comments on my YouTube page that many of you have scored band 7 and higher.  Please consider sparing 30 minutes of your time to share your exam strategies with the world.  Contact me at

Prepositions are frustrating! How well do you know yours?

Posted on December 5, 2012 by - 5 Comments

No access to YouTube?  Download the video by clicking here.

Your friend visited your home recently.  They forgot something.  Write a letter to your friend about this situation.  In your letter include:

-what your friend forgot

-where the item is now

-a proposed arrangement to return the item

Dear Jose,

I am writing for/on/to two reasons.  Firstly, my wife and I would like to thank you for your visit last night.  You and Sharon are great company.  Secondly, I wanted to let you know that you forgot your laptop when you left.  Allow me to elaborate.

I imagine that upon arriving home you realized it was missing, but on/about/in the event you did not I wanted to write this letter to tell you.  The laptop is still sitting where you left it at/between/on the coffee table in/at/around our living room.  My wife and I have appreciated having your library of music to tap into.  However, I should point out that I could not track down the computer’s carrying case, so I hope this is on/among/around your things.

I suppose we will have to arrange a time to meet.  I am free any day this week, aside from Sunday.  What day and time suit you?  We could either drive it your direction, or you could come our way to pick it up.

Your friend,


Many high school students take part time jobs.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

At/Among/To many cultures, adolescents are encouraged to work part time.  But this is a phenomenon that is not universally encouraged, as many people feel such an arrangement has drawbacks.  This essay will look at the advantages and disadvantages associated among/to/with working high school students.

On the one hand, students who work part time gain business exposure and learn to handle money.  For example, companies like McDonald’s often hire high school students to work their front cash registers.  For these young adults, they are learning both how to deal among/below/with people in a professional way and how to transact money.  As these sorts of hands on abilities are not taught in schools, it is clear that several advantages derive from/to/towards students working part time.

However, on the other hand, students who choose to work during their high school years spend time away from their studies and may be exposed to dangerous situations.  For instance, I remember as a student once working by/within/in a restaurant in an underdeveloped part of my city.  The clientele often had serious personal problems, such as drug and alcohol addiction.  To make matters worse, I worked so many weekly hours at this restaurant that my school grades started to suffer.  As this experience shows, there are several disadvantages that can befall working students.

Following this look, it can be concluded that part time work among students should be engaged on/for/by a case-by-case basis.  So long as a working arrangement does not infringe upon a student’s safety or their grades, it is recommended that part time work be pursued by/from/to all adolescent people

Are you an IELTS student in China? Listen to Ying Jun as she explains the strategies that led her to band 8!

Posted on December 4, 2012 by - 3 Comments

Having lived in China for almost 5 years, I know how difficult it is for Chinese students to prepare for their exam.  IELTS classrooms in China can be several hundred students large, making it impossible for students to have direct feedback from their instructor on their progress.  To make matters worse, blocked websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter restrict a Chinese person’s ability to interact in English with the outside world.  This is arguably part of the reason why China’s average band on the Academic exam is among the lowest in the world.  (To see how your country scores, visit IELTS Test Taker Performance 2011.)

This is what makes my conversation with Ying Jun so interesting.  Despite facing these obstacles, Ying Jun managed to score an overall band 8 on her exam and is well on her way to realizing her dream of becoming a non-native IELTS examiner.  In this episode, Ying Jun shares specific tips to help Chinese students better their marks on the exam.  Click here to listen to my talk with Ying Jun!

Listen to my conversation with a quadrilingual person! Nakisa scores 8.5 in speaking!

Posted on November 17, 2012 by - 2 Comments

This past week has been terrific!  I had the opportunity to speak to three students about their success on the IELTS exam.  In this conversation, Nakisa (who speak Farsi, English, German and some Arabic) shared her secrets to language acquisition.  From strategies to specific titles, Nakisa really helps paint the picture for what IELTS students need to do to succeed on the exam.  Here are the book titles she shares during our talk:

I know some of you may feel Interchange is too elementary for an IELTS student, but I would like to point out that Interchange does a very good job of describing American accent production.  It provides lots of sample dialogues and breaks sentences down into basic sounds to help the student strengthen their pronunciation.  (For more advanced training, try a book like American Accent Training.)

Without further ado, here’s my full exchange with Nakisa!

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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 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.

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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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