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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.
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Hi Ryan,
I am so happy to inform you that I scored 7.5 in writing!
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Thanks for your help, I’ve scored band 8 in writing.
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I prepared just by looking at your videos and scored 7.5! Thank you!
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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!
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Hi Ryan,
I obtained a writing score of 8.5. Your videos were instrumental in helping me achieving this score. Thanks, mate!
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I read your blog every day and scored 7.5 in writing!
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I went from band 6.0 to 7.5 following Ryan’s coaching!
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IELTS reading secrets! Here are a list of test strategies shared by an IELTS guru!

Posted on May 14, 2012 by

Patrick and I met with a very small group of you last night on IELTS Chat.  I think everyone will agree that the wisdom Patrick shared with us regarding the reading exam was extremely valuable.  (For a full transcript of the conversation, click here.)  Be sure to visit Patrick’s website at IELTS Test Online.

Here are some of the points I took away from the evening:

  • -When engaging the reading exam, you don’t have enough time to read all passages in detail.  It is vital that a student learns how to skim and scan.  Skimming involves reading to find out the general gist of a passage.  Scanning involves reading to find a specific bit of information.
  • -Patrick outlined two strategies for engaging the reading portion of the exam: (1) read the questions in detail, note keywords, then scan the passage for the answers to those questions (2) skim the passage, note the topics, then read the questions in detail and answer them.  Patrick said there is no ‘right’ way to engage the questions, the key is for students to experiment as they are studying and find out which strategy works best for them.
  • -Patrick’s advice for vocabulary building is for students to make the new words they learn relevant for them.  Instead of creating long, boring lists of vocabulary words, students should be writing the words they learn down in the context they see them.  So if ‘triumph’ is a new word and you see the word in a passage about your favourite football team, you should be noting the word down in a sentence that reminds you of the passage you read.  Doing this will help jolt your memory when you come back to review the new words you’ve learned.
  • -If you come across an unknown word on the exam, Patrick suggests following these 6 steps: (1) checking the context of the word, (2) contrast the word with another word or sentence in the paragraph, (3) looking for explanation of the word’s meaning in the sentence or paragraph itself, (4) breaking the word apart into its more basic form (if it has one), (5) logic and finally (6) simply guessing what the word means.
  • -T/F/NG questions always appear in the order of the text.  So if you’ve found the answer for the first T/F/NG question in the third paragraph of the text, you know that the second T/F/NG question’s answer will not be in the first or second paragraph.  This can save you valuable time on the exam!  The same phenomenon is true for sentence completion questions.
  • -T/F/NG questions can be tricky, particularly knowing when to mark a question ‘N’ and when to mark it ‘NG’.  The key is that you need to have definitive evidence that a piece of data is a ‘No’.  If you cannot find this evidence, the answer is ‘Not Given’.  If you are not sure about a question, leave it blank until the end of your exam.  Use the last few minutes to answer this question.  If you are still unsure, chances are the answer is NG.
  • -Matching type questions must be read very closely.  If you’ve skimmed the passage already, certain questions should be clear to you right away.  Do these questions first.
  • -If you face the headings question type, it is important to remember that the heading represents the entire paragraph, not just a section of it.  So you need to be sure that you have an understanding of what the entire paragraph is saying.  Do the easier headings first, then attempt the harder ones.
  • -If you are having trouble with time, remember to allot yourself no more than 1.5 minutes per question.  If you cannot find the answer within 1.5 minutes, skip this question and move on.  You can come back after you complete the easier questions and try to find the answer.
  • -Another great time saving tip: when you start the exam, first look at the question types.  Choose the question type that you find the easiest and read its corresponding passage first.  You do not need to complete the passages in the order you see them.
  • -Patrick recommends training yourself to read at at least 200 words per minute.

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Ryan's Recent Posts Posts

Patrick answers your immigration questions

I had a very interesting chat with Patrick ( about Canadian and Australian immigration. Several of your questions were answered. Tune in to hear the entire interview from start to finish:

Model response to an Academic Task 2 question seen 12 July 2014


(I’ve made this response a little bit longer than needed to demonstrate additional vocabulary and grammatical structures. Your IELTS essay would not need to be this long.)

Some argue younger people are not suitable for important positions in the government, while others think this is a good idea. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Government jobs carry with them serious responsibilities. It is therefore no surprise that a person’s age and experience come under scrutiny when positions in government need to be filled. Many feel influential government jobs should be reserved for those who are older and have more experience, while others feel the criterion for these positions should be capability, namely whomever is most able to carry out the job. This essay will look at both sides before drawing a logical conclusion.

On the one hand, many argue that younger people should be made ineligible for important government positions, and the implications of this opinion are clear. Those operating at senior levels within a country’s military, for example, require field experience to prevent disastrous decisions that could cause the needless loss of life. Were younger people allowed to fast track their ascension within a country’s military, they could find themselves having to make critical choices based more on theoretical study than practical experience, and this could have catastrophic results. Thus, is it understandable why many feel younger government workers should be incubated before given promotion to important positions.

However, there are several plausible counters to this argument. For one, younger workers bring creativity and fresh ideas to government. For example, young government workers in Canada successfully pushed to increase HIV understanding and dispel stigmas attached to the disease in the 1980s, a development that encouraged tolerance and reduced irrational fear. In addition to fresh ideas, it should be remembered that to get a government job, one has to successfully engage a rigorous screening process. If a younger person engages this process as well or better than an older person, it is hard to argue that age should be a decisive factor when offering employment. It is clear from these reasons that there is merit to awarding important government career options to younger people.

Although the above look reveals solid evidence for both sides of the argument, it is felt that the healthiest approach to designating government positions is to ensure candidates fulfil rigorous training programs. Thus, a person’s age should not be considered a universal precursor to the awarding of government jobs.

How to use concession in your argument essay

Looking at a point that opposes your own can be tricky in an argument essay. In this video, we go over what concession is and how you can use it.

Igor scores band 8.5

In this episode of IELTSCast, Igor, an IELTS instructor in Kazakhstan, details how he managed to score band 8.5. The resources Igor suggests are:

(Book) Listening Strategies for the IELTS (Beijing University Press)
(Website) – A Chinese social networking site with well established IELTS communities.
(Website) Everyone’s favourite former examiner Chris Green’s work at

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