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IELTS Vocabulary: How Using Idioms Can Affect Your Score

If you are preparing for the IELTS exam, then probably heard about idioms is important when it comes to the speaking (and writing) test. However, most students have no clue about idioms to learn and how to incorporate them in a natural way into their responses. In this article, we will take a closer look at everything you need to know about idioms.

What Is An Idiom

An idiom (also called idiomatic expression) is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning conventionally understood by native speakers. This meaning is different from the literal meaning of the idiom's individual.

The use of idioms during your speaking and writing test can help you to sound more like a native speaker, but be careful, if you use them incorrectly, they might actually lower your score!

For example:

  • The test is a piece of cake.
  • I’d rather not jump the gun

When Should You Use Idioms


Idioms are an informal aspect of the English language, and therefore they should only be used during the IELTS speaking test. Since it is moral to mimic the conditions of an actual one-to-one English conversation.

When You Shouldn’t Use Idioms

Whenever a question requires a formal response, like for example an essay or a formal letter, it is unwise to use idioms to communicate your ideas. This is because idioms are a characteristic of informal speech. If you use an idiom for a formal answer, you signal to the examiner that you are unaware of the differences between formal and informal speech and this can negatively affect your task achievement scores.

Avoid Overusing Idioms


While it is good to show the examiner that you are comfortable with using idioms, it is important not to use them. Doing this will make you sound unnatural. You will end up focusing more on find idioms to use take than speaking and this can affect your fluency. Don’t use any idiom that you are not 100% familiar with.

Examiners can easily pick up when you use a phrase incorrectly and this will lower your score.

You can avoid this by making sure that when you learn new idioms you also practice how to use them in a natural way. Listen to how native speakers use these phrases in a conversation, and practice using them on your own by saying or jotting down a few sentences that indicate these idioms.

Hopefully, by now, You’ve learned a lot about idioms and the IELTS exam. If you have any further question feel free to leave a comment

IELTS Listening: Effective Note Taking Skills

There are many tasks in the IELTS listening test that test your ability to effectively note down to important information in a talk or conversation however, note-taking is not really a skill that most of us are good at. In this article, we will take a look at some affective note taking strategies.

Why Good Note Taking Is Such An Important Skill


During the listening test, candidates will have to listen to the recording, read the questions, and write their answers. This can even be more challenging since the recordings are in English which is often a candidate’s second or third language. To add to this the speakers in the recordings have native accents, which might be unfamiliar to test takers. To top it all of you only get to listen to the recording just once. This can get overwhelming for any test taker. You can avoid this sense of being overwhelmed, by training your ears to pick up the important information in an audio.

How To Practice Note Taking


1. Be An Active Listener

The first step would be to train to be an active listener. Try listening to YouTube videos and ted talks, where speakers are discussing one particular topic. Listen to the recording in full (or in small chunks at the beginning of your preparation). Try to note down the important points mentioned by the speaker. You could also try making a small summary of the important points. Go back and review the transcript of the video and compare it to your summary. Check if there were any major points that you missed.

2. Listen Out For Keywords

It is impossible to note each word you hear in the recording. Therefore, you need to be able to decide quickly about what information is key/important. You need to learn to simply focus on keywords and phrases. Your notes should only serve to reinforce what you are listening to, so make sure that you focus on listening and not on note-taking. This will help to clarify your understanding of what you are listening to.

3. Listen Out For Signal Words

The speakers usually offer clues, in the form of signal words, to help test takers understand that different types of information are about to be mentioned. For example, the speaker could introduce an example by saying something like “for instance” or they could signal the end of their talk by saying “to sum up” Understanding what these words mean or ‘signal’ will help you to anticipate what the speaker might talk about next. When you become accustomed to listening to these sorts of recordings you get a clearer idea about the signal words that you need to listen out, and which type of information is about to follow

You can easily practice your note-taking skills by taking full-length practice tests under exam conditions. This will help you to improve the speed at which you take notes as well as their quality.

Once you have mastered the necessary skills needed to perform well in the IELTS Listening Exam, taking regular practice tests will also help you to learn how to be fast enough to answer all the questions on time, without making mistakes.

The most efficient and convenient way to pass the exam is to take the counsel of expert online IELTS tutors and practice using authentic IELTS Mock tests.

Why The IELTS Writing Module Is So Tough

Ask any candidate what was the toughest module to prepare for and I guarantee that 90% of the response will say that IELTS writing module. When it comes to the writing module we have to flex skills that we might not have had to use in years. Like for example, when was the last time you had to write an actual letter.

It might not be the content of the writing test that is that difficult but rather that the skills needed during this exam are not skills that we use In our daily life.

The other three skills are somewhat incorporated into our daily routine. We often have to speak in English or listen to the other participants in a conversation, and thanks to the internet, we are definitely exposed to English text on a large scale.

Another reason why the writing test is hard to score well in is that it is the only module where you don’t have many opportunities to make up for a mistake. If you answer the question incorrectly during the Listening, Reading, or Speaking it is highly unlikely to affect your score in a substantial way

However, for the writing module if you fail to understand the question you might end up writing an entire essay that is off-topic, which will result in a low Task Achievement score.

Failing To Understand The Skills Needed

Another reason why students fail to score well is that they are unaware of which features, examiners, look out for in a good piece of writing. Candidates tend to focus more on having good ideas rather than how to frame their arguments in a logical and easy-to-understand manner.

Therefore in order to score well, it's important to familiarize yourself with public writing band descriptions. These will give you a better idea about the type of language skills you need to ace the writing exam. you can find these descriptors on the official IELTS website.

Time Constraints


Additionally, the writing module is tough due to strict time limits for the test. Test takers have to write a minimum of 400 words for both tasks, as well as brainstorm ideas, and have enough time to recheck their answers. If you are not used to writing under a time limit you could start to panic as the clock runs out, and this can affect the quality of your answer.

Formal Language


Both the essay and report of the IELTS exam requires the use of formal language. Even though a candidate may have a good grasp of conversation English, writing in a formal language requires the use of high-level language and phrases, which not all candidates make be comfortable using.

Now that you have a better idea about some of the trendier aspects of the IELTS writing module you can begin with your IELTS writing preparation.


Both the IELTS and the PTE exams are language proficiency exams that are designed to assess a non-native speaker's ability to cope in an English-speaking environment for work or study purposes. If you have to take a language proficiency test to secure your admission to a university or as part of your visa application process then you might be confused about which exam to opt for. In this article, we will take a closer look at whether you should choose the IELTS exam or the PTE exam.

Neither Test Is Easier

If you’re intent on choosing the exam which is easier, let me just stop you there. There is no easier test. Both the IELTS and the PTE are language exams with high standards. They each have their own format and question types, and thorough preparation is needed for the exams. So to be clear, I’ll state it again. The PTE exam is not easier than the IELTS exam.

However, which exam you choose does depend on an individual's personal preference.

Paper VS Computer

The PTE exam is fully computerised. Every aspect of the exam is displayed on a screen including the answer blocks.

The IELTS exam offers you the choice of taking a computer-based test or a paper-based test.

This is especially useful for test-takers who are not comfortable with their level of computer proficiency or their typing aspect.

Which Are You Better At Writing Or Speaking

To be honest, the real difference between these two tests is how the speaking and writing components of the exams is conducted and assessed. 

Many PTE candidates score poorly in the Oral Fluency criteria. This is because the computer AI that grades the speaking portion of the PTE exam is designed to compare a second language learner's accent to the accent of a native speaker.

The IELTS exam has human examiners, who assess a candidate's speaking skills during a one on one interview. Sounding like a native speaker is not really assessed, as long as a person's accent does not hinder the examiner's understanding of what they are trying to communicate.

The writing section of the IELTS exam is notoriously difficult. Candidates are heavily penalized for grammatical and spelling errors.  Generally, speaking the PTE writing criteria is a bit more lenient than IELTS.

So, to sum up, whether you choose PTE or IELTS really depends on which skill is weaker, your writing or speaking skills.

Who Accepts These Tests

The IELTS exam is recognized by more immigration authorities and institutions across the world. Currently, the IELTS exam is accepted in over 140 countries and over 9000 global institutions. At the moment PTE Academic is only recognized by Australian, New Zealand, and UK immigration authorities. It is also recognized by fewer education authorities than the IELTS exam.

As you can see that there are differences between how each test is conducted, as well as its format. However, this does not necessarily mean that one test is easier than the other. Through preparation and practice will still be needed regardless of which test you choose.

Common Myths About The IELTS Exam Debunked

The IELTS exam is the most popular language proficiency exam in the world. Each year thousands of students take the exam as part of their university admission or immigration requirements. If you are one such prospective test taker, then you probably have already heard or read a lot about the exam. in this article, I aim to dispel some of the common and popular myths about the IELTS exam, that are actually untrue.

#1 You Have To Have A Native Accent

During the IELTS exam, your accent is not assessed. It is your pronunciation that matters. Most people are unaware that pronunciation and accent are actually two different things. The examiner assesses how well you use the correct intonation, word stress, and pace of speech. In fact, if you attempt to mimic a foreign accent, you might end up making more mistakes since it is not your natural manner of speaking.

#2 The Writing Section Is the Most Important Section

While it is true that most people consider the writing section to be the toughest part of the exam, it is not the most important. All four skills i.e. Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing contributes equally to your overall score.

This is especially true since a number of institutions and organizations have minimum requirements for each individual component as well as your overall score.

Therefore you need to pay as much attention to your preparations in these three areas as you do for writing.

#3 The Passing Score For IELTS Is Band 7.0

There is no passing mark for the IELTS exam. the grading system is just a scale that measures a test taker's level of language proficiency with 9 being the level of a native speaker of the language and 0 representing a person who does not speak English. Most immigration authorities and universities require a certain overall band score and a minimum score for each individuals component. This varies from institution to institution and it is not always a band 7.0. In fact, in some cases, the required scores can go all the way up to an 8.5. The owner is on the candidates, to check with the relevant institutions about the required score.

#4 You Need To Be Knowledgeable On A Wide Range Of Topics In Order To Score Well

In the IELTS test, your content is not assessed. As long as your responses are generally topic-related. The examiners are interested in your language skills and have you communicate with whatever little knowledge you have.

I have seen plenty of tests in which test takers have had brilliant ideas but have failed to score well because they kicked the vocabulary and grammar skills to sufficiently communicate their skills.

Now that you have a better about what the IELTS exam is really about, you can now move forward with your IELTS preparation.

How To Introduce Examples

Since each paragraph should only include 1 to 2 examples, you only need a few solid phrases to introduce them.

  • For example
  • For instance
  • To illustrate
  • Like
  • Such as
  • Namely

Try to make your examples as specific as possible. General arguments weaken your argument and do support your argument well enough. The best way to improve the believability of your argument is to include things like names, dates, or figures

For example, people are more likely to believe a fact if comes from a believable source, instead of general statement.

How Can You Come Up With Good Examples

the best to source examples is to look at your own life experiences. Remember if necessary you could also make up examples, since you will not be assessed on the content of your answer, but instead on you communicate your ideas.

The next step on your IELTS writing journey is to begin practicing. The best way to gain proper feedback on your proactive essays is to take the advice of a trained IELTS professional. A good teacher will not only be able to point out your mistakes, but they will also be able to help you improve on them.

In order to score well in the IELTS essay, students have to do more than just using high level vocabulary and complex grammar, they also have to be able to fully develop their arguments in respective to an essay question by extending their ideas with supporting details. This includes adding relevant examples.

However, many students are unaware to do this well enough. This helps you to score better in the Task Achievement criteria.

Why Is Using Examples Important In Essay Writing

Using examples makes it easier for the reader to understand your point of view. It allows you to explain complicated ideas in an easier to understand was, and this goes a long way to improve your coherence and cohesion scores.

When Should You Add Examples

Adding a list of examples without any proper structure or reasoning will not benefit your score in any way. In fact it might actually lower it. When adding examples its important to stick to the following paragraph format.

Every paragraph should start of with your main idea. The sentence that continues the main idea is called a topic sentence and all other information that is continued in that particular sentence should be related to that main idea. The next sentence should serve as an explanation of your main idea. And lastly to drive home the main idea you should include an example to illustrate your point.

IELTS And Your Career

The IELTS exam is the world’s most popular English language proficiency exam. It is used by higher learning authorities and immigration authorities. To determine whether or not a candidate will be able to cope in an English-speaking environment. The above-mentioned facts are generally well known by most people but did you know that having a good IELTS score can also help you when it comes to getting your dream job. Here are just some of the ways in which having a good IELTS score can help you land the perfect job:

  • A good IELTS score is a big plus point on your CV. Displaying your IELTS score on your LinkedIn profile or CV allows prospective employers to see that you have the language skills necessary to thrive in their organization. It might just give you that extra but necessary edge in today's competitive job market in today's job market.
  • Since the IELTS exam is considered tough for non-native speakers it requires intense preparation and dedication. Employers will see your score as a practical reflection of how disciplined you are when you need to achieve a difficult goal.
  • The IELTS exam assesses a candidate’s written and oral comprehension. A good score will communicate to an employer’s perspective that a person can understand high-level work-related conversations or other forms of telephones/online communication in fluid natural and reactive ways to be able to business. They will also be able to produce the necessary formal language for work emails, reports, and articles.

World-Wide Acceptance

A good IELTS score helps you to get your foot in the door at a number of global institutions. The IELTS exam is accepted by over 10000 organizations across the globe. These organisations do not employ non-native speakers unless they have the required valid scores, at the time of hiring.

IELTS For Healthcare Professionals

IELTS is recognized by a large number of medical authorities in English-speaking countries. Most of these regulatory bodies require that candidates who have completed their training in a medium other than English must take the IELTS exam, in order to prove that they will be able to effectively deal with their colleagues and patients when working in an English-speaking country.

Thus if you are a healthcare professional looking to practice/work abroad the IELTS exam is a must.

By now you will have a better idea about how IELTS  can help you achieve your career goals, and you have hopefully decided that the exam is the right fit for you. Now the real work begins, as you embark on your IELTS preparation journey.

IELTS Writing: Understanding Coherence And Cohesion

The IELTS writing test assesses a test taker’s score based on 4 main areas i.e. Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. Most people/candidates are relatively familiar with lexical resources and grammatical range and accuracy requirements, but coherence and cohesion is one of the criteria the candidates know the least about. In this article, we will take a closer look at the IELTS writing coherence and cohesion criteria, and have exactly you can go about maximizing your score in this area

What Is Coherence?

Coherence refers to how well the examiner can understand what you write. There are several things that can affect this, such as grammar mistakes, the use of inappropriate words and phrases or the illogical ordering of sentences and idea.In short, to well in this area, a test taker must produce an essay that is logically ordered and clear, so that it can be easily understood by the reader. In order to score well in terms of coherence you must be able:

  • Use separate paragraphs, each with its own main idea.
  • Make sure that your essay follows a logical sequence.
  • Use linking words to connect different paragraphs.

For example, a common essay structure for a typical advantage/disadvantage type of essay would be:

  • Intro paragraph 1- paraphrase the question
  • Main body paragraph 2 – discuss 1/2 advantages along with supporting ideas and examples
  • Main body paragraph 3 – discuss 1/2 disadvantages along with supporting ideas and examples
  • Conclusion – provide a summary of the main ideas plus a relevant suggestion

What Is Cohesion?

Cohesion refers to your ability to link ideas, sentences and paragraphs using various methods You should be able to link ideas, sentences and paragraphs and this helps to progress clearly from one idea to another.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use linking words and discourse markers. If you do not include discourse markers and linking words in your IELTS writing, your answer will appear illogical and be more difficult to understand. A few examples are, Nevertheless, Particularly, Thus, Naturally, etc.

There are also additional ways to improve the cohesion in your works, such as:

  • Make sure you only use 1 main idea in each paragraph, and that you support your arguments sufficiently by providing sufficient explanations and examples.
  • Use complex sentence structures to link ideas. However, you also have to make sure that these types of sentences are correctly punctuated.
  • You can also use pronouns and synonyms to sound less repetitive.

The above-mentioned methods are useful because if you overuse linking words while trying to make your essay more cohesive, you will only end up sounding unnatural.

If you feel that your writing skills are lacking in any way, then you should probably consider enrolling in an IELTS prep course. This is because it is very difficult for second language learners to objectively point out their own weak areas when it comes to productive skills like writing. This is why the best approach would be to work on your writing skills with a trusted IELTS professional, who can guide on all the best methods and tips to improve your IELTS writing responses.

IELTS Speaking: How To Overcome Fluency Issues

Fluency is one of the four criteria that is assessed by examiners during the exam, it is also one of the toughest areas to improve in, as there are no hard and fast rules for this particular aspect like there are for the other criteria like vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. For this reason, it can be hard to know where to begin to improve your fluency. In this article, we will take a look at how to overcome some common issues with fluency

What Is Fluency?

Many students make the mistake of confusing fluency with speaking too quickly. Native speakers of any language tend to speak faster in their mother tongues since they are familiar with all the intricacies of the language. However, if you attempt to speak too quickly during your test before you have actually mastered the necessary skills you might sound incoherent and end up lowering your score.

Remember don’t put the horse before the cart. Put in the necessary effort to develop your speaking skills and your fluency will naturally improve as well.

Try To Think Of Good Ideas Quickly

Sometimes when a candidate hesitates when speaking it is misconstrued as a lack of fluency. Often this is just because the candidate is struggling to think of good ideas, instead of thinking of the correct words.

Remember the content of your answer is not being assessed, but rather the way in which you communicate these ideas, even if they are not very good. The examiner is not testing your knowledge, they are listening out for certain linguistic skills. So don’t focus on giving the perfect answer, start talking about the first idea that comes to mind when you get asked a question.

Don’t Fixate On Grammar And Vocabulary

Another issue that prevents candidates from sounding fluent is their unnecessary fixation with using the perfect vocabulary and grammar. If you spend too much time worrying about producing the perfect sentence, you will end up sounding very unnatural and probably almost machine-like.

How Can You Improve Your Fluency

One of the best ways to improve your fluency is to continually practice. Try to find a speaking partner or even try speaking to yourself. The more you speak, the more comfortable you become with the practical application of the concepts you learn during your speak preparation. Doing so will result in the gradual improvement of both your confidence and fluency.

Consider Getting An Outside Opinion

It is very difficult for second language learners to objectively point out their own weak areas when it comes to productive skills like speaking. This is why the best approach would be to work on your fluency with a trusted IELTS professional, who can guide on all the best methods and tips to improve your pronunciation.

IELTS Vocabulary: Why Collocations Are Important

During the IELTS writing modules, the examiner will be looking out for certain skills and criteria in your essay to determine if your essay is a high-scoring response or not. One such skill is the ability to use collocations effectively. In this article, we will take a look closer at collocations and the IELTS writing module

What Is A Collocation?

A collocation is a group of words that are often found together. There may be some underlying grammatical reasons for some groupings. However more often not, certain groupings are formed due to long-term usage and these groups of words end up sounding more natural.

For example, strong tea sounds better than powerful tea. Even though strong and powerful mean the same thing.

Some words just naturally collate together, while others do not like, ‘do homework’ instead of  ‘make homework’, ‘make tea’ instead of ‘cook tea’ or ‘make the bed’ instead of ‘do the bed’

Different Types Of Common Collocations

Verb + noun

Noun +noun

Adjective + noun

Verb + adverb

Adverb + adjective

  • adverb + adjective
    • Correct: fully aware
    • Incorrect: outright aware
  • adjective + noun
    • Correct: deep sleep
    • Incorrect: low sleep
  • noun + noun
    • Correct: round of applause
    • Incorrect: group of applause
  • noun + verb
    • Correct: cats purr, dogs bark
    • Incorrect: cats bark, dogs purr
  • verb + noun
    • Correct: give a speech
    • Incorrect: send a speech

Why Are Collocation Improve In The IELTS Exam

In order to be able to score above a band 6.0 for Lexical Resources candidates must be able to use common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation.

This means to score well in the area of lexical resources, it's not enough to just use uncommon vocabulary you also need to know about which words are commonly used with those uncommon words.

It is important to note that, with all uncommon and new vocabulary, make sure that you are fully aware of a collocations usage before you use it in your essay. Using collocations incorrectly will negatively affect your score.

How Can You Learn Collocations

Many students often try to memorize lists of collocations. However, I don’t really think that this is an effective method. When you memorize lists you might just store the words in your long term memory but they will never really become part of your functional vocabulary (the words you use on a daily basis)

I think it's better to come across these collocations in a natural way. Like for example through active reading. In this way not only will you be able to source new vocabulary but you will also get a better idea about how these words are used in a natural way.

Also, make it a habit to look for the words that commonly collate with any new pieces of vocabulary that you might come across during your preparation.

You can easily find these common collocations by using online dictionaries such as Collins, Longmans, etc.

Remember to also practice using these collocations by speaking or writing a few sentences with them. This will make it easier to recall these words when we need to use them.