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IELTS Reading: How To Improve Your Reading Speed

Being able to read texts at great speed, while still being able to understand the content and meaning of the text. In this article, we will look at how to improve your reading speed for the IELTS reading test.

Why Is It Necessary To Improve Your Reading Speed

The reading module is 1 hour long and includes three reading passages which are on average 1 hour long. To add to this most of the texts are related to advanced academic with a high-level vocabulary. It is tough for even native speakers to be able to read and fully understand these passages in time and answer all the skills, therefore it would be very useful to be able to read text faster.

How To Improve your Reading Speed


Learn How To Chunk Words Together

When we focus on every single word or syllable, we tend to read at a much slower pace. It is better to focus on two/three word at a time.

Stop Reading Words Out Loud, Read Them In Your Mind

When you read a language, we tend to sound out the words in our minds. This means our reading speed is limited to the speed at which we speak. However, we do not really say out that word in our mind, we just naturally understand their meaning. We need to process English words in the same manner.

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Your reading speed will also naturally improve the more you read. By doing this you will become more familiar with how sentences are constructed and then you will also expose yourself to more advanced vocabulary.

Improve Your Vocabulary


If you have a wide range of vocabulary, you will reduce the number of times you have to stop to struggle with understanding unfamiliar words.

IELTS Academic: Everything You Need To Know About Conditional Acceptance To University

If you are a second language learner and you have your sights set on studying further in an English-speaking country like the USA or Australia, then you will probably have to take an English language proficiency exam like IELTS to prove your English language capabilities and that you have the necessary skills to cope in an English medium higher learning institute.

Each year thousands of students attempt the exam, including many from Singapore, for this very same purpose and a surprisingly large percentage of these test-takers end up failing to obtain the score necessary for their tertiary education applications.

It is quite normal for students to underestimate the difficulty of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam and this is the reason that most test-takers don’t get the score they need the first time.

In this article, we will outline one not-so-well-known option that is available to students if they have not scored well enough in the IELTS Academic exam. We will be talking about IELTS and Conditional Acceptance

What Is Conditional Acceptance

If you meet all other admissions requirements but have missed the required IELTS overall band score by just a marginal amount, you could try speaking to your university about conditional acceptance. This means that you will be allowed to study at the university until you retake the IELTS test.

Each university has its own set of requirements for conditional acceptance

There are some universities might require you to enroll in mandatory ESL courses and then retake the exam,  while some just need you to retake the exam and get the necessary scores. There are also a few universities who have some leeway regarding their IELTS test requirements, might accept you despite your low score.

Why You Should Consider Conditional Acceptance

Students wonder if they should  just retake the exam or ask for a rescore instead of consider conditional acceptance. Here’s why conditional acceptance is the better choice:

Accepting conditional admission offers has significant benefits for candidates, since they get to keep their admission spots and they don’t have to make many alterations to their study plans and timelines. If they just retook the test without conditional acceptance, all their future plans would effectively be put on hold.

Asking for a rescore instead of conditional acceptance is actually kind of a long shot, since the chances of seeing any change in your score is very slim. Even if there is a change it will not be very drastic, maybe the difference between a half-band or so.

How Can You Get Conditional Acceptance - What IELTS Score Do You Need For Conditional Acceptance?

The minimum scores needed for conditional acceptance depend on the universities or institutions you are applying to. This can even differ within the same university depending on the course you have enrolled in. For instance, some engineering programs require lower IELTS scores than arts programs within the same university. The required IELTS score for a specific course is always mentioned along with a course's admissions requirements. However, you might need to contact the university directly to find out if they offer conditional acceptance and which scores are required for that.

Conditional acceptance is a worst-case scenario, but one that is worthwhile to know about. If you happen to be in the unfortunate position of having to retake the IELTS exam, then I suggest that you invest in high-quality IELTS preparation resources and teachings, under the guided supervision of an IELTS professional. This is a much safer option than taking the exam multiple times and wasting your precious time and money.

How To Avoid Overusing Fillers During The IELTS Speaking Tests

Using filler phrases like uhm, err or uhh are actually quite normal, even for native speakers. However, you shouldn’t do this a lot during your speaking test. Using unnecessary fillers and repetition gives the impression that the speaker does not have sufficient vocabulary for the task, and that you cannot continue speaking. This will affect both your fluency and vocabulary scores. In this article you will learn how to use discourse markers, or paraphrasing to buy time to think of appropriate ways to answer.

Why Buying Time Is Important

The questions in part three are much tougher than those in part 1. If you get asked a question that you can’t immediately answer during your IELTS exam, you should not panic or keep silent. It’s important to keep speaking even if you need a moment to decide how to answer the actual question. Native English speakers use many different time-filling phrases to help them do this.

Honestly, I am a little bit nervous right now and my mind just went blank

Wow let me think about that.

I’ve never thought about it before

I’ve never really given much thought to that before.

Frankly, this isn’t something I’m used to talking about

That’s a good question, so let’s see …

You know, it’s been such a long time since I’ve thought about this matter …

Unfortunately, this subject is not really my cup of tea, but let me try …

Asking For Clarification:

If part of the reason why you are struggling with a question is because you don’t understand what is being asked, there are instances when you are allowed to ask the examiner for claricfication. In part three of the IELTS speaking test you are allowed to ask the examiner to repeat, rephrase or explain the question

You can use the following phrases to request the examiner to do so:

I am not sure what you meant by (…)

Could you please, say that in other words?

Could you please, repeat the question?

Do you mean……….?

I am sorry. Could you please, repeat that?

I beg your pardon…

Could you please repeat that…?

Could you please explain it to me in another way?

I did not quite get that. Did you mean…?


If you do make a mistake when speaking, its important not to panic. Rather politely correct yourself using one of the following phrases:

What I actually meant was…

To express it another way…

Another way to say it…

Another way of saying it is…

Let me put it this/another way…

What I mean is…

To rephrase what I have just said…

What I want / meant to say is…

What I am trying to say is…

If you feel that your speaking skills are lacking in any other way, then it is probably best to consider enrolling in a professional IELTS course, under the guided supersivion of an IELTS lecturer. This will help you to identify your weak areas as well as offer you valuable feedback on how to improve.

If you found this article useful, feel free to leave a comment below.

Do The IELTS Essay Questions Repeat?

Since the writing module accounts for 25% of test-takers overall IELTS score, and it is notoriously tough, many candidates wonder if the essay questions repeat. This is mostly because they wish to prepare their responses to such questions in advance. In this essay, we will take a look at whether the IELTS essay questions repeat or not.

How Previous Questions Are Sourced

In all honesty, no one can really know what the actual bank of IELTS essay questions is, that is because actual past papers are never printed out by the organisations that own the exam. We only get a basic idea about the essay questions from the feedback given by former candidates and that is not always reliable since they probably don’t remember the questions exactly due to exam stress. So the only people who know whether the questions repeat are the employees of the IDP, the British Council and Cambridge.

Most essay questions are derived from a set of common core topics and these have remained the same for many years now. So while the exact essay question might not repeat, the topic might be repeated several times. This information is useful because it allows you to learn vocabulary and phrases related to these common topics. However, when you learn new and unfamiliar words, make sure that you can flexibly use them in different contexts since as I mentioned the essay question might not always be straightforward.

These core topics include;

  • Health
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Development
  • Globalization
  • Public Transport
  • Criminal Justice
  • Youth Crime
  • Technology
  • Government Spending

Why Memorising Repeated Essays Is Not Useful For The IELTS Writing Test

Many students think that since these common topics often repeat it would be much easier to just memorise essays that are related to these topics. However, the essay questions are neer just general or straightforward for discussion about a certain topic. There is always something specific that needs to be argued or discussed and if you provide a general essay on the topic, you will lose out heavily on your task achievement score.

For example, take the following sample essay

Some people think high-end technology can prevent and cut down the rate of committing a crime. Do you agree or disagree?

We know that the general topic is about crime and technology (high-end technology). However, it is important to take the time and analyse exactly which aspect of technology and crime the essay question is asking us to focus on.

We are being asked about our views on whether technology can be used to reduce the rate of crime. If the candidate had written a memorized essay that was about crime or technology in general they would have not scored well at all, even if they used good grammar and uncommon vocabulary.

To add to this the examiners are well trained to determine scripted and memorised answers. Remember they are on the lookout for natural-sounding English, and if your essay does not meet these standards, you will lose out on getting your desired band score.

If you feel that your writing skills are in any way lacking, then I recommend enrolling in a good IELTS course under the supervision of an English language expert. This will drastically cut down the time it takes you to identify your weak areas and improve on them.

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.


Both the IELTS and the TOEFL exams are popular language proficiency exams. If you need to prove your language skills in order to secure your university admissions spot or visa application, then you probably need to take either the IELTS or the TOEFL. The question is which one? In this article, we will take a look at how to choose between taking the IELTS or the TOEFL exam.

The TOEFL Exam


The TOEFL exam is a standardized test of English that is a common requirement for entry in higher-level learning institutes like universities. It is a test of a candidate's academic English language skills and cannot be used for immigration proposes. The test assesses a candidate's performance. The TOEFL exam has 4 main areas Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking, and is about 3 hours long.

The IELTS Exam


The IELTS Exam is a language proficiency test that can be used to assess the language skills of a non-native speaker, for both work and study purposes. There are quite a few differences in the way in which the exams are constructed as well as their content.

What Are The Differences Between These Two Tests

The IELTS exam has a wider range of quarter types while the TOEFL questions are mostly just multiple-choice questions. The TOEFL exam is also just 3 hours long compared to the IELTS which is 2 hours and 45 Minutes The major difference between the two exams is how the speaking test is conducted.

The IELTS exam uses a one on one in-person interview between the candidate and the examiner after the speaking test. The TOEFL speaking test is fully computerized, your responses are recorded and then assessed

During the TOEFL listening test is fully you will only hear speakers with American accents, while the IELTS exams use speakers of accents. For the TOEFL writing test, your responses must be typed. However, for the IELTS exam, you have a choice between the Paper-based and computer-based test.

Which Test Should You Choose


In the end, both of these tests are language proficiency tests with high standards. They both require In-depth/thorough preparation. the test that you choose depends mostly on your personal preference such as how comfortable you are with typing or do you prefer to in-person speaking test or to use recordings instead. You also need to consider which type of test the institution you are applying to accepts and what their score requirements are..

Are The IELTS Essay Questions Getting Tougher

The IELTS writing module is notorious for being extra tough on candidates. However, the writing module consists of 2 questions. The academic module requires candidates to produce a formal report and an essay while the general training module test asks students to write a letter and an essay. Both of these pieces of writing have to meet an extremely high standard of assessment criteria in order to score well. Many students took comfort in the fact, that at least the types of essay that were commonly asked during the test were almost the same for 2 decades. Unfortunately, this seems to be changing. In this article, we will take a look at why the IELTS essay topics seem to be getting tougher.

In general, I teach my students that there are around 5 main types of essays that are:

  • Advantages and disadvantages essay
  • Opinion essays
  • Discuss both views essays
  • Problems and solutions essays
  • Mixed type essays

You can understand what type of essay you need to write by analysing the wording of the question, and the type of essay will also determine how you structure your essay as well as the type of vocabulary and argument you can use.

Fake Questions

In general IELTS essay question follow a fixed structure and careful unambiguous languages

When students show me questions which appear to not fit the standard structure of the typical IELTS question, my first question to them is where did the sources say this question is from. Often websites asks their readers to provide them with the questions from their own ielts exam. However, it is highly unlikely that these second language learners have the skills, let alone the memory to remember the exact wording of each question.

These slight changes in wording can completely alter the meaning of the question, and make it seem much more difficult to understand and answer.

There are also some two part questions in the ielts exam. These usually consisit of some combination of the main essay types for example.

A question might ask you to discuss the causes of an issue and then ask you to mention your opinion. For example

The continued rise in the world’s population is the greatest problem faced by humanity at the present time.

What are the causes of this continued rise?

Do you agree that it is the greatest problem faced by humanity?

These questions are also known as double essay questions because, they have one statement with two different questions after it. The questions may or may not be linked.

  • These three errors are common in IELTS Mixed essays.
  • Not answering both questions fully.
  • Not outlining both answers in the introduction.
  • Mistaking it for one of the other essay types.

These types of questions are not actually new, but they are less common, and because of this, they usually throw students off when they come across one. Here are some tips on how to handle such questions.

First you need to analyse the question to determine exactly what is being asked of you.

Let us look at the following example:

Nowadays the way people interact with each other has changed because of technology.

In what ways has technology affected the types of relationships people make? Has this become a positive or negative development?

We know the general topic is about technology, specifically how people interact using technology. We need to discuss how has technology affected relationships, and which type of development is it? Is it good or bad?

Next we need to generate ideas for our essays and come up with a good structure for it. I recommend using separate paragraphs for each question, as follows.

Mixed Question Essay Structure:


  • Paraphrase Question
  • Give your opinion and outline main ideas.

Main Body Paragraph 1

  • Answer the First question
  • Explain
  • Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

  • Answer the Second Question
  • Explain Topic Sentence
  • Example


  • Summary of main points and opinion

Once you have you done this, writng your essay becomes much easier. Make sure that you practice as many of these types of mixed essay questions as possible, so that you are not phased if one of them appears in your actual ielts exam.

How To Stay Motivated For IELTS During The COVID 19 Pandemic

The sudden onset of the global pandemic, effectively put life on hold since the beginning of 2020. This includes many people’s plans to study or work abroad. If the global pandemic has distributed your IELTS test schedule and application plans, its hard not to feel demoralised. In this article, we will take a look at how to stay motivated while preparing for the IELTS exams during covid.

A Lack Of Direction

Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been on and off long periods of time during which people have been stuck indoors. Everyday seems to meld into one, with no clear distinction between them. Its often difficult to know which day it is let alone keep track of time. For this reason it can be difficult to must up the determination to continue studies or even perform other basic tasks.

Create A Study Plan 

To overcome this issue I recommend creating an organised study plan. Make a schedule that includes all four main components of the exam namely listening, writing, and speaking. Spread them out throughout the day and over a number of weeks. Arrange the subjects progressively so you can start things slow and also include specific times to assess the skills you have learned during your study.

What To Do When Your Test Has Been Delayed?

Make sure you keep up to date with the latest IELTS covid related change. Stay in touch with your chosen test centre, to find out if there have been any changes to the testing schedule or if new tests dates have been offered.

Continue To Practice

Above all do not stay idle. Try to continually work and improve on your skills by regularly practicing using authentic IELTS materials.it would be such a waste to have prepared thoroughly only to lose out on your desired score only because you were rusty from not practicing enough during lockdown. There is never a definite end to IELTS preparation and practicing.

Stick To Your Original Plans

Your IELTS test might be delayed during Covid but this does necessarily mean that you should put all your plans on hold. Most immigration authorities and universities  have made concessions about the dates for the application process due to the covid 19 pandemic. So don’t just assure that all is lost, keep in touch with the authorities and try to find a work around to all of the delays.

Enrol In An IELTS Course

Taking admission to an IELTS prep course can help you to stay focused on your study. You will be obligated to meet the daily goals that are set by the lecturer, and as a result your preparation will continue to move forward, even though the entire world has effectively been put on hold.

The Many Ways In Which Reading Mock Tests Are Useful

Taking an IELTS mock test is useful for the obvious reasons in that it can help you to gauge your current level, and it can help you determine if all of your hard work and preparation have been put to good use, by helping determine if you have improved your original level of reading proficiency. However, there are other ways in which you can benefit from taking the heading practice tests.

Improved Time Management

The more tests you take, you will find that you can complete them in a much faster manner. You will also get used to the various tricks and distractors that examiners use to throw candidates off.

Improving Vocabulary And Grammar

Another useful purpose for going through reading practice test passages is that they a packed with loads of useful vocabulary and phrases, that you can use for the reading test, and you can also learn the meaning of these words so that you can use them for both the speaking and writing tests. When you read the test passages, you will naturally come across new words or phrases. You also get the added benefit of seeing how these words are used naturally in different grammatical contexts. Doing this will give you a better understanding of how a word should be used and you can try and work out what they mean from the context in which you read them. Improving your vocabulary is useful for both the writing and speaking tests. Since one of the main criteria for achieving a band 7 in both writing and speaking involves the use of uncommon vocabulary.

Helps You To Practice Essential Reading Skills

Whenever you take a reading mock test, you can also use the passages to practice the skill of skimming. Skimming refers to the ability to go through a reading passage in order to get a general idea about it, without reading in detail. This helps one to quickly  understand the layout of the passage, which is useful for when you have to scan the text in order to locate specific information required for questions in the IELTS reading test.

When you are going through a passage highlight what you think are the main points in the piece. This way you train yourself to identify the main points more quickly. When you are presented with a large chunk of text on test day, your eyes and brain will already be accustomed to sorting out the central themes and main points

Helps to get accustomed to the types of topics that you might be asked about during the speaking and writing tests.

Although it has never officially been mentioned, I’ve often noticed a striking overlap between the topics that appear in the reading passages and the questions that are asked during the speaking interview and the writing essay, which makes sense since the reading passages are usually sourced from actual academic texts. This means that instead of searching far and wide for suitable material to improve your topic specific vocabulary for the speaking and writing tests, you could kill two birds with one stone when you practice for the ielts reading test.

How Reading Can Improve Your Score

There are instances when preparing for the ielts exam can actually be pleasurable. It sounds strange, but it is in fact true. In order to prepare for the exam, you will have to strike the correct balance between improving your exam techniques and actually improving your English language skills. One of the best ways to do the latter is to read for enjoyment.in this article I will show you how the simple act of reading on a daily basis can help you to substantially improve your scores in all four key ielts areas.

Writing Module

If you want to improve your writing techniques, the you should start reading first.

Reading for enjoyment can help you to understand how writers typically structure their texts and how this order helps with the coherence of a passage or paragraph. Active reading can also help you to word choice strategies, and syntax control that you’ll want to incorporate into your own writing skills. You get to see how different words, phrases and grammar features can be used to produce complex sentence structures.

Improving Your Vocabulary

When you read, you naturally come across new words or phrases. You also get the added benefit of seeing how these words are used naturally in different grammatical contexts. Doing this will give you a better understanding of how a word should be used and you can try and work out what they mean from the context in which you read them. Improving your vocabulary is useful for both the writing and speaking tests. Since one of the main criteria for achieving a band 7 in both writing and speaking involves the use of uncommon vocabulary.

Listening Module

As surprising as it might sound, reading can also help you improve your listening skills. When you practice for the listening exam, by listening to different types of recordings, you should also get the transcripts of these recordings. You can read along with the script as you listen to the recording. This will help you to get used to searching for keywords and understanding the accents of different speakers. This is also a good way to recognize that keywords are usually emphasized during the recording, and you will also get used to the pronunciation and spelling of unfamiliar words.

What Should You Read?

I recommend that you try to expose yourself to as many different types of reading materials as possible, such as books, newspaper articles, online publications, academic materials, even social media. Reading a variety of written content will help improve your reading skills and widen your vocabulary.

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