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Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd president of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, used to say, ‘Hard work creates luck’. Looking at today’s list of ‘lucky’ winners who got these remarkable IELTS scores, we couldn’t agree more!
These people worked really hard to pass IELTS, and today is a great day to show them our appreciation!
IELTS results competition winners of April 2022
1st place – Anugrahita Nirmala from Indonesia, Band 8
2nd place – Afkar Ahmed Seyed Ahmed from Sri Lanka, Band 7.5
2nd place – Aghogho Aguigwo from Nigeria, Band 7.5
2nd place – Sarah Zia from Pakistan, Band 7.5
3rd place – Yu Tsen Yeh from Taiwan, Band 7
3rd place – Shiroshi Jayathilake from Sri Lanka, Band 7
General Training Module
1st place – Neha Mehta from India, Band 7
Congratulations to the winners! To mark this happy occasion we are sending certificates of achievement to the winners’ email addresses. Winning IELTS results will also be displayed in the IELTS-Blog hall of fame – so if you won, please feel free to show them off to your friends!
How did they score so well?
When someone gets a great score in IELTS, it’s never by accident! That is why we’re always trying to find out from the winners how they did it. It feels amazing to see our students win! Anugrahita Nirmala (Band 8) and Yu Tsen Yeh (Band 7) used our writing correction service to find out how to increase their Writing scores. Shiroshi Jayathilake (Band 7) prepared by doing our online practice tests to improve her IELTS skills. Helping them succeed in IELTS was a privilege for us!
As for the other winners – we would love to hear from you, because when you share your stories and tell us how you studied, you are helping thousands of test takers, preparing for their exams right now. Any useful tips will be posted on IELTS-Blog.com, so everyone can use the same technique and get a better score in their own exam this month.
Did you know? IELTS results competition runs every month, and everyone is welcome to participate. Learn how to enroll here.
Today, I want to show you a sample band 9 answer for an IELTS writing task 2 question that discusses interpersonal skills. I’ll try and show you a little vocabulary and grammar, as well as how to handle some issues of structure.
Note that if you want feedback on your essays, you should try my writing correction service.
Analysing the Question
Before we begin planning or writing, we must always analyse the question. Here’s our question for today:
Many businesses think that the new employees who have just graduated from schools lack interpersonal skills, such as working with colleagues as a team.
What has caused this and what are the solutions to this problem?
This is a cause and solution question, as we can see from the second part. The main topic, of course, is the supposed lack of interpersonal skills in recent graduates. Thus, we must write about:
Why recent graduates lack interpersonal skills.What can be done to give graduates more interpersonal skills.
We need to think of realistic answers and specifically ones that we can develop a little. It is not a good idea to list 10 reasons why graduates don’t have these skills. Instead, focus on one or two, with plenty of explanation and maybe examples.
Likewise, your solutions should be realistic. Some people use really silly ones, like “Governments should force all graduates to study interpersonal skills.” This is not likely and is hard to justify and explain.
Note also that this is not an opinion essay, so you can’t say anything like “I disagree that graduates lack interpersonal skills…”
Planning your Essay
For my essay, I will argue that universities put too much emphasis on theoretical knowledge. I feel that this would be easy to explain, but more importantly it is also easy to suggest a realistic solution – that universities then incorporate more groupwork into their curricula.
Therefore, I will structure my essay like this:
IntroductionState the main idea
Give an essay outlineBody paragraph 1Say that there’s too much theoretical knowledge
ExplainBody paragraph 2Say that there should be alternatives to theoretical knowledge
Explain how groupwork would helpConclusionSummarise the essay
This is really easy because cause and solution essays can almost always be divided like this – BP 1 for the causes and BP 2 for the solutions. Simple!
I have also chosen just one idea for each body paragraph. This allows me to develop those ideas carefully. It is not good to list lots of ideas or name one, say a little, and move on to the next. It is better to choose the strongest idea and explain it intelligently.
This essay touches on the topics of education and business, so we should think of related vocabulary. Specifically, we should think about good words and phrases for people working together. Think “groupwork” and “teamwork” and “cooperation.” These are exactly the sorts of terms that would fit well into this essay. This sort of essay would also benefit from good language related to causing and solving problems.
Here are some words and phrases I will use in my essay:
recruitersremediedthe modern workplacetheoretical knowledgestringenthinderssocialiseuniversity facultiesimplement solutionsgroup presentationpeerscommunicative abilitiesgroup-based tasks
These are all going to be really helpful for giving precise and effective ideas. We can see how I will use them in the next section.
Sample Band 9 Answer
It is claimed by some business owners and recruiters that graduates nowadays tend to lack interpersonal skills. This essay will first explore why this is the case before then suggesting how it may be remedied.
If it is true that graduates now lack the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in the modern workplace, then that surely can be blamed on the exceptionally high level of theoretical knowledge necessary to achieve a good degree. As universities have become more competitive, the requirements for achieving a degree have gotten much more stringent, and students are required to spend all their time reading books and preparing for difficult assessments. It seems likely that this hinders their opportunities to socialise or work with others on productive tasks.
Solving this problem should not be terribly difficult. In fact, university faculties should pay attention to these complaints and implement solutions into their courses. Perhaps the most obvious suggestion is that students must be required to participate in more group activities throughout their education. For example, rather than studying all day and night to write an essay or sit an exam, students could be asked to prepare a group presentation together with their peers. Ideally, these groups should be picked at random to ensure that students develop the necessary skills to work with others whom they would not have previously chosen to work.
In conclusion, it appears that universities are failing students by not educating them in how to develop their interpersonal skills, and as a result they are struggling in the workplace. These universities should thus require students to develop their communicative abilities through specific group-based tasks.
Notes on Grammar
Because this sort of essay deals with general truths – ie discussing how things currently are – I have mostly used the present simple tense. You shouldn’t try to complicate things beyond that, but definitely it is important to use other tenses when they are needed.
You’ll see in my introduction that I referred to the body of the essay by using the future simple tense:
This essay will first explore
This is actually quite common. Because the reader is reading that sentence and then next paragraphs come later, it makes sense to use the future simple here.
Later, I used the present perfect for something that had begun in the past but continues now in the present:
universities have become more competitive
I have also used modals effectively in order to give suggestions:
university faculties should pay attention to these complaints and implement solutionsThese universities should thus require students to develop their communicative abilities
Some people think that you need bizarre and complex grammatical structures, but actually what you need most is accuracy, which I have used here.
Finally… are sample essays really helpful? I hope this one was! But find out my full thoughts here:
This is a model response to a Writing Task 2 topic from High Scorer’s Choice IELTS Practice Tests book series (reprinted with permission). This answer is close to IELTS Band 9.
Set 6 Academic book, Practice Test 27
Writing Task 2
You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:
Many people believe that studying at university is the best way to develop oneself, learn new skills and find a well-paid job. Other people believe that more is learned from getting a job straight away after school and learning whilst working.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion.
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience.
You should write at least 250 words.
Sample Band 9 Essay
There are many ways to learn new knowledge and skills. Traditional educational routes, such as school followed by college or university is one route that is generally accepted and respected by today’s society. It can be argued, however, that this is not always the best way. A more vocational route can be more appropriate for certain people and for particular jobs.
Universities generally have deference given to them and, due to this, most schools tailor their programs to help students get university admission. Universities usually have respected and highly qualified teachers who have the knowledge and the skills to take their students to very high levels of knowledge and expertise. The very difficulty of gaining admission, getting through the duration of the course and passing final exams ensures to employers that graduates have the necessary self-discipline, intelligence and ability to get through the courses.
Universities are also particularly well suited to the teaching of various subjects, for example, medicine, law and literature and these subjects need students’ full-time attention in order to do well. Although vocational experience is necessary, a certain grounding in basic concepts to a high-level is important. Once this knowledge has been acquired, students can then integrate their knowledge with practical understanding.
This, however, is not the case for all areas of learning, especially ones where the quantity of high level knowledge is not required or is possible to be learned whilst working at the same time. Young people studying to be an electrician or a plumber are good examples. To do this work well requires a lot of experience, yet also a sound understanding of theory. The learning here can be and is done working and studying at the same time, often through apprenticeships and vocational courses involving significant amounts of work experience.
Therefore, in my opinion, there are more ways than one to acquire a profession. Whether learning should take place at university alone or whilst working depends on the course and the end job.
Go here for more IELTS Band 9 Essays
This lesson was adapted from the following video. You can follow me on YouTube for more video lessons on vocabulary, grammar, and IELTS advice.
IELTS and the Environment
Before we look at any specific vocabulary for talking about the environment, we should begin by looking at how this topic may arise and what exactly we mean by “environment.”
The word “environment” can actually mean “the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives,” but today we are looking at one specific meaning of this word, which refers to the natural world. When we talk about the environment this way, it is important to say “the” before it – ie “the environment.” That’s because we view it as one thing. We also use it as an adjective – “environmental” and adverb “environmentally.”
So how does this relate to IELTS?
Well, IELTS covers various topics but all of them relate to everyday life and are things that regular people should be able to discuss. Sadly, in recent years, the environment has been very badly damaged and so it is something of concern for all people. Thus, it is common to see IELTS questions about things that damage the environment or how to save it from further destruction.
You might read about environmental problems in the reading test, hear about them in parts three or four of the listening test, be asked about them in part three of the speaking test, or have to write about them in task 2 of the writing test.
In other words, the environment is a topic that could pop up almost anywhere, and so you’d better be ready for it. Now, let’s look at some vocabulary that could help you to give better answers. We will divide it into three parts:
vocabulary about the natural environment, environmental problemssolutions to those problems.
Vocabulary about the Natural Environment
Let’s start by learning some language to describe the natural environment. We will look at this before we get into human impacts on it.
To talk about the natural environment, we should be familiar with words related to the different parts of our world. At the most basic level, you should know terms like “sea,” “ocean,” “mountains,” “jungles,” “rainforest,” and so on. You could benefit from noting specific parts of the world like the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as the Amazon and Sahara. It is better if you know a little more than this, though, and are able to talk about the wildlife of these places and their importance to the world
When it comes to seas and oceans, we might want to refer to the “sea life” that inhabits it, including fish, sharks, and whales. It would be useful to know what a “coral reef” is – that is, a diverse ecosystem home to vast numbers of marine animals.
The word I just used there – “marine” – means something that lives underwater. I also mentioned “ecosystem,” and this is useful not just for describing life underwater, but anywhere on earth. “Ecosystem” is a great IELTS word and it means “a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.”
Out of the water, we have forests and rainforests. The latter is tropical and the former is not. You should know their importance in providing a habitat for animals and turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. That word, “habitat,” basically means the place where something lives. We don’t really use it for humans, but rather we talk about an animal’s habitat being its natural home.
There are obviously many more words you could learn to talk about the natural environment, but given the type of questions you will encounter in IELTS, it is better that we move on to look at some problems instead. You can always look at an atlas or encyclopaedia if you want to know more vocab about the natural world.
You might try reading the National Geographic website.
Sadly, when it comes to environmental problems, there is much to talk about. I’m going to try to focus on some of the biggest problems, exploring vocabulary related to these issues. For each of them, you can also Google the main term and then read news articles to learn more words and phrases.
First of all, let’s start with the obvious one: “climate change.” This is also known as “global warming,” but that is a problematic term because not all places are actually getting hotter. It is worth being able to say a little about the causes and effects of climate change. For example:
Climate change is caused by many factors such as air pollution and the loss of forests and coral reefs, and it has massive potential ramifications, such as sea level rises and desertification. Ultimately, this could lead to the extinction of humanity and the destruction of our world.
The word “ramifications” basically means the same as “consequences” but is a little more serious. You can see I have referred to “sea level rises” and “desertification.” You probably know the former but the latter means that more areas of land will turn to desert.
The word “extinction” here is very important and moves us on from the topic of climate change to other environmental issues. Around the world, numerous species go extinct every day because of human activities: poaching, overfishing, habitat destruction, toxic waste, and more.
Poaching refers to illegal hunting. Overfishing is of course fishing too much. We mentioned habitat earlier, and habitat destruction refers to these natural places being destroyed, say by deforestation, which is the cutting down of many trees. Then of course we have toxic waste and other forms of poison that damage ecosystems.
That brings us to pollution, of which there are many kinds. We have mentioned toxic waste, which could broadly be categorised as industrial pollution. This often goes into waterways, becoming water pollution. There is also air pollution, which comes from factories and also vehicle emissions. The word “emission” comes from the verb “emit,” and here refers to gases that are produced by cars and other vehicles. When talking about these things, you should be able to mention the results, like damaging marine or river ecosystems and causing acid rain. Then there are the respiratory problems air pollution causes humans.
Pollution also includes the waste that people create. This is known as garbage, rubbish, litter, junk, and more. I assume that everyone watching this knows the word “plastic” and the fact that plastic waste is among the worst there is. But why? It takes a long time to “decompose” and when it breaks down it can form “microplastics” that create new problems. In the seas, they enter the “food chain” and can build up in larger animals, ultimately poisoning them and even affecting humans.
Solutions to Problems
We were just talking about waste, which brings us to our final section, which is solutions to the problems we have discussed. When it comes to household waste, the obvious solution is to “recycle” as much as possible, but there is a common expression that ranks this as the third important of three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. Reducing the amount of waste we produce is the most important thing that we can do. Reusing it is the next best way of lowering our impact, and recycling is the third.
On the individual level, you might also want to mention actions that people can try to reduce their contributions to climate change, such as using public transport or cycling instead of driving to work. You may want to talk about switching to electric vehicles instead of ones that use petrol. We can avoid unnecessary packing, turn off electrical equipment when we’re not using it, and compost our biodegradable waste.
But perhaps the biggest solutions are not in the hands of regular people but instead companies and politicians. Here, you might want to talk about “environmental regulations” and talk about “legislation” or “policies” that could be enacted. This is a vast area with numerous possibilities, but you don’t need to get too specific.
Here is a sentence from an IELTS writing question about the environment:
Governments should outright ban the expansion of fossil fuel acquisition and instead invest in renewable or at least more responsible sources of energy.
We can see that it makes a reasonable suggestion for what governments should do, and it raises an important issue, which is the banning of fossil fuels and the promotion of renewable energy sources. What do we mean by “renewable”? Well, this means sources of energy that are not going to run out. Here: is another example from that same essay:
Beyond that, it is simply inexcusable to continue down this path of fossil fuel usage because there are so many better alternatives now. Solar, wind, hydropower, nuclear, and thermal energy are all becoming cheaper, safer, and better than traditional methods, and these do not damage the environment in the same way. To continue destroying the planet when these alternative sources of energy exist is deeply irresponsible.
It mentions a few sources that are preferrable to fossil fuels. Knowing these and being able to say a little about them will really help you.
There is a pretty high chance that you will encounter some sort of reference to the environment in the IELTS exam, so you should be prepared for it. We have learned words and phrases today that will help you to give better answers, but you should do more. Read articles, listen to podcasts, and watch videos about the environment. This is the best way to learn vocabulary and also to pick up ideas that you can use in your essays. Do this, and you’ll be on track for a better score in your next IELTS test.
Thanks to M.P. who took the IELTS test in Canada we are sharing the following questions today:
Writing task 1 (a letter)
You live near a public school. The school has asked local residents to help with the maintenance of school buildings and play area. Write a letter to the principal. In your letter,
– Explain why you would like to help
– Tell them how you can help
– Let them know when you are available.
Writing task 2 (an essay)
Many parents are unhappy with their children playing violent video games and watching violence in movies. How harmful is this to children? What can be done to solve this problem?
Part 1 (Interview)
– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Do you live in a house or an apartment?
– Which room do you like the most? Why?
– Which room do you spend most of your time in?
– How did you decorate your room?
– Do you like reading?
– What kind of books do you read?
– What time of the day do you prefer to read?
Part 2 (Cue Card)
Talk about a traditional item from your country. Please say
– what it is
– how it is made
– when you saw it for the first time
– and explain whether you like it or not, and why.
Part 3 (Discussion)
– Can you tell me about a custom that has been practiced in your country that you know about?
– Do you believe that people should preserve the culture and traditions of their country?
– What are the benefits of preserving a country’s culture and traditions?
– Who should be more responsible for preserving the country’s culture, people or the government?
– Should we adopt other countries’ culture and traditions?
Our kind friend A.E. recently took the IELTS test in Iran and remembered the Speaking questions below:
Part 1 (Interview)
– What is your name?
– Where did you grow up?
– Was your hometown a good place to grow up? Why?
– Would you like to live in the countryside?
– Have you ever gotten lost?
– What did you do to find your way?
– What applications do you have on your phone?
– Tell me about an app that you recently downloaded.
– How often do you use the app?
Part 2 (Cue Card)
Talk about a time when you had to wait for something special. Please say
– when it happened
– what you waited for
– why it was special
– and explain how you felt while waiting.
Part 3 (Discussion)
– Why are people less patient now than in the past?
– What can be done to make people more patient?
– What effects does patience have on society?
– Should people be patient all the time?
Our friend M.M. took a computer-delivered IELTS exam in Japan very recently. He said, “Your newsletters have been very helpful. Thanks to you I managed to get my target score. I’d like to share the questions I was asked on the test day. Hopefully this helps someone.”
Writing task 1 (a report)
We were given a table showing the percentages of employees in 5 industries in 1989 and 2009 in Australia.
Writing task 2 (an essay)
Many major cities today are becoming bigger and more crowded. Why is this happening? What measures can be taken to solve this problem?
Part 1 (Interview)
– Can you tell me your full name, please?
– Can I see your identification?
– Do you work or study?
– What is your typical day at work like?
– Who is helping you at work?
Part 2 (Cue Card)
Talk about a house or an apartment you would like to live in, in the future. You should say
– where it would be
– what it would look like
– why you want to live there
– and explain how you would feel living there.
Follow-up question: Do you think you will be able to live in such a house?
Part 3 (Discussion)
– Different countries have different climates. Because of that, houses differ from country to country. How do you think they can be different?
– What kind of houses do people live in, in your city?
– Nowadays technology is rapidly developing. How do you think technology will change houses in the future?
– Do you think there will be only positive changes, and no negative ones?
If you want to do well in IELTS, you need to have a good grasp of grammar, and one of the most important things you should know is how to use verb tenses correctly.
Of course, verb tenses can be difficult… First you need to know when to use them and then you need to know how to use them. It is really easy to make mistakes, but as with other parts of English you can increase your chances of success by focusing on the most important areas.
As such, today I want to talk about the most common verb tenses for IELTS.
The Most Common Verb Tenses
There are twelve verb tenses in English and these are used for different purposes (which you can learn about here). They are not all used equally and in fact some are much more common than others. In a 2016 study of university-level academic papers by native speakers of English, it was determined that present simple was by far the most common verb tense:
TenseFrequencyPresent simple49.99%Past simple28.50%Present perfect4.65%Future simple2.32%Present continuous2.31%Past perfect0.73%Past continuous0.71%Present perfect continuous0.21%Future continuous0.02%Future perfect0.01%Past perfect continuous0.009%Future perfect continuous0.009%
As you can see, there are huge differences between the verb tenses in terms of their frequency in the sort of academic writing that you need to know in order to do IELTS.
How can this help you?
Well, Look at the first three verb tenses. Together, they account for 83.14% of all verbs in academic English! If you were able to master these, you would make very few verb tense errors.
On the other hand, if you spent lots of time revising the rules for future perfect continuous and past perfect continuous, you would just be wasting your time and energy because these are almost never used.
Let’s now review the verb tenses and how they could be used in IELTS.
As we can see from the table above, the present simple tense is by far the most common in English, with almost twice as many uses as the next most common one. That is because it is a versatile tense with many applications.
We use the present simple for:
Facts (The Sahara Desert is very big)Routine actions (I go to the supermarket every Saturday)Instructions (Please open your books to page 26)
You will use the present simple tense often in your speaking and writing tests. In the speaking exam, you will often say things like “I like,” “I go,” “I think,” and so on. These are statements of fact about yourself. You will also use it for opinions: “It is interesting,” “They are cute,” etc.
In the writing test, you will use this frequently. Look at this example:
To begin with, the tendency to work many hours per week is something of a modern health crisis that has reached epidemic levels. All across the developed world, people feel that it is necessary for their career to do overtime or even be on-call twenty-four hours per day. This causes them to lack sleep, stay at their computer for long periods, and miss out on healthy activities like sport and gentle exercise.
We can see that the present simple tense is clearly the most common because the writer is stating facts (or at least his belief that these are truths):
(a tendency) is…people feel…it is…this causes…
We also use this in task 1 because we have to observe data… however, be careful because often that data comes from the past.
The past simple is used frequently in daily English and academic English. It has two main uses:
Actions that occurred in the past (I grew up in London)Actions that occurred repeatedly in the past (I walked to school every day)
You can see from my examples here how this would be very helpful in the IELTS speaking test for talking about your life. Particularly with the topic of childhood, this would be an essential verb tense.
It is also of course useful in the writing exam and particularly in task 1, where we frequently have to talk about data that comes from the past. For example:
In 2002, about 55% of the population had a computer. This figure grew by roughly five percent over the next two years, and again in each of the following years. By 2010, approximately 75% of the population were computer owners.
In three sentences, we have three instances of the past simple tense:
population had…This figure grew…75% of the population were…
Because all of the data here comes from a period that is now finished, this is the most likely verb tense.
I have written about the present perfect before and called it the most underused verb tense in IELTS because, even though it is the third most common tense, IELTS candidates almost never use it. In fact, it is so underused that I made a video to explain why you really ought to use it more:
The present perfect is used for two main reasons:
Actions at an unknown or unstated time in the past (I have been to Germany)Actions that began in the past and could continue now because the time period is ongoing (She has had three cups of coffee this morning)
You can see then that there is a lot of scope for using this tense in an IELTS essay or in a spoken answer. For example:
EXAMINER: Where do you live?CANDIDATE: I live in London. I’ve lived here since 2017.
The phrase “I’ve lived” is a contraction of “I have lived,” which is the present perfect tense. It shows that this action (living) began in the past and continues now in the present. Note that we often use “since” or “for” with this tense.
It is often used in task 2 as well:
Pollution has been a major problem for many decades.Governments have been slow to respond.
If you want to succeed in IELTS, you need to be good at grammar. However, not all tenses are equally important. Whilst you would certainly benefit from knowing them all, it is better to concentrate your studies on mastering the most common ones first, then get familiar with the others. This will help you to achieve a greater degree of accuracy. Remember that fewer mistakes means a higher band score.
This is a model response to a Writing Task 1 topic from High Scorer’s Choice IELTS Practice Tests book series (reprinted with permission). This answer is close to IELTS Band 9.
Set 3 General Training book, Practice Test 15
Writing Task 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
You would like to borrow a good camera from a friend. Write a letter to your friend.
In your letter,
– ask your friend if you can borrow the camera
– explain why you want to borrow the camera
– say when you want it and when you will return it
You should write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any addresses. Begin your letter as follows:
Sample Band 9 Letter
I am participating in a theatre event at college next week and have been designated the photographer’s role. I know that you have a single-lens reflex camera of very good quality and would like to ask you if I may borrow it for this event.
The event is next Saturday and Sunday, as there are two performances, and I will be sitting in the audience and going around to get close-ups of the actors. I would need the camera from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If you are happy to leave the camera with me overnight, that would be easier. I promise to take good care of it and lock it away as soon as I am otherwise engaged. I can return the camera to you either on Sunday evening or Monday morning, depending on what suits you best.
Please tell me as soon as possible if you are willing to lend me your camera, as I need to tell my teachers if I will be taking part in the event.
Go here for more IELTS Band 9 Letters