IELTS Reading

The Reading Test in IELTS lasts for 60 minutes. However, the General IELTS and Academic IELTS Exam are different!

The main difference is in the language of the passages of Academic and General Reading Module of the IELTS. The General Module has easy text while the Academic Module consists of complicated text. The Academic Module has 3 passages whereas General Module Reading test has 5 passages. But the number of questions in both the tests remains same, i.e. 40.

The reading passage topics differ, but all are of academic nature. Candidates sometimes panic when they are faced with a reading passage on a subject about which they know nothing at all. It is important to remember that the answers to all the questions are in the text itself. You do not need any domain specific knowledge to be able to answer the questions. The test is designed to test your reading comprehension skills.

Different Types of Reading Tasks

There are various types of questions which are usually a part of reading module that you may deal in both the Academic or General Reading Module:

  • Paragraph with headings
  • Short-answer
  • Sentence completion
  • Multiple choice question
  • Tables, diagrams and flow charts conclusion
  • Multiple matching
  • Summary completion
  • Locating information
  • Identifying writer’s views
  • Classification of Paragraphs

IELTS Reading Time- Limit

In the IELTS Reading test, candidates often achieve a lower score than expected, because they spend too much time on some sections and are not able to finish the test. It is very important to finish the test in order to score good in this module.

Also, candidates find it difficult to leave a question that they can’t answer. When you are stuck at a difficult question it is better to move to the next question so that you do not waste time, this way you can always come back to the question that you left previous. While you are not answering a difficult question you could be answering 2 or 3 easy questions.

You must complete the answer sheet in 60 minutes because you will not have extra time to transfer the answers from question paper to the answer sheet like you get in listening module.

Writing Task 1 – Compare and Contrast Data – Language – Numbers

In this lesson you will learn different ways to contrast numbers without relationships

In any chart or graph you have numbers which you must describe. Remember that the TASK is to say what is different about the numbers (Contrast) and to say what is the same about them too (Compare).

Let us look at these TWO NUMBERS:

30 (Number A)
35 (Number B)

There are several ways to say that these two numbers are different.

For example:

Number A is smaller than Number B or Number B is bigger than Number A

How many other ways can you think of?


Now that you have seen that there are a few different ways of describing how two numbers are different, what do you notice about the language?



Look at the contrast between these two numbers and see if you can see what the mistake is:

50 (Number A)
45 (Number B)

Number A is lower than number B.


This is a common mistake when contrasting two numbers, but to stop making a mistake REMEMBER to decide which number you are starting with. It is that number that you are contrasting with the other number. For example if we start with Number A, we can see it is bigger than Number B so we can use any of the words in the BIG COLUMN (SEE BELOW).

Small        Big
Less/        more than
Lower/        higher than
Smaller/    bigger than

Get More Marks
If you can be more specific when describing numbers you will get more marks, but how can you be more specific with numbers like:
50 (Number A)
45 (Number B)

We can say that one number is SLIGHTLY higher/bigger/more than another. This means that the number is bigger, but not by a lot, maybe by no more than 5 or 6.
Number A is slightly bigger than Number B OR Number A is a little higher than Number B.


Now write a sentence for the same numbers above, but beginning with Number B.

Now look at these two numbers:

50 (Number A)
70 (Number B)

When there is a BIG DIFFERENCE, but still no direct relationship like with the numbers 50 and 100 for example, we can say that one number is SIGNIFICANTLY lower/smaller/less than another number.

This means that the number is bigger by quite a lot, maybe by about 10 or 20.

Describing Number A

Number A is significantly lower than Number B OR Number A is significantly less than Number B.


Now write a sentence for the same numbers above, but beginning with Number B.


This lesson has shown you what language we use to describe numbers that DO NOT HAVE A RELATIONSHIP in IELTS Writing Task 1.
•    We start with one number
•    Find another number to contrast it against
•    Look at whether the first number is bigger or smaller than the second number
•    Then use one of the words in the correct column to describe it
•    If there is only a small difference we can use the word SLIGHTLY in front of the word
•    If there is a big difference we can use the word SIGNIFICANTLY in front of the word


Look at the following TABLE

UK    50    20    90    100
USA    70    25    80    80
CHINA    55    30    70    85

Title: The number of people who watch different types of television programmes in three different countries per month. Numbers in thousands.


Now let us put the language you have just learnt into practice.

This is a table which you might find in WRITING TASK 1. If we look at the table we can see there are three countries and four different types of television programmes. The numbers relate to the number of different people in the three countries in thousands who watch the programmes.


Look at this typical sentence which you will write in WRITING TASK 1:

The number of people who watch reality programmes in the UK is slightly more than the number of people who watch it in USA.

The contrast is joined with two parts:

the number of people who…in…  & the number of people who…in…

Write two CONTRASTING sentences like the above ones for the category of SPORT:


For more info on IELTS writing task click here:

An Introduction To Writing

Before we look at the IELTS Writing Tasks, I think it will help if we just have a quick look at how writing is broken down.

We write many things: letters, reports, essays, reviews, emails, speeches and stories. But no matter what you write there are 4 MAIN AREAS which you will find in any piece of writing and which you have to think about, to improve your writing.

These are:

1)    PURPOSE – Why are you writing this? If you are writing a job application letter for example, what is the reason you are writing it? Probably to get a job! If you are writing a wedding speech, you are probably writing it to congratulate the married couple. It is the same with IELTS Writing Tasks 1 and 2. Before you can write you need to know why you are writing them. And the lessons you will find in the IELTS Online School will show you.

2)    STRUCTURE – How are you going to organise your ideas? Every piece of writing must have a structure. This is basically an introduction, the body (main ideas) and a conclusion. But different pieces of writing have slightly different structures. Even though a report (IELTS Writing Task 1) has an introduction, that introduction is slightly different to an essay discussing whether computer games are good or bad for children (Writing Task 2). Both introductions have the same functions, but are made up of different sentences. The same can be said for the body and the conclusion.

3)    CONTENT – What ideas are you going to write about? Each piece of writing has a different set of ideas. If you are writing a book review, then you will write about the title of the book, the author, the characters, the summary of the story and whether it was good or bad. If you are writing about whether you agree or disagree with university education (Writing Task 2) you will write about reasons why you agree or disagree with going to university. That is the content.  You will find lots of examples for both Writing Task 1 and 2 in the IELTS Online School.

4)    LANGUAGE – What words or phrases will you use? The words and phrases you use will be different for the different types of writing. For example if you writing a report on statistical information for a univeristy lecturer (IELTS Writing Task 1) then the language will be about numbers, percentages, increases and decreases etc…But when writing an essay on how to solve the growing problem of unemployment (IELTS Writing Task 2) then the words and phrases you will use will be different such as ONE SOLUTION COULD BE TO or THE MAIN REASON FOR HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT IS…

If you look at any piece of writing, you will find that all of these areas have been used by the writer to create a well-crafted, well-thought out and grammatically correct piece of writing.

And this is something that you should be able to do if you follow the WRITING TASK 1 and 2 lessons in the IELTS Online School.

Each lesson both for WRITING TASK 1 and 2 focuses on a specific WRITING AREA, so for example:

WRITING TASK 1 – LANGUAGE: Contrasting Numbers – This lesson will focus on the LANGUAGE you can use to describe the differences with numbers in tables, charts and diagrams.

WRITING TASK 1 – STRUCTURE: Writing an Introduction – This lesson will focus on the STRUCTURE of how to write an introduction for comparing and contrasting data and information using examples.

WRITING TASK 2 – CONTENT: The Environment – This lesson will focus on how to write the PLANs and ideas you might need to answer the three different ESSAY QUESTIONS in WRITING TASK 2 about the ENVIRONMENT.

There are also WRITING TASK 1 and 2 PRACTICE Writing Sessions where you will put into practice what you have learnt and go through the whole writing process from PLANNING to WRITING the question with a MODEL ANSWER revealed at the end.

WRITING TASK 2 – PRACTICE: Agree/Disagree Advertising – This lesson will go through the whole writing process for a typical IELTS question such as: Advertising is a powerful medium nowadays. Especially children’s advertising. It is therefore wrong to advertise to children. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

So if you want a step by step guide on how to improve your WRITING in the IELTS exam, then enrol in the IELTS Online School today.

And Good Luck


For more info on IELTS writing task click here:

IELTS Writing

The aim of IELTS Writing Test is to analyze your writing skills, which help to determine if you can write aptly and suggest your thoughts in a proper way. Also, it helps to scrutinize one’s knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.

IELTS Writing Time Frame

The IELTS Writing test is concluded for 60 minutes. We suggest you to spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. Since no extra time would be given to complete both the tasks, it is your time management that will decide how effectively you complete both the tasks in period of 60 minutes.

Please notice that the Writing Test includes 2 Tasks, for which you are expected to write minimum 150 words for Task 1 and about 250 words for Task 2.

Note: The word limit mentioned above is minimum. However you can write more if you can and if time allows you. Another important thing to remember is that the test can be different, based on the selection of your module, i.e. either General or Academic Module.

IELTS Academic Writing test

In IELTS Academic Writing Test, you are required to write all the answers for both the tasks in a very formal way.

Task 1: In this task, you will be given either a Graph, Chart or a Diagram. You are required to study the given structure, and then explain what you understood from it. For instance, you might have to describe the Graph, it’s data and everything else that follows up in it. This test basically reflects your knowledge of interpreting the pictorial information in a formal report. You should spend about 20 minutes for this task.

Task 2: In this task, you will be asked to represent your opinion and/or argument about a topic in an organized way. This test reflects your writing skills along with vocabulary power and the power of expressing your views with accuracy.

IELTS General Training Writing test

In IELTS General Training (GT module) Writing Test, you are supposed to complete both the tasks in a less formal way.

Task 1: In this task, you will be asked to write a letter based on a situation. The kind of letter you write depends on the given situation, which means the letter could be either personal, semi-formal or formal.

Task 2: In this task, you will be asked to jot down an essay expressing your thoughts about the given topic. This task offers you freedom to write.

Basic Factor Affecting IELTS Writing Test Score

Rather than Task 1 of IELTS Writing Test, Task 2 holds more prominence in terms of how much you score.

For more info on IELTS writing task click here:

How to learn english fast – Staying motivated

In today’s post I wanted to talk about staying motivated as an english language learner.

As an avid language learner myself, I’ve always struggled to stay motivated for long periods of time to reach fluency in a language. In order to stay focused I’ve had to learn to stay motivated.

It’s my firm belief that motivation and not discipline is the key to short and long term fluency. These are the ways I’ve stayed motivated.

1)Make it emotional!

To learn as quick as you can, you need to make your reasons emotional. For example, saying that you want a better job is not getting emotional. Why you and your family need a better job is a way to get emotional. Why do you need a better job? There are lots of reasons and they all come down to happiness and security. Here are some reasons that one might need a better job.

-You need to provide your family with a safe and secure place to live
-You want to provide your children with a better education
-Your parents are aging and don’t have the meens to support themselves in their older age

2) Give yourself incremental goals

One thing I always do is make definite plans to go to the country where the language is spoken. Each time I visit, I always have a clear goal of what level of fluency I want to have.

The first time I visit, I want to be able to navigate where I’m going comfortably. It is my goal to be able to ask questions about locations and be able to clearly understand the directions that I am receiving. I also want to be able to rent a vehicle, find and check into a hotel and order at restaurants.

The next time I visit I want to be able to have a casual conversation with people about where they live and about their country.

As my wife and I travel frequently, I tend to set shorter goals. But the key is having a goal and a purpose to reach that goal.

3) Make friends online

Another way to keep yourself motivated is to find a friend in your target language. You can communicate with a friend in short text conversations by means of Facebook,  Google + or whatever other social media you use. As you are communicating, you can make use of tools such as Google translate to improve your english or target language and more effectively communicate while building your vocabulary.

4) Learn by means of useful phrases

Now, I brought this up in an earlier post about learning phrases instead of vocabulary and grammar. You will find that your ability to communicate with others will drastically improve. Your vocabulary and grammar will also see a faster improvement.

Those are my ways of staying motivated. Tell me, how do you stay motivated to learn english or other languages?

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How to use english idioms – The ball is in your court

The ball is in your court…

This means that it is someone’s turn to make a  decision. It is someone’s turn to act. In the game of tennis, when an opponent hits the ball on your side of the court, you need to quickly decide how and where you are going to hit the ball in order to return it to your opponent’s side of the court. This phrase is often used when arguing with an individual or when pressuring someone for a decision. How can you use this phrase?

‘I’ve done all that I can do here, now the ball is in your court

‘My interview seemed to go well, but the ball is in the manager’s court to decide if I’m hired or not.’

‘I told you how I feel about the way you treat me. If you don’t change then I’m going to leave. The ball is in your court!

As mentioned before, the origin of this idiom came from the game of tennis. Though, it has been adopted in other games like basketball.

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How to learn english fast – Immerse yourself

There are no shortcuts to learning english. This is the reality of learning a new language. I don’t meen to frustrate you with this comment, but rather to motivate you to do everything within your power to advance your english.

The title of this post seems obvious. In order to learn a language, you need to immerse yourself. All to often though, we forget about the variety of ways that we can immerse ourselves. Even for those that don’t live in a country of the target language you want to learn, there are so many tools available to you.

If you have a smart phone, an ipod or other music device, you need to be loading it with audio in your target language. This could be a podcast, music, a Ted talk that interests you and so on. You can listen to it in your car on the way to and from work. You can listen to it while biking or walking to school. You can listen on your lunch breaks. You can listen while excersising, going for a jog, a bike ride and so on.

Another way is to carry a small book and write new english words and phrases in it daily. I suggest a book here because by using your hand to write you are helping yourself to memorize the information better. Once you have filled your book, which should take a short period of time, then take the more dificult phrases and words that you just can’t seem to remember and turn them into flashcards.

Once you have your set of flashcards, then pull them out every hour or two and flip through them. Once you’ve completed your next small book of english phrases, then turn those into flashcards and take those and flip through them every hour.

There are more ways to immerse yourself. All you have to do is keep your mind open to these opportunities.

I’ll post more ways you can immerse yourself in the english language in some of my posts coming up.

I know that each person has the ability to learn a language in a short period of time and I know you can too! Keep calm and learn on….

How to use english idioms – To ace something

To ace something…

If someone aced something, it means that they excelled in it. For example, if someone was to get a mark of 100% on a test, they would have ‘aced’ that test. If someone had a successful interview where they answered all of the interviewer’s questions perfectly and then received the job, it could be said that they ‘aced’ their interview. If you were to receive an A+ grade in one of your subjects, you can say ‘I aced that subject!’

There are lots of idioms and expressions that refer to an ace. If you play cards, then you know that in a majority of games, the ace is the highest value card. All expressions that use ‘ace’ in them derive their origins from card games.

Examples of ‘ace’ in them include:

‘An ace up one’s sleeve’
‘Hold all the aces’
‘Come within an ace of something’
‘Ace in the hole’

And there are several more….

If you know of another idiom with ‘ace’ in it, then please share it below in the comments section.

How to express yourself – Complimenting others

Everyone likes to receive a compliment. Even more so, everyone who gives a compliment likes to see the joy of the ones who receive the compliment. When giving someone a compliment in a language not as familiar as their native one, you need to be careful as to what you say and to whom you say it. So, for the next few minutes we’ll examine some simple expressions that we can use to compliment someone.

‘You look beautiful!’

This can be the highest praise and most flattering compliment one can receive. You would use this expression if you wanted to compliment someone very close to you, particularly a woman. If you are a male you could use this to show affection to your girlfriend, your sister, your daughter, your mother, your wife or a very close female friend. If you are a woman, you would use this with your close female friends and perhaps when speaking about a man, but not typically to a man.

‘You look handsome!’

This phrase would be appropriate for a woman complimenting a man. You would not use this phrase when trying to compliment a woman as it would be awkward. The word ‘Handsome’ is masculine in nature. In older English literature like Jane Austen, it was appropriate to refer to a woman as handsome, however that is no longer the case.

This phrase, while not overly intimate and affectionate, can be used in a variety of situations when you want to compliment a male. You could use this phrase to compliment a man or a boy. You could use it with your father, brother, any male family member and close friend.

If you want to be more specific about how one looks, you can use the following phrase and combine it with the adjectives listed below:

‘You Look ________!’



You can use this adjective when referring to someone that you are intimate with. It would be inappropriate to refer to another woman as ravishing if you were not intimate or very close. You would only refer to a woman as ravishing as it is feminine in nature.


When you call someone delightful, you are complimenting more then just their appearance. Calling someone “delightful” refers to the whole person, including attitude, appearance and personality. For example, when someone says: “You are a delightful young lady”, it is implied that the subject could be kind, warm, well-mannered, polite, cheerful and pleasant. This term is most often used by an older person referring to a younger male or female. For example, a grandmother could be referring to her grandson as a “delightful young man”.  This term is somewhat more dated and used less among younger crowds. It can also be used to describe non-human things such as movies, food, shows, etc.


This term refers to someone who is very beautiful. Most commonly used when describing someone of the opposite sex to a group of friends or acquaintances. It refers to primarily physical beauty. However it can also be used to describe inanimate objects such as a gorgeous dress, car, etc…


If someone is stunned, it means that they are incapacitated; unable to move. So if someone is stunning, it typically means that they are so beautiful that people pause momentarily, as though they were stunned, to notice this individual. You could use this when referring to both a man and woman. You typically wouldn’t use this adjective to describe someone that you are not familiar with. Often, a person will use this to compliment an item of clothing that someone is wearing such as a dress or a piece of jewelry.


If something is striking, it means that it grabs attention. If you were to strike something you would use your hand or another object to hit it. A slap on the face would be a strike. If you received a strike on the face, it would without a doubt grab your attention. Similarly,  if someone is striking, it means that they have grabbed your attention. Though no one would ever want to be hit, striking, in this case, is not a negative adjective. You could use this with a variety of people. This is not limited to individuals that you are intimate with. It can include casual friends as well. You can use striking to modify beautiful or handsome. ‘You are strikingly beautiful!’ Or ‘You are strikingly handsome!’ Is an example of this. You can use this to talk about objects as well, in the case of an article of clothing or jewelry.

Now that you understand what is appropriate, you can add this to your english conversations when complimenting others. Let me know if you have any questions by filling out the form below. If there is anything you would like to see in future posts, please let me know! Keep calm and learn on!