IELTS The World's proven English-language test Tue, 22 Jun 2021 17:25:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Improving Your IELTS Rating: Tips for Korean Language Speakers Wed, 16 Jun 2021 19:54:10 +0000 Estimates say there are 1.3 billion English speakers around the world. Interestingly, the majority of these English speakers are not native speakers. In other words, there are a lot more English as a second language (ESL) speakers than English as a first language. Seen as a global language for business, travel, and education, we find English in every corner of the world. A major hotbed for learning English as a second language is Korea. This East Asian country has millions who are learning English. Visit Korea and you’ll see English being taught in kindergartens, public schools, cram schools, cafes, and language centres. English is so common in Korea that there is even a national language mixing Korean and English. It’s called Konglish.

Many Koreans not only study English for school, work, or fun but they study it for IELTS. In my many years teaching Koreans and reading about language teaching, I have seen the challenges Koreans face. As with every nationality, there are common problems most share when studying English. If you’re Korean and preparing for the IELTS, it’s helpful to identify these common problems to target a preparation plan. Here are a few key ideas you might start with!

1. Do you practice communication?

Many English language programs in Korea are teacher-focused and spend a lot of time on grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. Speaking is practiced but only by repeating the teacher or memorizing scripts. If you haven’t learned or practiced communication, you should. To do well on the speaking test, you need to speak fluently and communicate well. The best way to do this is to practice communicating. So, put your phone and test-book down, and go find someone to chat with!

2. Pronunciation challenges.

No two languages have exactly the same sounds. This includes Korean and English. When studying English, you probably find some words hard to say or hear, and other words easy. For Koreans, some of the more common English sound pairs that are confusing are /r/ & /l/, /f/ & /v/, /p/ and /b/, and /ch/ & /z/. Some Koreans might have a strange experience due to this. For example, someone says “I live in a big house.” but because /b/ and /p/ are hard to separate, they might hear “I live in a pig house.”

These pairs of sounds are called minimal pairs. If you do an online search for “minimal pairs practice” you can find the specific sounds and practice them until clear.

3. Sentence stress.

Another common problem Korean ESL learners face is stressing the correct word in a sentence. In English, the meaning of a sentence can change if you say one of the words louder. To communicate well, you have to learn how to use sentence stress correctly. Not only is this critical for the speaking test, but it’s a major skill tested in the listening exam. The louder words are more important and often give you clues to the correct answer! Let’s look at a few examples to prove the point. Same sentence, different meanings:

Sentence & Stressed Word Sentence Meaning
I LOVE eating hotdogs at the football game. The speaker wants to show she really loves hotdogs. Her feeling is the focus.
I love EATING hotdogs at the football game. The speaker wants to show she prefers to eat – not to sell, not to buy, or not to cook hotdogs.
I love eating hotdogs at the FOOTBALL game. The speaker likes hotdogs when at the football game – not the baseball game, not the hockey game, and not the volleyball game.

4. Commonly confused words.

Many words in Korea, when translated to English, might be the wrong meaning when used in English. For example, if you say “My friend borrows money a lot. He is a wealthy guy.” You might be in trouble. Why? This is because Korean speakers commonly confuse the words “borrow” and “lend”. So, the meaning the speaker wants to say is that the friend gives people money, because he is very rich. However, when people hear this, they think he takes money, and that is why he is rich. These are very different meanings!

Some other common pairs that are confused due to translation, sound, or spelling are lose & loose; principal & principle; aisle & isle; watch & see; and come & go. These are just a few to mention. Do you know how to correctly use them? Could you explain the difference to a friend?

We checked out the need to practice communicating, commonly confused sounds, the importance of sentence stress, and word pairs that are tricky. These are just a few of the challenges many of us face when trying to get a high IELTS rating. The important point to remember is to identify your weaknesses and improve them. Whether you have common issues that most Koreans have or not, correcting your mistakes will lead to better results on test day.

IELTS Speaking: How to perform at your best in part 1 Tue, 01 Jun 2021 16:40:06 +0000 Learn how to start your Speaking test confidently and continue this confident performance for the whole test. Today, we will look at some tips to help you perform at your best in part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test.


We have created a series of three articles giving you tips and advice on how to perform at your best in all three parts of the speaking test; the part 1 introduction, the part 2 long turn and the part 3 discussion. Read on to see how to perform at your best in part 1 of the test.

Starting a test can be quite daunting for most test-takers as you know you have to perform at your very best. We will go through some tips on how to successfully prepare for when you start your Speaking test and then to continue speaking in the same manner throughout the test.

Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test is often referred to as the ‘easiest’ part. The reason for this is the fact that the topics in part 1 are very familiar to you. You are asked questions about yourself, what you do and where you come from. You might also be asked questions about your family, your country, your personal experiences, and the activities you do. Talking about yourself should be easy as the vocabulary and topics are familiar to you.

Let’s look at the structure of Part 1: Introduction

The test begins with the examiner introducing himself or herself and checking the test taker’s identification. It then continues as an interview.

If you are asked about where you live, you will be asked questions like this:

Let’s talk about your home town or village.

• What kind of place is it?

• What’s the most interesting part of your town/village?

• What kind of jobs do the people in your town/village do?

• Would you say it’s a good place to live? (Why?)

Let’s move on to talk about accommodation.

• Tell me about the kind of accommodation you live in?

• How long have you lived there?

• What do you like about living there?

• What sort of accommodation would you most like to live in?

Before you read through the following notes, watch an example of part 1external iconof the IELTS test.

Part 1 – Introduction

The best way to start the test confidently is to be confident!

Read through the following steps which tell you what happens at the beginning of your Speaking test and tips and advice on how to perform.

1. The examiner calls your name or candidate number.

Smile and respond with ‘Yes, that’s me’, or a similar phrase, and walk confidently to meet them. You can then greet them with a simple ‘Hello’, or ‘Hi, how are you?‘.

2. Sit down at the test table.

Breathe in and get ready and remember to smile and appear at ease. The examiner will have started the recorder and will have their paperwork ready for the test. The examiner will ask you for your passport, so place it on the table in front of you.

3. The examiner will read out your details and will ask you some basic questions about who you are and where you are from.

Answer this briefly, for example, ‘I come from China’. Do not produce a memorised response about the location of your city and why it is famous. You have not been asked for this information.

4. The examiner checks your ID.

Have your passport ready on the photo page, so it’s easy for you to hand it to the examiner. Say ‘Yes, here you go’, as you hand it to them.

5. The examiner asks you about what you do or where you live.

Be ready for these simple and familiar questions. If you work and study, choose one of these options and don’t tell the examiner that you do both. The examiner will choose which questions they want to ask you based on your answer, so control the choice of topic by saying you either study – or – work. If you don’t study or work, you could respond like this – ‘Actually, I don’t study or work, I’m a stay-at-home parent.’

6. Listen to the tense and make sure your answer matches the tense.

What do you study? – Present – I’m studying science at university.

What did you study? – Past – I studied science when I was at university.

What will you study? – Future – I’m planning to study science in the future.

7. Extend your responses to add some more information to your answer before the examiner asks ‘why?’.

What do you study? – Now – I’m studying science at university because I have always wanted to be a scientist.

What did you study? – Past – I studied science when I was at university and now, I am preparing to do my doctorate.

What will you study? – Future – I’m planning to study science in the future, as I believe that scientists will help us deal with future environmental issues.

8. Prepare for these familiar questions.

Make sure you can talk about your work or study and what you have done and plan to do. Also, make sure you can talk about where you live and your country. When you answer, use a range of cohesive devices and linking words/phrases.

9. Speak clearly at a good pace.

Make sure you open your mouth and clearly enunciate your words. Don’t speak too quickly, or too slowly. If you smile occasionally as you speak, this action opens your mouth a bit wider and helps you to sound clearer. Also, make sure to use intonation and rhythm. Stress important words, or words that show a contrast:

‘Well, when I was younger I loved candies, but now that I’m older, I hate them!

10. If you don’t understand the question, ask for clarification.

‘Could you repeat that, please?’

‘What does _____ mean?’

Part 1 – Familiar topics

Once you have answered some questions about what you do or where you live, the examiner will ask you questions on common topics, like your interests and hobbies.

Listen to Aashish from Nepalexternal icon. He received a band 7.5 for his overall performance in his Speaking test.

He was asked part 1 questions about two familiar topics: friends and food & cooking. Note how he extends his answers giving reasons for his opinion and ideas. If the answer is a bit shorter or the examiner wants to know more about what he said, he asks Aashish to extend with a ‘Why?’ or ‘Why not?’ question.

Practice answering the following questions on these topics:

Let’s go on to talk about friends now:

  • Are your friends mostly your age or different ages? (Why?)

  • Do you usually see your friends during the week or at weekends?

  • The last time you saw your friends, what did you do together?

  • In what ways are your friends important to you?

I’d like to move on to talk about food and cooking now:

  • What kind of food do you like to eat?

  • What kind of new food would you like to try? (Why?)

  • Do you like cooking? (Why not?)

  • What was the last meal you cooked?

Use functional language

Using functional language in part 1 will show that you are able to access the language and ideas needed to keep speaking.

Although you probably won’t find part 1 questions difficult to answer, it is important that you vary your language when introducing personal experiences showing the examiner that you can extend your answers.

Here are some examples of phrases you can use:

  • I once…

  • I remember when…

  • Back when I was…

  • I don’t remember exactly when, but…

  • (Just) the other day…

  • In my childhood…

  • When I was very young…

  • Not so long ago…

  • Back in the day when I was a teenager…

Preparation is important and being ready to respond easily to familiar questions and familiar topics will mean that you are a more confident speaker.

Now that you understand how to perform at your best in part 1, why not read about how to improve your part 2 long turn.

If you feel you are confident enough to do some official Speaking test practice, why not try an official IELTS practice test, IELTS Progress Checkexternal icon. These practice tests are available for Academic and General Training test takers and include a Speaking test. The test is not a face-to-face test as in the real IELTS test; however, it is realistic in terms of test questions, timing and delivery. The examiner questions are pre-recorded, and timed responses are recorded and uploaded for an official IELTS marker to rate.

With targeted practice like this, you will become more fluent and will be able to achieve the goals you have set!

Fun vs. Funny: Common ESL Mistakes Wed, 19 May 2021 15:13:05 +0000 When learning any new language, mistakes happen often. When learning English, some mistakes are more common than others. Here are some examples of common mistakes and how to fix them.

Fun vs. Funny

At times, some ESL learners mix up the definitions for fun and funny. When something is fun, you enjoy it and get pleasure from it. When something is funny, it makes you laugh.


The card game is fun to play with my family.
That movie was so funny I couldn’t stop laughing.

Played vs. Hung out

These two verbs get switched quite a bit. We can use play with friends when we are talking about children or when the friends are playing a game or sport. However, when adults are with their friends doing general activities, we use the phrase ‘hang out’ or ‘hang around’.


We played basketball with his neighbours last night.
The kids played together at the park.
My friends and I hung out at my house yesterday.

Basically From vs. Originally From

When using the word ‘basically’, we are referring to almost. If something is basically the same as something else, it is nearly the same. We use this word when trying to show how alike two things are and exaggerate our comparison. If someone is talking about where they are from, they cannot say, “I’m basically from India and have lived in Canada for three years.” If someone was trying to exaggerate the truth, they could say, “I was born in India but have lived in Canada since I was six months old, so I’m basically Canadian.”


A turtle and a tortoise are basically the same, except one is a bit bigger.
I’m originally from Japan, but I’ve lived in Canada for 10 years.

Years Old vs. Year Old

When referring to someone’s age, you don’t need an ‘s’ when emphasizing the person. If you’re emphasizing the age, use an ‘s’.


My brother is 14 years old.
My brother is a 14-year-old boy.

Many vs. Much

Although the rule that many = countable and much = uncountable, these words often get mixed up. As a trick, always put a number in front of it. If it sounds correct, it’s probably a countable noun. If it sounds strange, it’s probably an uncountable noun—for example, 1 money, 2 money, etc. We wouldn’t say this, so it’s probably uncountable. With 1 bill, 2 bills, etc., this sounds correct, so it’s probably countable.


In the restaurant, there are many people.
I have many things to do today.
She doesn’t have much money.
pink and blue eraser on paper

She vs. He

Even though this is a small mistake, it can make a story very confusing. It is a challenge for many ESL learners from different countries, so that mastering pronouns can be a score booster on the IELTS test.


She is my sister. Her name is Julia.
He has three brothers. They are all younger than him.

Did a Mistake vs. Make a Mistake

This is a common mistake made by English learners. The verb best-suited for mistake is make.


I made a mistake on my homework last week. I make mistakes when I’m not focused on my task.

More Better vs. Better

Comparatives can be confusing. Some words add ‘er’ or ‘ier’, and some words use ‘more’. Then some words completely change. The word ‘better’ is one of them. This means that you cannot put an ‘er’ or use the word ‘more’ in front of it.


That restaurant on Smith Street is better than the one on Ban Road.

Suggest Me vs. Suggest

Commonly, English language learners want to put the word ‘me’ after the word ‘suggest’. However, when you use the word ‘suggest’, you are talking about yourself or the person you are talking to. In this case, you can omit the word ‘me’ because the person will know who you are talking about from the context of the question or sentence.


Can you suggest a good lawyer?
I suggest that you call your mother right now.
I suggest going to the office instead of calling.

I’m Agree vs. I Agree

This can be a common mistake for ESL learners. In this example, ‘agree’ is the verb, so you only need to say, ‘I agree’. The verb ‘to be’ can be used in front of a verb when forming continuous or passive tenses.


I agree with what you said.

I Going vs. I’m Going

Here, you need to use the verb ‘to be’ because you are creating a continuous tense.


I am going to see my dad at the hospital tonight.
I’m going to the beach this afternoon.
right or wrong x or check mark graphic
Some phrases above have different meanings and can be used in different ways. Some phrases are being used incorrectly. Think about what you say when using these phrases. The best way to improve is to recognize your mistakes and learn from them.

How Texting on my Smartphone can Improve my IELTS Tue, 20 Apr 2021 17:59:17 +0000 Reading, writing, listening, speaking, and… texting? SMS texting isn’t a skill we rate on the IELTS test, but it’s actually one of the most common ways to communicate in 2021. As the world becomes more digitized, automated, and distanced (Covid-19), we rely more and more on our phones to connect. If you want to check how your friend is doing today, you send a text. If you want to order coffee and donuts, you text your local cafe. If your boss wonders why you are late, you get a text, then pretend you missed it. And if you’re dating someone, you send a text with a 😉. As you can see, we can communicate in almost every situation by messaging on our phone.

Most of us would agree with the above, but how does this relate to IELTS exam preparation? After all, IELTS rates your proficiency in the English language, not your ability to use your smartphone.

Let’s look a little closer at our phones and how texting works. Built into the computer systems of texting software are programs and algorithms. These programs assist us in communicating proficiently. To do this, texting software helps us spell correctly, gives us probable phrases to choose from, and allows us to communicate at any time and any place.

If we are strategic, using these texting tools can improve our English and improve our IELTS score. Let’s have a look at a few things you can do:

Predictive texting

When texting on your phone, the toolbar above the chatbox usually gives you phrase options as you type. For example, when you type ‘H’…‘o’… your texting app will give you the phrasal options like “How are you?”; “How’s your day?”; and “Holland”. These options are taken from millions and millions of previous texts and are simply predicting what you want to type. Because they choose only the most common words and phrases, studying the predictive text options is a great way to learn key phrases. Be sure to play around with your texting app and explore any phrases you don’t know. The phrases on your text-prediction options are common in English, so be sure to pay attention!

Predictive Text

English only

If you are truly dedicated to learning English, you should try and use it in every part of your life. One easy way to immerse yourself is to switch your phone language to English. Go into the settings and find the [Change Language] option. Once your phone is set to English, you will expose yourself to lots of language in a real way every time you check your device. And if you don’t like it, just switch it back to your language!


Spell check can make us lazy but can also make us better spellers. Try turning off your spell check when you text. This will force you to remember the spellings of words. You can also make a note of words you often misspell. Open a Word file on your phone and build a list of words your need to review. Remember, on the IELTS exam, good spelling leads to high ratings.

Speech to text

If you haven’t tried this yet, speech-to-text is an excellent tool to help us produce text efficiently and fluently. It is also a great way to practice your English. Instead of using your thumb to type messages, try speaking into your phone to create text. This will force you to speak clearly, fluently and give you a written record of where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Another useful activity for this is to try and re-create a text you already have. To do this, get a magazine or something, then read it directly aloud into your phone’s speech-to-text tool. Can you re-create what is on the paper exactly as it is written?

Chat buds

Throughout this blog, we’ve been talking about using your phone to communicate in English. But what if everyone you communicate with doesn’t speak English? If you can, try and find some friends, peers, or classmates who also want to practice and prepare for IELTS. Tell them a few ideas you learned from this blog, and start up a friendly chat. Not only will you help each other practice, but you might make a new friend!

Upping your Professionalism

One thing you’ll often hear when people talk about texting is how informal it is. People say that our spelling, grammar, concentration, and vocabulary are weakened when we only text to communicate. This may be true, but it doesn’t have to be. Challenge yourself to use complex grammar, turn off your spell check, turn off your predictive text, and write out the words instead of just using an emoji. Text using new and advanced vocabulary you have been studying without the help of the phone apps.

Our phones are extremely powerful tools. They can help us, and they can make us lazy. The key point is to challenge yourself when using it. If it’s too easy and you are simply following the A.I. on the phone, you probably aren’t learning. If you’re struggling to figure things out and typing thoughtful, meaningful messages with the help of your phone, you’re probably improving. And don’t forget… phones are awesome, but you won’t have one during your IELTS exam!

IDP Education Canada Opens New Computer-Delivered IELTS Venue in Richmond Fri, 09 Apr 2021 17:05:57 +0000 We’ve opened a new computer-delivered testing venue! Our latest venue is now open in Richmond, BC.

Computer-delivered IELTS is now available at 12033 Riverside Way in Richmond. Operated by IDP Education Canada, the new computer-delivered IELTS venue will begin testing on April 21, 2021. 

Book early to get your preferred dates!

Click here to view upcoming test dates.

Richmond – IDP Education Canada Richmond (12033 Riverside Way) Computer-delivered – Operated by IDP Canada

IDP Education Canada- Richmond
12033 Riverside Way, Unit 302,
Richmond, BC
V6W 1K6

Contact Information 


Tel: +1-236-988-1711

This computer-delivered IELTS venue is conveniently located in Richmond.

To see all open venues, with available test dates, visit our Search Test Centre page.


Richmond Search


IELTS Grammar Exercises: Conditionals Mon, 05 Apr 2021 18:22:33 +0000 Welcome back to another post of our IELTS Grammar Exercises series. This series provides you with opportunities to practice using a variety of more complex grammatical structures that you can use on your IELTS. If you haven’t read our previous posts yet, you can find them here: 

For today’s practice, which focuses on conditionals, all you need is a Word document (or pen and paper) to complete the tasks. Make sure you do the tasks in the same order as they appear. Once you’ve finished, you can scroll down to the answer key section to check your answers.

Task 1 

Match the two parts of the sentences.  

1. If I hadn’t waved at her,

a. when he needs to burp. 

2. My baby tends to cry 

b. if he didn’t nap. 

3. She might lose her job 

c. she wouldn’t have seen me.

4. He would have an earlier bedtime 

d. I could save a lot of money. 

5. If I took the bus to work, 

e. if she doesn’t get new clients. 

Task 2 

Write one word to complete each sentence. 

  1. If I __________enough savings, Iwould go on a trip. 
  2. In Costa Rica, the weather is always hot __________ the sun shines.
  3. I __________ certainly take the test again if I don’t get the score I need.
  4. She __________ perform better if she didn’t have to worry about her family.
  5. I’ll attend the conference if I __________ have too much work. 

Task 3 

Read the paragraph below. Find three incorrect uses of conditionals and correct them. Then add one more ‘if’’ clause to the paragraph. 

In recent years, the shorter workweek approach to business has been gaining popularity. Many people believe that if all companies provided their employees with more flexibility and time for themselves, employee productivity improved. It is also argued that workers are generally more motivated and engaged when they would be happy and well-rested. However, some opponents of the idea don’t think this approach is realistic. They think that if employees have a shorter workweek, if they may feel pressured to do more work in less time. In addition, many companies would struggle with adjusting their business’s management style. 

We hope that you found these exercises helpful. If you feel like you need more practice on conditionals, don’t worry – there are many excellent resources you can easily find online. Stay tuned for our last IELTS Grammar Exercises post! 

Answer Key for Task 1 

  1. c.If I hadn’t waved at her, she wouldn’t have seen me. 
  2. a.My baby tends to cry when he needs to burp. 
  3. e.She might lose her job if she doesn’t get new clients. 
  4. b.He would have an earlier bedtime if he didn’t nap. 
  5. d.If I took the bus to work, I could save a lot of money. 

Answer Key for Task 2 

  1. If I had enough savings, I would go on a trip. 
  2. In Costa Rica, the weather is always hot when/if the sun shines. 
  3. I will/can certainly take the test again if I don’t get the score I need.  
  4. She would/could/might perform better if she didn’t have to worry about her family.  
  5. I’ll attend the conference if I don’t have too much work.  

*Model answer for Task 3 

In recent years, the shorter workweek approach to business has been gaining popularity. Many people believe that if all companies provided their employees with more flexibility and time for themselves, employee productivity would improve. It is also argued that workers are generally more motivated and engaged when they are happy and well-rested. However, some opponents of the idea don’t think this approach is realistic. They think that if employees have a shorter workweek, they may feel pressured to do more work in less time. In addition, many companies would struggle with adjusting their business’s management style. For example, if a 9-to-5 business chooses to implement shorter work weeks, that could mean restructuring the work week and even retraining staff. 

*Note that this paragraph is a model answer and is intended as a guideline. Other variations of the same paragraph are possible.  

Studying During Lockdown Mon, 29 Mar 2021 17:10:25 +0000 Everything is stressful during this pandemic and studying is no exception. Preparing for IELTS can be challenging on the best of days, so having the right tools can make all the difference.

Stick to a Schedule

Days seem to blend together during a pandemic. The best strategy is to set a study schedule. Having a schedule will push you to stay focused. Once you have a schedule, treat it like work. Go every day and don’t be late! Also, make sure to schedule breaks to keep your mind fresh.

If you live with other people, work together to make the best schedule for everyone. You need quiet time, so studying while others are away may be best. If this is not possible, make sure everyone knows when you’re studying, so they can be quiet.

Set a Routine

Along with a schedule, you need to have a routine. Creating a routine for the day can take away some unwanted stress. It will also keep you focused and less likely to put off studying. Get dressed, have breakfast, study, and repeat. Having a routine also mentally prepares you for the day ahead.

Clear Space, Clear Mind

During a pandemic, a lot of time is spent at home. Make sure you have a designated study space that is clean and only has the tools you need for studying. It shouldn’t be cluttered with distractions such as magazines, dishes, and other things you don’t use for studying. When your study space is clean, you can focus more on the task at hand. This space should also be separate from other places in the house. Your study space shouldn’t be your couch or dining table.

woman at laptop in window

All Focus, No Distractions

When spending the majority of your time at home, staying focused can be a challenge. Use whatever tools you need to make sure you are focused during study time. Some people like using headphones. Others like soothing background music. Whatever helps you get focused, use it!

Go Virtual

When lockdown limits your options, the internet opens up a world of possibilities. Practice your speaking on apps such as Zoom. Study with friends in group chats. Ask any and all IELTS questions on different IELTS forums. You can always find a way to study, even during a pandemic.

Go Easy on Yourself

During these trying times, your goals may look a bit different. Stress is at an all-time high, so make sure you go easy on yourself. Set realistic goals when studying. You may want to set small goals to achieve every day or week; however, you may want to set a larger goal. If you do this, make sure you give yourself enough time to achieve this goal. When achieving goals, reward yourself. This can be something small like your favourite treat or something bigger like something for your home.

Physical and Mental Health is Crucial

The pandemic and lockdown have taken a serious toll on our health. When doing anything, taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial. Your schedule and routine should include exercise, sleep, and hobbies. You should try to do some type of exercise every day. This can be high energy exercise or something low-key like yoga or stretching. Make sure you get enough sleep at night. Sleep is the key to success when it comes to focusing. Along with exercise and sleep, you need to eat a healthy diet which includes drinking enough water. Finally, set aside time for your hobbies. Though they may look different during a pandemic, do something that you enjoy to keep stress at bay.

Studying during a pandemic can be a challenge, but having the right mindset, along with the right tools, can put you on the path to success. Even though things look a little different, you can still achieve your IELTS goals.

What’s the Deal with Lexical Resource on the IELTS Writing Exam? Wed, 24 Mar 2021 17:04:27 +0000 Lexical Resource is one of the four areas used to rate your writing, and it makes up 25% of your final writing score. If you are preparing for either the academic or general training exam and want to score 7 or above, understanding what Lexical Resource refers to in the context of this exam is important. This blog is meant to help you focus on what matters.

Some of you might say Lexical Resource is about vocabulary, and that’s not wrong, but it’s better to take a more holistic view and see that scoring high is not simply about using a long list of fancy words. You also need to know how to use those words accurately. This includes using the correct form of the word and spelling, but it’s even more than that.

If you are trying to showcase a higher level of English fluency, you need to demonstrate that you can express yourself clearly and somewhat like a native speaker. This means that you should be able to write with a sense of style (essay, report, letter) and somewhat naturally.

Three things that fluent writers do with words that you need to notice

1. They use Idioms and language that is less common to basic English users.

Take the idiom in this blog title” What’s the deal with Lexical Resource” as an example. I could have written “What is Lexical Resource about?” and that would be fine, but by using the idiom, I show I can express myself with some style and lexical knowhow. This idiom is informal and perfectly suits this style of blog writing.

The ability to use idioms in the right situation comes with practice.

2. Skillfully combine words so they “sound correct” in English.

Words partner or group together in English, and if you put the wrong words together, not only do they “sound” incorrect, sometimes their meaning is changed completely.

Let’s use the word “deal”, for instance. There are so many idioms and word pairings using the word deal. Here are a few variations with “big deal” that will show how much the meaning can change if not used correctly:

A big deal – something that is very important

arms up happy woman
Getting a 7 on IELTS was a big deal to Carla.
Big deal – without the article “a”, this can mean “Who cares?” 

no big deal woman
You got a 7 on IELTS? Big deal, I got an 8.
No big deal – not a big problem 

no problem

If you took the wrong bus, it’s no big deal; just get off at the next stop and go back.

Knowing how to put words together happens with lots of exposure to the language and making plenty of mistakes before you get it right. The more you read, listen to, speak, and write in English, the more knowledgeable and skilled you become.

3. Possess a huge bank of words to write about a wide range of topics.

This is where most people focus their prep, and it is an excellent idea to learn new words that relate to common IELTS exam topics like education, the environment, family, and children, but that’s not the end of it. Fluent people know which words to use in which contexts to express their ideas concisely.

If you are achieving 6 or 6.5 in your writing and you want to raise that score, make sure that you don’t simply throw in subject-specific words here and there in your writing or overuse lots of fancy words memorized from your thesaurus. You are trying to get your ideas across as clearly as possible. Flooding your writing or speaking, for that matter, with related but misused vocabulary doesn’t sound natural, and it can be confusing and result in a lower score than you deserve.

What can you do to raise your Lexical Resource score?

There really are no quick tricks to improving your Lexical Resource. Generally, I tell people to know their common spelling or word form errors and check for them on the exam. The reality is that it takes time to become accustomed to how words are used in a different language.

Ultimately, you will be trying your best on the exam to make your ideas understood, and you should think about doing that with the words you know. Remember that using words or phrases that you don’t understand could be keeping your score down, not raising it. Don’t be afraid to paraphrase or explain something in another way if you don’t know the exact word.

Make English a part of your everyday life. The more you are exposed to the language, the more words you will learn. Correspond and speak with fluent people, read books and articles, listen to podcasts, and watch videos about a variety of subjects that interest you.

Experts say, and I agree, that learning a new language requires more than simply reading and listening though. You have to do something with the language, produce something with it if you are actually going to add it to your lexical resource. Make sure that you record any new words and expressions and include word forms and associations in that list, so you have some idea of how to use them correctly.

Then, when you learn a new idiom or word pairing that you actually think you could use, test it out. Note that it would be a huge task to memorize all of the word groupings and meanings around the word “deal”, but if there are some that you think you could use, start using them. For example, take “what’s the deal with” and use it in an English environment. At the grocery store, you could ask, “What’s the deal with your points card?” and a clerk should explain how the points card works.

I hope you see what a big deal Lexical Resource is, but also know that with careful preparation and practice, it will be no big deal to improve your score. Good luck and have fun with it.

Preparing for IELTS During the COVID-19 Pandemic Mon, 22 Feb 2021 17:17:50 +0000 COVID-19 has changed our world as we know it. One thing hasn’t changed though – we still need to take the IELTS. Before COVID-19, those preparing for the IELTS would go to schools for test-prep classes, meet study groups at the local library, or visit a teacher’s house to get 1-on-1 test tutoring. To stay safe, these normal preparation pathways have almost all shifted online. Whether it is Zoom classes, online self-study courses, or social media chat groups, in-person studying sessions have paused.

With these significant changes in how and where we study, some of us have had a difficult time adjusting and adapting. Because almost everything is online, our home has become the new classroom. We see our family, our roommates, and our pets instead of our classmates. The whiteboard, note-book, and teacher are now digitized and completely onscreen.

Preparing for IELTS in the COVID-19 world has positives and negatives. The more we focus on the positives, the better we’ll be at improving our language skills for the test. So, where to start? Here are four tips I’ve gleaned from my students for what works and what doesn’t.

Re-design your study space

Now that we are doing almost everything at home, our desk can get really cluttered. Papers, clothes, dishes, and all sorts of other stuff from around the house tend to pile up in our workspace. This kind of space doesn’t work well for studying. It’s uncomfortable, disorganized, and distracting.

Try and keep your work area clear when you study. Move the clutter away and wipe down your desk space with a damp cloth. To make the environment more natural, try to open a window for fresh air and daylight and put a houseplant nearby. We also need to be aware of ergonomics – the practice of improving our workspace design. To do this, get a warm, soft desk light and make sure your chair is comfortable and at the correct height. Some people also recommend using a standing desk device. Studies show that using standing desks improves posture, gives us more energy and helps us stay focused. 

Overall, your refreshed and revived workspace will lead to higher motivation, a better study experience, and hopefully, a better IELTS score.  

English-only Zone 

We just talked about creating an effective study space at your home. Why not also make this an “English Only Zone”? Make yourself a rule stating that everything you see and do when you are in this area is in English. If you use sticky notes, write them in English. Change the OS (Operating System) of your computer to English. When you text your friend from this space, do it in English. If you want to play some study music, choose English songs. Need to check something on Google, do it in English. Many scientific studies have shown that “English only spaces” really help us improve our English language fluency, vocabulary, and other key skills used on the IELTS.

Go old school – Paper only 

DISTRACTION! This is one of the main goals that online businesses aim for. When we try to study online, it’s easy to lose focus. Social media, online shopping, news updates, email notifications, text messages, TikTok likes, the list goes on and on. One minute you’re checking an online dictionary for new vocabulary, the next minute, you’re playing video games. 

A sure way to avoid online devices distraction is to get rid of them. Your laptop, phone, tablet, and computer… turn them off, and put them in a different room! 

Prepare enough IELTS materials on paper to keep yourself busy and focus on that. You’ll be surprised how much more you can do and how much easier it is to focus.  

Go to the Woodshed!

A woodshed is a small building that is used to store wood. In Canada, when someone says “go to the woodshed to practice”, it usually means to go somewhere where you can be loud and free from interruption. For example, a piano player will have a small room with thick walls and a heavy door where she can practice. Nobody hears her, and she can’t hear anyone. A high school rock band might use a garage for their “woodshed”. They can be loud and free, and nobody will bother.

For IELTS, it is important to practice speaking and listening in English. If you can, find someone in your -safe bubble or someone on Zoom and practice in your “woodshed”. Find a room where you can speak loud and clear in English and not worry about disturbing people. Some apartments have a study room. You could also try a park, your garage, or the lobby of your building. The best way to improve your speaking and listening is to have interesting and uninterrupted conversations, again, again, and again. Where will your “IELTS woodshed” be? 

So, there you have it, just because COVID-19is here doesn’t mean you have to stop studying for IELTS. With the right attitude, some creativity, and a good plan, you’ll get the rating you need. 


IELTS Grammar Exercises: Modals Mon, 08 Feb 2021 17:42:49 +0000 Grammar practice is essential in developing accuracy in English. It provides us with opportunities to notice correct patterns in English and to use these patterns so that we become comfortable producing them. Being accurate users of English helps us in our ability to communicate with others effectively, and it helps our audience to better understand the message we want to convey. Our IELTS Grammar Exercises series allows you to practice different complex grammatical structures that you can use on test day and in everyday communication. In this post, we’ll be focusing on the uses of modals. 

When you’re ready, complete the tasks below in order as they appear. When you finish, you can scroll down to the answer key section to check your answers. Good luck! 

Task 1 

Match the sentences that have the same meaning.

  1. Maybe he speaks Spanish well.  

     a. He must speak Spanish well.  

       2. He was able to speak Spanish well.  

     b. He would speak Spanish well with enough practice  

       3. He is able to speak Spanish well.  

     c. He may speak Spanish well.  

      4. I’m sure he speaks Spanish well.  

     d. He could speak Spanish well.  

      5. I imagine him speaking Spanish well.  

     e. He can speak Spanish well.  

Task 2 

Choose the correct modal to fill the gap. 

1. He solved all five puzzles in less than five minutes! He ____________ be very smart 

  1. would
  2. wouldn’t 
  3. must 
  4. mustn’t 


        2. I refused to go near the water because I ____________ swim. 

        1. could 
        2. couldn’t 
        3. should 
        4. shouldn’t 


        3. I’m worried I ____________ have offended her. I thought she looked annoyed, but I’m not sure.  

        1. must 
        2. mustn’t 
        3. may 
        4. may not 


        4. In an ideal world, he ____________ have to worry about finances. But sadly, that’s not our reality. 

        1. might 
        2. might not 
        3. would
        4. wouldn’t 

        5. I told her she ____________ make time to study for the exam. I knew she was busy at work, but we had a lot of material to cover.     

          1. should 
          2. shouldn’t 
          3. can 
          4. can’t 


          Task 3 

          Read the paragraph below. Find five incorrect uses of modals and correct them. 

          Some people believe that children might to be less likely to perform at their best in school if they don’t get enough pressure from their parents. As if children couldn’t not succeed without being under intense pressure. While high expectations and support from parents can’t be healthy and beneficial, placing too much pressure on children can have harmful effects. Children who feel that they are under constant pressure to do well and succeed may experiencing constant anxiety and stress. To avoid these negative consequences in children, it is important for parents to remind themselves that school should is about learning rather than achievement.  

          We hope this post helped you in becoming a more confident user of modals. If feel like you need more practice, take some time to look for other resources online and keep working on your accuracy. Remember that for IELTS it is important to find the right balance between using a range of grammatical structures and using them correctly.  

           Answer Key for Task 1 

          1. c. Maybe he speaks Spanish well.  
          2. d. He could speak Spanish well.  
          3. e. He can speak Spanish well.  
          4. a. He must speak Spanish well.  
          5. b. He would speak Spanish well.  

          Answer Key for Task 2 

          1. c. He solved all 5 puzzles in less than 5 minutes! He must be very smart. 
          2. b. I refused to go near the water because I couldn’t swim. 
          3. c. I’m worried I may have offended her. I thought she looked annoyed, but I’m not sure. 
          4. d. In an ideal world, he wouldn’t have to worry about finances. But sadly, that’s not our reality. 
          5. a. I told her she should make time to study for the exam. I knew she was busy work, but we had a lot of material to cover. 

          Answer Key for Task 3 

          Some people believe that children might be less likely to perform at their best in school if they don’t get enough pressure from their parents. As if children couldn’t succeed without being under intense pressure. While high expectations and support from parents can be healthy and beneficial, placing too much pressure on children can have harmful effects. Children who feel that they are under constant pressure to do well may experience constant anxiety and stress. To avoid these negative consequences in children, it is important for parents to remind themselves that school should be about learning rather than achievement.