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This tutorial is a concise and valuable checklist for your Academic IELTS Task 1.
1. How to order your information
To achieve good marks, you must present your information in a logical format. Not only must you ensure that all of the information is presented, but you must also make sure that the essential points are highlighted. Below we have listed some of the ways that you can present your information in a logical format.
Group similar items together
Start the discussion with the most important information
Discuss the general outline, highlighting any deviations
Work along a timeline from earliest to latest
Work from the biggest to the smallest.
It is essential that you accurately describe the diagram data in task 1 or you could lose points in the area of Task Response.
There is often heaps of data to handle so it is vital that you select the relevant information. This is often a difficult task. You will have answered the question adequately if someone reading the information could themselves make a graph from the data that you have presented to them in your report.
Not only is it necessary to make accurate use of numbers when you write your report, it is also vital that you use different words and phrases to describe the fractions percentages and numbers in your descriptions. In this section we offer you practice session to expand your vocabulary and to test your language skills in this arena.
Never lose sight of the fact that this is a language test.
Below we present two sentences to demonstrate how you can use language to describe two similar scenarios very differently.
In South Asia 23% of the population live on $1.25, while in East Asia only 8% have a similar amount.
Less than a tenth of the population of East Asia live on $1.25 a day, whilst nearly a quarter of the people in South Asia live on a similar amount.
The second sentence sounds better because it makes more appropriate use of vocabulary. You should always bear in mind that this is a test of your language skills. It is vital for you to practice these skills so that you become skilled at using the language to describe and analyse the graphs.
You need the power of language because you can’t always see the numbers.
Frequently in the test you will receive a graph where you are unable to see the values. Without values you will have to describe the graphs using descriptors. To do this properly you will have to have a wide range of vocabulary that accurately describes the graph. You should include the following in your description.
3. What type of diagram is it – Identify the type of diagram as a table, flow chart, bar, line or pie graph.
4. The units used – Make sure that you identify the units used by scrutinising the x and y axis. They may be units of time such as hours or years, units of currency such as dollars or euros or they may be simple numbers.
5. The period of time – Does the data refer to current or past events or is it a prediction of what might happen in the future? You should not just get the tenses correct but should also refer to actual times in your description.
6. Trends and outlines – Your description should outline any patterns in the diagram and when expressed over time you should note any upward or downward trends. If there are similarities in static data it is also important that your point these out. For example if you have a chart of sales to various countries, you can use the data to point out where the largest, smallest and similar sales occur.
7. The subjects of the graph – Make sure that you include every subject on the graph. For example if you have a bar chart that compares seven countries ensure that every single one is mentioned in your task.
8. Exceptional data – If there is any exceptional data on the diagram, you should make mention of it as it is almost certainly key information.
9. Extremes – Make sure that you include the highs and lows and any other extreme information in your description. If there are too many to mention, you’ll have to make a judgement on the most important extremes.
While your here, check out the new bulk essay correction package we recently launched:
This will help you in your IELTS speaking exam because:
You will develop a range of complex structures to use when you’re answering questions in parts 1, 2 and 3.
How to Use Inversion
Another structure which will make a significant impact on your IELTS speaking score is the use of Inversions. Inversion just means putting the verb before the subject.
We do this in questions, but we can also do this when we want to show surprise or to show that something is striking or unusual. Here’s an example:
I’ve never been so tired.
Never have I been so tired.
The second sentence is the inversion and emphasises how tired the person was. It has a much stronger effect than the first sentence.
We mostly use inversion with negative adverbs and adverbial phrases such as: never, hardly, rarely, seldom, only then, it wasn’t until, nowhere, in no way, on no account, no sooner than.
With inverted sentences we put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence, this emphasises it. We then change the place of the subject and the verb ‘be’, for example:
She is rarely so rude.
Rarely is she so rude.
Notice that the first sentence is the way that people speak most of the time. However, the second sentence is inverted because it begins with an adverbial phrase and we changed the place of the subject and the verb.
Here are two more sets of examples.
You are to go there on no account.
On no account areyou to go there.
I have never tasted such good food.
Never have Itasted such good food.
One thing to keep in mind is that with present simple and past simple verbs, you will need to add do/does, or did + infinitive.
Also, with modals we use the modal + ‘be’, for example:
We seldom see such things.
Seldom do we see such things.
I hardly got to sleep.
Hardly did I get to sleep.
He could never be called clever
Never could he be called clever
When we have an auxiliary verb, this changes place with the subject, and the verb remains the same, for example:
I had only then called him.
Only then had I called him
I will in no way be going.
In no way will I be going.
How to use Emphasis and Inversion in the IELTS Speaking Exam
Look at the way you can use emphasis and inversion below:
The piece of work that I like the most is Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh. I first saw it when I went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and no sooner had I seen it than I fell in love with it. Only when I arrived in Amsterdam did I learn the full story of Van Gogh’s life. Rarely had I seen anything as striking and distinctive. What I love about it is the colour…
This will help you in your IELTS speaking exam because:
You will develop a range of complex structures to use when you’re answering questions in parts 1, 2 and 3.
One way to raise the level of your English, when you are taking the IELTS speaking exam, is by using emphatic structure and inversion.
As well as making your English sound more sophisticated, these structures let you avoid being repetitive and show the examiner that you can use complex English appropriately.
It is these things which will help lift your level and allow you to get a higher band score.
Using Cleft Sentences for emphasis
A cleft sentence is basically a sentence which is in two parts because it has two verbs. It is particularly useful in IELTS speaking as it helps add emphasis.
During the speaking test you will almost certainly be asked to talk about things you like, or why you do/did something. Cleft sentences are perfect to use in these situations. Look at the sentences below:
I really like going to the cinema with my friends
What I really like is going to the cinema with my friends
The second sentence emphasises the information we want our listener to focus on. Therefore, it demonstrates that you can use more complex English structures to communicate more effectively.
The reason (why)…
The thing (that)…
The person (who)…
The place (where)…
The time (which/when)…
I feel most content in my family home. ‘Normal’ sentence
The place where I feel most content is my family home. Emphatic sentence
Grammatically, we put the person, place or thing at the beginning of the sentence. Then we use the verb ‘be’ and the emphasised phrase. Let’s take a look at some additional examples.
What I like the most is summer.
The reason that I am learning English is to get a job in hospitality.
The place (where) I most enjoyed going was to my grandparent’s house.
The people I try to avoid are the ones who are too cynical.
The thing restaurants need to remember is that not everyone eats meat.
The music that I hate the most is modern jazz.
From the last four examples, we can see that we often use this structure to express an emotive response or reaction.
The verbs- enjoy, dislike, adore, hate, like, loathe, love, need, prefer, want, etc., are often used in these types of sentences.
Now let’s look at a sample question for part 3 and how you can use the same structure to answer the question.
Examiner: How has art changed in the last few decades in your country?
Candidate: The thing that has most changed in the last few decades is the concept of art. Nowadays people consider graffiti as art. The place where this is most obvious is in big cities like New York and London.
The structures that we have looked at will help improve your English and learning them will also give you useful phrases which you can almost certainly use in the IELTS speaking exam.
Knowing some of them, and how they are used, gives you a template for answering questions, and you should not find yourself in a situation where you can’t think of anything to say.
To help you internalise and learn faster these cleft sentences and emphatic structures, I’ve prepared a brief recording of a sample task 2.
Once again, if you can guess the accent of the speaker then email us your guess, the first five correct answers will get an essay correction for free!
Describe a piece of art you like.
You should say:
What the work is.
When you first saw it.
What you know about it
And explain why you like it
Well to be honest, I must admit I am not a massive art fan, however, the piece of art I love the most would most definitely be by the English artist called Banksy.
He is quite a mysterious and secretive artist yet he’s reached global stardom. I should mention that I haven’t actually seen his work in real life, the place I saw it was on the internet, if I recall correctly.
What I know about it is that last year this specific piece of art was put up for auction in London, and at the exact time it was sold, it started to self destruct. Hidden inside the frame was a shredder, and the artwork dropped through the internal shredder and was pretty much destroyed.
The reason why I like it so much is because this was a truly unique point in art history. Nothing like this had ever been done before. I think the art work immediately shot up in value after this incident.
You can download or listen to the audio version here:
In this tutorial we have a Band 8 essay graded by an EX-IELTSexaminer (from our team of essay correctors!).
First you can read the essay, and after we break down which sentences helped this essay score a Band 8.
This tutorial will help you understand:
How an essay gets a Band 8
What sentence structures and language is needed for a Band 8
How you can link ideas smoothly
Our online IELTS course not gets you to a Band 7, but we have also had A LOT of students scoring Band 8s and higher. Check out the course here.
It is the job of governments and companies to deal with the huge environmental problems of climate change. Individuals on their own can do little or nothing’. What is your opinion about this statement?
There is now little doubt that (TR1) / (CC1) global warming and climate change are the result of human activity. This has happened because of a failure in environmental policy by governments and a lack of concern for wasted energy by individuals. (LR1) / (GR1)
TR1 / CC1 – An appropriate way to begin this type of essay. LR1 / GR1 – Excellent use of language – both lexically and grammatically.
It is almost universally accepted that (CC2) climate change is the consequence of a number of environmental failings. Perhaps the most important of these (CC3) is how fossil fuels such as gas and coal are still the main source of power. This is a problem because their use means that a large amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect (LR2). Another serious issue is how illegal logging (LR3) continues in rainforests and the Amazon Basin in particular. (CC4) It should also not be forgotten that there is a connection between global warming and the inefficient use of energy by consumers in the home. (GR2) / (TR2)
CC2 – An impressive way to introduce the first ‘body paragraph’. CC3 – Appropriate, accurate use of referencing. LR2 – Accurate use of a wide range of vocabulary which relates specifically to the topic. LR3 – More effective use of some impressive vocabulary. CC4 – The link between these sentences could be smoother. GR2 – Flawless use of a wide range of grammatical structures to this point in the essay. TR2 – Task achievement could be stronger in this paragraph. Try to address the question more directly.
While governments must take prime responsibility for reducing (LR4) climate change, individuals too can play a part (LR4). (TR3) Political leaders across the globe (LR5) need to cooperate so that research into renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar power is properly funded and the use of coal and gas in power stations is phased out. (LR6) / (GR3) They must also of course ensure that regulations against logging are properly enforced (LR7) / (GR4). Consumers of energy can help by insulating their homes properly (LR8) and using solar panels where possible so that less energy is required and wasted (GR5). These actions should limit the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and so reduce the greenhouse effect. (TR4)
LR4 – Lovely natural use of collocation. TR3 – This is the first time the task has been addressed directly. Aim to focus on the question much earlier in the essay. LR5 – Very natural language use. LR6 / GR3 – Lovely accurate use of a wide range of vocabulary and grammar. LR7 / GR4 – Slight repetition with ‘properly’, but impressive use of language. LR8 – Natural but a bit repetitive. GR5 – Very natural use of language. TR4 – True, but focus more on the question.
In conclusion (TR5) / (CC5), while global warming is a serious threat to humanity (LR9), there are a number of steps that can be taken (LR9) to reduce its effects. (TR6)
TR5 / CC5 – An appropriate way to introduce the final paragraph. LR9 – Very natural use of collocation. TR6 – A bit off topic here. Focus on whether it is the responsibility of governments or individuals.
PROBABLE SCORE: 8.0 / 8.5
You can download or listen to the audio version here:
If building paragraphs is hard for you, and you need to PASS IELTS FAST, the “3.0 How to Organise Your Ideas and Build Coherent Paragraphs That Flow” chapter is perfect!
Questions and Answers:
1. Many people believe that it’s better to learn something in a group rather than individually. Do you agree or disagree?
Agree – learning in group has many advantages
Elements of teamwork can be adopted
Group can utilize each person’s skill expertise
Disagree – Individualism is better
Self reliant, own the result, not dependant on others
More mature way, more responsible
2. Some people think that men are naturally more competitive than women. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Agree – Men are more competitive
Look at sporting fans, globally most are male
A lot of sports historically only men participate: F1, Boxing, MMA, etc.
Psychological drivers of men include: dominance, control
Agree – Men are more competitive
Although it is difficult to say without sounding sexist
Is it nature or nurture – difficult to say
3. These days, mobile phones and the internet are very important to the ways in which people relate to one another socially. Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?
It is more advantageous to relate socially to others via the phone
Possible to give more frequent contact and support
Possible to find others similar to you, useful for those with obscure or specialist interests
Cyber bullying is becoming a realty
Teenagers becoming addicted to phones, even labeled screenagers
Phenomenon called instagram realty which shows the real life pictures without the filters… .
4. Weddings are more expensive in many countries nowadays when compared to the past. What is the reason behind this? Is this a positive or a negative development?
Reason behind this is probably social media
Vapid attempts at self promotion and
“keeping up with the joneses”.
Now it can be really publicised Ideas here need to be organised a little before starting the essay.
Definitely a negative development
Although it’s a memorable day and should be cherished – fact is, large amounts of cash are being spent,
Most families have a considerable financial mountain ahead – babies, mortgage, etc
5. Some believe that is the responsibility of people to take care of the environment. Others say it is the government that should take care of the environment. Discuss both views and state your opinion.
People should take care of the environment because:
We are the consumers, we vote with our wallets,
Throw away culture become considerably too prevalent – consumers are causing horrendous damage (pacific garbage patch)
Government should take care of the environment because:
They have the power to legislate
Can impose fines and taxes on polluters
Supposed to be guardians of the country, which means collectively they are guardians of the earth… but not true in reality
Linda: How’s my audio? Is it okay? Is it acceptable?
Ben: It’s perfect.
Linda: No pun intended.
Ben: It’s accepted.
Linda: Okay, great.
Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.
Linda: Hello, my name is Linda and I’m very happy to join Ben Worthington on the IELTS podcast today. I am the founder and CEO of Accepted. I’ve been an admissions consultant since 1994 and I’m happy to share my admissions insights and experience with IELTS podcast listeners.
Ben: Super. Welcome to the podcast, Linda. It’s a pleasure to have you. Could you tell us, just before we jump into it, where you’re from and how you got into this sort of like area, into this sector?
Linda: Okay. I’m from Los Angeles; born, raised, lived here almost all my life. I went to UCLA as an undergraduate student and also got my MBA at UCLA. At the time this was a long, long time ago, there was a lot of concern when I was an undergrad about the nefarious influence of television. It sounds very innocent and quince today, but the concern was that people were not writing as well as they used to in let’s say the ’50s. This was the ’70s because they were spending their time watching television as opposed to reading books.
So, UCLA decided that they were going to increase the writing requirements for Poli Sci 1 and they hired people who wrote well and who had an English background and they offered me the position and I took it. I got great training, really outstanding training and I loved the work.
But at the time, again this was the 1970s the PC was not around yet. Writing was very tedious. Editing papers meant white out and little things that you stuck in a typewriter or just retyping the whole thing and I did not see myself making a living from writing or editing or anything like that. Fast forward about 15 years, my husband and I had six young children and–
Ben: Wow! That’s a lot.
Linda: Yes, ranging in age from 3-12 at the time and we needed to make some money and basically I was the one to make it. He had a full-time job. You could say I had a full-time job too with the kids, but it was a little bit more flexible and I was looking for something that I could do that I would enjoy.
I’d been a real estate agent, but I was no longer enjoying it and it also was going to eat up that family time. I had friends who were writers and editors and I thought that given my background and how much I had enjoyed that work, I would try it. So, I tried it and I was asked and I assumed I’d be asked to write– edit rather, not write research papers and term papers and stuff like that.
I kept being asked to write personal statements for graduate school and that was just a whole lot more fun. So, I decided this was like the early mid-90s. Actually, it was right around ’94, I decided to focus my business on admissions. At the time the idea of being a graduate school admissions consultant was bizarre to most people and my husband was very supportive because he saw that I was getting these requests, but he also thought I was nuts. I started focusing at that point on admissions.
In 1996, I put up Accepted. It was an experiment and if you want to see a really ugly website you can go look it up on the way back machine. It was an experiment that worked.
Ben: Wow! That’s fantastic. What an awesome story. Wow! I do have questions in front of me, but just one that’s popped into my mind now because I’ve looked at personal statements before and you have reminded me it is enjoyable because editing them and really sort of like pulling out nuggets and really getting the students to sort of like shine, so to speak.
When you’re looking at them, at these letters are you– do you find that maybe– I mean this might be right, it might be wrong. This is not really my area of expertise, but do you find that the letter is all centered on the student and is that okay or should the letter be directed at the university and what you are going to do for the university? I’m just wondering how they should write this.
Linda: Well, there are letters of recommendation and then there are application essays or personal statements or statements of purpose. They have slightly different names different nuances. I assume you are talking about the essays, not the letters of recommendation which are written by a third party. [unintelligible 00:05:22.10] Am I right there?
Ben: You are correct, yes.
Linda: Okay. So, I think you’ve actually hit the nail on the head. What the entire graduate application should do and I think this goes for undergraduate too, but certainly for graduate is show that the applicant both fits in at the target school and they can fit in in terms of academics, in terms of experience, in terms of goals, all kinds of different ways.
In terms of their educational needs, but also has something to add to the class they hope to join, to the program they hope to join, to the school’s community and ultimately the larger world. So, that paradox of both fitting in and standing out is kind of at the heart of admissions and I frankly think it’s not something that’s really well understood.
Ben: Yes, that’s really interesting. So, it has to be a balance of not just I can do this, I can do this, I did this, I will do that but I can bring this for you because I did this in the past and I will do this for you. Is that right? Is that the kind of balance we are looking for?
Linda: I think it’s a little bit exaggerated. I think if you apply to Harvard and you say I’m going to make Harvard a better place it might come off as a little bit arrogant, but if you say I want to contribute– I hate I want to contribute, I’d love to work on this project at Harvard. I’d love to organize this event. You hear? It’s not so much I’m going to– you’re going to benefit by being [unintelligible 00:07:04.14] and that you don’t want to come across saying, but you can say I’d love to work on this.
Ben: Awesome. Right, now I got you. Okay. Thank you for that. That’s a very detailed answer. Excellent. So, the next question I was going to ask you is maybe we’ve covered it a little bit, but what are the common challenges that a student faces when they’re trying to get into university?
Linda: Well, I think one we’ve already kind of touched on is that there is this paradoxical element to the application. I think another challenge they face is just assessing where they should apply. How do their qualifications match up against the admitting class profile of the schools they are applying to and this is whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate, medical school, business school, law school, it doesn’t matter.
Then there is also they should be considering, especially for graduate school less so for undergraduate, what do they want to get out of the degree? Yes, undergraduate, college especially in the United States, I think abroad it can be different, you’re expected to do a certain amount of exploring and not necessarily know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you enter at 18.
But when you apply to graduate school and you are focusing now on medicine, law, chemical engineering, business, whatever it might be, you shouldn’t be exploring at that point. You should know that that’s your chosen field. You don’t necessarily need to know what specialty you want to go into let’s say in medicine or what kind of law you want to practice, but you should be able to have some experience that indicates familiarity with this particular specialty and perhaps some goals or directions beyond the graduate program that you are applying to.
Ben: Interesting. Interesting. Because you just mentioned like in the U.S. and the system we are talking about there it just reminded me that in our listeners I think maybe there will probably be about three Americans out of the thousands that we get. I was thinking, you just reminded me, I was thinking what would be the common challenges for a foreign student approaching this U.S. system and wanting to get into a U.S. university because I know lots of listeners who’ve got their sights on the U.S. and would love to study there. It’s like a dream.
Linda: Well, lack of familiarity with the U.S. school system, educational system is certainly one challenge. Sometimes, lack of familiarity with English is another challenge and I think that probably one of the biggest challenges especially for people coming from Asia or two in particular. One is some educational systems are very numbers focused. It’s a grade, it’s a test score and that’s it.
The U.S. does take a more holistic approach to evaluating candidates. It’s not all about the grades and test score. Yes, they do count. It’s not like you can show up with poor grades and expect to get into an Ivy League school. Poor grades or poor test score and say well I have this great experience. Yes, they look at it holistic, but they don’t ignore– so that’s I think one thing that’s very hard for international students to grasp.
The other thing is in some cultures, Americans in particular are very comfortable saying I did x, y, and z. I think in some cultures, that’s considered bragging. The line between demonstrating confidence and arrogance is a murky one and sometimes culturally defined.
Ben: Wow! That’s a very accurate description of what I’ve encountered especially with regards to like the test score obsession. When you say looking– the admissions offices is going to look at this holistically, they’re not only going to take into account the test scores, but they’ll also look at maybe extracurricular activities and what this student is doing outside of the school. Is that right?
Linda: Correct, correct and many fields right now are looking for both leadership and teamwork. So, if somebody’s been doing– again, some research fields, at this point most research is done in teams also. So, unless you’re a starving artist in a garage, you’re probably working in teams.
Ben: Right, I see.
Linda: So, that’s important.
Ben: Could you give us an example of what this teamwork would be? Would it be– I’m guessing here like a sports team that seems–
Linda: It could be.
Ben: What about other sort of like team events? Would it be something like scouts?
Linda: It could be– well, it depends again. If it’s college and you’ve been a scout through high school, then that could be highly relevant. If you were a scout in elementary school and you are now applying to graduate school, it doesn’t pass, sorry.
It could be playing in a band, being part of a theatre production. It could be a charitable organization, serving on a board. It could be being part of an alumni organization. It could be being on a team at work depending upon again, what kind of program that you are going for. It could be– if someone is applying to college and you are part of this student council or student club in your high school or you’re part of again a governing body in a college organization or an event that you plan.
The possibilities are so broad to show these kinds of qualities, but what sometimes happens is that the international applicant doesn’t realize that they are valued.
Ben: That reminds me of an admissions coach I spoke to and he said that the institutions are a little bit flexible. He was referring to Australia and the UK. So, maybe if the student got a band 7, but the university insisted on paper that they needed a band 7.5 to get into this program. Is it the same in the U.S.? Is there a little bit more– is there a little bit of flexibility there? Is it still worth a student applying even if they don’t meet the exact criteria?
Linda: It really depends on the school and the program. If a school is a competitive school and says this is our minimum, then they probably mean it. The applicant can certainly call the school and say listen, is there any exception? But in all likelihood they mean it.
If the school isn’t such a competitive school, in other words, it’s struggling to fill up its class, then they might be more lenient. The other thing is with most tests, you can always retake the test. So, let’s say you say there was a jackhammer going outside the room and that’s why I scored poorly or I was getting sick or you know whatever it is, the common reaction of the school is well, that’s okay. Then just retake it. And again, the flexibility of the school is probably going to be dependent upon how many applications they are receiving.
Ben: Right, excellent. We’re going to jump into sort of like the interview because I know that quite a few students can get nervous. In the IELTS exam, there is a face-to-face interview with an examiner and I’ve seen students– it’s so saddening. It’s so sad because they fall to bits in front of the examiner whereas minutes before we were just having a free flow conversation and then in front of the examiner they tense up and they are like showing, I don’t know, maybe 70% or 60% of their natural ability. I’m sure– has this happened to some of your students or some of your…
Linda: Yes, you’re talking now about admissions interviews or specifically IELTS… yes
Ben: Well, it’s a bit of an overlap. You know what I mean. It’s like basically–
Linda: Of course these overlap, but I’ll let you advise on the IELTS interview specifically. For an application interview, whether this is for business school or medical school interview, I strongly encourage our clients to review their application, to really comb the school’s website, if possible talk with current students and recent alumni. That would be number three and number four and this is really important; prepare to tie your experiences to the school’s programs and values.
Linda: You can even set up a spreadsheet. School values: a, b, c, d. and I have these experiences that show that I share these values or I have these qualities. And then you can do it another way. You can say I’m really proud of this experience. I participated in this sorority and I increased membership by 50%. I worked in a team and I did this and this and this. Then list the qualities that you employed in that role.
Was it leadership? Was it teamwork? Was it great listening? Was it organizational skills? And list them so that if you are asked you can go either way. You can talk about the experiences you really want them to know about as well as tie to values that they hold dear. So, that’s kind of point number four.
Point number five which I think is very relevant whether you are going into an IELTS interview or an admissions interview is to– before you go in, don’t talk to the people just as nervous as you in the waiting room. Talk to yourself and use positive imagery before the interview.
Visualize yourself doing something you know you are good at. If you are a great tennis player, just imagine that fantastic serve. If you are a great musician, you are performing on stage and you’re just doing great. Visualize that. Then visualize yourself excelling in the interview, just acing it.
And then try positive self-talk. Affirmations. “I’m going to ace this interview today. I’m going to wow them.” You don’t have to say it out loud especially if you are shy, but we all have these conversations going on in our head and unfortunately, sometimes they are negative. They are not healthy. They are negative. Make the ones that you are having with yourself before you go in positive.
Ben: Yes, this is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It’s so– it’s kind of ironic because a few episodes ago, I was talking about visualizing and just visualizing the most successful interview. You sat there, back straight, you’re smiling. You’re looking at the examiner and it’s going well and yes, very similar to what you were saying. That’s fantastic advice–
Linda: I think also there’s a few mechanical things you can do. Go to the place of the interview the day before so that you know where you are going and you can’t get lost. And then allow an extra half hour or hour or whatever for traffic or parking problems or whatever so you’re not going to be there at the last minute. Just things like– those are kinds of mechanical ones, but I think– I’m thrilled to hear that you were talking about this just a couple of weeks ago also.
I do think we have these negative conversations and I think if we can be more positive about ourselves or just think positively, then we’re going to do better.
Ben: Absolutely. It’s like half the battle. Also, it can just as– it makes such an impact as well with your preparation. If you’ve got this negative self-talk saying you’re not going to succeed then you’re not going to be– it’s going to make it ten times harder to sit down and start preparing for it whereas if you are like okay let me give this my best shot. I deserve a band 7. I deserve to get into an Ivy League university. If you can just channel the conversation and make it positive. I completely agree with you there.
Linda: Yes, we’re on the same page.
Ben: Absolutely yes. So, we’re coming to an end and well, just two more questions. First one is why will a coach help a– not why. How can a coach help a student get into university?
Linda: There’s lots of ways. We can help the applicant choose the best schools where it’s going to be easiest for them to show fit and where they have the greatest likelihood of achieving their goals or meeting their educational needs.
We can guide them to write the essays and the resumes that help them show they both fit in as we discussed at the beginning of the interview and stand– fit in at the target schools and stand out in the applicant pool in a positive way. You don’t want to stand out in a negative way obviously.
We can provide mock interviews which help both in terms of the content of their responses and helps them feel more confident and comfortable when they go into the interview. We can help them mitigate weaknesses. Sometimes, people have a poor first year in college or maybe they had a bad semester. Maybe there was family illness. Maybe there was a problem. We can help them mitigate that, show that they really have the ability to succeed in whatever program they are applying to.
We can help them handle wait lists, respond to multiple offers and sometimes negotiate scholarships and grants. So those are–
Ben: Super. There are plenty of ways there.
Ben: One last question. Success stories; do you have any stories that come to mind of like a student, maybe an international student who’s like– maybe you’ve helped and now is like excelling or you helped get in who maybe, I don’t know, you thought possibly couldn’t do it when they started?
Linda: Sure. We had– I remember there was one client applying to– well a couple of stories. We had one client this past year who was applying to top business schools and he actually had worked with another consultant first and then he came to get us. He wasn’t– he just wasn’t 100% happy with his essays.
He came to us. Turns out he also had a GMAT score that was distinctly below average for the schools he was aiming for. Like 50 points or more and– 60 points or more. He worked with our consultant. He worked hard with our consultant and he got into the top business schools in the world.
Ben: Wow! Oh, my word. That’s fantastic. Well done.
Linda: That was one. Then there was another story. This was from years and years ago. It was actually from 2001-2002. It was a fellow that we worked with and he was from the Middle East. He was applying to Ivy League schools and after 9/11 he was concerned that he should just stop.
He talked to his consultant, his consultant talked to me and we said no, we think you should definitely proceed. The reports of anti-Muslim filling in the United States were exaggerated. We thought he would get a fair shake and again he got into his dream school. And he was over the moon, overjoyed.
Ben: Wow! That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. It just goes to say like what we were saying before like this self-talk. If you’re not controlling the conversation going on in your mind, somebody else possibly can or will. Like you just said with the media especially the media it can exaggerate things so much, blow it out of proportion to the point where it starts influencing behavior and it can be quite sad in some cases just like you talked about with the Middle Eastern guy.
Linda: He actually– in that case, it wasn’t even so much the self-talk, it was the rumor mill.
Linda: And that’s– sometimes the weakness of hanging out in various applicant forums as opposed to going to somebody who’s knowledgeable it can be the blind leading the blind.
Ben: Excellent point there. Well, thank you very much, Linda. Do you have anything– well, before we finish if you’ve got anything else to add you could tell us now. If not, tell us where students can find..
This will help you in your IELTS speaking exam because:
You will develop a wider range of pronunciation features on your IELTS speaking exam.
Getting ready for the IELTS speaking test is not easy.
One of the four areas that you’ll receive a grade for is pronunciation; in fact, pronunciation accounts for 25% of the speaking score.
You might not know it, but the way you pronounce your words and sentences, and the pauses that you make when you’re speaking is all part of pronunciation and will make a significant difference in your IELTS speaking exam.
One of the important parts of pronunciation is word stress. Many English learners find it difficult to use sentence stress correctly. In English, stress occurs regularly throughout your sentence.
If you use word stress in your speech, you will instantly and automatically improve your pronunciation and therefore score higher on your IELTS speaking test. So what exactly is stress? In this article, we’ll discuss word stress and sentence stress.
What is word stress?
In English, when a word has more than one syllable, one part of the word will be more stressed than the other; this is called word stress.
And it means that one of the vowel sounds of that syllable will be pronounced longer, louder, and at a slightly higher pitch than the other parts of the word.
If you mispronounce the word and place stress on the wrong syllables the listener will not understand you properly.
Along with changing the meaning of a word, stress changes can also change the part of speech especially in cases where words have the same spelling.
For example, let’s compare two similar words that have different meanings because of stress. con′test /ˈkɑːnˌtɛst/
The first word above is a noun, and it means a game or competition. We pronounce it by putting the stress on the first syllable.
Compare it to the following:
In this second word, the syllable is on the second syllable; and it means to argue against something. Here are a couple more for you to practice: pre′sent pre·sent′ ob′ject ob·ject′ ex′port ex·port′
If you’re unsure where the stress is in a word, check a dictionary. In most dictionaries, you will see the symbol ‘ before the stressed syllable. Also, check out https://forvo.com/, the online pronunciation dictionary.
Word Stress Rules
Now that you have a general understanding, here are a couple of basic rules about word stress:
Vowels are stressed, not consonants.
One word cannot have two stresses; so each word has one stress.
If a word is both a verb and a noun, the noun stresses the first syllable, whereas the verb, is stressed on the second syllable. See the above examples.
Also, here are some additional rules to follow:
1. For most nouns with two syllables, the stress is on the first syllable.
2. Prefixes and Suffixes aren’t stressed.
3. If a word ends in ‘’er’’stress is on the syllable before it.
4. Stress the first part of compound words.
5. Stress the first syllable of three syllable words ending ‘’ly’’.
Another important part of pronunciation is sentence stress which is the overall rhythm of sentences whereby emphasis is on certain words but not on others.
Useful tip for the speaking exam: In sentence stress, content words are often stressed, while structural words are not. Content words are words with the most meaning in the sentence; these are the words that are stressed; this includes the following:
WH-questions, i.e., who, what, where, when, etc.
Negative words, i.e., never, neither, not, etc.
Modals, i.e., should, could, might, etc.
Adverbs, i.e., carefully, loudly, quickly, etc.
On the other hand, structural words which are not stressed are as follows:
Possessive adjectives, i.e. his, her, my, etc.
Personal pronouns, I, you, he, etc.
Conjunctions, i.e., but, and, or, etc.
Here are some examples of stressed works in the following sentences:
1. They won’t go to school today.
2. Allison’s father had a heart attack.
3. Have you seen the new movie with Brad Pitt?
4. I’ve never heard of that!
5. I’m going back to Vienna for good.
6. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
By practicing word stress in your speech, your pronunciation will immediately and automatically get better.