Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The graphs below show the types of music albums purchased by people in Britain according to sex and age.

The bar charts provide information on the percentage of people who buy Pop, Rock and Classical Music in Britain according to gender and age group.

Males favour Pop Music more than females at around 20%. The age group that listens to this genre of music the most is the 25-34 year olds at approximately 35%, followed closely by the younger age group. The 35-44 age bracket buys this music slightly less with a percentage of 30. Pop Music is purchased the least by the over 45s at below 10%.

Turning to Rock Music, males again dominate with purchases at 30%. The 16 to 34 year olds buy approximately 30% of this product. Rock Music is not favoured by the oldest age group as their purchases are below 10%.

Although both males and females spend less than 10% on Classical Music, the men’s level is slightly higher. Very few young adults 16-24 buy Classical Music and the 35-44 year olds follow the same trend, below 5%. On the other hand the purchases of the 25-34 age group and the 45+ are considerably higher standing at between 15 and 20%.

In conclusion, males buy more music than females. The younger age groups focus on Pop and Rock Music whilst the elder generation favours Classical Music.
Question taken from IELTS Practice Tests Plus 1 p.69

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The three pie charts show four fields where degrees have been granted at the National University in three different time periods.

In 1990, degrees were awarded in the field of Business and Computer Science in equal proportions (30%). A half of this amount was allocated to Law degrees (15%) whereas Medicine accounted for 25%.

Ten years later, most degrees were given to the Computer Science field at 40%. Likewise degrees in Medicine noted a 5% increase. Business and Law degrees were awarded less than in 1990 at 20% and 10% respectively.

In 2010, Computer Science remains the favourable choice amongst graduates with almost half of all degrees granted. Medicine reverts back to its 1990 status at 25% while Business and Law are at 15%.

Overall, over a 20 year period Computer Science degrees have the greatest proportion of granted degrees. Medicine fluctuates by 5% as does Law before returning to their initial figures. Finally, those graduates gaining Business degrees are halved.

Question taken from Barron's IELTS Practice Exams p.100

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The diagram shows how energy is produced from coal.

The diagram shows the different stages required to produce clean energy from coal.

Initially, coal is placed on a conveyor belt and is placed in a furnace together with oxygen from another source. The mixture is burnt in a furnace and from this raw syngas is produced. Two substances are removed from the raw syngas; purified syngas and Mercury Sulphur. Other impurities like slag are also extracted from the furnace.

The purified syngas is used to drive a gas turbine as well as a generator and in this way produces electricity. Alternatively, the gas turbine produces hot exhaust gases which are taken to a heat recovery generator. The steam that is produced at this stage is used to power a steam turbine and with the help of a generator once again makes electricity.

To conclude, the electricity that is produced from coal undergoes a purification stage to clean the harmful substances and the energy is produced on site with the help of a gas or steam turbine.

Question taken from Improve your IELTS Writing Skills p.24

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The maps below show changes that took place in Youngsville in New Zealand over a 25-year period from 1980 to 2005.

The maps show how the coastal town of Youngsville developed over a 25 year time span.

To begin with, in 1980 the area north of the river Alanah experienced a reduction in the green area around the lake. Two parking areas were added, one to the north of the lake and the other on the right. The houses along the coast were destroyed to make way for an extension to the railway line and a large stadium was constructed. The hospital remains in its initial position whilst more activities take place in the lake area. Finally, 2005 saw a marina being built to the right of the railway.

South of the river also experienced several changes. Once again the trees and woodland were cut down to make way for factories and warehouses. Similarly skyscrapers were erected in place of the housing that existed 25 years earlier. The airport, parking area and school remained untouched.
To sum up, in 1980 Youngsville appeared to be a residential area with a rural landscape and plenty of greenery while in 2005 it was transformed to an urban, industrial landscape.

Question taken from Improve your IELTS Writing Skills p. 39

Monday, 19 December 2011

Verbs starting with 'over'

Verbs starting with ‘over’ can mean too much.

Overachieve – better than expected
Overact – act a role in an exaggerated way
Overactive – too active
Overambitious – having too much ambition
Overanxious – excessively anxious
Overbook – accept more bookings than there is room for
Overburden – give too much work to do
Overcautious – too cautious
Overcharge – charge too high a price
Overcompensate – take excessive measures to make amends for something
Overconfident – excessively confident
Overcook – cook for too long
Overcrowded – too many people
Overdevelop – develop too much
Overdo – to too much of an activity
Overdose – take too much of a dangerous drug
Overdraw – take too much money out of a bank account
Overdress – dress too formally
Overeager – excessively eager
Overeat – eat too much
Overemphasize – put too much emphasis on
Overenthusiasm – excessive enthusiasm
Overestimate – to think that something is more than it actually is
Overexcited – very excited
Overexert – make too great an effort
Overexpose – expose too much
Overfamiliar – too well known
Overfill – fill to excess
Overflow – too full
Overgrow – grow too large
Overhear – to unintentionally hear something someone says when they aren’t talking to you
Overheat – make or become too hot
Overindulge – have too much of something enjoyable
Overjoyed – extremely happy
Overkill – too much of something
Overload – load too heavily
Overlook – to ignore or not notice a problem
Overpay – pay too much
Overplay – over emphasize
Overpriced – too expensive
Overprotective – excessively protective
Overqualified – having too many qualifications
Overrate – rate more highly than is deserved
Overreact – react more strongly than is justified
Oversimplify – make something too simple so an inaccurate impression is given
Oversized – bigger than the usual size
Oversleep – to sleep longer than you should
Overspend – spend too much
Overstate – state too strongly
Overstay – stay longer than an allowed time
Overstep – go beyond a limit
Overstretch – make excessive demands on
Overtime – work more than the normal working hours
Overturn – to turn upside down or on the side
Overuse – use too much
Overweight – above normal weight
Overwork – work too much

Verb or Noun?

Verb: impress, attract, act, decide, intend, produce, receive, permit, examine, invite, prepare, perform, amuse, agree, argue, discuss, advertise, instruct, introduce, describe, disappear, recommend, locate, accommodate, arrange

Noun: impression, attraction, action, decision, intention, production, reception, permission, examination, invitation, preparation, assistance, appearance, performance, amusement, agreement, argument, discussion, advertisement, instruction, introduction, description, amazement, disappearance, recommendation, location, accommodation, arrangement

Make or Do?

Make: an effort, a purchase, certain/sure, a complaint, a fuss, up one’s mind, sense, a suggestion, money/profit, a mess, a phone call, a noise, request, an appointment, decision, an excuse, a guess, progress

Do: business, one’s duty, good/evil, damage, one’s homework, work, right/wrong, one’s best, harm, somebody a favour, wonders

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 2)

Some people think that parents should teach children how to be good members of society. Others, however, believe that school is the place to learn this.
Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Being a good member of society involves having a good character and being able to contribute positively to society. Such skills need to be learnt as they do not come with us when we are born. This can be taught in the home environment by parents or during school hours.

Parents are the first source of contact for children and ideally they should be good role models for their children. Considering that many children start going to school only after having spent several years at home, parents are their initial teachers. At this crucial young age, adults may teach their children manners, social skills, how to respect others and accept difference.

School is another influential environment for children. Teachers continue the work of a parent. As a classroom is a social setting, children get to learn how to be part of society on a larger scale there. Teachers are impartial and well-equipped to offer useful lessons to children whereas some parents may not have adequate training in this area. On the other hand, a school may have a limiting view of how a good society member should act and what principles are important.

As parents have a good idea of what kind of future citizens they would like their children to be and as what children learn at home stays with them for a lifetime, perhaps it would be better if they taught their children how to be good society members. School can play a facilitating role extending and building upon what has been learnt in the home environment.
Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p. 31

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 2)

Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology.
In what ways has technology affected the types of relationships people make?
Has this become a positive or negative development?

We have many technological options available to communicate with each other. We can use mobile phones to make calls, send text messages and send photos of important moments to each other. Computers allow us to communicate by messaging each other through various popular applications such as MSN, Facebook and Skype.

Technology has made the world smaller, allowing us to contact people anywhere in the world for free and at a fast pace. Many people are able to find their partners through social networks and make new friends in this way. A computer has replaced a traditional match maker. Although some people, particularly those who are shy feel confident behind a computer screen, it is not always possible to have deep relationships with virtual people. In a virtual relationship a person can hide their true identity by posting fake photos and lie about all aspects of their life.

There are many negative aspects of communicating through technology. Sending text messages are a cowardly way of getting out of difficult situations such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. In addition, open ways of communicating are lost to technology. Face-to-face communication with body language and facial expressions are lost as are a genuine sense of connecting.

Therefore, although technology has enabled friends and family to keep in touch over long distances it may not be ideal for new relationships. Virtual relationships lack human contact and interaction which are part of being close.
Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.54

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 2)

Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
What other measures do you think might be effective?

Every metropolis has its own traffic congestion which in turn contributes to pollution. Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles are on the rise and the world’s politicians have realised that this issue needs to be addressed if the planet is to have a future.

Increasing petrol prices may make drivers think twice about using their private cars. It might encourage people to opt for public transportation instead, prevent them from making unnecessary trips or even carpooling if several people are going in the same direction at the same time. However, I doubt whether petrol producing countries or multinational providers would be satisfied with this arrangement. Governments will also be reluctant to impose these measures as they are likely to be unpopular with consumers and they will feel the pressure from those with economic interests.

Instead, alternative transport methods may be promoted. In many European centres bicycles and walking are the preferred method of moving around. Car designers have also produced hybrid, electric and solar cars which do not depend on guzzling petrol. These could be sold at affordable prices with government subsidies to encourage travellers to purchase them. Alternatively, cities like London impose taxes on car users who drive to the centre during peak times and this somewhat reduces the load.

In conclusion, we all realise the dangers of exhaust fumes from vehicles and the harm it causes to the environment. Although increasing the price of petrol is a method that can reduce car use it might not be enforced due to economic pressure. Other measures such as improved public transport and environmentally friendly means might be a better option.
Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.79

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 2)

In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.
What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them.

Obesity is a current problem especially in developed countries whose populations are increasingly overweight putting a strain on the health system. A lack of fitness also leads to health issues such as heart disease, cancer etc.

Our poor diet and busy lifestyle are the main causes of bad levels of health. There has been a shift from natural, home-cooked food towards fast-food, junk food and take-away options. These choices tend to have high levels of fat, sugar and are often dripped into oil which leads to weight gain. Additionally, a stressful daily routine does not allow time for eating well or exercising. Being fit and exercising improves a person’s level of health.

I believe an individual is responsible for their own lifestyle choices. A simple measure such as walking to work or climbing stairs in a building during office hours instead of using the elevator can add to a person’s physical well-being. Instead of eating out, an individual can make a healthy low fat sandwich to take to work. Not having time to look after our body is the easiest excuse for being lazy.

The government can help to a small extent by promoting health and fitness. It could for example provide more parks, bicycle lanes and free gyms. To encourage its citizens to eat fresh, local produce, it could limit imports of foreign food and heavily tax fast food restaurants.

To conclude, an overweight population is a present day phenomenon that should worry individuals as well as the government. To ensure good health people should take care of their diet and exercise more and the government could lend a hand in this respect.
Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.102

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The pie chart below shows the main reasons why agricultural land becomes less productive. The table shows how these causes affected three regions of the world during the 1990s.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

The pie chart provides the main causes of global land degradation while the table gives a regional breakdown of this degradation during the 1990s.

The three main reasons why land used for agriculture is becoming less productive are over-grazing by livestock, deforestation and over-cultivation of crops. The percentages for these categories are almost on an equal footing with over-grazing at 35%, deforestation at 5% less and over-cultivation accounts for 28%. Other reasons are considerably lower at 7%.

Europe has the highest deforestation figure of 9.8% followed by Oceania with 1.7% and North America with 0.2%. Similarly, Europe has the greatest percentage in the over-cultivation category (7.7%) whilst in North America land degradation due to over-cultivation lies at 3.3%. No agricultural land is degraded by this method in Oceania. Finally, 11.3% of Oceania’s agricultural land is affected by over-grazing, about half of this amount in Europe (5.5%) and a considerably small amount in North America (1.5%).

To sum up, the main cause of worldwide land degradation is over-grazing. In terms of the greatest region where land degradation is most prominent, Europe comes first with 23%, followed by Oceania and lastly North America (13%).

Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.30

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The pie charts provide a breakdown in annual spending over a 20 year period in a UK school.

In 1981 almost a half (40%) of the total school spending was on teachers’ salaries followed by other workers’ salaries (28%). 30% of spending went on resources and furniture and equipment in equal parts. The smallest amount spent was on insurance at 2%.

Ten years later there was a 10% increase in teachers’ salaries and a 6% drop in other workers’ salaries. A 10% fall in spending can be noted in furniture and equipment while 5% was added to resources. Finally insurance spending rose by 1%.

In 2001 teachers’ salaries were reduced by 5% to 45% and other workers’ salaries were cut further to 15%. Spending on resources also fell to 9%. Insurance and furniture and equipment had a considerable increase from 1991 reaching 8% and 23% respectively.

Over the 20 year period, teachers’ salaries make up a substantial part of total school spending and insurance was a category with increasing importance. Spending on resources went down as did other workers’ salaries whilst furniture and equipment accounted for a small rise in spending.

Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.53

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The graph below shows the quantities of goods transported in the UK between 1974 and 2002 by four different modes of transport.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

The line graph shows how many tonnes of goods are transported over a 28 year period in the UK via road, water, rail and pipeline.

To begin with, in 1974 about 70 million tonnes are transported by road and this amount increased to almost 100 million over the next 28 years. Transportation by water stood at almost 40 million in 1974 and rose by approximately 22 million in 2002. Between 1982 and 1994 the amount was stable at 60 million.

On the other hand, although rail transportation was used to move 40 million tonnes of products in 1974, the same as water, this dropped to below 40 million between 1978 to 1998. In 2002 this means of transport was used at the same level as 1974. Finally, the use of pipeline was minimal in 1974, about 10 million and this figure more than doubled in 2002.

To sum up, road was used more than any other transport means throughout the period under review and pipeline the least. Road, water and pipeline noted increases while essentially rail use ended up the same as its initial usage.
Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.101

Model Answer - IELTS (Task 1)

The diagrams below show the stages and equipment used in the cement-making process, and how cement is used to produce concrete for building purposes.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

The first diagram shows how cement is produced whereas the second demonstrates how this cement is utilized to produce concrete for the construction industry.

Initially limestone and clay are passed through a crusher to produce powder. Once this powder has been through a mixer it goes to a rotating heater where heat is applied. The produce is placed on a conveyer belt and with the aid of a grinder, cement is produced. Finally, the cement is packed into bags.

In order to make cement, a mixture of four components is used in different proportions; cement (15%), water (10%), sand (25%) and gravel which makes up half of the ingredients. This mixture is put into a rotating concrete mixture and then applied to a building surface.

In conclusion, limestone and clay produce cement in a process that involves crushing, rotating and applying heat. When three more elements are added to the cement and stirred on site, concrete is produced for building purposes.

Question taken from IELTS 8 past papers p.78

Thursday, 27 October 2011

General Training Model Answer (Task 2)

Some people think that it is better to educate boys and girls in separate schools. Others, however, believe that boys and girls benefit more from attending mixed schools.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Most schools today are co-educational where boys and girls study and learn side by side. Single sex schools can still be found particularly if religion is an important part of the school’s instruction.

To begin with, those who favour single sex schools perhaps believe their children are receiving a higher level of education as there is no distraction from the opposite sex. Students are able to concentrate in class and receive better marks.

On the other hand co-educational schools are common today. This is a more realistic way of learning and it reflects conditions in the working world. When students enter the workplace they will find both sexes there and their experience in the classroom will make them accept and respect their work colleagues equally. In addition it is often thought that boys and girls have different strengths in the classroom. For example boys might prefer problem-solving or practical subjects whilst girls might enjoy reading and being creative. This means that a student’s strengths complement another’s weaknesses.

Education is not restricted to what is learnt in the classroom. Socially, students also need a balance and they need to be in the same environment as the opposite sex.

In my opinion, students benefit more in schools with a mixed environment as this provides a model of the real world. It also encourages each student to bring their own unique knowledge to classroom learning. Single sex schools may be regarded as being limiting and may create social problems later on in life.

Question taken from IELTS 8 Past Papers p.129

General Training Model Answer (Task 1)

You recently bought a piece of equipment for your kitchen but it did not work. You phoned the shop but no action was taken.

Write a letter to the shop manager. In your letter
describe the problem with the equipment
explain what happened when you phoned the shop
say what you would like the manager to do

Dear Sir or Madam,

Last week I purchased a microwave oven from your shop. When I arrived home and tried to heat some food, I discovered that the door could not be opened. I attempted pressing the button several times once I had turned the appliance on but this action was unsuccessful.

As a result, I rang your Customer Service hotline to inform them of this defect. Even though your employee Stavros Mela assured me that a technician would come past and rectify the problem as he regarded it as being minor, nobody from your technical team arrived. I followed up on the initial phone call several times but no action was taken despite the promises made.

I would appreciate it if you could look into this with your Customer Service Department and adhere to your refund policy regarding faulty electrical items by sending me a cheque for the amount of the microwave oven.

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. Jamie Walsh

Question taken from IELTS 8 Past Papers p.129

General Training Model Answer (Task 2)

Today more people are travelling than ever before.
Why is this the case?
What are the benefits of travelling for the traveller?

The world has come a long way since animals such as horses and donkeys were used for local transport and people walked from one area to another. Similarly, a trip abroad was achieved once in a life-time. Nowadays the skies are full of aeroplanes, the seas of ships, the land of cars and trains and the list of frequent flyers is endless.

The increase in travel can be attributed to the invention of modern means of transport such as high speed trains and planes. The links between countries, cities and towns have improved and travellers are now connected to destinations worldwide. What is more, by buying tickets on the internet and with so many special offers and packages, travel is now affordable to most people. In terms of business, it has become fashionable to meet representatives from other countries and to seal contracts by meeting people in their home environment.

There are multiple benefits for travellers going abroad. Firstly, they gain a better understanding of another culture, history, and heritage which broadens their horizons and makes them respect other people. It has made the world a smaller place where difference is accepted, encouraged and valued. Secondly, many travellers see this as an opportunity to relax and escape their work routine and daily life of time-tables. It is usually the experiences from travelling that people remember most.

The low cost of international travel, better connections and speed ensures that people have a wealth of opportunities available to them. Travelling for pleasure creates moments that stay with us forever.

Question taken from IELTS 8 Past Papers p. 116

General Training Model Answer (Task 1)

You have recently moved to a different house.
Write a letter to an English-speaking friend. In your letter
Explain why you have moved
Describe the new house
Invite your friend to come and visit

Dear Alex,

How have you been? It’s been a while since I last wrote to you and this is because I have been busy moving house.

Do you remember that small house I used to live in? Well, the owner decided that he wanted to live in it with his wife as he’s started receiving his pension and cannot afford to pay rent on another house.

My new house which is located in the suburbs is much bigger. It has three spacious bedrooms, a cosy living room and a modern kitchen. Unlike the previous house, the main bedroom has a unsuite bathroom and there is an additional bathroom for guests painted in my favourite colour, purple. On sunny days I am able to sit in the garden and read the newspaper.

I would really love for you to come and stay with me. This time you won’t be sleeping on the couch but you’ll have a comfortable double bed of your own. Let’s arrange something for the summer.

Best wishes,


Question taken from IELTS 8 Past Papers p. 116

Traditional Wholesaler

Traditional Wholesaler

Sunday, 18 September 2011

General Training Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

It is generally accepted that families are not as close as they used to be.
Give some reasons why this change has happened and suggest how families can be brought closer together.

In today’s world the idea of community and family is different to what it was in the past. Whereas previously family was considered the most important unit in society with families spending plenty of time together, this is not the case today.

Firstly, our value systems have changed, with society emphasizing money and wealth as a symbol of success. As a result, individuals focus on their work at the expense of family life and often move to other countries for this purpose becoming further distanced from them. Thus, modern society encourages selfishness and individual profit.

Secondly, as we cannot choose our family members there are often tensions, arguments and misunderstandings between them. In these cases friends become important and families drift apart. Family members may also become bitter when there is a divorce or a parent remarries which is an event that can be seen frequently today.

Even though some distance between families is ideal especially if they are demanding or overbearing, they may be brought together by spending some time together. This might be during celebrations, festivals or even sharing a meal once a month.

Each culture has its unique vision of family. Asians for example tend to have closer family ties and tend to be loyal to their family compared to Western societies. In the fast paced West, individuals are too busy making money to pay attention to their family and this trend is affecting the traditional family unit. In addition, no attempt is made to get close to the family resulting in everyone minding their own business.

Question taken from Past Papers IELTS 3 p.126

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

General Training Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

Some people believe that children should be allowed to stay at home and play until they are 6 or 7 years old. Others believe that it is important for young children to go to school as soon as possible. What do you think are the advantages of attending school from a young age?

In many countries, children are sent to kindergarten from a young age. School follows shortly after that so children become accustomed to a school environment earlier on. Some parents do not want to rush their children off to school but prefer to let them do what children enjoy most, play.

Those who support that children should stay at home until they are a little older perhaps believe that the home environment has much more to teach them than school. Some parents may also think that children can learn through play or that because they will learn everything eventually at school there is no need to pressurize them.

There are many advantages for children if they are sent to school when they are younger. Firstly, they learn how to be part of a group. Activities in the classroom and in the playground are centred on team work. This skill is useful in later life as being social is viewed positively. If children stayed at home until a later stage, they would not benefit from meeting other children their own age and making many new friends. Secondly, in terms of knowledge, children learn how to read and write and a host of other useful information. Perhaps they would only have access to this information through the TV at home.

In my opinion it is better for children to go to school young as they learn how to share, be part of a group, make life-long friends and become literate.

Question taken from IELTS 4 Past Papers p.129

General Training Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

In the past, many people had skills such as making their clothes and doing repairs to things in the house. In many countries nowadays, skills like these are disappearing.

Why do you think this change is happening? How far is this situation true in your country?

Our grandparents were much more resourceful than us. They did not live in a society where mass production was the norm so their skills were better than ours. They appreciated the few possessions they owned either making them by hand or repairing any broken items instead of throwing them away.

Today, society has changed dramatically. Almost all our products are made in China or other developing countries like Vietnam. Consumer products are made in factories at a very low cost and therefore are also sold at attractive prices. Why would someone learn how to make their own clothes when they can purchase a cheap T-shirt very easily? In addition, when anything breaks in the house, it is simple to replace it. Advances in technology means that consumers are keen to update their products yearly.

In Cyprus, young people specialize in the field they are interested in and spend their free time having fun. Traditional skills like making chairs are dying out, even in this small society with parents complaining that their children are disinterested in learning any type of useful skill. Many low priced commodities are imported from abroad and young people do not follow in their parent’s footsteps as they do not show an interest in trade and skilled labour.

In fact, having a skill is often looked down upon by Cypriots who spend their working lives in air-conditioned offices doing administrative work. It is very rare to find a young person repairing furniture, electrical items or sewing their own clothes. We live in a society of easy come, easy go.

Question taken from IELTS 4 Past Papers p.115