Tuesday, 15 December 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

It is important for children to learn the difference between right and wrong at an early age. Punishment is necessary to help them learn this distinction.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

What sort of punishment should parents and teachers be allowed to use to teach good behaviour to children?

Societies have certain rules that need to be followed by all citizens and families also have their own beliefs about what is right and wrong. These need to be taught to children at a young age so that when they are older they will be able to understand what is right and what isn't.

Some believe that this distinction can be taught using some form of punishment. I believe that disciplining children will help them understand that there are consequences to bad behaviour. They will learn to respect their parents and other people in positions of authority. If parents do not want their children to become spoilt and live as adults believing they can get away with everything then they need to be strict with them from an early age. A parent who punishes their child is doing so in order to help them. For example, if a child is playing with matches, this is dangerous for them and they need to be taught not to do so again.

Good behaviour needs to be taught in an appropriate way. Beating a child doesn't achieve anything. It just makes them scared. That is why it is no longer accepted as a form of punishment. Teachers should not embarrass a child in front of their classmates. They should speak to the child privately in order to find out what is bothering them and also speak to the parents. Some schools have detention, warnings and in extreme cases expel students. At home parents can make their children reconsider their behaviour by taking away something that is valuable to them such as an electronic toy or send them to their room until they are ready to apologise.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.31

Sunday, 29 November 2015

How to fill in the IELTS Listening & Reading Answer Sheet

The listening is the first part of the test. You should first write your answers on the question paper. At the end of the listening test you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. 

The reading section is the second part of the test. You do not have extra time to transfer your answers. You should write your answers directly on the answer sheet.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Some people think that all university students should study whatever they like. Others believe that they should only be allowed to study subjects that will be useful in the future, such as those related to science and technology.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Currently students are free to choose their course of study based on their interests or future plans. Subjects such as art, philosophy, Latin etc. might not be considered useful subjects by some who believe that the future depends on science and technology and this is what needs to be taught at university.

Firstly, if students study what they are passionate about they are likely to succeed in this area. Students have different aims and interests and should not be forced to follow a path they did not select for themselves. Secondly, although science and technology are subjects that lead to development and drive us forwards it doesn't mean that other subjects are less important. The world still needs to be entertained, we need technicians, caretakers, midwives etc. 

On the other hand, many university courses attract students who are interested in the sciences. This is a growing field which helps to advance society in every imaginable area from manufacturing, medicine and the environment to space travel and exploration. Having students focus on useful subjects will mean that graduates will be efficient and can contribute positively to human advancement. It might also mean high employment rates. Let us not forget that technology is used in all types of work to make our lives easier so there will always be a great demand for this.

Even though our future depends on the sciences, I believe students should be given the freedom to decide what career path they would like to follow. It is important to have this choice as other subjects are also needed.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.55

Sunday, 8 November 2015

IELTS Speaking

Part 2

Describe something you don't have now but would really like to own in the future.

You should say:
     what this thing is
     how long you have wanted to own it
     where you first saw it
and explain why you would like to own it.

Part 3 (discussion)

What types of things do young people in your country most want to own today? Why?
Why do some people feel they need to own things?
Do you think owning lots of things makes people happy? Why?

Do you think TV and films can make people want to get new possessions? Why do they have this effect?
Are there any benefits to society of people wanting to get new possessions? Why?
Do you think people will consider that having lots of possessions is a sign of success in the future? Why?

Questions taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p. 103

IELTS Speaking

Part 2

Describe a child that you know.

You should say:
who this child is and how often you see him or her
how old this child is
what he or she is like
and explain how you feel about this child.

Part 3 (discussion)

How much time do children spend with their parents in your country? Do you think that is enough?
How important do you think spending time together is for the relationships between parents and children? Why?
Have relationships between parents and children changed in recent years? Why do you think that is?

What are the most popular free-time activities with children today?
Do you think the free-time activities children do today are good for their health? Why?
How do you think children's activities will change in the future? Will this be a positive change?

Questions taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.79

IELTS Speaking

Part 2

Describe a shop near where you live that you sometimes use.

You should say:
    what sorts of product or service it sells
    what the shop looks like
    where it is located
and explain why you use this shop.

Part 3 (discussion)

What types of local business are there in your neighbourhood?
Do you think local businesses are important for a neighbourhood? In what way?
How do large shopping malls and commercial centres affect small local businesses? Why do you think that is?

Why do some people want to start their own business?
Are there any disadvantages to running a business?
What are the most important qualities that a good business person needs? Why?

Questions taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.56

IELTS Speaking

Part 2

Describe someone you know who does something well.

You should say:
    who this person is
    how you know this person
    what they do well
and explain why you think this person is so good at doing this.

Part 3 (discussion)

What skills and abilities do people most want to have today? Why?
Which skills should children learn at school?
Are there any skills which they should learn at home? Which are they?
Which skills do you think will be important in the future? Why?

Which kinds of jobs have the highest salaries in your country? Why is this?
Are there any other jobs that you think should have high salaries? Why do you think that?
Some people say it would be better for society if everyone got the same salary. What do you think about that? Why?

Questions taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p. 32

Thursday, 15 October 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The two bar charts compare what British graduates and postgraduates did in 2008 after graduation.

The first bar chart shows that almost 30,000 UK graduate students decided to continue their education in 2008 after leaving college. Those who opted for part-time work or were without a job after graduation ranged between 16,000 and 18,000. Only 3,500 graduates chose to spend their time doing voluntary work.

Almost 30,000 post graduate students went on for further studies in 2008 and approximately 200 less were engaged in part-time work. A little over 1,500 postgraduates did not have work. Finally, very few university leavers, that is, 345 chose voluntary work.

Most graduates and undergraduates continued with their studies and not that many of them opted to volunteer. Both types of students found part-time work rather than being unemployed. The difference between part-time work and unemployment was smaller among graduates than it was for postgraduates.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.77

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Countries are becoming more and more similar because people are able to buy the same products anywhere in the world.
Do you think this is a positive or negative development?

Globalisation and the improvement in transportation means that it is possible to purchase the same brands wherever you are. Franchise stores are available worldwide, for example it is possible to buy an identical dress in Beijing, Cape Town and Berlin.

Unfortunately being identical means that a country loses its own distinct identity and what makes it different from all the others. Local products disappear from the market and are replaced by mass produced ones. This trend also means industries that used to produce traditional products shut down and all production takes place from a central location.

On a positive note this trend may eliminate differences and discrimination as it allows everyone equal opportunities to access products irrespective of where they come from. In this way they can keep up with international fashion and what is popular globally. For example, when the next leading mobile phone model comes into the market everyone will be able to own one by going to their local shopping centre. Manufacturers benefit from international sales and a single large market. This saving in costs might be passed onto the consumer in the form of lower costs.

I'm afraid that if we all own the same products, countries and consumers will no longer be unique. Although we might have cheaper products and our favourite brands are readily available, we stand to lose our multiculturalism, our individuality and our difference. If we all dress the same, eat the same food, drive the same cars, speak on the same phones etc the world will lose its charm.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.78

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The three stages in the life cycle of a salmon are shown in the diagram.

The first stage of the process begins with the adult salmon laying its eggs in the reeds among the small stones. These reeds are located in the upper river which is slow moving. It takes around 5 to 6 months for the eggs to hatch.

The young fry measure between 3 to 8 cm and swim to the lower river which is fast flowing. They inhabit this area for approximately 4 years in which their sizes increases to between 12 and 15 cm.

The smolt then swims to the open sea and remains there for around 5 years. In this environment it reaches its full adult size of 70-76 cm. It is now referred to as salmon in this stage of development and makes its journey back to the upper river in order to lay eggs once again.

We can see that salmon live in three different areas during their life time increasing in size in each habitat. The whole process from egg to adult takes around nine and a half years.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.101

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Many museums charge for admission while others are free.

Do you think the advantages of charging people for admission to museums outweigh the disadvantages?

Visiting museums is a way of learning about a country's history, culture, art and way of life. Entrance fees depend on the type of exhibit and museum and so vary from museum to museum.

Some people believe that there should be no admission fee making museums available to all not just to those who can afford it. This will increase traffic to museums and visitors can gain valuable knowledge for free. Others might feel its unfair to pay a price to see their own cultural heritage. After all, what is housed in a museum is part of their past. Many national museums are considered public and therefore free of charge.

On the other hand, one must not forget that there are many expenses involved in looking after a museum. Electricity bills need to be paid, staff wages, maintenance fees etc. The entrance fee usually covers these costs. In addition, if someone pays for something they usually appreciate and value it more. Art and history lovers and visitors who are genuinely interested in what a museum has to offer are willing to pay a price to see it. Charging visitors for admission also increases the value of the items on display.

I believe there should be an admission fee to museums in order for them to continue to operate by covering their expenses and offering a valuable experience to people who appreciate museums. There should also be concessions to the local population, students, retired people and the unemployed to make it attractive and affordable for them to visit if they wish to do so.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p. 102

Saturday, 10 October 2015

IELTS General Training Writing - Task 2

In many countries, the amount of crime is increasing.

What do you think are the main causes of crime?

How can we deal with those causes?

Crime is on the rise in several countries. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious being poverty. If someone lives in an inner city area under difficult circumstances they might be drawn to crime. They might steal to survive. In case they are unemployed they might break into houses or shops to steal products to sell on the black market. Coming from a broken home is another reason why young people turn to crime. Absent parents, hanging out with bad friends or joining neighbourhood gangs, not going to school, addiction to drugs and alcohol are all factors that lead to a rise in crime. So economic factors, a person's family, environment and lack of education or opportunities might be contributing factors.

In order to deal with these issues certain measures can be taken. Firstly, the government can work with local companies to train young people and provide them with job opportunities to get them off the streets. Secondly, schools should try to motivate students to continue their education and not drop out. Having a high school education keeps a person focused and increases their chances of employment. Unfortunately it is very difficult for the government to get involved in the way a person raises their family. In cases where children have a violent upbringing, social services should speed up the process of proving help to victims, moving them to safer environments. This may reduce their chances of turning to crime when they are older. Finally, the government might take a different approach and enforce stricter punishments for those who break the law. This might make criminals think twice before committing a crime. 

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10, p.116

IELTS General Training Writing - Task 1

You are going to another country to study. You would like to do a part-time job while you are studying, so you want to ask a friend who lives there for some help.

Write a letter to this friend. In your letter

  • give details of your study plans
  • explain why you want to get a part-time job
  • suggest how your friend could help you find a job

Dear Denise,

I've got some great news. I'm coming to Shanghai in September to study Finance. I'll be doing a 3 year degree at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. If I manage to get through that I might stay on to do a Master's degree.

I would also like to find a part-time job to get some work experience and improve my Mandarin. This would look impressive on my CV when applying for a future job especially if the position was in a well-known international company. I would have the opportunity to increase my connections and network with important people which is necessary in my field of work.

I hope you will be able to help me find a part-time job. I know you have been working at HSBC for quite a while now and I was wondering if you know of any openings for students or internships. If you hear of any positions advertised by any of your clients please let me know.

I'm so excited about coming to Shanghai and I can't wait to see you.

Best Wishes,


Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.116

IELTS General Training Writing - Task 2

Some parents buy their children a large number of toys to play with.

What are the advantages and disadvantages for the child of having a large number of toys?

Today parents purchase many toys for their children for various reasons. They may wish to reward their children, feel pressure to keep up with what is popular or may feel guilty that they don't spend enough time with their family. Often toys are not only given on special occasions but on a weekly basis resulting in an excess of toys.

Having many toys means that children can develop a variety of skills especially if the toys are educational. They can improve their imagination, general knowledge, co-ordination, balance etc. Secondly, children enjoy playing games as this keeps them amused and occupied for long periods because they have many toys to choose from. Finally, a child may be more willing to share toys with others if they have many of them.

On the other hand, children don't appreciate toys if they have a large number of them. They will play with a new toy for a couple of hours and then forget about it. This will also increase their expectations and will pressure their parents to keep buying them new toys. In other words, they are never satisfied and learn how to be materialistic. Secondly, children don't need so many toys. It is better for them to play outdoors with their friends where they learn to be social, use their imagination to invent new games as well as exercise. What they need instead of toys is their parents to dedicate time to them in order to strengthen family bonds so they can become balanced individuals.

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.129

IELTS General Training Writing - Task 1

You and some friends ate a meal at a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion and you were very pleased with the food and service.

Write a letter to the restaurant manager. In your letter

  • give details of your visit to the restaurant
  • explain the reason for the celebration
  • say what was good about the food and the service

Dear Mr Chen,

Last week we booked a table at 8 pm at the Red Dragon for thirty of our friends to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We had asked for special seating arrangements and a set menu. Our requests were met and I am writing to thank you and your staff for making the occasion so memorable for us.

We have never celebrated our anniversary in the past. However as we have been married for so long we decided it would be a great idea to share our happiness with our family and friends who have been so supportive all these years.

All our guests were impressed with the quality of the food. The vegetables were fresh, the duck crispy and the sauces delicious. The complimentary dessert was appreciated by all. Your jasmine tea and chicken soup were refreshing. The good service did not go unnoticed. Your well-trained staff were quick to serve us and were extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the content of each dish.

We will definitely be recommending your restaurant to our colleagues and suggesting that we have our office functions there.

Yours Sincerely,

Jack Ma

Question taken from Cambridge IELTS 10 p.129

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

IELTS General Training - Writing Task 1 (Letters of Application)

Dear Sir/Madam,

PARAGRAPH 1: Reason for writing
I am writing with regard to your advertisement..
I am writing to apply for the post/job/position of/ which I saw advertised in.....

PARAGRAPH 2: Qualifications/training/previous experience/skills/qualities
For the past year I have been working as....
I graduated in 2015 with a degree in....
I am organised, a team player, work well under pressure...

FINAL PARAGRAPH: Closing remarks
Please contact me regarding any queries you may have.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
I enclose my CV and would be glad to attend an interview at a time convenient to you.

Yours faithfully,

Benjamin Wood

IELTS General Training - Writing Task 1 (Letters of Invitation)

Dear Belinda,

PARAGRAPH 1: reason for writing (to invite)
I'm writing to invite you to...
I'd love it if you could come to...
We're organising a.... and would love it if you could come.

PARAGRAPH 2: details/directions
In case you don't know the way, I'll give you some directions.
Here are a few directions so you don't get lost.

FINAL PARAGRAPH: closing remarks
Look forward to seeing you then.
I hope you'll be able to make it.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you are able to come.



IELTS General Training - Writing Task 1 (Letters of Complaint)

Dear Sir/Madam,

PARAGRAPH 1: reason for writing
I am writing to complain about/regarding/because of/on the subject of.....
I am writing to you in connection with......

PARAGRAPH 2: complaints and justification
Although I have only used the washing machine once, it no longer works. I have called your shop twice but you have not taken any action.

FINAL PARAGRAPHsuggested actions to be taken. Closing remarks
I assume you will replace the washing machine. I hope the matter will be resolved promptly.

Yours faithfully,

Angela Gordon

Monday, 17 August 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The total sales value of four products that are sold in a shop over a three year period is shown in the bar graph.

Soaps and hand wash had the highest sales value in all three years starting at $150,000 in 2010, going up an additional 30,000 the following year and ending up at $190,000 in 2012. Similarly, the annual total sales value for shower gels follows an upward trend from about $70,000 in 2010 to $110,000 two years later.

In the case of shampoos and hair conditioners the sales value in 2010 was the same at $70,000. In the next year shampoo went up to $80,000 while hair conditioners dropped to $60,000. 2012 saw a drop in the sales value of shampoo to $60,000 whereas hair conditioner's value stood a little below $80,000.

To sum up, soaps and hand wash had the greatest sales value in the three year period. The remaining three products value was much less and in 2010 these three products were at the same levels.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p. 75

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Writing Academic IELTS - Task 1

The procedure needed to produce bricks begins with a digger extracting clay from the ground. This is then placed on a metal grid and the finer particles drop onto a conveyor belt. Sand and water is added to the clay. In terms of the shape of the brick, two options are possible. The bricks are either shaped using a rectangle mould with a hollow centre or cut into blocks using a wire cutter.

The bricks are left to dry in an oven for 1 or 2 days. The dry bricks are then placed in a kiln and two different temperatures are applied, moderate heat (200 – 980 degrees Celsius) followed by high heat (870 – 1,300 degrees Celsius). The heated bricks are then placed in a cooling chamber for 48 – 72 hours. The bricks are then ready to be packed and delivered.

To make bricks, clay, sand and water are needed. The process which requires drying, heating and cooling lasts less than a week.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS Student's book p.56

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The pie charts indicate the proportion of products transported between he eastern and western region of a country with the remaining part of the country. Five modes of transport are used for the movement of products.

Most of the goods are transported from the eastern region by road (60%), 20% by rail and half of this portion by river/canal. The remaining 10% is transported either by air or pipeline in equal proportions.

Products arriving from the western region are distributed differently. Road is the preferred method used to move items from the western regions of the country. This accounts for 35%. Rail use is a quarter and pipeline 5% less. River/canal and air are used equally (10%) for the transportation of products.

In both cases, east and west, road is the most popular mode for the movement of goods, followed by rail. Pipeline is preferred more in the western region.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS Student's book p.37

Monday, 20 July 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The line graph shows the highest temperatures per month on average in Darwin and Sydney while the bar chart reflects the average rainfall per month in the same Australian cities.

To begin with, temperatures in Darwin range between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius throughout the year with the lowest temperatures being in February and July (30 degrees Celsius). Between September and December temperatures were stable at 33 degrees Celsius. In Sydney, in the first two months of the year the temperature is 26 degrees Celsius. This drops to its lowest point (16) in July, then rises steadily back to 26 degrees Celsius in December.

Darwin has the most rainfall in the first 3 months – 430 millimetres in January, 370 in February and 320 in March. From April to October there is less than 100 millimetres of rainfall. Rainfall in November stands at 140 millimetres and rises to 250 in December. Sydney receives much less rainfall, less than 130 millimetres in all months.

Overall, Darwin is hotter than Sydney and July is the month with the lowest temperature. In Darwin it rains much more than in Sydney. January is the wettest month in Darwin and June in Sydney.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS Student's book p.19

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Many people seem to lead very busy lives, and have much less free time than they would like.
What do you think are the causes of this situation? What measures could be taken to improve it?

It is true that in our fast-paced competitive lives people have very little free time to relax, spend time with their loved ones and enjoy their hobbies.

The world has become highly competitive and in an attempt to keep up, people are working harder than ever before. It is no longer enough to merely have a nine-to-five job. Many often have two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Families need to cover greater expenses such as bills, taxes and rising school fees. Parents, especially those who come from a poor background, dream of a better future for their children. As a result, in an attempt to improve their standard of living, people’s free time is limited.

It is important for everyone to have free time in order to rest and spend time doing what they like, otherwise this could lead to illness or burn out. It would be a good idea if workers kept to the working hours provided in the law and if the minimum salary paid to workers was increased. This would ensure that staff does not work overtime as well as get a high enough salary. In addition, managers could be taught that giving their workers time off work will actually increase productivity. Workers will have more energy to work if they rest well. Secondly, people’s attitudes need to change. Too much emphasis is placed on material wealth and getting ahead and not enough on spiritual development and rest.

Having plenty of quality leisure time is a must for everyone. The government could contribute to this by ensuring that laws on working hours are followed and higher salaries are paid.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p. 20

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

In some countries, increasing numbers of people live alone.
What do you think are the reasons for this? Do you think it is a positive or negative trend?

The living patterns of the world are changing in some countries. Instead of living with family members, more people are now choosing to live on their own. This trend is more obvious in Western countries where citizens have different priorities and ways of living.

Firstly, living alone is a sign of independence. Some people might want to feel responsible for their lives, have their own space, live their lives how they want to and pay their own bills. As a person gets older they might not wish to live with their parents anymore, particularly if they have already had the experience of living away from home at university. Secondly, it seems that people have become more demanding of others. They are not willing to compromise or accept other people’s flaws easily. Similarly, they might have other priorities such as focusing on their career rather than having a family. Thirdly, living alone might also be a transition period for an individual. They may be going through a divorce, between jobs etc.

Living alone may isolate individuals, making them lonely or depressed. People are social beings and they need support, companionship, love and care. These aspects can be enhanced by living with others. Unfortunately living alone is a characteristic of living in large cities. Studios, bedsits and one-bedroom flats also support this trend. What is more, many cultures support the family unit and live with their extended family or in a large household. So if someone decides they prefer to live alone, they may distance themselves from their family and culture.

All in all, people choose to live alone according to their circumstances and stage of life they are at. Although this may be lonely and isolating for some, others might enjoy the freedom and independence it offers.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p. 38

Thursday, 16 July 2015

IELTS Speaking - Part 2

Questions taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic & General Training

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Academic IELTS Writing - Task 2

Some people think that there is too much advertising in our daily lives.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Even though we may not notice advertisements because we have become immune to them, adverts are everywhere – on TV, in printed media, on the internet, on billboards, on sportswear.

Sponsors cover a lot of expenses via their expenditure on advertising. This is a way to inform consumers about their products. Unfortunately, there are too many advertisements on all types of media. Marketing departments are discovering new creative ways of bombarding us with their client’s products. Search engines such as google, for example, monitor your activities online so that they can target products to suit your needs. The same happens on Facebook where adverts appear on your newsfeed or when you are watching a video banners appear at the bottom of the screen blocking your view and encouraging you to click on the commercial.

It is virtually impossible to avoid advertisements. Flyers are placed in our mail boxes, our online films are interrupted to show ads, junk mail arrives in our email and wherever we turn our glaze we encounter advertisements.

On the other hand, some people might believe that advertisements serve a useful purpose, letting consumers know what products are available on the market, new products and innovations, special offers, discounts etc. These people may benefit from having access to all this information on goods and services.

I, however, feel that we are burdened with advertisements that do not target any specific age or interest group because modern media is able to reach a wide audience.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p. 57

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Physical exercise is important for health, but some people do very little exercise.
What are the effects of doing very little exercise? How can people be encouraged to do more exercise?

We live in a fast-paced, stressful world where people are rushed in every aspect of their lives. As a result, people don’t take time to cook meals or work out. This has a negative outcome on their health.

Exercising is important because it improves our stamina and fitness. It prevents us from getting ill and improves our blood circulation. We have more energy, positive thoughts, look younger and confident as a result of exercising. So when we do very little exercise the reverse results are expected. Our health suffers and we are prone to illnesses and obesity. We don’t have energy to get through the day so we are not productive in our work.

Due to the negative impact of limited exercise on our health, it is a good idea to try and motivate people to work out. The government can create more parks, bike lanes and place outdoor gym equipment in public areas. Factories and businesses in China are taking the initiative and have exercise classes in the morning for all workers to energize them for the rest of the day. These classes are compulsory and beneficial for employees. It is also important to teach children at a young age about the importance of health and exercise. Developing positive habits from a young age means that these will be carried on when they are older.

Although exercising and keeping fit is a personal choice that benefits an individual, not everyone puts time aside to do this. Workers can be encouraged in the workplace to exercise as part of a daily routine or the government can provide the necessary resources to make this easier.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p.76

IELTS General Training - Task 2

With developments in modern technology, it is much better to shop online.
Do you agree or disagree.

Advances in technology have offered consumers the possibility to shop online. Many retailers have introduced this way of shopping in order to be competitive and survive.

There are many benefits to consumers who shop online. For a start, prices are cheaper. You can look for the best deals with the click of a button. There are more choices available for buyers. Perhaps some products are not sold in the purchaser’s country. What is more, you can do your shopping from any device such as a laptop or smart phone around the clock. Online shops never close and deliver directly to your home.

Some people however, prefer traditional ways of shopping. They prefer to try on clothes and shoes to see if they fit them or suit them. It is sometimes difficult to choose the right size without trying items on. A size 12 in Britain might not be the same as a size 12 in China. Sizes also vary between shops in the same country. 

Others might feel safer using a credit card in a shop rather than on the internet. There have been many cases of personal and card details being stolen online. Let us not forget that local shops are harmed by the internet so the economy of a country suffers. Finally, shopping is seen by many as a way to spend their free time. Many people enjoy browsing through shops and combining this activity with other activities such as drinking coffee, watching a movie or having a meal.

Although there are some risks attached to online shopping, I believe this method will become increasingly popular in the future as modern technology has made it easier.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p.91

Sunday, 5 July 2015

IELTS General Training - Task 2

More and more people are travelling by car nowadays.
What are the reasons for the increase in car use and what problems does it cause?
What can be done to discourage people from using their cars?

Traffic is on the rise and being stuck in it is a part of people’s daily routine. Instead of opting for public transport, commuters prefer to use their own cars.

As the standard of living rises, people are able to afford a vehicle and car ownership increases. Owning a car is often seen as a status symbol and shows that a person has wealth. A car also gives a person independence. They don’t need to rely on public transport and are free to go wherever they like and at a time that suits them. They are also able to travel long distances in comfort without having to worry about the inconvenience of public transport.

Travelling by car is not without its problems. The main problem is the amount of pollution it causes to the environment. Cars produce carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere contributing to global warming. As a result of high car ownership, roads and highways are full of vehicles, causing delays, frustration and stress to drivers.

Encouraging motorists to choose public transport or other environmentally friendly means of getting around will benefit the environment greatly. The government could take several measures to ensure that drivers opt for other less damaging means of reaching their destination. They could tax new cars making them expensive to buy or make bills associated with care ownership such as M.O.T, road tax and insurance high. Cars driving into the city centre could be taxed and any public parking areas could be very expensive to use. Alternatively, public transport could be made cheaper, pedestrian streets created and affordable bicycle rental could be provided.

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p.105

IELTS General Training - Task 1

You recently travelled somewhere by train, but had several problems during the journey.
Write a letter to the train company. In your letter

  • explain the reason for your journey
  • describe the problems you had on the journey
  • say what action you would like the train company to take.
Dear Sir or Madam,

I used your company to travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou on the 4th of July in order to visit the beautiful West Lake with my wife. Unfortunately I experienced quite a few problems on the way there and I am writing this letter to bring this matter to your attention.

Although we visited the English speaking counter, your sales assistant sold us a ticket on a slow train. We had requested to use the fast train. As a result we took 3 hours to get there and 3 hours to return. He did not inform us that we were required to carry our passports with us, so when we reached our destination we could not change our train ticket. What is more, the train was overcrowded with factory workers and our seat was occupied. We were forced to stand for a duration of 6 hours.

As we were in Shanghai as tourists we will not be using your services again. However, in order to avoid inconveniencing future foreign passengers, it would be a good idea to train your English speaking staff about train times, types, documents required and the services you offer.

Yours faithfully,

Elliott Daley

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for IELTS p.90

Sunday, 28 June 2015

IELTS General Training - Task 1

You have just completed an evening course at your local college.

Write a letter to the college. In your letter:

  • describe the course you took
  • explain what you liked and disliked about it
  • suggest how it could be improved

Dear Mrs Westhall,

I recently completed a six month Secretarial evening course at Ferns College which included modules on typing, office practice, software, and public relations. I am writing to provide you with some feedback regarding this course.

I was very pleased with your teaching staff and the latest technology the college has. The teachers were very knowledgeable, friendly and willing to answer all our questions. I was also excited to learn how all relevant equipment works in a modern office.

Unfortunately, the class times were very late. As the start time was 9 pm most of the students were too exhausted to pay attention. In addition, going home after 10 pm was not the safest option for us.

I would therefore like to suggest that classes start earlier in the evening so that students can focus better on what is being taught and they are not worried about their safety when going home after class.

I hope you take the above recommendations into consideration.

Yours Sincerely,

Clarissa Ryan

Question taken from Richmond Practice Tests for Ielts p.104

Saturday, 30 May 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

The continued rise in the world’s population is the greatest problem faced by humanity at the present time.
What are the causes of this continued rise?
Do you agree that it is the greatest problem faced by humanity?

The world is overpopulated and continues to rise in certain parts of Africa and Asia. This may be due to cultural or religious reasons, policies supporting growth or lack of family planning. Rapid population growth puts a strain on resources that are already limited.

To begin with, some cultures support and take great pleasure in having large families that will support and provide for them in old age. This is particularly true of farming communities where family members can help out on the farm. What is more, some governments try to increase the population of a country by providing incentives and benefits to large families. This may occur if there is an ageing population and a country is hoping for a young workforce. Finally, some countries may lack appropriate family planning facilities or citizens may not be educated enough or might even be too poor to have access to medical care.

Large populations lead to many problems. Firstly, resources are limited as are food and drinking water. This results in poverty and starvation in poor countries. We also destroy the environment in an effort to provide housing and services for a growing population. More people are living in cities than ever before leading to overcrowding, high crime levels and other related problems.

Although having a large family may be attractive and beneficial for individuals we should not forget the problems that arise because of this.  Humanity suffers from poverty, poor living standards, crime, limited resources and pollution when the population rises.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic and General Training p.283

Sunday, 3 May 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The two diagrams highlight the changes that have taken place in Stokeford village over an 80 year period.

In 1930, there was an area dedicated to farmland south of the village, along the River Stoke as well as the area close to the bridge. There were shops and houses on both sides of the main road. A primary school was located opposite the post office. Next to the primary school there was an estate with gardens and a large house.

In 2010, the farmlands no longer existed. More roads were built branching out of the main road. Even though the post office remains unchanged, the shops have been replaced by housing. The primary school is in the same location but it has been extended. The gardens of the retirement home have been reduced while the buildings are now larger. Many more houses have been built along the road where the gardens once were. On the other side of the road, the houses almost reach the river and a road has been built in the shape of a square so that the houses can be reached.

Overall, Stokeford has been developed into a residential area with more housing and less farmland.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic and General Training p.283

Thursday, 16 April 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

In the past, when students did a university degree, they tended to study in their own country.
Nowadays, they have more opportunity to study abroad.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this development?

It seems that today more people choose to study at university in another country than they did in the past. By passing a language test and having certain qualifications, it is now possible to get into a foreign university.

There are many benefits to studying abroad. Firstly, it’s an opportunity to meet others from across the globe who have similar interests as you. Secondly, some countries and universities may offer a better level of education than that offered in your home country. The degree you obtain might also be recognised everywhere. Thirdly, by studying in a foreign country you learn how to be independent and deal with problems on your own as well as take responsibility. Finally, a student studying in a foreign country will be able to improve their language skills which will help them later on when they are looking for a job.

On the other hand, students underestimate local colleges and universities when they choose to go abroad and they also end up paying expensive fees. This in turn means the local economy suffers. It is often cheaper for a student to study in their own country because they will save on accommodation, transport and living expenses if they continue to live with their parents. Secondly, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of living alone in a foreign country with new surroundings and the pressure of making new friends.

All in all, apart from the costs and home sickness, I believe it is a good idea for students to experience studying abroad as this has so much to offer.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic and General Training p. 264

Thursday, 9 April 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The line graph shows how three types of crime varied in central Newport over a ten year period.

In 2003 around 3,500 burglary incidents were noted and in the following year this increased by around 200. A drop is recorded in this type of crime and incidents reach the lowest point in 2008 (a little over 1,000). Between 2009 and 2012 reported burglaries are stable at approximately 1,500.

Robbery incidents in Newport fluctuate between 500 and 1,000 throughout the time period. In the first two reported years there were around 2,800 car theft cases. This figure dropped in 2006 reaching its lowest point of 2,000 incidents. Over the next 6 years there is a gradual rise in this type of crime and in 2012 it reaches 2,700.

As we can see, robbery is not committed as frequently as the other 2 types of crime and burglary in Newport drops. Initially car theft is high and although it decreases in 2006, it is on the rise until the end of the period.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic and General Training p. 264

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Nowadays technology is increasingly being used to monitor what people are saying and doing (for example, through cell phone tracking and security cameras). In many cases, the people being monitored are unaware that this is happening.
Do you think the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

Today, we are constantly monitored with the use of technology and CCTV cameras in shops, public buildings, public transport etc. and via the internet as we freely give out our personal information. This limits our freedom and means that we have no privacy. Many people do not even realise that they are being watched to such a large extent.

Often security cameras are able to ensure public safety. In cases of terrorism, they are able to identify terrorists or discover important clues through cell phone tracking. Many criminals have been caught because police have had this type of evidence. In fact, sometimes this is the only way to catch criminals.

Others might argue that modern means of tracking are an invasion of privacy. Those who are unaware they are being watched might have nothing to hide and it is unfair that they have their daily conversations and actions exposed. There have been many scandals in the U.K. with respect to the media monitoring the private lives of well-known people. If we think about it, we also help towards being monitored by providing all our contact details on social networking sites, posting personal photos, showing our preferences and opinions on certain topics as well as our location when we check-in.

To conclude, the excuse we have been given about excessive monitoring by the government is that it is for the benefit of public safety. Unfortunately, in order to be safe, everyone needs to be monitored all the time, especially in public places.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic & General Training p. 244

Saturday, 4 April 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The bar chart shows three products exported by Southland in 2000, at present as well as expectations for 2025.

In 2000, international tourism accounted for 8 billion exports. This category is currently about 1 billion more. In 2025, exports of this category are predicted to increase to 10 billion.

In 2000, exports of dairy products stood at 7 billion. At present, exports of this produce are on par with projections of international tourism (10 billion). In the future, exports are likely to drop to 9.5 billion.

Finally, meat products are the least exported products and exports of this fall gradually from 6 billion in 2000 to 5.5 billion currently. A further 0.5 billion drop is anticipated in 2025.

To conclude, international tourism is on the rise while meat product exports are on the decline in Southland. The export of international tourism and dairy products are the greatest in 2025 and 2015 respectively.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic & General Training p. 224

Academic Writing IELTS - Task 2

In some countries an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Eating fast food is on the rise. People are too busy to cook at home so opt for a fast, easy, cheap and tasty alternative. This is not always the best choice as junk food can create health problems. Eating artificial food high in salt, sugar, oil, preservatives etc. on a regular basis can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks etc.

In order to protect people’s health the government could tax fast food so as to discourage people from eating it. One of the greatest benefits of junk food is that it is affordable. If prices go up and consumers need to pay a higher cost then they might go for something cheaper. In order for this scheme to work however it is necessary for the price of fresh fruit and vegetables to drop. Many low income groups choose unhealthy options because they simply can’t afford to buy groceries and cook for their entire family. It is much cheaper for them to purchase family meals at a fast food outlet.

On the other hand, some people might argue that eating fast food is an individual’s personal choice and taxing this is unlikely to make a difference to a person’s lifestyle. Some people, especially teenagers, enjoy eating junk food and a higher price might not put them off going to fast food outlets.

I believe our health is extremely important and to avoid getting ill we should stay away from unhealthy food. I think it is a good idea for governments to get involved as they did in the case of tobacco and tax fast food. But at the same time they should subsidize fresh fruit and vegetables so that poor families can afford them.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic & General Training p. 224

Monday, 30 March 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 2

Car ownership has increased so rapidly over the past 30 years that many cities in the world are now ‘one big traffic jam’. How true do you think this statement is? What measures can governments take to discourage people from using their cars?

Excessive traffic can be seen in mega cities such as Beijing, Mumbai and Lagos. This is because the standard of living has increased in certain countries in Africa and Asia resulting in more people being able to afford to buy a car. In the past other forms of transport such as bicycles were popular but today people’s preference for cars has meant that traffic congestion is on the rise. This also means that the level of pollution has increased dramatically.

If the government promotes alternative means of transport, this might convince people to stop buying and using cars. Having an efficient and cheap public transport system should reduce traffic on roads. Using bicycles is a healthy and environmentally friendly way of moving around a city. In fact some cities such as Amsterdam favour this type of transport. The government could pave certain areas in the city in order to ban the use of cars in those locations or they can build bicycle lanes and rental areas for bikes.

On the other hand, the government might opt for more drastic measures. They can impose heavy taxes on new cars thus making them too expensive to buy or increasing the price of fuel so that using a car becomes a luxury. An efficient method is used in London whereby drivers pay a fee to drive their cars to the centre. Camera’s read a car’s number plates and at the end of the month they are billed for using their cars in a congested area.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic & General Training p. 205

Sunday, 29 March 2015

IELTS Academic Writing - Task 1

The line graph shows the monthly temperatures in London, New York and Sydney on average per month while the table displays the hours of sunshine in these 3 cities.

To begin with, low temperatures are recorded from November to January in New York, that is, less than 100 . Temperatures rise in this city from March to July by 200, then drop to 150 in October. A similar pattern can be observed in London. From December to April it is below 150, while from June to August, temperatures are between 200 and 150. In October and November it starts getting colder with drops in temperature from 180 to 100. Sydney is fairly warm with the coldest month being July (160). From November to March, temperatures are stable at around 250. From April to July there is a drop from 250 to 160 and from July to October temperatures rise from 160 to 240.

New York is the sunniest city with 2,535 annual hours of sunshine followed by Sydney with 62 days less. London ranks third with 1,180 hours of sunshine per year.

To conclude, July is the hottest month in New York and London but in Sydney it is the coldest. Sydney's temperature follows a different pattern to the other two cities. New York has the most sunshine every year whilst London has the least hours.

Question taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS for Academic & General Training p.188