IELTS with Fiona: expert advice to help you get your best IELTS score.
By IELTS with Fiona - IELTS prep made easy
Find all my tips on my website ieltsetc.com and join the Members Academy for all the downloads, step-by-step online courses, and support to get you a Band 7+ in the #ielts test.
IELTS with Fiona: expert advice to help you get your best IELTS score.Nov 26, 2023
IELTS Listening 🌋: academic words you need for Part 3
This listening about a research project contains several examples of ‘academic’ language (language related to studying at university) that you need to understand Listening Part 3.
It's about a volcanic eruption, and is adapted from a Cambridge Past Paper (Book 18).
IELTS Listening: Elephant translocation 🐘
This Part 4 Listening is all about moving elephants.
In the lesson you'll learn about:
- using word prompts to keep your place
- using intonation and sentence stress to identify answers
- using spelling patterns and plurals to get the right answers
The full transcript is available in the Bronze Membership on my website.
IELTS Reading: Forest Management 🌳
This is a relatively easy Passage 2 from a Cambridge Past Paper, with 3 sets of questions [Matching Information, Categorising and Gapfill].
IELTS Listening: Victor Hugo
This Listening Part 4 about a writer called Victor Hugo is taken from the new Practice Book 18.
In the podcast you'll learn
- why this particular test is more difficult than usual
- how reference words give you the answer (if you can remember what they refer to)
- techniques for predicting and retaining information
- common gapfill answers and how they're related to pronunciation
Get the full video, tapescript and tips in the Members Academy Listening Course with Members bonus features for 12 months.
Get some coffee before you do this Reading test 🗽
This is a Passage 3 review about a book about The Birth and Growth of Manhattan's Skyscrapers.
Seriously, I don't expect anyone to listen to this for more than 5 minutes.
If you've got the text in front of you, it might help, but not much.
All I can do is give you strategy tips for this one because trying to explain the answers is painful.
The only good thing about this text is that everything goes in COMPLETE ORDER and we know where everything is because it goes from 'Chapter 1' to 'Chapter 10'.
Actually the Yes, No, Not Given questions are pretty ok too.
But the last Gapfill Summary with Answers is a nightmare.
Good luck with it!
All the best
Fiona from IELTS with Fiona
IELTS Reading: Urban farming
Farming and agriculture is my Number 1 Vocabulary topic for IELTS, and I noticed that most of the readings in this new Cambridge Practice Test Book (18) are related either to the environment (Week 1 of my vocab course) or to cities/architecture/buildings (Week 2 in my Vocabulary course - the Man-Made Environment).
So make sure you re-read this text for the useful vocabulary e.g. sustainable, organic, intensive farming.
Members: the video version of this podcast with pdf download is now available for you to watch.
Get my Members Academy Reading package (2 full courses plus all the new lessons over 12 months, plus Members Academy benefits - Private blog, live zoom meetings, private community, daily tips, Writing coaching lessons etc).
As I add more materials and benefits, the price will only increase, so join sooner rather than later so you can get the most of the resources before your test.
IELTS Reading: Stadiums
This is a pretty straighforward Academic Part 2 about Stadiums.
In this podcast we'll go through 3 question types (Matching Statements, Gapfill Summary and Choosing from a list.)
Get more in the Members Academy https://ieltsetc.com/courses.
IELTS Reading: The development of the London underground railway
I guarantee that you can do this in under 10 minutes if you follow my system.
Find the Reading online and do it yourself before you listen.
Learn more about my IELTS Reading techniques with TWO courses in the Members Academy.
IELTS Listening Part 2: Matthews Island Holidays
Get the full blog with audio on my website:
In this lesson, I examine the MACRO and MICRO skills you need to get all of the answers right in this Section 2 IELTS Listening about a holiday company.
- Background knowledge (what you already know about holiday companies, tour itineraries, travelling/place names in the UK etc etc)
- Vocabulary (phrasal verbs, synonyms, numbers)
- Spelling (ea words, al/ol words)
- Grammar (comparisons, 'used to', perfect modals for guessing)
- Accents (Northern English 'u')
- Pronunciation features (meet you)
- Linking (However...)
- Signalling (What we do is...)
The Members Academy teaches all of these skills in a variety of easy-to-follow short courses with quick video guides and plenty of practice.
Join today https://ieltsetc.com/courses
📝 Which is the best (free) online IELTS writing checker?
There are many free online IELTS Writing checkers available, and they can be useful when you’re starting your IELTS preparation.
Online writing checkers such as Grammarly can give you simple feedback on your grammar, vocabulary and linking words.
There are more sophisticated versions available that claim they can assess your IELTS writing using the Band Criteria, and give you a grade and feedback in a matter of seconds.
But how accurate and reliable are they?
I tested a few and here are my results.
The one I mention in the podcast is testpredikt.com.
Check out my blog here:
How many IELTS Reading question types are there? (Tips on how to tackle different questions in the IELTS Reading test)
[Skip the 5-minute introduction if you want to just get to the question types!]
Different websites have different ways of categorising IELTS Reading Question types.
See my latest blog for all the details:
In my online courses, I follow the official IELTS.org guidelines, and I have simplified the types so that you focus more on developing your reading skills. Developing good reading skills will enable you to answer all question types.
The 3 basic categories are:
- Matching things (headings, statements, features, sentence endings, dates, people, choosing from a list)
- Filling in gaps (summaries, notes, tables, flowcharts, sentences, diagrams)
- Choosing from a list (Multiple Choice, True, False, Not Given and Yes, No, Not Given)
In this blog, I examine the official 11 Question Types as outlined on IELTS.org and explain how other teachers and websites might label them.
How to prepare for IELTS in 10 days
The best thing about the IELTS Test is that you cannot fail it. The test simply takes a ‘snapshot’ of your current level of English.
So if you’ve suddenly realised that you need to take the test in 10 days don’t panic too much. Consider it a ‘practice run’.
10 days is just enough time to familiarise yourself with the test requirements so you can give yourself the best chance of getting the best indicator of your overall ability.
Here’s what I would do in the next 10 days.
Pronunciation for IELTS Listening - how to understand fast speech
There are 7 key features of fast speech and pronunciation that you need to develop a better understanding of in order to increase your Listening Score:
- Features of connected speech (dropping sounds, adding sounds, changing sounds, weak sounds and twin sounds).
- Word boundaries
- Sounds that are different or don’t exist in your language
- Accents and rhoticity (‘r’)
- Minimal pairs
- Consonant Clusters
Read the full blog here.
Buy the workbook guide here:
IELTS Listening: Hotel Staff Turnover
- Multiple choice questions
- distractors - matching from a list
- the word 'staff' and how it's repeated 32 times
- how to pronounce 'staff'
- academic language you can use in Task 2
Improve your IELTS score with my intensive Listening Course:
IELTS New Year Resolutions 2023
IELTS Reading: To catch a king 🤴👑
IELTS Mindset: 😵💫 How to deal with 'too much information' (feeling overwhelmed)
Answer: "Just do as much as you need to do for the Band score that you want."
In all aspects of life, there are different levels of expertise and knowledge.
Deciding what you want to do with your IELTS score will help you manage your time and your learning.
I've carefully programmed this into the Members Academy.
Aiming for Band 6? Just watch the videos.
Need to get Band 7? Watch the videos and do the practice.
Want Band 8/9? Do the EXTRA practice that I include in every lesson.
Enrol today members.ieltsetc.com/academy
This podcast talks about managing your learning according to what level of expertise you need to acquire.
I call it the traffic-light system.
GREEN: Band 6 - INTERESTED (do a single course)
YELLOW: Band 7 - COMMITTED (join the Members Academy - do all the courses)
RED: Band 8+ - OBSESSED ("To be the best, you have to be obsessed": do the Coaching Program)
But remember this - what is the opposite of "too much information"?
The opposite is "not enough information".
Not enough info is worse than too much info when it comes to preparing for IELTS because it is not a subject - it's a language and a skill. Can fluent speakers have "too much English knowledge"? I don't think that's possible.
Let me know if you've got any questions.
IELTS Listening: 🇮🇸 The impact of digital technology on the Icelandic language
Can you guess the answers to the gapfill before you listen? In this episode I talk you through a Passage 4 where I think about 60% of the answers are guessable!
Thinking of becoming a Member of my Academy?
Find out more on my website:
IELTS Reading: Feathers as decoration in European History
IELTS Mindset Part 3: How to ask SMARTER questions
I've spoken a lot about Mindset for IELTS in 2 earlier blogs:
In this (rather long) podcast I talk about asking SMARTER questions to get smarter answers.
S = Specific (Why, What, Why, When, Where?)
M = Measurable (How much? How many?)
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-bound
E = Evaluate
R = Revise
IELTS Listening Part 3: Veterinary science students
In this podcast, you'll practice listening for the tricks in Multiple Choice Questions.
This is yet another Listening based on the topic of farming, and it includes many of the keywords on my IELTS planner list Day 1 (Agriculture), for example:
- to increase production
- domesticated animals
- controlling and eradicating those diseases
Add these to your wordlist and check out the other lessons related to agriculture on my website https://ieltsetc.com.
Get the full version of this Listening Part 3 lesson in the Members Academy.
IELTS Reading: Reducing injuries on the farm
IELTS Writing Task 2: How to write a Band 9 essay [Introductions]
In today's September Challenge, we're reviewing Task 2 essays, starting with how to write a good Introduction.
Check out the blog I refer to here (with a model essay):
and learn more about Introductions here:
IELTS Writing Task 1: 🐟🍗Consumption of meat and fish.
Day 3 of the September IELTS Planner Challenge is all about describing changes in Writing Task 1.
See the graph and video here.
Or just go to my Daily Tips Day 3 on ieltsetc.com
IELTS Listening Part 1: 🏄♀️ Learning to surf
Day 2 of the September 2022 Challenge.
This is a Part 1 but full of TRICKS!
Get the full video version in the Members Academy.
Join the challenge on my website: www.ieltsetc.com (find it in the Daily Tips section)
IELTS Reading GT: 🥾The best hiking boots
This is Day 1 of my free IELTS September Challenge 2022.
Follow the challenge every day on my website (What's new - daily tips):
Get your FREE copy of the planner and work through it with me:
IELTS Listening: 🦋 Buckworth Conservation Group
IELTS Reading GT ⚽️: History of women's football in Britain
This is a fascinating Section 3 General Training Reading text about the origins of women's football and why it disappeared for 50 years.
Practice Multiple Choice Questions, Matching Information and Gapfill Summary.
Get the full video version with all of the other General Training Courses in the Members Academy:
IELTS Listening 🍁 Maple Syrup 🇨🇦
Pay special attention to the second half, where the speaker describes how maple syrup is produced. This is really useful for Academic Writing Task 1.
Get my guide to IELTS Reading Book 17 (Course) in the Members Academy with all the other workbooks, guides, planners and lists.
Get individual printable PDF guides in my shop:
Thank you for supporting my small business.
IELTS Reading: 🍅 Domesticating the tomato
In the podcast I discuss how you can understand more of the text if you learn my basic vocabulary lists - you can buy my 3 IELTS vocabulary workbooks and guides on my website shop:
- A complete guide to IELTS Word Formation and Spelling
- A complete guide to IELTS Vocabulary
- A complete guide to the most common IELTS Listening gapfill answers.
If you're trying to improve your Academic Reading Skills, I have 2 Reading courses on my website too: ieltsetc.com/courses.
Thank you for supporting small, teacher-owned businesses.
IELTS Listening: Labyrinths
I chose this Listening just because it's from the most recent Cambridge Practice Test book, and I was pleased to see that all of the gapfill answers conformed to my theories about common IELTS gapfill answers e.g. uncountable nouns, irregular word forms, "made from ____" etc.
I put all of my research together in a handy little booklet which you can get in my shop:
I also mentioned the previous Listening Podcast I did a couple of weeks ago, which also refers to these patterns (The History of Cleaning):
Thank you for supporting small, teacher-run businesses.
IELTS Listening: 🧼 Early History of Keeping Clean
Get more listening practice on my website or follow my 28-day Listening Course in the Members Academy.
⭐️IELTS with Fiona daily tips from February 2022⭐️
Here's my roundup of daily tips from February. Watch the video version on YouTube with this link:
In the podcast we'll review:
- - Idioms for IELTS Speaking ('food for thought' 'peckish' 'flagging')
- - Formal language ('a high risk of failure')
- - How to use inversion (Rarely I have? Or Rarely have I?)
- - Tech tools to help you practise Speaking
- - Collocations with sports (do, go, play or practise?)
- - Can or Should? - Task 1 Graphs: "Temperature AVERAGED 25 degrees")
- - Portmanteau terms: breakfast + lunch = ?
- - 20 WRONG ways to say 'Although' - Pass a test? Take a test? Sit a test?
- - What are 'Mustakes'? - Tuesday, Toosday or Chewsday?
- - "It's not everyone's cup of tea"
- - IELTS Vocabulary: Physical Health
Read the new blog about vocabulary lists for IELTS here:
Get all the daily tips here:
⭐️ IELTS tips ⭐️ Jan 19th - 31st (also on YouTube)
Here's my round-up of the weekly tips that you can find on my website (ieltsetc.com).
This podcast is also on YouTube/fionawattam:
In this episode we look at my daily tips from January 19th:
- when to use the contraction 's' instead of 'is' (Pronunciation)
- how to start a letter and why you shouldn't use 'maam' (GT Letter Writing)
- 'claptrap' advice: "elucidate" (Academic Task 1)
- when to use "Having said that" (Academic Task 2) - when to use 'triple' or 'treble' (Academic Task 1)
- feedback or feedbacks? (Grammar)
- useful collocations with 'effect' (Vocabulary)
- phrasal verb: "I suppose I'll have to make do with it" (Vocabulary)
- Spoonerisms (Collocations)
#ielts #ieltstips #ieltspreparation
IELTS Reading: 💃🏽 Could urban engineers learn from dance?
The title gives us a warning of this academic style - it starts with a question, suggesting that there will be a theory developed, with the opinions of expert. It will pose a problem and try to find a solution.
This is uncommon for a Passage 1. Also the question types are:
Matching information (rare for Task 1)
Gapfill (normal for Task 1)
Cambridge Book 15 Test 2.
⭐️ IELTS tips ⭐️ podcast Jan 1st - Jan 17th 2022 with YouTube video
IELTS Reading:🧴Plastic is no longer fantastic
IELTS ⭐️Daily tips⭐️from Fiona Dec 9th - 24th 2021
- Day 9: "It's not worth + ing"
- Day 10: Pronunciation - Juncture e.g. Ice-cream/I scream, That stuff/That's tough
- Day 11: Factor vs reason vs cause
- Day 12: Linking devices - the present participle
- Day 13: Modals of deduction (must)
- Day 14: Not only but also
- Day 15: Mustn't vs Don't have to
- Day 16: Academic Phrasal Verbs
- Day 17: The grammar of very polite questions
- Day 18: rise vs raise
- Day 19: suggest + ing
- Day 20: Tense review
- Day 21: damage vs damages
- Day 22: as well as
- Day 23: whereby
- Day 24: a free gift for you
IELTS ⭐️Daily Tips⭐️from Fiona Nov 20 - Dec 8
In this episode I catch up with the daily tips that you can find on my website under "What's new".
This episode covers:
- Pronunciation of phrasal nouns vs phrasal verbs (to give someone the go-ahead)
- The meaning of 'a shambles = shambolic'
- The real meaning of 'actually'
- The use of 'tripling' (reduce, reuse, recycle)
- Inversion (Never have I ever...)
- 'comfortable' gapfill in the Listening test
- "You do the math" (UK = maths)
- can vs be able to
- due to
- The closer you get, the slower I go (car sticker)
- Even if
- Few people vs a few people
- Good at/in
IELTS Reading: Marine ecosystems 🐡
Go to my website "What's new" to get the Quiz Link.
IELTS Reading: Having a laugh
⭐️IELTS tips⭐️ Nov 9th - 20th
"is pissed" vs "ears pierced",
Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand accents ("bed" vs "bid"),
Bruce Willis, The Sixth Sense and modals of deduction ("He must be a teacher"),
Why Martin Luther King didn't say "I've got a dream",
Are you feeling OVERWHELMED?,
Cost vs value,
When "I will" sounds like "ul",
Hey! and other offensive words,
Third Conditional in the LISTENING test,
When was the last time you had a barbie?
Get all the daily posts on my website ieltsetc.com
⭐️IELTS tips⭐️ Oct 27th - Nov 8th 2021
This is my weekly round-up of tips from the "What's New" tab on my free website: ieltsetc.com
In this episode we look at
- Pronunciation mazes by Matt Hancock (the 'ou' and 'ow' sounds and spelling),
- What's the opposite of 'must'?,
- "It's not worth it",
- Listening tricks and synonyms "at least" and "a minimum of",
- Is it ok to use "etc" in formal writing?,
- Modal verb meanings e.g "That should be ok",
- fifTEEN versus FIFty (15/50) in the listening test,
- A GREENhouse vs a green HOUSE (word stress),
- How important is the introduction in IELTS Writing Task 2?
If you have a question that you'd like me to answer in the Daily Tips, please get in touch.
🏆What's the best online IELTS course?🏆
That's a tough question. It's so hard for anyone to measure the quality and effectiveness of an IELTS course objectively unless they've taken all of the IELTS courses available!
So here's a quick checklist of things to look for in a course. Go to the blog to download the checklist; I designed it to help you make an informed decision.
⭐️IELTS tips⭐️ Oct 17th - 27th
In this blog we go through and revise:
Have or get something done
How to pronounce 'ative'
How to pronounce 'able'
Research vs researchers
Economic vs economical
deteriorate vs get worse
instill vs install
funnest vs the most fun
Get all the tips on my website homepage ("What's New") ieltsetc.com
⭐️IELTS tips⭐️: a weekly summary
I'm trying out a new way of sharing my tips and advice for IELTS.
If you go to the 'What's new' tab on my website, you'll find a daily tip:
You can leave a comment there and ask questions if you need help or if you have any requests.
In this podcast I cover the last 7 days of tips:
- Should I appeal my IELTS score? https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-should-i-appeal-my-ielts-score
- Third Conditional and 'be able to' https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-can-vs-be-able-to
- 'Just shy of' Academic Task 1 https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-just-shy-of
- An elderly person you admire https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-no-crying-
- Bring back the big cats https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-maymight-have-been
- Polite requests https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-asking-for-help-polite-requests
- Phrasal verbs with 'with' (accompany = go with) https://app.getbeamer.com/ieltswithfiona/en/daily-tip-accompany
Things you need to know before you buy an online IELTS Course 🤑
Have you ever been ripped off, conned, scammed, tricked, duped or just misled when buying an online IELTS course?
In this blog and podcast, I've outlined the 10 'red flags' that you need to know about before you decide which course provider to go with.
Here are are some common tactics that you may not even notice, and they range from being simply 'misleading' to illegal.
For more information and examples that I've collected over 5 years, head to my blog, where you might like to leave a comment.
The 10 sales tactics that might trick you into panic-buying an online course.
1. "The course is full" (but suddenly a place became available - buy it quickly before it goes!)
2. "Only 2 spots left!" (in an email to thousands of people, 2 weeks before the course starts)
3. "Totaly value $1999 - buy today for $9.99" (Meaning: it is only worth $9.99)
4. "Normal price $99 - today only $79" (Permanent discount - illegal in some countries)
5. "The world's most successful course" (Says who?)
6. "Lifetime access" (so you can buy it and forget about it)
7. "Unlimited Speaking and Writing" (you mean 24/7? Just write and speak all day?)
8. Affiliate Marketing
10. Other red flags - bad spelling and grammar, plagiarism from other sites, stolen watermarked images, Click Funnels.
If someone emails you to tell you that they could charge hundreds of dollars for their time, but they want to help you for free, there are red flags all over the place. Walk away. Find someone that you know, like and TRUST.
Big tutoring companies can afford to lose you because there are plenty more people who will fall for false advertising.
Maybe it's time to consider the smaller business who focus their time on developing quality courses rather than scamming their students.
End of rant.
IELTS Reading: Henry Moore (TFNG Bootcamp Day 1) 🗿
The Members Academy Reading Bootcamp started today (you can still join - it's just $28 and includes 28 days of both live and recorded lessons). This week's focus is on True False Not Given questions, so here's a taster of today's lesson.
This is an Academic Passage 1 about a sculptor called Henry Moore.
I try to get my students to make educated guesses about TFNG questions by the way they're written, and this text is a perfect example of how you can follow a hunch to get the right answer pretty quickly and save time. For example
- NOT GIVEN: turn the statement into a question. If you can’t answer it, it’s NOT GIVEN.
- NO: there is usually an opposite word (antonym) e.g. similar – different; first – last
- YES: the answer is usually a synonym or paraphrase e.g complied = did what his father wanted him to do
- There is a balance in the number of True, False, Not Given (fewer NG).
- Don’t OVER-THINK the answer. e.g. Q7 doesn’t exactly say ‘more popular’ but it means the same thing.
I also teach my students to quickly divide the text according to the questions, so that they don't waste any time looking in the wrong place. This text is another perfect example of that.
The Bootcamp will run until the end of September, so if you're struggling to get your Reading Score up, come and join us.
IELTS Reading: Attitudes to AI 🤖
This is an Academic Passage 3 Part 3 (Book 16), so it's tough.
In this lesson we'll look at how the language that you learn for Task 2 will help you understand the Reading, and how Reading academic texts like this will help you improve your Writing.
Some of the points I mention include:
- The 'marc' system for pie charts (Makes up, accounts for, represents, consists of)
How to use idioms in IELTS
Are you using the right idiom in the right place with the right person and the right pronunciation?
To use an idiom correctly there are so many factors that you have to take into account, for example
- who uses this idiom (age, gender, profession, location)?
- when do they use this idiom? (context)
- why do they choose to use this idiom (humour, anger, sarcasm, style)?
- how often do people use this idiom (once in a blue moon?)
In my latest blog, I talk about 3 key factors to help you use idioms correctly:
Find out more on my blog.