A Sneak Preview

Hi everyone.

Here is a sneak preview of some of the new material that I am working on for the redesign of my site.

This exercise asks you to identify the weakest scoring rubric (either TA, CC, LR, or GRA) for introductions written in response to each of the five IELTS essay prompt formats. To make things interesting, one of the introductions has no particular weakness.

Feel free to message me with your response. I will reveal the answers later this week.


Question Introduction
Some people fail in school but end up being successful in life. Why do you think this is the case? What is the most important thing to succeed in life?


Education is traditionally viewed as a springboard to success. People struggle academically but nevertheless enjoy success in their lives. The teaching methods employed in schools do not suit all students, so individual drive and determination is the key to a life of success.


Some people think that the only way to have success in business is to have a unique product. What factors, do you think, influence the success of a company?


A unique product is good for success in business. Some people think that having a unique product is the only way to have success in business.   In this essay I will argue that a unique product is important, but that so are other things.


Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.  Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?


The acquiring of a second language become a more difficult task to achieve as one grew older. Some pundits are argued that primary school is the preferred setting for learning a second language, in opposed to secondary school. In this essay I will argue that the benefit of acquiring an additional language in this fashion is outweighing by far the costs.


Some people think that art is an essential subject for children to study at school, while others think it is a waste of time. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.


The process of developing school curricula often leads to passionate debate. Some argue that the study of art should be at the core of teaching plans, whilst others consider it to be without merit. This is a perfectly understandable position given the increasing cost of education today.


Every year several languages die out.  Some people think that this is not important because life will be easier if  there are fewer languages in the world.  To what extent do you agree or disagree?


The extinction of minority languages is a gradual but inexorable process.   Some feel that a world with a reduced linguistic diversity would in fact be an easier one to live in. I disagree with this notion entirely, and in this essay will explain that the loss to humanity when a language is lost far outweighs any gains in terms of simple convenience.





A New Look for The IELTS Guy

Hi everyone.

I am really excited to announce that I will soon be introducing a new format for The IELTS Guy.

I have teamed up with Ben McBride, an IELTS teacher based in Korea, to develop a comprehensive IELTS teaching and feedback program.  Many of you will know Ben from his IELTS For All site, but for those of you who don’t here is a sample of him in action!


My website will be undergoing a revamp over the next couple of weeks as we prepare the new program.  In the meantime, if you have any questions please post them here or email me at bambootuition@gmail.com.

There will be more updates soon!


The Ielts Guy

An IELTS Success Story

I am really pleased to announce that one the first subscribers to The IELTS Guy scored a great result in his IELTS Exam on 3 March.

Naseem lives in India, and was preparing for IELTS in order to fulfill his dream of travelling overseas to study for a Masters.  He wanted to focus exclusively on IELTS Writing Task 2, so we agreed a specific practice/feedback program.

Naseem’s results arrived this week:

Listening:  7.5

Reading:    8

Speaking   7

Writing      7

An excellent result.  Please join with me in congratulating Naseem.



Sports – IELTS Listening Exercise


Hi everyone.

Today’s listening exercise is my reading of part of a 2016 lecture delivered by Rahul Dravid, the Indian cricketer.  For those of you from cricketing countries other than India, I promise that I will give your country equal time in future posts!

Listen to the lecture by following the link below, and then answer the following questions.  Answer in no more than three words.

1. Where is Dravid’s son playing age-group cricket? ……………

2. What names might a young football player have on the back of his shirt?…………..

3. What time does a junior cricketer in India wake up in the morning? …………..

4. What has always been a tough sport to learn and teach?  ……………

5. At what age do children in India start playing cricket? ……………

6. How many children will a young cricket coach be responsible for? …………….

7. Research has shown that the first coaches of many sports stars were what kind of people? ……………


Should you have any trouble with following the link to the exercise below, you can find it on YouTube by searching under “IELTS Listening Exercise – Sports”.

Good luck!







A note on structuring IELTS Writing Task 2

Recently I have received a lot of questions on how to structure IELTS Writing Task 2 essays.  This is understandable, as getting the essay structure right is essential to scoring well on both the TA and CC components.  I have therefore set out below my thoughts on my preferred structure for short essays.

OK, now look again at my first paragraph above.  I have written a three-sentence paragraph, where each sentence makes a single statement.  The three statements are that I have received a lot of requests, that this is not surprising, and so here is my response.  This is how I suggest you approach your paragraph structure.  Each paragraph presents one main idea, and within the paragraph you say three things about that idea.

If you can’t think of three things to say about an idea, then you should probably try to think of another one.  Conversely, if you have more than three things to say there is no rule that says you can’t right more than three sentences.  Simply be aware that as paragraphs become longer the risk of losing clarity or mixing up tenses becomes greater.

(That was another three-sentence paragraph, by the way)!

Next, we turn to the structure of the overall essay.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I strongly recommend using the question itself to structure the essay.  If a question asks me to “discuss both sides and give your opinion” then I will write one paragraph on the first side of the argument, one on the second side of the argument, and one on my own opinion.  Add an introduction and a conclusion, and I have five paragraphs of at least three sentences that will likely add up to at least 250 words.

The only other element that I need to introduce here is a link between the introduction and the conclusion.  I try not to think of my essays as a story travelling in a straight line from beginning to end, but as a circle where the ending relates back to the beginning.  I therefore try to decide what I’m going to write in my introduction and conclusion at the same time.

(I’m sure everyone noticed how many sentences that paragraph had…)

So let’s put this into practice.  One of my subscribers recently sent me an essay for feedback based on the following question:

“Some people think that poverty is the reason behind most crimes.  Do you agree or disagree?”

To begin, I need to ask myself what I think?  My first reaction is that I probably agree with the statement.  I have no idea what the real answer is, and I have no need to look it up – the IELTS examiners do not score the accuracy of your view.  I suspect that the most common type of crime is probably theft, and it seems ok to argue that a lot of theft is motivated by poverty. 

I also think that other crimes may be indirectly related to poverty.  Poverty leads to lack of education and poor health, which in turn denies people the opportunity to enter society.  Such people are probably more likely to engage in violent behavior as a way of expressing their frustration.

So that will be my two paragraphs supporting my view.  I now need an introduction that paraphrases the question, and a conclusion that links back to the introduction.  My two keywords are crime and poverty.  So in the introduction I talk about crime as a social problem, and in the conclusion I talk about how reducing poverty would also help to reduce crime rates.

So now I am ready to write down an essay plan.  I need three points to represent three sentences under each of my four paragraphs.  I sketch them out like this:


  • Crime impacts society

  • Paraphrase question

  • In this essay explain why I agree

Reason 1 – Direct

  • Low profile theft most common crime?

  • Such Crime is risky, and will not make you wealthy

  • Prompted by need – produced by poverty

Reason 2 – Indirect

  • Lack of education/healthcare

  • Poverty denies individuals a place in society

  • Contributes to antisocial behavior and violent crime


  • Poverty burden all round world

  • Many are trying to help

  • If they succeed, crime rates may also reduce

So there is the plan.  Now I need to build nice clear sentences with correct grammar.


The negative impacts of crime can be detected in every society around the world.  Some argue that the root cause of most crimes is not greed or a propensity for bad behavior, but poverty.  In this essay I will support this view, and show that poverty can in fact be both a direct and indirect cause of crime.  

While murders and bank robberies may dominate the newspaper headlines, the crime of small-scale theft is certainly a far more common occurrence.  Shoplifting and housebreaking are dangerous crimes to commit and are unlikely to bring large rewards to the perpetrators.  The most logical explanation for such behavior is that those involved are are living in deprived circumstances and are forced into criminal activity in order to survive.

Those living in poverty often lack access to formal education and basic healthcare.  People with low levels of education and a poor standard of health are severely disadvantaged, and struggle to find a place in society.  Poverty therefore becomes an indirect cause of violent attack and other crimes, as those deprived of opportunity express their anger and frustration.

Poverty is a burden that far too many people of our world are forced to bear.  It is comforting to know that there are many initiatives to combat poverty in place all over the world.  Those involved in this battle may take encouragement from the fact that if they are successful in reducing the numbers of those living in poverty, it is highly likely that they will also have helped to reduce the rate of crime.

The word count is 258.

In my view the greatest advantage of my approach is that it ensures you have answered the question and developed a structured argument.  This will help you score on TA and CC.  The simpler sentence structure that I use should also help with avoiding the grammatical errors that may impact GRA.

Let me stress again that this is only one of many valid approaches.  I do not claim that my approach is superior, but simply invite you to consider whether it might work for you.

Healthcare – IELTS Weekly Review


Hi everyone.

Our theme for this week’s IELTS exercises was Healthcare.  For registered IELTS Guy users I will be forwarding my suggested answers to you by email over the weekend.  For subscribers, please don’t forget to submit your writing, reading, listening and speaking responses to me for personalized correction and feedback.

Something that I have seen from the responses already submitted is the incorrect use of advanced vocabulary.  I know that in the IELTS exam you will be marked on your lexical range (which means the breadth of your vocabulary).  However, there is a danger with using words that you are not familiar with.

For example, an alternative word for “eat” is “consume”.  However, while it is possible to say “I ate hungrily”, you sounds strange if you say “I consumed hungrily”.  Substituting advanced terms for simpler ones may score you more marks for lexical range, but if the grammar is incorrect you will lose marks and your overall score may end up lower!

If in doubt, stick with the vocabulary and grammar that you know!

I will be setting a new theme for next week’s IELTS exercises on Monday.

As always, I welcome your comments.



Healthcare – IELTS Speaking Exercise


Hi everyone!

This week’s IELTS Speaking Exercise is based on the IELTS Speaking Task 2 format.

The topic is as follows:

Describe an event where you or someone you know required medical treatment.

You should say:

  • Who the person was (yourself or someone you know)?
  • Why medical treatment was required?
  • What type of treatment was received?
  • What was the outcome?

If you would like to follow the actual IELTS test format you should allow yourself one minute to prepare, and then speak for one to two minutes.

As usual, registered IELTS Guy users will receive suggested answers by email over the weekend, and IELTS Guy subscribers can submit their recorded response and receive personalized feedback.

Questions, feedback and comments are welcome.

Good Luck!