Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is New Year’s Eve, the very last day of the year and one which is celebrated all across the world. Here in the UK people celebrate in different ways. For the people of Scotland they have a huge celebration – more important than Christmas – called Hogmanay. Others prefer to celebrate in clubs or pubs with friends and some at home with family. Whatever the celebration chosen you can be sure it will go on well into the early morning. One tradition that is common here in the north of England is called ‘first footing’. The first person to enter a house in the New Year is believed to bring the fortune of that house for the rest of the year. Usually it should be a man – tall and dark haired. To avoid any mistakes in this, the tallest and darkest man in the New Year celebration (in our house it will usually be my husband) goes outside just before midnight and will knock on the door on the strike of midnight and enter with a piece of coal. He is then given a drink of whisky in return. The coal is to guarantee heat in the home and he usually needs the whisky to get warm again!! This act secures luck for the coming year. One year our red-haired dog got in first and it was one of the worst years we ever had!!

On this seventh day of Christmas, I want to share something that you must do in writing in order to be sure you can get a high band score.

I have written a story above about a New Year’s Eve celebration. Stories are nice, they are interesting and they can be fun – BUT they are not suitable for IELTS writing.

IELTS writing must be more formal (in academic language – except for the GT letter), objective and clear. Stories are the opposite they are subjective, creative and paint pictures and they use lots of tenses. If you are writing stories in your IELTS tasks then you are stopping yourself from getting a high score.

I know how to teach you to write an objective, academic task. I also know what the examiner is looking for because I used to be an examiner myself. I have great skill in this area. One thing I can tell you and it’s important – writing takes time to develop so you have to be patient but it will develop a lot faster if you know what you have to write to secure your high band.

I want to help you achieve this important writing skill and give you the chance to work with me and my team in January and February to make sure your IELTS is ready for band 7 and 8.

I am setting aside time during early January to speak to you about getting the help you need to get the IELTS score you want.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:


I’m giving a special IELTS Christmas gift also – but you have to complete the questionnaire and qualify for one of these Skype calls.


Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

We are now half-way through our celebration and the end of the year is coming. Tomorrow is a special day in the Christmas holiday season and also for people all around the world. It’s the time when we say goodbye to 2017 and open our arms to 2018 and what it has to offer us. Today is the time to prepare for this second main celebration of the season. It means more shopping, more food preparation and more parties!!

It’s also a time to reflect – on what has happened in 2017 – then, learn from it, let it go and move forward into 2018 – could this be YOUR year for IELTS success?

On this sixth day of Christmas, I want to give you more advice about IELTS Reading.

In my experience, reading and writing are the two areas of IELTS that cause the most problems for students. It is therefore no surprise to find that these skills are closely related to each other. Understanding the process of writing will help you with your reading and understanding how sentences and paragraphs are put together in readning will help you with constructing your writing.

This is especially important when dealing with question types such as YNNG and TFNG as well as headings – certain words in the question and also in the text can give you a strong indication about the correct answers. These words are easy to spot but are very often overlooked. Being able to identify these words can help you to improve your score dramatically if reading is an area that you are struggling with. The other advantage is that it can also help you with your own IELTS writing too!

This is a skill we teach in all our IELTS training on reading. If you want to find support for your IELTS and make sure that you get the result that you want in 2017 and move on with your life and dreams for your future then you should consider taking our intensive IELTS training.

To see if I can support you in this I’m setting up Exam Support calls at the beginning of January where you can meet me on Skype and look at the possibility of working with me and my team in January and February to make sure you get really ready for your IELTS high band score.

To get one of these Skype appointments all you need to do is complete this questionnaire:


I also have a special Christmas gift to offer – but you have to complete the questionnaire first.


Berni xx

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS


There is no special name for today but after the first two days – which are public holidays – some people have to go back to work. Those who are lucky to have a longer holiday (or if it’s a weekend) will continue to visit friends and family, have or go to parties.



On this third day of Christmas, I want to give you the final thing you should do to improve your listening.

The listening test is probably the one part where you have to concentrate the most. If your mind wanders for just a few seconds (and I know this as it sometimes happens to me too when working with IELTS students) you can lose an answer or in the worst case more than one answer. It is important to keep focused and to concentrate throughout.

There is however a small technique that you can use to make sure you don’t miss anything and have something to come back to at the end of the section or when you transfer your answers.

This little trick is to make some notes. There is little time so your notes have to be very short and useful so they can help you if you miss an answer.

This is another of the techniques I teach my students to do so that they can be sure to have something to fall back on if they can’t quite get the answer – it helps you make an informed decision about these missing answers rather than a random guess when you transfer at the end of the test.

So if you want to be sure about your listening you need to make certain you practice all the techniques I’m sharing with you so that they become second nature. The very best way of doing this is to get help from a qualified and experienced IELTS teacher.

To see if I can help you to get your band 7 and 8 I’m setting up Exam Support calls at the beginning of January where you can meet me on Skype personally and look at the possibility of working with me and my team for 5 or 12 weeks to make sure you get really ready for your IELTS high band score.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:



I’m giving a special IELTS Christmas gift also – but first you have to complete the questionnaire to qualify for one of these Skype calls.


Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is Christmas Day! It is one of the most important and exciting days in our calendar here in the UK. Today, all across the UK, people will be exchanging presents and ‘making merry’ – eating a huge feast of turkey, vegetables and stuffings as well as Christmas pudding and traditional mince pies. It is a time for family and is especially magical for children – with Father Christmas, the glittering Christmas tree and lots of gifts. During the long, dark winter months Christmas lights up our lives and our hearts so no wonder we want to celebrate for a whole 12 days!!

On this first day of Christmas, I want to share one thing with you that can improve your listening

It’s important with listening to have wide exposure to different kinds of listening content. If you are looking for bands 7 and 8 then it is vital that you practise listening to different voices, sometimes speaking together and also a wide range of topics and vocabulary. The better your listening skills, the better the IELTS will be for you.

To improve your IELTS listening more quickly it’s a good idea to have questions to test your understanding of this listening content then you really know that you are able to pick out the details of what is being said.

You can listen to things like the BBC News, TED talks and also the Economist online – this is all good content and it will help you with IELTS. But, how will you know if you are listening to the right parts to answer questions?

Well I can help you with that. I have over 8,500 pages of practice material on my site and this is available to all my IELTS students. All the listening material is intended for native speakers so the level is high and I have created questions for everything so you can really test and develop your listening skills to be at band 7 and 8 easily.

I want to offer you the chance to work with me and my team in January so that you can have access to all this practice material and make sure your IELTS is ready for band 7 and 8.

I am setting aside some days at the beginning of January to speak to you personally about getting the IELTS score you want.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:


I have a special Christmas gift to give everyone who books a Skype call – but you have to complete the questionnaire to qualify.


I spoke to an IELTS student yesterday whose exam will be in 10 days. He took his last IELTS exam a few months ago. I asked him what preparation he was doing and he told me that he had just started preparing this week as the exam was coming soon and prior to that he hadn’t don’t anything since the last exam. This is not the way to learn or improve a language; you cannot just cram for a week and hope that things will improve. Language learning is NOT about learning facts; it’s about honing a skill.

IELTS Success

Too much study!

There is a theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill based on 3 hours practice a day. So to become fluent in all aspects of English (based on this theory) you would need to spend (and make sure you do all 4 skills each day) around 10 years! Of course this isn’t the whole story – some people have a talent for languages and a good ear and this speeds things up. Another factor is age, the younger you begin the easier it is. You need also to add in how much English you learned in school – but the fact of the matter is that you do need a very high level of skill to get band 7 and 8 in IELTS.

I have said this before – it takes 7 years to learn your native language and that is before you begin to read and write. This is not a skill that you can ‘fast track’. Going to ‘cram school’ will help you to understand the exam and the techniques for the exam but if your English is at band 6 and you want band 8 it won’t help you achieve that score – what you need is time, practice and patience to improve your English skills.

Solution One to Fantastic English Skills

Secret #1

Go and live in an English speaking country and both work and socialise with native speakers. This does actually work BUT you have to use English for most of your day. I know this because a lot of students I meet rarely speak to native speakers outside work (and sometimes never, if they are not currently working) and this is such a great waste of a chance to really get great language skills and an easy route to a band 7/8 in IELTS.

The reason I stress both work and socialise is that work-related language is generally restricted to a fairly narrow range of language which is related to the particular field of work. I have been an English language teacher for 40 years and I know that those students who ‘spread themselves around’ socialised with their colleagues at breaks and lunch and had native speaker friends improved their English far more that those who just went to work and then just came home and spoke their native language with family. This approach may not be your ‘cup of tea’ but you need to ask yourself how much do you really want to get your IELTS result?

This method of learning is the very best. I have seen it work over and over with the most amazing and quite fast results. It is exactly how I learned Bahasa Indonesia when I went to live in Indonesia and later when I had taken a little coaching in more formal Indonesian I ended up delivering lectures to students (in the Music Department) at the University completely in Indonesian. Even so to get to this level it took around 4 years.

Solution Two to fantastic English Skills

Secret #2

If you don’t have the chance to live and work in an English speaking country then you have to find an alternative way of immersing yourself in English and making sure you get a lot of exposure as well as doing a lot of practice.

The three-hour rule mentioned above would be a good thing to aim for – that is a lot of study but you can break it up so that not everything you do is IELTS and book-work.

We learn our own language by listening and copying so this is something you can do in English – listen to lots of English and today it is so easy to do with the internet. If you hear words or sentences you would like to use then write them down or just try them out – learning a language is about mimicking.

Speaking is critical so make sure that you speak some English every day. Find friends or colleagues or join an online group and practise as often as possible. This practice does not have to be IELTS – just discuss, chat and share ideas – the more you speak the better you will become.

Read, anything and everything, books, magazines, newspapers, comic books – anything that is in English will help improve your reading skill. Do some every day but don’t try to do too much 20 minutes if you can’t stand any more than this. If you enjoy reading then do as much as you want. The best reading scores in my experience come from avid readers.

Writing is a tough one. This cannot really be done so easily except as part of study. Having said that we all text, email and send messages all the time so writing is far more common today than it was 20 years ago. Why not have a time each day where you message all in English and get your friends to check your language and give you feedback.

If you combine all these activities regularly with your dedicated IELTS study you will soon find that you will improve more quickly.


Finally, the Fastest way to get to a high band in IELTS

Alternative Ways to Improve Your English

Choose the quickest way

There is no doubt that one of the quickest ways to learn anything is by having an expert show you. If you drive you use a driving instructor – otherwise it will take too long to understand what to do and also could be dangerous. If you want to study a musical instrument or learn to fix a car or use a machine the quickest and most effective way is for someone who knows how to do this to show you.

It stands to reason therefore that the quickest way to improve your skills and get the IELTS band you want is to work with a qualified, trained teacher (and if they are a native speaker so much the better). Yet, the vast majority of IELTS students refuse to do this. I don’t understand why. You seem to want to continue to struggle, to keep taking the exam and failing to get your band and to keep postponing your chance for the future you are seeking.

I speak to many of you every day about getting help to firstly make sure you can actually achieve the score that you want and secondly that you can achieve it within a reasonable time. I hear comments like:

  • I am confident that I will get it next time -how do you know that if you have got exactly the same score for the last 3 tests – what evidence do you have it will change?
  • I don’t have any money for English – OK but if you have already paid a lot for your PR visa, your consultant, your medical training, your flights etc. and the ONLY thing that is stopping you and will continue to stop you for more months if not years is IELTS then it seems illogical NOT to pay a teacher to help you otherwise all the other payments you have made will be wasted.
  • If I don’t get it next time then I’ll hire a teacher: I refer to point 1 above and you know that this will cost you at least $400 for the two tests and another delay of weeks or months. Also if you have a sharp deadline and don’t get the score then you either have to give up, which would be tragic, or start the whole process again which would mean spending even more money.

That said, it makes absolute sense to see your IELTS training as an investment in your future overseas just like your job training was an investment. Without it you absolutely cannot progress – so stop being a DIY IELTS student and start to think seriously about your future plans and allow some investment for your IELTS – it’s THE deal breaker in moving to another country and it really deserves more attention!!

In summary, to get IELTS band 7 and 8 in your sleep you have to focus fully on your English for quite a long time. However, it doesn’t have to be a chore, there are plenty of relaxing and fun things you can do in English which are helpful and which you will enjoy. Make your IELTS training part of your budget when you first start the process of moving overseas – otherwise it may become a steel wall. If it’s speed you need then hire a good teacher, if you have plenty of time then invest in a good online course – don’t just dabble in free websites – these are great for information and advice but you need something practical and focused that will move you level by level through your English to reach your desired band.

If you need help with IELTS then complete this questionnaire and we can talk on Skype.

Learning Languages than Others?

Your Teacher



Choosing the teacher that will help you best with your IELTS, especially if you are looking to work online or one to one, is a very important decision. There is a lot of choice and you need to know that the teacher you choose is going to help you to achieve the score that you want.

Here are some tips to help you find the person who can help you the most.




Your learning preferences

  • Do you like face-to-face study?
  • Are you happier with a group of people who can also support you in your study?
  • Do you want to go away from your home or work-place for your lessons?

If this is your preference then it is probably best to choose a language school that offers IELTS in small groups or classes. If you are lucky enough to have a few weeks, months, or longer to study then you may consider a school in an English speaking country.

  • Do you need one-to-one lessons?
  • Do you require some flexibility?
  • Do you enjoy working online?
  • Do you have limited time to study?

In this case it seems that online training might just be up your street! You can work the lessons around your daily schedule and complete the work in your own time. It also saves on travel time and you can do everything from the comfort of your home or workplace or even both.

Your budget

  • An online teacher may be cheaper but it depends where they are based – if you have a teacher in the UK or Australia they will be paid at local rates
  • Sometimes students think that tuition fees for IELTS courses should be less that the IELTS exam fee – this doesn’t make sense. The exam will be taken over a 3 hour period or so but your training could well be several days, weeks or even months and this involves the time and effort of a professional teacher. It is true that the IELTS exam is expensive but then you should expect that the training courses for the exam will be significant too and in many schools these are premium courses
  • There is an expression in English ‘You get what you pay for’. If you need a high band then you will need an experienced IELTS teacher
  • Factor IELTS training into your overall budget – if IELTS is THE deal-breaker then any other money you have paid to your agent or to a university will be wasted if you can’t get the required score. IELTS is often the golden key so be prepared to get the best support that you can so you can be successful

Your IELTS Needs

  • Do you require very high bands 7 or 8? Then find a teacher who can deliver this. Not all teachers have the experience. I know teachers who will not teach above band 6.5 because they don’t feel they have the skills
  • Bands 7 and 8 need high level language skills as well as an understanding of the specific techniques and skills required to get such bands
  • Large IELTS classes will often go for the level required by the majority of the students in the class which is often band 6/6.5. If you need band 8 you may find that you won’t get a lot of help in a big class
  • Do you need more training on a specific area of IELTS like writing or reading? – again in a large class the teacher will probably not focus on any one area so it may be better for you to choose a personal tutor who can help you with more specific things

Get Recommendations

  • If you are looking for an IELTS teacher then ask around, see who your friends recommend
  • Look at track records – how do their students do (although no teacher can guarantee your exam result )
  • What do they offer you, how do they work, is this good for you
  • Can you speak to them first about what you need and want – a good idea as you will get a sense of how they work and if this will be good for you
  • If you are looking at a physical school you probably won’t have any choice about the teacher but you can find out about the school’s results
  • If you are looking at an online school or agency can you choose the teacher? If not can you change the teacher if you find that you are not very compatible? This may be important in a one-to-one situation
  • Look online at any testimonials, if the course is expensive then you may be able to speak to past students to get their story

Choosing wisely means that your money will be well-spent and you will get exactly what you need to be successful in your IELTS. It will probably save you both time and money too – so it’s well worth checking things carefully first.

Make Sure you Know Exactly what you need to do to get the IELTS Band you want.

IELTS Total Check-Up  will help you do just that!

Best way to Prepare for IELTS

There is a lot of information about taking the IELTS out there.  Sometimes the hardest part of preparing to take the IELTS can be deciding where to focus your studying efforts.  That is where I can help you.  My name is Berni Wall, and I started to work with IELTS students about 20 years ago and since then I have helped hundreds of students to get high bands in their exam.  I have also been an IELTS examiner so I really know what IELTS examiners are looking for.  Continue reading

An extended vocabulary is not only impressive, but it’s also a sign of intelligence and useful in many areas of speaking, reading, and writing. While there isn’t a specific vocabulary section on the IELTS test, expanding your English vocabulary and being able to use a large amount of English words is most helpful in the speaking and reading sections, but sure to bolster your performance in all sections of the test. Below you’ll find a few tips to help you improve your vocabulary and use it to score higher on the IELTS exam. Continue reading

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