Video Tips and Lessons for IELTS

This page contains links to all our videos. Our Chief Master Trainer, Sreedhar Mandayam, gives tips on different aspects of IELTS. There are also video lessons here. Click on the links to see the video.

5 step method to do the Matching Heading Questions

Step1: Read the instructions. Do you have to find a heading for all the paragraphs or only for some of them? If an example has been done, be aware of that. Sometimes the example is done for the first paragraph and at other times for any random paragraph.
Step 2: Read and understand the meaning of each heading. Don’t go by just the keyword alone. The moment you read the heading you should know what to expect in the paragraph if the heading is to match that.
Step 3. Choose which paragraph you will do first. If time is short, then start with the shortest paragraph and go on to do longer and longer paragraph. If there is no time pressure, then you can go systematically from first to the last paragraph especially if you doing other questions on paragraph simultaneously. Read the radical method here: https://greatnations-english-ielts-te…
Step 4: Read each heading and eliminate it if it does not suit it.
Step 5: The only heading left after eliminating all other headings should also be confirmed with the content of the paragraph.

For an actual reading passage attempted with this method see here: https://youtu.be/DdCMdn4qczk

Matching Headings – The Hollywood Film Industry

Steps for Matching the Headings
1. Read instructions – Should you match heading for all the paragraphs or some paragraphs only?
2. Read the headings and understand the meanings.
3. Choose the smallest passage.
4. Read the passage
5. Match each of the headings for the passage and reject all and accept one. Rejection is a way to match the headings. Discard each of the headings that do not match and then choose one that does. A double confirmation makes your answer foolproof.
6. Do the same for next longer paragraph and continue till you have worked through all the paragraphs and found the answers.

Which is the correct form, “I does” or “I do”?

“Do you take ___ as your lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish until death do you part?”

When the priest asks that question, is the answer, “I does” or “I do”?

A five-step process to improve your listening skills

When some of my students find the Listening test a bit tough, they are not able to get the answers, the first thing that I ask them to do is analyze their answers. There are four sections in the Listening test. Find out which of the sections you are finding it tough to answer. Then listen to the audio and do a transcription of the whole thing. What do we mean by transcription? Listen to the tape, and write the entire conversation on paper. Let us say, some of you are finding section four difficult. Then what I would suggest is, listen to section four audio alone, and then write every word that you hear from that. Now try to see if you can get the answers to the questions based on that. Only then check the real answers. So if you practice like this, by doing the transcriptions of the sections which you are finding difficult, then you will be able to score much better on the Listening test. This I have found is happening in my class.
Step 1: Take a full-length listening test
Step 2: Analyze your answers to find which of the four sections you are weak in.
Step3: Listen to that particular section and do a transcription of it, either on paper or on the computer. You can pause, rewind and listen to it as many times as possible.
Step 4. Try to find the answers for the questions from the transcript.
Step 5. Now check the original answers and see where you went wrong.

Reading passage – The Dawn of Robots

A different approach to Reading Test in IELTS
A radically different approach to do the Reading Passages in the IELTS Test. Students often find it difficult to keep a lot of content in their mind when they are trying to find an answer. Most of the methods on the net ask the students to do skimming and scanning which most students cannot make a head or tail of. There are about 13-14 questions on each passage. A student struggles to run his eyes over the passage (or part of the passage) 13-14 times to find the answer. By the time they do two passages the time is over or they are tired and end up not doing the third passage. Is there a better way to approach the Reading Passages?
After experimenting with students, I have found a method to teach them, where they need to read the whole passage only once. They don’t even have to read the whole passage, they have to read only one paragraph at a time, find all the answers which are there in that paragraph and then move on to the next paragraph. In this method, a student reads a paragraph only once and does not come back to it again.
It takes only about 15 minutes to find the answers to the questions on a passage.
The Reading Test in the IELTS is all about Reading Comprehension. You are being tested for your understanding of what you read. If you adopt a method of ‘Keyword’ hunting, you are going to fail. You have to adopt a method of ‘Key-meaning’ hunting and that can be done only by reading a paragraph and understanding it and then answering questions based on that becomes a cinch.

Method:
First, look at the kind of questions on the passage. Normally there will be three or four different kinds of questions.
Notice the questions for which answers will be in sequential order in the passage.
Within the above set of questions, see which one is easy to locate based on a number, a date, a year, a place, name of a person etc. Mark the location of these questions in the passage. If there are six TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN questions and if you locate the place of question number 4, then you know the answers to questions one to three will be above that and answers to five and six below that.
Do the same for other questions which have answers in sequential order in the passage.
Note that questions for which answers will not be in sequential order (Matching Headings, Matching Information etc)
Now start reading the first paragraph. Read it to understand the main idea. You do not have to understand every word.
Now start looking at the questions and see if any of the questions have an answer in the paragraph. Matching the Headings in the only exception as every paragraph has to have an answer. Once done move on paragraph number two.
Repeat the process.
You do not have to come back to the earlier paragraph unless you have a doubt about some answer and need clarification.
Your aim should be to read each paragraph only once.

The Reading Passage in this video is taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student’s Book published by Cambridge. The video is done only for study purpose and no copyright violation is intended.

Confusing phrase – Anything but

While there are words which confuse us, there are also phrases which confuse us. One the phrases that I want to talk about today is the phrase, ‘anything but’. There is a sentence, and in the middle, you find the phrase, ‘anything but’ and then the sentence continues. So what does this phrase, ‘anything but’ mean? Let me give you an example. Suppose you ask me what kind of food I want, and I tell you, “I will eat anything but a burger”. What I mean is “I don’t want a burger”. Right? I don’t want a burger. Suppose I ask you, “What kind of clothes I should wear?” You tell me, “You can come in anything but red”. What you are saying is “You can come in any colour but not red.” So ‘anything but’ means the opposite of what follows ‘but’. If you are clear about this you will not get confused.

A five-step process to improve your listening skills

When some of my students find the Listening test a bit tough, they are not able to get the answers, the first thing that I ask them to do is analyze their answers. There are four sections in the Listening test. Find out which of the sections you are finding it tough to answer. Then listen to the audio and do a transcription of the whole thing. What do we mean by transcription? Listen to the tape, and write the entire conversation on paper. Let us say, some of you are finding section four difficult. Then what I would suggest is, listen to section four audio alone, and then write every word that you hear from that. Now try to see if you can get the answers to the questions based on that. Only then check the real answers. So if you practice like this, by doing the transcriptions of the sections which you are finding difficult, then you will be able to score much better on the Listening test. This I have found is happening in my class.

One of the husband or one of the husbands?

In the IELTS essay writing, students often have to use the phrase, “One of the”. For example, One of the advantages, one of the reasons, one of the causes. They often get confused about what follows after the words, ‘one of the’. You are actually picking one from many. So your word should always be plural. One of the advantages, one of the reasons, one of the causes, that’s how it should be. The word following the ‘one of the’ is a plural. But the verb following it, should be singular. Because you are picking just one. So one the advantages is, one of the causes is, one of the reasons is. Suppose you are talking about children. It should be, ‘One of the children is’. If you are talking about spouses, Draupadi from Mahabharatha, she could say, ‘One of the husbands is’ and Bheema could perhaps reply, ‘One of the wives is…’. You can also say that. You would be grammatically correct but legally and relationship wise…

IELTS Writing test – Percent or percentage?

In the writing test of IELTS, in task 1, you normally have to interpret a graph, a table or a chart. You use the word per cent and you use the word percentage. Is there a difference? Can we use both of them interchangeably? No, we should not. What I would suggest is that always use the word per cent along with a number. Never use the word per cent without a number. Don’t say, ‘high per cent of people, low per cent of people’. Always use the word per cent along with a number like 73% 26 % etc. For the word pecentage, always use it without a number. Don’t say 13 percentage of people. Percentage is a noun. So use an adjective like a high percentage of people, a low percentage of people then you will be correct. So just one rule to remember, with numbers per cent, without numbers percentage.

IELTS Listening Test – Confusing you with names

In the Listening test, you get names of people or places for an answer. Normally these names of people and place like a road name or name of a city will be spelt out. Clearly, each alphabet will be mentioned. Where does the confusion come in this kind of question? Both the people will be mentioning the names sometimes. The person who has asked for the information and the person giving the information. For instance, the person who has asked for the information, might say, “Is that name M-A-W-N?” Then the person who is giving the information will change it and say, “No it is not that, it is M-A-U-G-H-A-N.” So always listen to the person giving the information, most of the time, that will be the correct answer. So whenever there is a name, watch out for the confusion that they try to create in your mind.

Eye contact in the IELTS Speaking Test

In the IELTS Speaking Test, we tell the students to look at the examiner, to give them the eye contact when speaking to them. But what happens if the examiner does not give you eye contact? I have had many students who come and tell me that the examiner’s not looking at them, he did not give them the eye contact, he seemed completely disinterested and it really upsets the student. But actually, it is not obligatory on the part of the examiner to give you the eye contact. It could also be a strategy on their part to see how you perform without the eye contact.
Actually, you have a lot of practice, talking to people without eye contact. When you talk to your parents, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, or your spouse, you continue to talk to them without eye contact. Youconvey your message eye contact or no eye contact, don’t you?
So the worst case scenario: If the examiner is not giving you the eye contact in the test, think that you are talking to your _____and continue speaking.

Listening Test – Don’t overwrite the answers on the question paper, strikethrough and write fresh.

In the Listening test, the answer often changes because you have a lot of distractors. What is important to keep in mind is that never ever overwrite an answer. Because you will have a lot of difficulties when it comes to transferring the answers to the answer sheet. You will not remember what it is when you come back. Always strike through and write fresh. For instance, I will just show you how I train my students to do it. First, the answer had been written by the student as 24 hours, then she changes it to fifty minutes. She does not overwrite it. She strikes it through and writes a fresh answer. Same way, she had written an answer here, then she cuts that and writes a fresh answer. The same thing happens here.
It is important that you should strike through and write a fresh clear answer so that there will be no ambiguity when it comes to transferring the answers to the answer sheet.

Three things to remember when a number is an answer in the Listening test

In the Listening Test when you are expecting a number for an answer, you got to be aware of three things. First, they will try to confuse you. Whenever a number is an answer, for any of the questions, they will try to repeat more than one number. You have got to be listening to it very carefully, which is the correct number for the answer. Second, they use the letter ‘O for zero. In many of the cultures, we don’t do that. But in the audio if you hear the letter, ‘O’, being mentioned, when you are expecting a number, it means it is a zero. Third, most important, whenever there is a number for an answer, it should have a unit unless it is a number of elephants or number of candles. If the unit is already printed, on the question paper, then you should not be writing the units. If the unit is not printed, you have to mention the units. These three things are something you have to remember when a number is an answer in the Listening test.

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The use of the apostrophe

In the English language, the apostrophe is used only for two reasons. One to show possession and the second is to show a missing letter or a number. When we write, Anand’s car, Leela’s bag, India’s GDP, America’s coastline, what we are essentially showing is the possession part of it. We mean to say, the car belongs to Anand, the bag belongs to Leela, the GDP of India and the coastline of America are being talked about.
The second use of the apostrophe is to show missing numbers or missing letters. When we write can’t, shouldn’t, I’m, we’are, ‘19, all indicate missing letters or a missing number. What we want to say is cannot, shouldn’t is should not, I am, we are and perhaps the number could be, say, 2019. The second use of the apostrophe is called contractions. In IELTS you are not expected to use contractions. Because contractions are not formal language. So in IELTS, you need to use the apostrophe only when you want to show possessions and nowhere else.

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Beware of similar sounding words in IELTS Listening test

In the Listening Test, when checking your spelling, it is important to keep in mind that some of the words can be spelt in more than one way. These words are called Homophones. Same pronunciation but multiple spellings. How do you determine which is the correct spelling? Pay attention to the context of the audio. If the audio is about automobiles, and the answer is braking system, what’s your spelling? Is it B-R-E-A-K-I-N-G or is it B-R-A-K-I-N-G? If they are talking about air conditioners, and your answer is quiet, what is the spelling of quiet? Is it Q-U-I-T-E? Or is it Q-U-I-E-T? Take a look at the comment section where I have given the link to a list of homophones. If you master them, you will never be at a loss for getting the correct spelling.

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Don’t forget the units of measurement in the Listening test

All numbers should have a unit of measurement other than say phone numbers and door numbers. If a distance is being measured, the unit should be meters, kilometers, miles etc. If the measurement is of weight, then the unit should be kilograms, grams, pounds, so on. If the question contains a blank without the unit printed on it, then your answer should contain the number along with the unit. But if the unit is already printed, then you should write only the number. Let me give you an example. Take a look at this question. Third question. Length of the run. There is a blank The unit of measurement is not mentioned there. So your answer should be a number along with the unit of measurement. On the other hand, question number 6, Cost of the run. Already mentioned Pounds Dash. So your answer should only be a number and you should not be writing pounds again. Be careful when you have to answer the blanks with numbers.

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Three things to check before transferring the answers to the Answer sheet in the Listening Test

In the Listening Test, you get ten minutes time to transfer your answers to the Answer Sheet. Whenever I have checked with my students, I see that they take about three to four minutes to make the transfer. So the rest of the time should be spent in checking. What I tell them is that even before transferring it to the answer sheet, they should be checking for three things. One, check your spellings, are your spellings correct, two check for your grammatical accuracy, does your answer fit in the blanks correctly? Is it plural? Is it singular? Is it a noun? Is it a verb? What is it? Does it fit in grammatically correct in the blank? Three, check for the instructions. Have you followed the instructions? If the instructions said one word, have you written just one word or more? Check these three things and then transfer the answers to the answer sheet.

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Reading Passage – The Dover Bronze-Age Boat

A radically different approach to do the Reading Passages in the IELTS Test. Students often find it difficult to keep a lot of content in their mind when they are trying to find an answer. Most of the methods on the net ask the students to do skimming and scanning which most students cannot make a head or tail of. There are about 13-14 questions on each passage. A student struggles to run his eyes over the passage (or part of the passage) 13-14 times to find the answer. By the time they do two passages the time is over or they are tired and end up not doing the third passage. Is there a better way to approach the Reading Passages?
After experimenting with students, I have found a method to teach them, where they need to read the whole passage only once. They don’t even have to read the whole passage, they have to read only one paragraph at a time, find all the answers which are there in that paragraph and then move on to the next paragraph. In this method, a student reads a paragraph only once and does not come back to it again.
It takes only about 15 minutes to find the answers to the questions on a passage.
The Reading Test in the IELTS is all about Reading Comprehension. You are being tested for your understanding of what you read. If you adopt a method of ‘Keyword’ hunting, you are going to fail. You have to adopt a method of ‘Key-meaning’ hunting and that can be done only by reading a paragraph and understanding it and then answering questions based on that becomes a cinch.

Method:
First, look at the kind of questions on the passage. Normally there will be three or four different kinds of questions.
Notice the questions for which answers will be in sequential order in the passage.
Within the above set of questions, see which one is easy to locate based on a number, a date, a year, a place, name of a person etc. Mark the location of these questions in the passage. If there are six TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN questions and if you locate the place of question number 4, then you know the answers to questions one to three will be above that and answers to five and six below that.
Do the same for other questions which have answers in sequential order in the passage.
Note that questions for which answers will not be in sequential order (Matching Headings, Matching Information etc)
Now start reading the first paragraph. Read it to understand the main idea. You do not have to understand every word.
Now start looking at the questions and see if any of the questions have an answer in the paragraph. Matching the Headings in the only exception as every paragraph has to have an answer. Once done move on paragraph number two.
Repeat the process.
You do not have to come back to the earlier paragraph unless you have a doubt about some answer and need clarification.
Your aim should be to read each paragraph only once.

The Reading Passage in this video is taken from The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student’s Book published by Cambridge. The video is done only for study purpose and no copyright violation is intended.

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Advantages of using the official IELTS paper in writing practice

This is a copy of the official IELTS paper. In the IELTS test, you need to do a minimum of 150 words in Task 1 and 250 words in Task 2. There is no maximum limit. But, there is a penalty if your writing falls short of the minimum limits. There is so little time in the exam to count your words. But if you use the official paper, like many of my students use, you will know exactly where your 150 words will come. For instance, my student has marked his 150 words here. All he has to do is exceed this point, and he can have a minimum of 150 words. Same way for his task 2, his 250 words will come at this point. Once he exceeds this he is in the safe zone. So, depending on your handwriting, you can mark it on the paper and start practising.

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IELTS Reading Passages – Understanding the word ‘century’

In the IELTS Reading Test, there are often questions based on dates in the passages. The word century often confuses students. Is 1768 late 17th century or is it late 18th century?
Our Chief Master Trainer, Sreedhar Mandyam, clears the doubts of the students in this video.

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Does Handwriting matter in the IELTS test?

Students often ask if handwriting matters in IELTS. They also want to know what to do if they have bad handwriting. Sreedhar Mandyam, our Chief Master Trainer answers these questions in this video.

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If something declines, can we hope it can incline too?

I can’t stop grinning. Unintended humour is one of the privileges you get, for being able to check the writing of students. The report was about a graph. The sale of Tea has gone up and the sale of sugar has come down and the student writes, while the sale of Tea declined over the years, the sale of sugar has inclined! Inclined is not the opposite of declined. I know that -in is a prefix for the opposites, but inclined is not the opposite of declined

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Reading the sentence in full before answering

A mistake that students make often is reading half the sentence in the passage and concluding that they have found the answer. I understand that there is a time pressure in the Reading Test, but reading half the sentences is not the way to get your answer. In one of the Reading Tests, the question in the True/FalseNot Given was, “Fit people of any age can take up paragliding.” The student just read half the sentence in the passage which was that, “There is no upper age limit provided your instructors deem you capable…” and she said this is the answer I have found. But when you read the rest of the sentence in the passage, “but the youngest anybody can paraglide is 14.” Yes, there is an age limit, but if you did not read the sentence in full, you will get it wrong. So read the sentence in full before you come to the answer.

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Use the uppercase letters in Reading and Listening Answer Sheet

In the Listening and the Reading tests, you are expected to write your answers on a separate answer sheet. Please use uppercase letters for writing your answers. Why is this important? Take a look at somebody who does not use that. Could you make out the answers? Neither could you make out the answers and the same happens with the examiner. If they cannot make out your answers, they are going to mark it down. Always use the uppercase and take a look at the person who has written it in the uppercase. See how clear that is? When you write it in the uppercase there is room for misinterpretation, no room for ambiguity. That will make your answers very readable, very legible. Always use the uppercase in both the Reading and Listening tests.

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