Category Archives: IELTS

#EngTips: IELTS Academic Writing task 1 (paraphrasing)

Hi, Fellas. Are you currently studying for your IELTS test? If you are, then you and I are on the same boat. I started to prepare it since the end of February and I used to think that the hardest part of IELTS test is speaking. However, apparently each session are complicated. Speaking session might be scary, but it is not as difficult as writing session.

We have actually discussed IELTS academic writing task before. If you missed it, you can read it on this link (

In the previous article you might find the general tips to accomplish IELTS academic writing test and in this occasion I would specially share some tips to perform the task 1 of the test.

In this part, there are some types of visual task you probably get, they are:

  • Pie chart
  • Bar chart
  • Flow chart
  • Diagram
  • Line chart, and
  • Map

According to my experience of attending online course hosted by University of Queensland, your writing must contain an introduction, the overview, and the information of the data to complete this task with satisfying score.

To make an introduction you can rephrase the given instruction in your own words. You can replace some of the keywords with their synonyms. This work is called paraphrasing. Here is an example to demonstrate it.


There are some steps you can follow to write the introduction:

1. Find the keywords.

From the instruction, there are some keywords we can underline such as ‘The diagram shows’, ‘how rainwater is collected’, ‘drinking water’, and ‘Australia’. They are the clues to develop your explanation on the displayed diagram.

2. Find the synonyms or the related words.

After you determine the keywords, next step is try to find the synonyms of them. Special for ‘diagram’, ‘chart’, or ‘graph’ I suggest you to make no change in introduction paragraph.

The next keyword is ‘show’. Instead of writing ‘show’ you can replace it with

  • Illustrates, or
  • Gives information about.

Now we are facing the complicated keywords, ‘how rainwater is collected’ and ‘the use of drinking water’.

To paraphrase them we have to take a look at the diagram. What do you see? I might say a process. The process of what exactly? Rainwater treatment or rainwater conversion.

If you get a bar chart or another chart which contains numbers, you can use one of the following phrases to paraphrase:

  • The amount of
  • The percentage
  • The change of (you can use this if you get line chart)

3. Write your paragraph

After you finish analyzing the visual and finding the synonyms, you can start to write the paragraph. According to the illustration, we can write:

“The diagram illustrates the process of rainwater treatment into drinking water in Australia.”


“The diagrams gives information about the rainwater conversion process into drinking water in Australia.”

Compiled and written by @mettaa_ for @EnglishTips4u on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.




#EngTips: IELTS vs. TOEFL (2)

If we are not an English native speaker but we are planning to study or work abroad, in some stage of the application, we will need to also attach our IELTS or TOEFL score to our application. Both tests aim to assess our English proficiency and make sure that we are able to communicate well in English.

What are IELTS and TOEFL?

International English Language Test System (IELTS) is an English language test that is used for educational, immigration and occupational purposes, and is accepted by over 9,000 institutions across 130 countries worldwide. Jointly administered by the British Council, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia, IELTS uses British English, and is more likely to be favoured by UK and institutions in Commonwealth nations such as New Zealand and Australia. Depending on the entry requirements of the program, we might need to take either the Academic or General Training IELTS exam.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) tests our ability to communicate in English in specifically academic, university and classroom-based settings. It is accepted by over 8,500 institutions across 130 countries, including the UK, USA and Australia, as well as all of the world’s top 100 universities. TOEFL is administered by US-based organization, the Education Testing Service, and so is conducted in American English. This test is more likely to be favoured by American institutions.

Similarities between IELTS and TOEFL

Both test our four main language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. IELTSn Indonesia is similar to other countries, and so is TOEFL, that is why the scoring system is consistent all over the world.

Both tests also cost within the same price range, USD 150 – USD 250 per test per person.

Differences between IELTS and TOEFL

1. Scoring system

IELTS band score ranges from 1 to 9. The score report is valid for two years. We will generally aim to 6.5 to 7 to be considered as a ‘competent’ to ‘good’ user of English language.

TOEFL scores come in two versions. TOEFL Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT) is more progressive, but test administration in some countries still uses the Paper Based Test (PBT). iBT score ranges from 0 to 120, while PBT ranges from 310 to 677.

The following spreadsheet shows the link between IELTS and TOEFL iBT score.

IELTS & TOEFL scoring system

2. Reading module

The IELTS test has a wide range of question types, while TOEFL test is multiple choices only. IELTS reading test lasts 60 minutes. Reading in TOEFL takes approximately 60 to 80 minutes.

3. Listening module

The IELTS listening test is 30 minutes, while TOEFL is 60 minutes. IELTS has a range of different questions including sentence completion, matching headings, and True, False or Not Given. The TOEFL test is multiple choices only.

We will also hear a range of different accents from English speaking countries such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the USA, Canada and Australia on the IELTS test whereas the TOEFL test will always be standard American English.

4. Speaking module

IELTS speaking test consists of 3 sections and its total duration is 15 minutes. In the test, we will have a face-to-face conversation with native English speaker.

In TOEFL speaking test, based on more recently used iBT, we will be talking to the computer. For those who don’t really have time to conduct IELTS, because it’s usually conducted during office hours, taking TOEFL iBT might be more suitable. The test will last for 20 minutes.

5. Writing module

IELTS has two different types of writing test: writing for Academic Training and General Training. Academic is suitable for those hoping to attend university, while General Training is mostly used for immigration purposes.

Both types have total duration 1 hour. In the Academic paper, we will be required to write a short essay based on a given graph, chart, map or cycle diagram. In the General Training paper, we will be asked to write a letter and a short essay on a particular topic.

TOEFL writing test consists of two tasks. The total duration is 50 minutes. In the first task, we need to read a text and then listen to a 2-minute lecture on the same topic. We must then write a short response to a specific question on that topic. The second task is a longer discursive essay on a particular issue, similar to a university style academic essay.

Which test to take?

Normally, the institutions we are applying to would specify which test to take. If they can accept either, the following table can be your consideration.

I like talking to people one-on-one. I prefer talking to a computer.
I like to write by hand. I am better at typing than handwriting.
I can understand a variety of English-speaking accents. I find American accents easy to listen to.
I find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. I can concentrate for long periods of time.
I prefer shorter tests. I can easily follow a lecture and take notes.
I prefer different types of questions. I like multiple choice questions.


Compiled by @alicesaraswati for @EnglishTips4U on Monday, March 6, 2017

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#EngQuiz: Analogies

Here’s how we play it: you are presented a sentence, then to choose another one with the most suitable relationship.

Here is an example:

Necklace is to beads as __________
mosaic is to tiles
Why? Necklace consists of beads; mosaic consists of tiles
pebble is to mountain
caterpillar is butterfly
baseball is to glove

Okay, let’s start!

1. Topaz is to yellow as __________
diamond is to carat
amber is to blue
sapphire is to red
amethyst is to purple
Why? Topazes are yellow; amethysts are purple.
2. Walk is to legs as __________
gleam is to eyes
chew is to mouth
Why? Walk is a movement of the legs; chewing is a movement of the mouth.
cover is to book
grind is to nose
3. Chronological is to time as __________
virtual is to truth
abnormal is to value
marginal is to knowledge
ordinal is to place
Why? Chronological means in order of time, as ordinal means in order in place.
4. Waitress is to restaurant as __________
actor is to role
teacher is to school
Why? A waitress works in a restaurant; a teacher works in a school.
driver is to truck
author is to book
5. Rain is to drizzle as __________
swim is to drive
hop is to shuffle
run is to jog
Why? To drizzle is to rain slowly; to jog is to run slowly.
juggle is to bounce
6. Depresses is to sad as __________
neat is to considerate
exhausted is to tired
Why? Depressed is an intensification of sad; exhausted is an intensification of tired.
progressive is to tired
rapid is to plodding
7. Finale is to musical as __________
inning is to baseball
mystery is to novel
barista is to coffee
homestretch is to race
Why? The finale is the final part of a musical. The homestretch is the final part of a race.
8. Optimism is to pessimism as __________
success is to failure
Why? optimism is the opposite of pessimism; success it the opposites of failure.
food is to hunger
motivation is to dedication
maturity is to youth

Compiled and written by @AnienditaR at @EnglishTips4u on Saturday, November 28, 2015


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#EngTips: Basic etiquette in writing letters and emails

Imagine the following situation and tell us what you think.

There’s a new email in my inbox from some unknown address, with a blank subject? Do you think it’s worth reading?

Okay. So, curiosity got the better of me and I read it anyway. Nothing was written in it, save for 1 file in the attachment. What would you do?

@DaLonGxxi: it looks suspicious .. it might be a link some hacker has created to hack the account ..

@AwesomeChaser: A big no. I will just delete it even without opening the email.

People used to hand-write their letters and send them by post. However, to save cost and to cut on the use of papers, more prefer to correspond by emails nowadays. Letters and emails alike are tools of communication. Think of them as written communication.

Letter writing is an important life skill, especially in the digital era. It has the potential to affect your reputation and credibility. So, check out these basic e-mail etiquette.


1. State the purpose or main issue of your email in the Subject box.

Subject is the first thing people see, they would either read your email or ignore it altogether. It gives a brief idea of what your email is about.


2. Always start with a salutation.

In verbal communication, “salutation” is the part where we greet someone. This simple point can help build a good first impression. The most common salutation used is “Dear…,”.

  • If you only know the gender of the recipient, not the name, you can start with “Dear Madam/Sir/Miss,” Do pick one of the three.
  • If you know the name of the recipient, you can write his/her name with a title. Example: “Dear Mr. Jones,”
  • If you aren’t writing to a specific contact person, or if you have no idea whom you’re writing to,  you can start with “To whom it may concern,”
  • If you’re writing a semi-formal letter you may use “Hello,” or “Hi,” or even “Hey,” for informal greetings.


3. Depending on whom you’re writing to, you might start by asking after his/her well-being.

Or if you’re writing a more formal email, you might want to skip the small talk and get straight to the point.


4. Organize your thoughts and put them into writing.

If you can help it, divide the content into paragraphs, grouped by topics/ideas. That would definitely help keep the reader’s attention.


5. Thank the recipient.

For the time and effort to read your email, it wouldn’t hurt to add a “thank you” on the last paragraph of your email.


6. Be polite and use a complimentary close.

To end your letter on a good note, use a complimentary close. Of course, followed by your name.

  • For formal letters, stick to “Sincerely yours,” “Kindest regards,” or “Best wishes,”
  • For semi-formal letters, you can end them with “Sincerely,” or “Regards,”.
  • It’s not unheard of to end letters with “Love,” “Affectionately,” or “Fondly,” especially in ones for loved ones or close friends.


All these points might either sound a lot or even trivial for some people, but believe me, these basic etiquette not only shows how well-mannered and civilized you are, but also how much you respect, care about and appreciate the recipient. Yes… Even if you’re only writing to friends or relatives.


Do you have any other pet peeves when it comes to emails? Or do you have other tips on how to write a ‘good’ email? Feel free to mention us on Twitter or leave a comment in the box below.


Compiled and written by @Miss_Qiak at @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, August 14, 2014





#EngTips: Academic IELTS writing tips

In this post, we will specifically talk about the academic writing test in IELTS.

As you know there are 2 versions of IELTS, the Academic version & the General Training version. However since most of our readers are students, we will focus more on the Academic version of IELTS.

The writing module in the academic version consists of 2 tasks. You will have 1 hour to complete both tasks.


2 tasks in 1 hour

In task 1, candidates are to describe a given graphic such as diagram, bar chart, line graph, pie chart or table. You will have to identify important information, compare and contrast different figures or maybe describe a process. You will be expected to write a passage with minimum of 150 words.

Whereas in task 2 of the writing module in the academic version will ask candidates to respond to an argument. Candidates are asked to present their opinion on a statement about a fairly open topic such as: “Smoking should be banned.” Task 2 requires a minimum of 250 words. The essay would be on a general academic topic and in formal style.


Scoring system

Your score is based on 3 criteria:

  • Content: How well do you present your arguments, ideas and evidence? The writing test expects you to give both pro and contra arguments about the topic with examples.
  • Quality: How effectively are you able to communicate your ideas and thoughts?
  • Technical aspects: How correct is your grammar? How rich is your vocab? How varied are your sentences?

This is important! Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1. So, manage your time carefully. It is advisable that you spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and approximately 40 minutes on Task 2.


Managing your time

Time is short! So plan your moves.

  • Spend 2 to 5 minutes to plan.
  • Analyze each task and spend some time making notes.
  • Plan your answers.
  • And once you have arranged your thoughts, put them in writing.

Consider what position you will adopt, how you’re going to expand on the topic and in what order you will present your ideas. Make sure you focus on what you have to do and use paragraphs clearly; put one idea in each paragraph.


Important tips:

1. Write in full sentences. Do not write in note form or in bullet points, otherwise you will lose marks. And do not repeat ideas using different words. Always keep to the topic; do not write about unrelated subjects.

2. Count the number of words in your passage. You’ll lose marks if you write less than 150 words for Task 1 or less than 250 words for Task 2.

3. Grammar and vocabulary will also be assessed. Make sure you check your writing for verb tense agreement. Also check for prepositions, word order, sentence patterns, structure, and range of vocabulary.

4. Avoid informal language. Do not use slang at all. In the academic section of the IELTS, avoid contractions, a clear symbol of informal writing.

5. And if you have some spare time, spend several minutes re-reading and correcting your answers.

The best of luck for you who are planning to take IELTS test!


Compiled and written by @miss_qiak at @EnglishTips4U on Saturday, February 2, 2013


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#EngTips: IELTS vs TOEFL

Hi fellas! Did you follow our #EngTips on TOEFL test (#EngTips: #TOEFL) last week and IELTS test (#EngTips: IELTS) the week before?

Today, admin will give a little recap on IELTS & TOEFL tests. And as I promised, I’ll highlight some of their differences. Ready?

RT @lulyprastuty: @englishtips4u min, what’s the difference of TOEFL & IELTS? Thanks :)

RT @ferisha_: @EnglishTips4U min, IELTS itu bedanya apa ya sama TOEFL? Jelasin dong. Trims~

RT @irtyo: @EnglishTips4U so, what is different between IELTS and TOEFL?

RT @khairunnisaonly: @EnglishTips4U which one is better ?

RT @ATKusuma: @EnglishTips4U IELTS vs TOEFL which is better?

Do you have the same questions as those I’ve just RTed? What’re the differences between IELTS & TOEFL? Which is better?

Let’s do a quick recap to start :) IELTS & TOEFL are tests of English proficiency.

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System & TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Both IELTS and TOEFL iBT tests assess your English reading, writing, listening & speaking skills. IELTS & TOEFL are needed if you wish to study overseas or to apply for scholarship in overseas universities. At the completion of IELTS or TOEFL, you would get a score and the certificate is valid for 2 years.

Now, let’s move on to the differences, shall we?

Different intent
IELTS & TOEFL generally differ in intent.

IELTS & TOEFL test whether you can speak, read, understand and write English well enough to attend college in an English-speaking program.

While TOEFL mainly focus on academic purposes, the IELTS test comes in 2 versions: academic & general training.

Say you wish to migrate to UK, Australia or other commonwealth countries, you can take the General Training version of IELTS. The general training version of IELTS is for those who are looking to head to an English-speaking country for work/immigration.

Different style

TOEFL is designed for North American speakers & hearers. Whereas IELTS is designed to fit a variety of accents & situations.

The spoken portions of TOEFL are read by native North American speakers. The questions are based on North American English.

The writing styles and accents in IELTS tests are designed to mimic the accent & style of many different countries. This makes IELTS ideal for those who are looking to test their ability to speak and read English, but not necessarily need to speak and read North American English.

This difference will have a larger effect because spelling counts and that is one area where Britain and US do not always see eye-to-eye.

Different method of scoring

The score calculation of IELTS & TOEFL also differ.

IELTS tests are rated by so-called ‘band’ scores from 0 to 9. Every module will be awarded a score from 0 to 9, and then averaged for the IELTS band score.

In TOEFL, numeral scores are assigned to different test parts and then totaled for the final TOEFL score.

Different types of questions

The TOEFL test is almost entirely made up of MCQs (multiple choice questions). On the other hand, IELTS has much wider range of question types including MCQs, gap fill, matching exercises, etc. If you do not feel comfortable with MCQs, the TOEFL is not the test for you.

For the reading and listening sections, TOEFL gives you MCQs, whereas IELTS generally expects you to copy down words from the text or from text or conversation word-for-word.

The good thing about MCQ is that it is easy to pick out wrong answers. Whereas the good thing about copying down is that the answer is sitting there in the text. You just need to find it & repeat it.

Different test duration

If you tend to become nervous during a test and want the test to end sooner, you should take the IELTS test.  The TOEFL exam lasts approximately for 4 hours, whereas the IELTS test is significantly shorter, about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Different style of speaking module

Another large difference is how the speaking section is carried out. In TOEFL, your answer will be recorded and assessed. Whereas the speaking module in IELTS is carried out in front of a native speaker, in an interview format.

Some people might feel more relaxed to just record your answers into a computer because it feels like no one is listening. Because IELTS is done in an interview format with native speaker present, you might get nervous or feel being judged. Or perhaps you might feel more relaxed in a conversation, with a person there to explain if you don’t understand a question or simply having a face to look at, instead of a computer screen.

If you like talking to people, IELTS is a better bet. If you want to be alone and not feel judged, TOEFL will be more comfortable for you.

Different grading criteria

The speaking and writing sections of TOEFL are graded holistically. The grader gives you a score based on the overall quality of the essay, including vocabulary, logic, style and grammar.

The IELTS by contrast is marked by individual criteria and you are scored individually for grammar, word choice, fluency, logic, cohesion, and many others. #EngTips

In other words, if you write well but have a lot of small grammar mistakes, your TOEFL score might be quite good because graders will ignore small mistakes if the overall essay is logical and detailed. The IELTS will not overlook bad grammar.

However, if your grammar and vocabulary are strong but you have trouble expressing your opinion or organizing an essay, you could end up with a low TOEFL score but the IELTS will give you good mark for language use.

If you don’t feel comfortable writing essays but you think you have excellent grammar and vocabulary and overall are a decent writer, the IELTS test will probably be easier for you.

So, which one is better? IELTS or TOEFL?

The final question which usually bothers the majority of candidate is which of the two is more difficult, IELTS or TOEFL. There really is no definite satisfying answer because it depends on your knowledge and preparation, as well as the test itself. Mind you, IELTS & TOEFL change every time they are taken.

Nevertheless, such a question is largely irrelevant, since most educational institutions clearly state what test the students must take in order to enroll in their university, which means students usually know what they have to prepare for and should not lose time by developing fear for any test section.

That’s all, fellas! I hope today’s #EngTips could help you better understand IELTS & TOEFL tests. :D

Compiled and written by @miss_qiak at @EnglishTips4U on January 26, 2013

#EngTips: IELTS

Are you planning to get a scholarship and study or work in Australia, UK or Canada? In this post, we will introduce you to IELTS. It is something very important if you wish to study, work or migrate to countries mentioned above.


What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It’s an internationally standardized test of English proficiency. IELTS is generally used in Australia, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and commonwealth countries. However, these days, universities all over the world take both IELTS and TOEFL to make it easy on international students. The test aims to assess your English skill and make sure that you are ready and able to communicate well in English.

There are 2 versions of IELTS test: Academic Version and General Training Version. The academic version of IELTS is intended for candidates who want to enroll in universities & institutions of higher education. The general training version is intended for those planning to work or migrate to Australia, UK, Canada, New Zealand, etc.


IELTS modules

Both modules contain 4 modules:

  • Reading,
  • Writing,
  • Listening and
  • Speaking.

Reading & Writing modules are different for both academic and general version, but Listening & Speaking modules are the same. Let’s have a look at every module that you will find in an IELTS test. We’ll start from the Reading module.


Reading Module

Candidates have 60 minutes to finish the Reading module. Materials may be from academic textbooks, newspapers or magazines.
The Reading module of the academic version comprises of 3 sections, followed by 13 or 14 questions for a total of 40 questions. The Reading module of the general training version also has 3 sections, however with shorter texts.

One of the three sections will always be an opinion piece whereby you will be asked to give an argument and explain your opinion. The variety of questions is quite broad, and not every text will have every question type.

You might be asked to do one or more of the following:

  • to match headings to paragraphs in the text,
  • to fill in a table or chart or picture from the text,
  • to complete a summary using words from the text,
  • to choose from multiple-choice questions that ask you about key details,
  • to match words and ideas,
  • to give short-answers which are to be taken directly from the text, and/or
  • to state whether a given statement is true, false or not included in the text.


Writing Module

The writing module in the academic version consists of 2 tasks.

  • In task 1 candidates are to describe a diagram, graph, process or chart. You will have to identify important information, compare and contrast different figures or maybe describe a process.
  • Whereas in task 2 of the writing module in the academic version will ask candidates to respond to an argument. Candidates are asked to present their opinion on a statement about a fairly open topic such as: “Smoking should be banned.”

In the 1st task in general training, candidates will write a letter or explain a situation, and in task 2 they write an essay.

Candidates are given 60 minutes to complete the writing module.


Listening Module

The IELTS test has 4 listening sections. Each section can be either a monologue or dialogue.

  • The 1st section is a transactional conversation (such as applying for an ID card) or asking for information.
  • The 2nd section is an informational lecture of some kind such as a dean explaining the rules of the university.
  • The 3rd may be a conversation in an academic context and
  • The last (4th) section will be an academic lecture.

For all sections, you may be asked to: fill out a summary, fill in a table, answer multiple-choice, questions, label a diagram or picture, or classify information into different categories. You will be expected to fill out answers as you listen.

In the listening module, candidates will have 40 minutes, 30 minutes to listen to the recording and answer questions and additional 10 minutes to transfer the answers to the answer sheet.

The first 3 modules of IELTS test (Listening, Reading & Writing) are completed in one day and taken with no break in between. Last but not least, there’s the most interesting part of IELTS test… The speaking module.


Speaking Module

This part will only take 15 minutes. The speaking module is a key component of IELTS. It is conducted in the form of a one-to-one interview with an examiner. The speaking module may be taken, depending on the test centre, in the period of 7 days before or after the other modules.

The speaking module contains 3 sections:

  • The 1st section is an interview. Candidates may be asked about their hobbies, interests, reasons for taking IELTS, and other general topics such as computer, free time, music, film or family.
  • In the 2nd section, candidates are given a topic card and a few specific questions to address. Candidates will have 1 minute to prepare and then speak for 2 minutes on the given topic.
  • The 3rd section is a discussion on questions relating to the theme already spoken about in section 2.

The examiner will assess the candidate as he or she is speaking and the session will be recorded for monitoring. Since the speaking module is done in an interview format, you can ask the interviewer to explain if you don’t understand a question. Getting feedback can be helpful in order to correct mistakes and improve during the test.



Most of you must wonder whether you should take TOEFL or IELTS test. Worry not! Most universities take both TOEFL & IELTS. However you should still check with the specific university you want to apply to. Most educational institutions clearly state what test the students must take in order to enroll in their university.

Don’t worry too much about the test. Practice, prepare yourself and be confident!



A special thanks to @inararirurero for making this —> IELTS #EngTips @EnglishTips4U

Compiled and written by @miss_qiak at @EnglishTips4U on Tuesday, January 8, 2013


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