Showing posts from February, 2020

The "IELTS or C2 Proficiency" dilemma resolved

Lyudmila Snezhanova is on the horns of a dilemma which test of English to take IELTS or C2 Proficiency. Having taken both, I’ve decided to summarize some practical information about the exams, hopefully making her choice easier (and your choice if you are facing the same dilemma).

In this post, I will outline the exam structures briefly and comment on what seemed easy or difficult to me personally. I will be talking about IELTS Academic only. I will be using the old abbreviation CPE for C2 Proficiency because it's shorter and more familiar to most people in the EFL world. The post is a long read, but I've organized it into sections so it should be easy to navigate. 
First, some words about my exam history. I've taken paper-based IELTS Academic (three times, getting 8.5 in 2011 and 2013, before finally getting 9 in 2016) and paper-based C2 Proficiency (just once, getting an A in 2018). Now off to describing the two exams.

1 ListeningIELTS
You see the questions beforehand, so…

Storytelling with IELTS Writing Task 1

Last year I read a book called "Storytelling with data: a data visualization guide for business professionals,” which might seem like a bizarre choice for an English teacher. Seduced by the word storytelling, I ended up reading a book for people whose job is to visualize information in the form of line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, and tables, so basically IELTS Writing Task 1 tasks but for real life situations.

In IELTS preparation we always describe data. But this book gave me an opportunity to change sides and look at those charts from the perspective of those who create them. In this post, I want to share one important insight I got that can make a huge difference to the way you approach IELTS Academic Writing Task 1.

The author of the book emphasizes that to visualize data effectively you need to think about two key questions - who you are describing the data to and what you want them to know or do.

Even though these questions are technically not part of the exam, this …