The IELTS Writing Test – Word Count Tips

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I meet a lot of students who are confused about the IELTS writing test. One problem students have is knowing how much to write. Another problem is worrying about time management in the test.

Read on for some advice that should help with both of these problems…


1. How much to Write in the Writing Test

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In the IELTS test it is not a good idea to write too much, but it is also not a good idea to write too little.

In Task 1, you should write AT LEAST 150 words. This means you must write 150 words or more.

In Task 2, you should write AT LEAST 250 words. This means that you must write 250 words or more.

If you write fewer than 150 words in Task 1 or fewer than 250 words in Task 2, you will lose marks. So make sure you write more!

However, some students think that this means the more they write the higher their score will be. This is NOT TRUE.

As long as your writing is over the minimum number of words, the amount you write does not matter. In fact, if you write too much you may run out of time or you may have a lot of mistakes.


2. How to get it right

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My advice for this is to:

1. Go to the IELTS official website and download the answer sheets for task 1 and task 2. (Or just click on these links.)

2. Print out the answer sheets (you may need more than one copy)

3. Find an example question for Task 1 (such as this one here ) and an example question for Task 2 (such as this one here).

4. Plan your answer to Task 1.

5. Write your answer to Task 1 on the answer sheet.

6. Count your words.

7. If you have more than 150 words, that’s great! If you have fewer than 150 words, you need to rewrite your answer to include more words.

8. When you have over 150 words, count how many lines on the answer sheet you used to get to 150 words. (For example, 150 words in my writing is about 20 lines on the IELTS answer sheet. What about yours?)

9. Do the same for Task 2 with 250 words.

10. Practise this again with some more practice questions at a later date.

11.When you finally do the IELTS writing test, you should therefore know how many lines of the answer sheet are filled with 150 words of your writing.

(For me, for example, I would write 22 or 23 lines for Task 1.)

This means that you will not need to count your words in the exam! Just your lines!

This is great as you do not have time to count your words on exam day! Counting lines is much quicker!

I hope you found this advice useful.

Please let me know if you did by wrting a reply below!

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Good luck with your IELTS writing preparation!

If you need help with your IELTS writing, send me an email at with your questions and I will do my best to help you!

Have a great week!

Charlotte XX





How to Write a Recipe in English

Pancake Day!

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I don’t know if you know this already, but on Tuesday the 5th of March 2019 it will be Pancake Day in the UK.

We celebrate the day before Lent starts by eating pancakes – yum!

Lent is the 40 day period before Easter.

So, as Pancake Day will be here soon, here is a recipe so that you can start practising making pancakes the British way…

And below is the language you need to write your own recipe in English…


Pancake Recipe


First, you will need your ingredients.

A good way to remember your pancake ingredients is to remember 1, 2, 3!


1. 100g (grams) of plain flour

2. 2 large eggs

3. 300ml (millilitres) of milk


A little oil for frying

Some lemon wedges and caster sugar to serve


1. Put the flour, eggs and milk into a large bowl and whisk until smooth.

2. Add a pinch of salt if you wish.

3. Leave the mixture to stand for about 30 minutes.

4. Grease a frying pan with the oil.

5. Heat the pan for about 1 minute.

6. Add the pancake mixture little by little until it makes a circle in the pan.

7. Fry for one minute.

8. Turn over the pancake.

9. Fry on the other side for one minute.

10. Keep going until you have made all the pancakes.

11. Serve with the lemon and sugar.

12. Eat and enjoy!!!


Language for writing a recipe

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  1. Ingredients    =   the food needed
  2. Grams             =   a measurement for solid food
  3. Millilitres       =   a measurement for liquids
  4. Method           =   what you have to do
  5. Whisk             =    stir fast
  6. A pinch of      =   a little
  7. Fry                  =  cook in oil in a frying pan
  8. Roast              =   cook in the oven
  9. Bake               =   cook in the oven
  10. Boil                 =  cook (in) liquid on a high heat
  11. Simmer          =  cook (in) liquid on a low heat

*Now you try: Write a recipe for something traditional from your country using some of the language above. If you like, you can send it to me at and I will send you some feedback on your writing!

I hope you try to make pancakes the British way this week, ready for Pancake Day!

Enjoy your cooking!

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How to improve your writing skills in English

I have written blog posts so far on improving our listening, reading and speaking skills and I have left until last the skill that most people seem to find the MOST DIFFICULT… writing! Eeeeeeek!

Do you think that your writing is terrible?

Most of my students say to me that they can’t write in English… this is not true! But a lot of students lack confidence in their writing.

So if this sounds like you, read on and I will try to help you with how you can feel more confident writing anything in English – emails, essays, reports – absolutely anything you need to write!


1. Read!

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In my last blog post, I wrote about how the perfect way to improve your speaking is to speak to native speakers. This is because you are not only speaking to them, but listening to how they speak.

In the same way, to improve your writing you need to not only work on the writing itself, but also you need to read how people with English as their first language write.

If you need to write emails, read emails that have been written by native English speakers. If you need to write essays, read essays that have been written by native English speakers. This will show you the style and a lot of the language that you will need to write in this way.

Also, as I wrote in my blog post about improving your reading skills, try to read something every day to increase your vocabulary. The bigger your vocabulary, the easier writing will be for you.


2. Write a diary

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This is something that I always tell my students to do if they are struggling with their writing. Writing a diary encourages you to write every day, which is really good practice.

Also, you will need to use a lot of language to write about yourself and your job/hobbies/daily life so you will learn vocabulary and phrases that will be useful for your speaking, too.

Bonus: Download my free ebook ‘5 Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills in English’ Click here to get it


3. Study grammar

Bitmoji Image Sorry, this probably isn’t what you want to hear! I know a lot of students find grammar boring and difficult, but to have good writing it is necessary to find your grammar mistakes and then learn from them.

A good way to do this is to ask a native speaker (or, even better, a teacher) to look at a piece of your writing for you. Ask them to show you all of your mistakes. Then, when you know what you are making mistakes with, you can look it up and practise that grammar point.

For example, if you are making mistakes with verb tenses – using past simple instead of present perfect, let’s say – then you can practise that and improve for next time.

If you would like me to look at your writing for you and send you back a report with your mistakes, I offer this as a service called a Level and Skills Check for Writing. Email me at or click here for more information!

Bonus: Download my free ebook ‘5 Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills in English’ Click here to get it


How to improve your speaking skills in English

So now we know how to improve our reading and listening skills, it is time to look at how to get better at probably the most important skill of all – speaking!

Problems with speaking can be:

  • Feeling scared, which leads to not talking much, or
  • Not having the opportunity to speak English with others.
  • If you don’t get enough speaking practice, you will find it difficult to improve.

Does any of this sound like you? If so, then read on for my advice!


1. Stop worrying!

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First, you should realise that native speakers make mistakes in English ALL THE TIME and yet we still understand each other!

You can still make grammar mistakes and be understandable to others. But you will never improve if you stay silent.

So just relax, try your best and make mistakes – that is how you will learn!

*Next time you have the chance to speak to somebody in English, try not to think too much about your mistakes. Try to relax and just speak as much as possible!

2. Speak to anyone you can!

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Of course in an ideal world you would have lots of native speakers to talk to, but if you don’t what can you do?

Firstly, if you know somebody else who is learning English, ask them if they would like to have conversation practice with you. They may not be a native speaker, but you can still practise together.

If you have nobody to practise speaking English with where you live, how about having a look online? There are lots of native English speakers learning different languages who would love to have conversation practice. Why not help each other out? You can find these kinds of learners on websites such as speaky or italki.

*Have a look on speaky now and see if you can find someone to talk to!


3. Talk to yourself!

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However, if you really don’t have anyone you can (or want to) speak to, then just talk to yourself! (I’m not joking!) Ask yourself at least one question per day and try to answer it. Try to speak for as long as possible. A question like, “What do you think about…?” is good for this. For example, “What do you think about animals?” “Well, I love animals. My favourite animal is…” etc.

Any words that you don’t know in English, just look up, translate and write down so that you can remember them the next time. Then try to talk about that topic again in a few days’ time and see if you can speak for longer.

*Now you try: think of a topic and ask yourself “What do you think about…?” Try to speak for as long as you can about this topic, just to yourself!

Good luck and enjoy your speaking!

Do you have any other tips on how to improve your speaking skills in English? If so, write a comment below or email me at

Would you also like to work on your English writing skills? If so, then come back next week to read my next blog post on ‘How to improve your writing skills in English’. Until then, have a lovely week!


How to Write a Cracking Email in English

Would you like your emails in English to be ‘cracking’? Do you even know what the adjective ‘cracking‘ means? It is an informal word that means ‘great’ or ‘excellent‘. One of my students suggested this week’s blog title and I thought it was a good one, as I’m sure we would all like our emails to be cracking.


The most important thing to remember when writing an email in English is that we have two different styles – formal emails (for professional or academic situations) and informal emails (for personal situations, such as writing to friends). In today’s blog, I will give you a few phrases to use in each style, so read on…



1. How to start an email


If you know the person’s name:
Dear [Name],

If you don’t know the person’s name:
Dear Sir/Madam,
To Whom it May Concern,



Hi [Name],
Hey [Name],
No greeting – you can go straight into the main body.


2. What to write in the main body


If you are replying to an email:
Thank you for your email.
Thank you for letting me know.
If you are writing to someone for the first time:
I am writing to you regarding…


If you are replying to an email:
Great to hear from you! or Lovely to hear from you!
If you are writing to someone for the first time:
How are you? or How are you doing? or I hope you’re well.

Then write whatever you need to write.


3. How to end an email


Kind regards,
Many thanks,
Best wishes,


Take care,
No sign off – just write your name

I also always put kisses after my name when writing to friends, but that depends on you. Most girls/women I know write kisses after their names, and most boys/men don’t, but if you would like to then do it!

My sign off is always:
Charlotte XX
with two big kisses, but many people change the number and size of their kisses depending on who they are writing to.

4. Some final comments

1. One thing to remember when writing emails in professional or academic situations is never to use emojis or chat words like “lol”. Fun for your friends, but not appreciated by your boss or tutor!

2. In British English, we tend to be very polite so writing in “please” and “thank you” and phrases like “I look forward to hearing from you” or “I really appreciate you taking the time to write to me” are very welcome.

3. As with any writing in English, remember your paragraphs. Divide your main body into paragraphs and have one paragraph for one idea.

4. Remember to write an appropriate subject in the subject box – something short such as “Job Application” or “Essay Query”.

NOW YOU TRY: If you would like to practise writing an email, choose formal or informal style and then write an email to me at . I will then write back to you with some feedback!

If you have anything you would like me to write about in next week’s blog, please send me an email to let me know. Good luck with your email writing!