Improving IELTS Letter from Band 6 to Band 9

Learn how to improve your IELTS Letter to band score 9. Also get learn some English language vocabulary and grammar tips. IELTS candidates taking the General Training test will be given a letter, not a chart, in Writing Task 1. Learn how to take a letter from band 6 to band 9. If you are taking the Academic test, you do not write a letter for Writing Task 1, but you can still use this lesson to improve your overall English.

On this page, you will find:

  • Candidate Letter Estimated Band 6
  • Feedback with language highlights
  • Model Estimated Band 9 Letter
  • Feedback with Highlights

IELTS Letter Task

Write a letter to a friend. You have borrowed something from your friend and it got damaged.

  1. Apologize for damaging the product
  2. Explain what happened
  3. Say how are you going to fix the issue

Candidate’s IELTS Letter: Estimate Band 6

Dear Nelly,

Sorry, it’s taken me so long to write to you but at last, I decided to own up my mistake why I haven’t returned your new laptop till yet.

I want to sorry as I damage your new laptop, which I had borrow for my office presentation. I am feeling bitterly disappointed about this, as I know you had bought a new laptop. Everything was going well. I was working on my presentation, but after sometime when I was having my cup of coffee, I accidentally poured coffee over it, and since laptop is not working. Though I had tried many times to restart the windows all went in the vain. I know it’s my blunder mistake. I had already sent the laptop to repair centre and they had promised me to get it to repair within a week. I didn’t want to cause you inconvenience and for this reason, I had arranged another laptop for you to attend your online classes. I hope you can forgive me!

Best wishes

Feedback to above Letter

The comments below are organised based on the marking criteria for IELTS Writing Task 1. Each of the marking criterion are worth 25% of your task 1 marks.

  • Task Response: The task has been completed and the prompts covered. This is important. However, the final prompt is slightly wrong. The prompts asks about what you will do, not what you’ve already done. Also some details is slightly unclear.
  • Coherence and Cohesion: There are paragraphs, but they are not used properly. There is a lack of linking words and connectors.
  • Grammar: Complex sentences are used but they are often faulty. There is also a problem with the way tenses are used, although there is a good range of tenses used.. There are also other grammar errors:
    • own up my mistake = own up to my mistake
    • since laptop is not working = since the laptop is not working
    • all went in the vain = it was in vain
    • restart the windows = restart Windows
    • sent the laptop to repair centre = … to the repair centre
    • to get it to repair = to repair it
  • Vocabulary: There are some good examples of vocabulary, such as “cause you inconvenience” and “bitterly disappointed” (although the word “disappointed” is not the correct word to use in this context) and “arrange another laptop”. Unfortunately, there are also errors, for example:
    • till yet = yet
    • I want to sorry = I want to apologise
    • accidentally poured coffee over it = accidentally spilled coffee over it 
    • blunder mistake = blunder OR mistake (not both together)
    • arranged another laptop for you to attend your online class = arranged another laptop for you to use for your online class

Model Letter Estimated at Band Score 9

Dear Nelly,

Sorry, it’s taken me so long to write to you but at last I decided to own up to my mistake and explain why I haven’t returned your new laptop yet.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to return your laptop to you because it got damaged during my presentation last week. To be honest, I’ve delayed writing this letter to you because I’ve been feeling dreadfully guilty about it all knowing that it was a brand new laptop. I’m so very sorry.

Let me explain what happened, everything went well with the presentation until just near the end when I got completely flustered. At that point, I was concentrating so much on what I was saying that I accidentally knocked my cup of coffee which spilled all over your laptop. Since then, your laptop hasn’t worked properly even though I’ve restarted it a number of times.

As the laptop just won’t work properly, I’ve decided to send it to a specialist I know. Actually, I’ve already talked to him and he assures me that it’ll be as good as new by Wednesday next week which will be in time for your online class that you start on Thursday. Of course, I’ll cover all costs.

I can’t apologise enough for what’s happened, but please know that it will all get sorted. I hope you can forgive me.

Best wishes,


Feedback to Model Letter

Quite a lot has changed in the letter. Below I’ve highlighted a few things to focus on:

  1. The final prompt is now in the right tense. It is about what you plan to do to fix the problem.
  2. Paragraphing is now improved and follows the prompts. Each paragraph has a clear function with a central theme.
  3. A range of linking words and connectors:
    1. unfortunately, to be honest, at that point, since then, actually, of course
  4. There is a good range of tenses which are used accurately. Here is a few tenses highlighted: it’s taken me …. I decided …. I haven’t been able to  …. I was concentrating …. I’ve been feeling …. he assures me … I’ll cover
  5. There is a good range of vocabulary:
    1. to own up to my mistake 
    2. I’ve delayed writing this letter
    3. feeling dreadfully guilty
    4. a brand new laptop
    5. I got completely flustered
    6. to knock something over
    7. to spill something
    8. he assures me
    9. as good as new
    10. I’ll cover all costs

I hope you’ve found this lesson useful both to develop your English and understand about paragraphing as well as other IELTS requirements. to read Top Tips for GT Letters, click here: IELTS GT Letter Essential Tips

All the best



Free Subscribe to get New Lessons by Email

Rounding Off Questions in IELTS Speaking Part 2

Rounding off questions often surprise people in IELTS Speaking Part 2 because they aren’t prepared for them. These are questions which are asked at the end of your part 2 talk and before the part 3 discussion begins.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 is the talk or sometimes called “the long turn”. You will be given a topic on a cue card which also contains prompts. You will have 1 minute to prepare and you should speak for 2 minutes. After your talk, you will be asked rounding off questions. Following that, part 3 will begin.

What are rounding off questions?

They are basic, simple questions that the examiner will ask you when you finish your part 2 talk.

Why are there rounding off questions?

Rounding off questions serve to help you relax and get back into the question/answer mode after you have been talking for 2 minutes continuously. It serves as a way to help you get ready for part 3 questions.

Are rounding off questions difficult?

No. Rounding off questions in IELTS Speaking Part 2 are mostly simple questions directly related to your talk. They are much easier than part 3 questions and are usually just an extension of the part 2 topic.

Are there always two rounding off questions?

Yes, two is the usual number. However, in some circumstances, the examiner might only ask one if the examiner feels the other rounding off question isn’t appropriate.

Are the rounding off questions written on the cue card?

No, they are not. The IELTS speaking examiner has the questions on a separate paper which you will not see.

Cue Card & Rounding Off Questions

Below is an IELTS Speaking Part 2 cue card with possible rounding off questions.

Describe a recent holiday. You should say:

  • when it was
  • where you went
  • what you did there
  • and why you enjoyed it.

Rounding Off Questions:

  1. Would you ever go there again?
  2. Would you recommend other people to go on a similar holiday?

As you can see, the rounding off questions are not difficult and directly relate to your cue card topic.

More Examples of Cue Cards and Rounding Off Questions

Cue card and rounding off questions:

Describe a public building. You should say:

  • what building it is
  • where it is
  • what it’s like
  • and why you like it

Rounding off questions

  1. When was the first time you saw the building?
  2. Do you often visit that building?

Cue card and rounding off questions:

Describe a uniform you wore at school or work. You should say:

  • when you wore it
  • who bought it for you
  •  what it was like
  • and how you feel about it.

Rounding off questions

  1. Are uniforms expensive to buy?
  2. What would you change about the uniform you wore?

Cue Card and rounding off questions:

Describe someone in your family who is similar to you. You should say:

  • who the person is
  • what the person is like
  • how you are similar to each other
  • and how you feel about the person

Rounding off questions:

  1. Do you like spending time with that person?
  2. What do you usually do together?

Cue card and rounding off questions

Describe a time when you were disappointed. You should say:

  • when it was
  • where you were
  • what happened to make you disappointed
  • and what you would do differently if it happened again.

Rounding off questions

  1. Does this type of situation often happen to you?
  2. What do you do to feel better after you’ve been disappointed?

I hope you’ve found this page useful. Rounding off questions are not difficult, but it is good to know about them and be prepared. It is important that you enter the test room with a full understanding of what will happen. There should be no surprises in the test format or how the examiner behaves.

Free IELTS Speaking Lessons & Tips

To see more free lessons and tips for IELTS speaking exam preparation, click here: Free Speaking Lessons & Tips

All the best

Liz 🙂


Free Subscribe to get New Lessons by Email

Website with Reading Exercises

Hi guys,

I want to let you know about a new website which contains a lot of reading exercises that will be useful for your preparation.

The website is aimed at articles which cover common topics in English language as well as IELTS. There are questions which you can complete and also vocabulary highlighted. The website is called Ideas in English and is written by a teacher called Nick.

This page – click here Article about Sleep – will help you not only with your reading but also with your IELTS Speaking because it is a topic that can appear in part 1. I definitely recommend it 🙂

All the best


Answers to Coronavirus Vocab Practice

Below you will find the answers to the lesson based on coroanvirus vocabulary.

If you haven’t completed this lesson, please do so before looking at the answers below. Click here: Coronavirus Vocab Lesson

Vocab Options:

without signs         symptom            asymptomatic            signs

symptoms          a front line            the front line           immunisation     

immunity             lockdown              lock down                 trail   

trial            trails              trials           head           nose             hands     

cheeks            chin         eyes        quarantine        quarantining

death numbers           death toll         death       fatalities      kindness

altruistic      care     thoughtfulness


The answers are the words highlighted in bold below:

  1. Some people with Covid-19 are asymptomatic. They do not have any symptoms at all.
    1. asymptomatic = without symptoms showing.
    2. the word “symptoms” should be plural. It’s a countable following the word “any”.
  2. People working on the front line should have adequate PPE.
    1. This expression uses “the”.
  3. Whether people develop long term immunity after having had the virus is still debatable.
    1. the word “immunisation” is about inoculations and isn’t suitable for this sentence.
  4. In some countries lockdown measures are being eased gradually.
    1. This is one word = “lockdown”
  5. The first human trials for a vaccine are underway.
  6. At times like this, you really need to keep your chin up.
    1. “to keep your chin up” is an idiomatic expression about keeping positive.
  7. Some countries are deciding on quarantine rules for people entering the country from abroad.
  8. While some countries are seeing fatalities go down, other countries are seeing an increase.
    1. This was a tricky one. You can’t have “death numbers” because in English the correct expression is “number of deaths”. You can’t have “death toll” because you would need the article “the” in the sentence (“the death toll”). You can’t have “death” because you would need the plural form “deaths”. So the only possible option which is grammatically correct is “fatalities”.
  9. This pandemic is revealing people’s altruistic traits.
    1. None of the other words are grammatically suitable for this sentence.

I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best


Coronavirus Vocabulary Practice

This is useful practice lesson for vocabulary relating to Coronvirus. This vocabulary will be useful for your everyday life and in your Speaking Test for the topic of Health.

Questions 1-6:

Fill in the sentences with the correct words given in the box below. Tip: Pay attention to grammar – it will help you choose the correct word. Note: PPE = Personal Protective Equipment.

  1. Some people with Covid-19 are …………….. . They do not have any ………… at all.
  2. People working on ………………………….. should have adequate PPE.
  3. Whether people develop long term …………. after having had the virus is still debatable.
  4. In some countries ………………. measures are being eased gradually.
  5. The first human ………. for a vaccine are underway.
  6. At times like this, you really need to keep your ………… up.
  7. Some countries are deciding on …………… rules for people entering the country from abroad.
  8. While some countries are seeing ………………. go down, other countries are seeing an increase.
  9. This pandemic is revealing people’s ………………. traits.

Select words below to complete the sentences above.

without signs         symptom            asymptomatic            signs

symptoms          a front line            the front line           immunisation     

immunity             lockdown              lock down                 trail   

trial            trails              trials           head           nose             hands     

cheeks            chin         eyes        quarantine        quarantining

death numbers           death toll         death       fatalities      kindness

altruistic      care     thoughtfulness


The answers are available below:


All the best



Subscribe to get New Posts by Liz in your Inbox

Model IELTS Essay June 2020

Below is a model IELTS essay for Writing Task 2 this year. It is estimated at band 9.

IELTS Essay Question June 2020

This essay question appeared in IELTS Writing Task 2 a couple of weeks ago. It is a challenging topic if you have not prepared for it. Although topics in Writing Task 2 are not repeated as often as in the Speaking Test, it is advisable to prepare for this topic by learning some of the ideas given below.

The advances in air travel are focused only in first class and this seems to have left others with no benefits at all. Do you agree or disagree?

IELTS Essay Answer June 2020

The essay below will help you understand flexibility linking and see how to explain main ideas. Notice how the thesis statement reflects the body paragraphs,.You can also learn some great vocabulary for the topic of air travel which you can use in your Speaking Test.

Model Answer:

Some people think that the only positive developments in air travel have been in first class leaving others with no advantages. In my opinion, while first class passengers certainly enjoy a premium service, most advances benefit all passengers.

It is true that developments in air travel can easily be seen in first class in terms of premium, private facilities and services. People travelling first class are now able to enjoy pull out beds and a private area where they can work with power outlets and wifi connections. Some airlines even offer first class passengers a suite including a personal in flight chef and private shower. Other companies offer lounges where premium passengers can mingle and network during the flight.

However, it cannot be said that the budget traveller has not benefited from the developments in commercial air travel. Although the seating area may still be cramped causing passengers discomfort, particularly on long haul flights, the developments have allowed them to also enjoy technological luxuries such as individual inflight entertainment options. Furthermore, the food offered to budget commercial travellers has vastly improved, although admittedly this is only available on long haul flights.

Finally, regardless of class, all people travelling by plane can now enjoy better security and safety on board the plane due to advanced technology in flying. For example, the number of fatal air crashes over the last couple of decades has fallen dramatically. Another benefit that can be appreciated by all is the speed at which modern jet planes are now able to reach their destinations making distant travel more frequent and faster.

In conclusion, even though first class enjoy some extra perks, the technological advances in air travel can be shared by everyone regardless of the price of their ticket.

Word 292

Note: I have put the word count for your benefit so you can see how long an essay ought to be. You do not need to write the word count in the real test.

Free IELTS Writing Task 2 Lessons & Tips

Click here: Free Writing Task 2


Subscribe to get New Posts by Email

IELTS Speaking: How Pronunciation is Marked

Pronunciation is part of the IELTS Speaking Test. The examiner who conducts your test will award you a score for Pronunciation as well as the other marking criteria. Together those scores are averaged to give you a final speaking band score.

This page explains about the marking of pronunciation and will help you understand what you can do to increase your score. You will also learn whether different accents are accepted in IELTS Speaking.

On this page, you will learn:

  1. Is IELTS a British English Test?
  2. Pronunciation Features & Marking
  3. Pronunciation Band Scores
  4. Accents in IELTS Speaking
  5. Pronunciation Advice

1) Is IELTS a British English Language Test?

IELTS is owned by Cambridge English Language Assessment, the British Council and IDP. This means that two of the owners are British and one is Australian. But it is not a test of British English or of Australian English. It is an INTERNATIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST = IELTS. This means that it tests international English, not just British or Australian English.

2) IELTS Speaking Pronunciation Marking Features

IELTS Speaking Marking Criteria: Pronunciation is one of four marking criteria for IELTS speaking:

  • Fluency = 25%
  • Vocabulary = 25%
  • Grammar = 25%
  • Pronunciation = 25%

Aspects of Pronunciation for Marking

There are a number of features of pronunciation that the speaking examiner will be assessing you on. Pronunciation features and how easy you are to understand are the two key aspects of IELTS Speaking Pronunciation. Below is a summary of some of the main features:

  1. Individual sounds – similar sounds (p/b  m/n d/t)  consonant clusters (sht / cht etc), length of vowels (sheep/ship etc), schwa (the lazy vowel sound that is never stressed – example – there are two schwas in “dangerous), silent letters.
  2. Strong and weak forms – example “and”  – this can be produced as “n” (fish and chips = fish “n” chips) or it can be pronounced at full length “and”. This depends on how and when you use this word.
  3. Word Pronunciation
  4. Word stress and syllables (sounds inside a word that carry the stress)
  5. Sentence stress (this links to chunking)
  6. Intonation (putting feeling and emphasis into your speaking which causes your tone to rise and fall)
  7. Linking sounds and words
  8. Chunking (putting parts of a sentence together into chunks to create stress and clarity within a sentence)
  9. Contractions (it is = it’s / my name is = my name’s /  I did not = I didn’t / I have been = I’ve bin / I’m going to = I’m gonna / I want to = I wanna)

3) Pronunciation Band Scores

Below is a brief summarised description of the Pronunciation Band Scores for IELTS Speaking based on the descriptors published by IELTS.

  • Band 5 = There are some miscommunications which might cause difficulty for the listener. The candidate attempts to control pronunciation features, but often does not succeed. The candidate may show some features of band 6.
  • Band 6 = The candidate uses a range of pronunciation features but the control is not consistent throughout the test. There might be mispronunciation of words or sounds which reduces the clarity. However, the meaning of what is being said is generally clear throughout the test.
  • Band 7 = shows all features of band 6 and only some of the positive features of band 8.
  • Band 8 = uses a wide range of pronunciation features throughout most of the test. Is easy to understand and the mother tongue does not affect clarity.
  • Band 9 = The candidate uses a full range of features with precision and subtlety. The candidate is effortless to understand.

Note: you can see in the band score descriptions above that using a range of features (linking sounds, contractions, intonation, word stress, chunking etc is key to a good score. Also how easy you are to understand is critical. 

To read the Official Speaking Band Score Descriptors click here: Official Speaking Descriptors 

4) Accents in IELTS Speaking

Does my accent need to be British English?

No, it doesn’t. IELTS is an international English test so you can have any accent you want. It does not need to be British. It is completely fine to have an American accent or Australian accent. Any accent is fine.

What if I have a mixed accent?

That is also fine. It is 100% normal for people these days to have a mixed accent. Even native speakers have mixed accents if they travel or have lived abroad. IELTS will accept a mixed accent for the speaking test. But you cannot mix your spelling for the writing test. See this page: Spelling in IELTS Writing

What about an accent from my own country?

It is normal for you to retain an accent from your own language. IELTS do not prohibit that or lower your band score for it. The question is “Does your accent cause difficulties for the listener? If your mother tongue accent is so heavy that your English pronunciation is difficult to understand, you will get a lower score. However, if your accent is very mild and English pronunciation is easy to understand, you can get a high band score. This means it depends on the effort that the listener has to make to understand you. The less effort is required to understand your pronunciation, the higher your score. However, always remember, you still need to demonstrate the features of pronunciation mentioned further up this page.

5) Pronunciation Advice

Pronunciation is something that takes time to change. This isn’t something you can fix with only a couple of weeks before your test. If you have time before your test, try listening to news channels, documentaries and soap operas. The English used in films can often be rushed or muffled by music so choose your films wisely.

You can only improve your pronunciation by practising to speak out loud. Get used to doing this on your own and record your speaking. Then listen back and check.

Online Dictionaries provide pronunciation of individual words with either UK or US accents. Use them to check your word pronunciation.

Free IELTS Speaking Lessons & Tips

To get free speaking lessons, topics, tips and model answers, click here: IELTS Speaking


Free Subscribe to get New Posts by Email

Answers to Matching Information – Carnivorous Plants Reading

Below you will find the answers to the reading lesson about Carnivorous Plants which focused on matching paragraph information questions.

If you have not completed this lesson, please do so before you look at the answers. To complete the lesson, click here: Reading Practice Lesson.


  1. D
    1. Question Statement: The plant preys on animals that live in water.
    2. Passage: “the waterwheel plant, is a fascinating rootless, carnivorous, aquatic plant. It generally feeds on small aquatic vertebrates,”.
  2. C
    1. Question Statement: The plant is able to tell the difference between prey and inedible items.
    2. Passage: “The plant is so advanced that it can tell the difference between live stimulus and non-living stimulus.”
    3. Remember, this isn’t about only matching word for word. This is about matching meaning. This whole passage is about how plants trap their prey (food). This means that “non-living stimulus” refers to something inedible.
  3. B
    1. Question Statement: Prey is known to die through submersion in liquid.
    2. Passage: “The trap contains fluid, produced by the plant, which is used to drown and digest the insects.”
  4. A
    1. Question Statement: Prey is drawn to the plant by its appearance.
    2. Passage: “Insects are attracted by colour, smell and a nectar-like secretion”
  5. D
    1. Question Statement: The plant is known for its speed in trapping prey.
    2. Passage: “The trap closes in only 10 milliseconds, making it one of the fastest examples of plant movement in the animal kingdom.”
  6. A
    1. Question Statement: The soporific effect of the nectar can cause prey to tumble into the plant’s trap.
    2. Passage: Slippery footings, aided in at least one species, by a narcotic drug lacing the nectar, causes insects to fall inside where they die and are digested.
  7. B
    1. Question Statement: The plant is capable of trapping creatures large than an average insect.
    2. Passage: “….some larger species, such as Nepenthes Rafflesiana and Nepenthes Rajah, have been documented to catch small mammals like rats.”

More Reading Practice Lessons

For tips and more reading lessons, click here: IELTS Reading Tips & Lessons

I hope you found this lesson useful.

All the best, Liz 🙂


Free Subscribe to get New Posts by Email

error: Content is protected !!