Can you Tell Lies in IELTS Speaking? Advice & Tips

Is it ok to lie in IELTS speaking? Is it ok to make up a story and tell the examiner? 

Many students ask me if they can tell lies in their IELTS test and if they will get a lower band score if they are found lying in their IELTS speaking test.

Is it possible to lie in IELTS Speaking?


Yes, you can lie. It won’t affect your score.

But it isn’t necessary. It’s better to tell the truth.

Telling the truth has advantages.

Why lying isn’t necessary in IELTS Speaking

  1. There is no reason to lie. Lying will not increase your score.
  2. If you don’t have a clear answer – just say so. You are marked on your ability to communicate in English, not on your knowledge or ideas for IELTS speaking. Below are some examples:
    • Q) What is your favourite museum?  
    • A) I don’t have one. I don’t have much interest in history or culture and I think the last time I went to one is when I was a child.
      • Comments: The above answer is excellent. It answers directly and explains more. I also uses both present simple and past simple grammar tenses.
    • Q) Do you like cooking?
    • A) No, actually I don’t. My mother has always cooked for me. To be honest, I find it incredibly tedious and a waste of my time, and anyway I’d rather use my time more productively.
      • Comments: This is a full answer which offers different grammar tenses and a range of language features.
  3. Lying requires imagination – it is better just to focus on your language rather than trying to be creative at the same time.
  4. When you say the truth, you usually have better intonation which will help your pronunciation score. Matching your meaning with your tone of voice is very important for your pronunciation score.
  5. It’s hard to add extra details when you lie. It requires too much effort to add all the extra details to a lie.
  6. Under exam pressure, it is hard to lie and create an answer at the same time. Sticking with the truth is easier. 

Adapting the Truth

Adapting the truth is easier than a huge creative lie.

If you are asked to talk about a book you recently read, instead you can talk about a book you read one year ago but say it was recent. It is a “white lie” but all details you will give will be truthful – this will make it easier for you to talk about. However, even in this situation, you can still tell the truth – see below:

  • I’d like to talk about a novel I read about a year ago. To be honest, I’ve been so busy during this last year with work that I haven’t had time to read any books. So, I’m going to tell you about one I remember very well from about one year ago. …..
    • Comments: This is a great start to your talk. There are quite a few different grammar tenses used already at the start of the talk. The answer also show that you can communicate clearly and easily in English by giving precise meaning to what you want to say. As long as you stick to the main topic “A book”, you can adapt it as you like. By explaining your choices for the topic, the examiner will be satisfied. It doesn’t affect your score to do this.

ID Check & Facts

Before the recording device is switched on, the examiner will ask you four questions to check your ID. Do NOT lie at this point. The information you provide must match the information given on your ID card.

Useful Links for IELTS Speaking

Click below to open:

Should I speak fast or slow?

Correcting yourself in IELTS Speaking

Tips about the ID check & Greeting

Speaking Topics from May-Aug 2020

All FREE Speaking Tips, Lessons & Model Answers


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Spot the Mistakes Grammar Practice Lesson

This lesson will test your grammar accuracy with ARTICLES (a / the ). Look at the sentences and decide which use of articles is correct. This is a great way to practise both grammar and proofreading skills.

Warning: The correct use of articles is not easy. Many people make mistakes with articles in their IELTS writing test which lowers their score. Give this exercise a try and see how you get on. My answers tomorrow will help you understand more.

Spot the Mistakes Exercise: Articles

Decide which options are correct.

  1. The reason for most first-time offenders committing crimes again, once they have been released from prison / the prison, is due to lack of / the lack of rehabilitation.
  2. Repeat offending is also owing to the difficult that people / the people with a criminal record have of finding employment / the employment.
  3. Ensuring that people serving prison sentence / a prison sentence learn useful skills will help them find jobs / the jobs when they are released.
  4. When offenders are released from prison / the prison and can find employment / the employment, it helps them reintegrate back into society / the society.
  5. Harsh prison sentences deter people / the people from considering crime / the crime.


Answers are now available for this lesson.


All the best,


Coming Soon – Grammar E-book

A Grammar E-book to take your English to a higher level and maximise your Writing Task 2 score.

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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? What about using capital letters in the computer based IELTS test? Read below to learn about this.

Using Capital Letters for IELTS Answers: Rules & Advice

Below you will find advice for using capital letters for writing your answers in IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing.

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want. You can do this for the paper based test and the computer based test. It is completely up to you. There is no rule stating whether you should use capital or lower case.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can write in all capital letters.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • HOSPITAL = correct / hospital = correct / 9am = correct / 9AM = correct 

Which is best? Capital letters or lower case?

I recommend writing your listening and reading answers in capital letters for the paper based test. This avoids any problems of markers struggling to read your handwriting. For the computer based test, it doesn’t matter. Both lower case and upper case will be easy to read. 

Transferring Answers in Listening & Reading

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet in the paper based test. Check your answers and check your spelling – then write your answers on the answer sheet.  If your handwriting is poor, write using all capital letters so it is easy to read. For the computer based test, you do not need to transfer answers. You only need to check what you have already put into the computer. For this reason, you will be given only 2 mins to check your answers after the recording ends.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is clear writing for the paper based test. Use all capital letters if your handwriting isn’t clear.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I would not recommend it because:

  1. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.
  2. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when grammatically appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words should NEVER be used to start a sentence in formal writing. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:


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How many Sentences for an Essay Introduction

IELTS Writing Task 2 Academic & GT Essay Introductions

Hi guys, here are model answer introductions and essential tips for Tuesdays lesson on writing task 2 introduction paragraphs. I hope you find this lesson useful 🙂

1) How long should the introduction be?

Most essays will require only two sentences for your introduction paragraph. You will need to write a background statement and a thesis statement. There is no need to write more. It won’t help your score to add more to the introduction. Your introduction should usually be between 40-60 words. Below are details of the content of an introduction paragraph.

2) Background statement:

This is the first sentence of your essay and it paraphrases the essay question. This is the way to introduce the issue or issues given to you by IELTS because that is what your essay is responding to. Paraphrasing is a way to avoid copying directly from the essay question by using your own sentence. For example:

Essay Question: The government should allocate more funding to teaching sciences than on other subjects so that the country can develop. Do you agree or disagree?

Background: It is often thought that in order for the country to progress more funding ought to be allocated to teaching sciences instead of other subjects.

As you can see above, the background statement contains exactly the same information but written differently. It is an easy sentence to write if you practice your paraphrasing skills. You can find a useful page on paraphrasing here: Paraphrasing Background Statements and examples of background statements here: Background Examples

3) Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement will introduce your answer or your opinion. It is the second and final statement needed in the introduction. It shows the reader the direction you plan to take in your essay. Furthermore, it is important that you write this carefully and clearly because it will impact both Task Response and also Coherence and Cohesion which together count for 50% of your marks.

The thesis does not need to be detailed. It is possible to split it into two sentences if you need more space, but mostly it will be one sentence only. For example:

Essay Question: The government should allocate more funding to teaching sciences than on other subjects so that the country can develop. Do you agree or disagree?

Thesis Statement Agree: I completely agree that focusing on science subjects at school is essential for a country’s future.

Thesis Statement Disagree: In my opinion, funding should not focus on the sciences but should rather be allocated to maths, technology and languages.

Thesis Statement Partial Agreement: While I agree that the sciences do need extra funding, this should not be at the expense of other subjects which are also crucial to a country’s development.

As you can see above, each thesis statement is simply written and presents a clear opinion. Do not try to create a complicated thesis statement. Your opinion and having a clear position is more important.

Short thesis statements

Yes, it is possible to write just a few words: “I completely agree with this position.” or “I strongly agree with this opinion.” However, I personally prefer to showcase more language skills with a slightly longer thesis statement as shown above.

Below you can see a full introduction for a one sided approach:

It is often thought that in order for the country to progress more funding ought to be allocated to teaching sciences instead of other subjects. In my opinion, funding should not focus on the sciences but should rather be allocated to maths, technology and languages.

4) Giving Your Opinion in IELTS Essays

Yes, you need to give your opinion if the instructions ask for it. Using the words “this essay” does not represent your own personal opinion. If you are asked for YOUR opinion, you need to use I or MY – failure to do this will result in a lower score. See this page for more details: How to give your opinion

5) More Writing Task 2 Tips

You can find more IELTS writing task 2 tips, model essays and lessons on this page: IELTS Writing Task 2 . All main sections of this website are access through the RED MENU BAR at the top of the site.

High Band Score Essay Techniques: Advanced Lessons

If you are struggling to hit band 7 or you need more help understanding how to write a high band score essay, get my Advanced Writing Task 2 lessons which you can find here: Liz’s Advanced Lessons.

You can also find a useful e-book about Ideas for Essay Topics. Containing over ideas for over 150 essay topics. Ideas are presented as vocabulary exercises to help you improve your range and accuracy in English.


6) How to Write an Introduction

Here is a useful video tutorial I made some time ago which helps you understand more about writing an introduction paragraph:



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Essay Introduction Practice 1

Hi guys,

Below is an essay question that is common to get in IELTS writing task 2 Academic & GT tests. This is your chance to post your introduction and compare it to others. Writing the introduction is the easiest part so use this lesson to practise.

Essay Question: The government should allocate more funding to teaching sciences than to other subjects so that the country can develop. Do you agree or disagree?


The answers to this lesson are now available.


Remember: you need to have a background statement and a clear thesis statement. Always aim for clarity rather than aiming to impress. Avoid errors and keep your meaning clear. Keep it under 60 words.

All the best



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IELTS Writing Answer Sheet: Video Tutorial

Practise using the official IELTS writing answer sheet before your test. Learn how the examiner uses the paper to record your band score and what extra information is contained on it. This lesson also explains how to fill in the answer sheet and how to use it effectively to estimated your word count. People taking the computer based IELTS test will see the word count on their screens.

Below is a link to download the answer sheet so you can practise writing on it before your test. Any student taking the IELTS test for the first time, should watch this lesson.

Click link to download: official ielts-writing-answersheet

If you are taking the computer based test, remember that the word count is given for you on the screen. This is really useful.

Recommended Lessons

Writing Task 2 Video Lesson: How to write an introduction


IELTS Agree Disagree Essay Sample Answer

For an IELTS agree disagree essay you can either agree with the statement, disagree with the statement or give your opinion which contains a balanced approach to the issues in the statement. However, this does not mean you can discuss both sides impartially – you must give a clear opinion to get a good score in the criterion of Task Response which is 25% of your marks. Another name for an agree disagree essay is an opinion essay or argumentative essay. 

IELTS Opinion Essay Question

The growing number of overweight  people is putting a strain on the health care system in an effort to deal with the health issues involved. Some people think that the best way to deal with this problem is to introduce more physical education lessons in the school curriculum. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

IELTS Agree Disagree Model Essay

Below is a model answer for the above Opinion Essay: Agree/Disagree Essay. 

Owing to the problems which a growing population of overweight people cause for the health care system, some people think that the key to solving these issues is to have more sport and exercise in schools. I completely agree that this is the best way to tackle the issue of deteriorating public health in relation to weight.

Firstly, dealing with the issues surrounding obesity and weight problems is best solved by taking a long term approach and introducing more sport and exercise in schools. This method will ensure that the next generation will be healthier and will not have such health problems. At the moment, the average child in the West does sport possibly twice a week, which is not enough to counteract their otherwise sedentary lifestyle. However, by incorporating more sports classes into the curriculum as well as encouraging extracurricular sports activities, they will undoubtedly become fitter and more active.

Another point to consider is that having more sports lessons for children in schools will probably result in children developing an interest in exercise which might filter through to other members of their family and have a longer lasting effect. In other words, parents with sporty children are more likely to get involved in sport as a way of encouraging their children. By both parents and children being involved, it will ensure that children grow up to incorporate sport into their daily lives. This is certainly a natural and lasting way to improve public health.

In conclusion, to deal with an increasing population of unfit, overweight people, changing the lifestyle of the coming generation by introducing sport in schools is the easiest and most effective method to use.

Download a PDF copy of the model essay below: IELTS Agree Disagree Model Essay


  • Make sure your introduction is not too long. Just paraphrase the essay question and present your opinion.
  • Make sure your opinion is consistent from introduction to conclusion.
  • Each body paragraph presents a reason for your view.
  • Your body paragraphs should explain your views with relevant detail.
  • Never miss the conclusion. Keep it short, but make sure you write it!
  • It is possible to have a partial agreement for this essay where you think sports lessons are a good solution, but there is another more effective solution.

Advanced IELTS Writing Task 2 Lessons

Are you struggling to hit band 7 or above? My Advanced Lessons are the answer to high band score techniques. You can also find a useful “Ideas for IELTS Essay Topics” e-book to help you with ideas and vocabulary.

IELTS Model Essays


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IELTS Writing Task 2: Should I give my opinion?

Should I give my opinion in an IELTS writing task 2 essay? This is a common question that many students ask me. To know whether you should put your opinion in your essay or not, you should read the instructions given by IELTS very carefully for each task.

If you fail to give your opinion when it is asked for, it means you failed to complete the task. This will reduce your score significantly for Task Response which is 25% of your task 2 marks.

Opinion Tips

  1. don’t put your opinion unless you are asked to give it
  2. if the question asks what you think, you MUST give your opinion to get a good score
  3. don’t leave your opinion until the conclusion
  4. don’t sit on the fence – take a clear position
  5. keep the same position throughout your essay

Types of Essay Instructions

Here are examples of instructions that require you to give your opinion:

  • “….do you agree or disagree?” – it means you should give your opinion 
  • “…do you think…?” –  it means you should give your opinion
  • “… your opinion…? –  it means you should give your opinion
  • “…what is your view?” – it means you should give your opinion
  • “Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?” – this is asking for your opinion (your answer) not the opinions of other people
  • Are there more benefits or more drawbacks? – this is a paraphrase of the above instructions
  • “Is this positive or negative?” – this is asking for you to choose and explain your opinion
  • “Do you think this is a good thing?” – this is asking you to evaluate if something is good or bad

How to give your opinion. Follow the link to learn if you should use “I” or “my” in your IELTS essay.

When to Give your Opinion in an IELTS Essay

Below are some IELTS essay questions. Decide if you think you should give your opinion or not. Then check the answer.

Some people think that rich countries should support poor countries in terms of aid for health care and education. To what extent do you agree?

Yes, this task requires your opinion.


While some people think that the problem with education in poor countries is the teaching methodology used, others believe it is the lack of resources that is the real issue. Discuss both sides.

No, this task does not ask for your opinion. You are only required to discuss the two sides impartially.


With the development of modern transportation comes environmental problems. What possible solutions are there to these problems?

No, this task does not ask for your opinion. You are only required to offer possible solutions.


Some people believe that schools should not assess a student’s ability through exams but instead assess them by their course work and project work over the whole academic year. Do you agree?

Yes, this task requires you to give your opinion.


Having a year off before starting universities is becoming increasingly common. Do you think this is a positive or negative trend?

Yes, this task requires your opinion.


Many children no longer read books and instead spend their time using modern technology. While some people think this is a positive trend, others think it is a problem. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Yes, this task requires your opinion. You will need to discuss both sides impartially and also give your opinion. Put your opinion in the introduction – don’t just leave it for the conclusion.


Due to the low cost of flights, many people are choosing to holiday abroad rather than have holidays in their own country. What are the advantages and disadvantages to this?

No, this task does not ask for your opinion. You only need to state the advantages and the disadvantages.


IELTS Teachers or students can download a worksheet for these questions to use in their classroom: ielts-writing-task-2-giving-your-opinion.

For all my Free Lessons & Tips for writing task 2. Click here: Writing Task 2 Free Tips


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