Often important or unusual words are spelled out, but you need to know the alphabet to get the answers correct.
- Practise the sounds of the alphabet, especially if your language uses the Latin Alphabet with different sounds.
Easily confused sounds are
vowels (A, E, I, O and U) and Y,
C and S,
B and P,
G and J,
F and V.
- Well known names will NOT be spelled out: Mr Smith, Mrs Brown, Professor Johns
- Unusual names will be spelled out: G-I-N-S-T-E-R (/gɪnstə/), S-T J-O-H-N (/sɪnʤən/), R-E-I-N-H-A-R-D-T (/raɪnhɑːt/)
- House numbers and letters go before street names: 13 Field Street, 60 High Street, Flat B, Wilton House, Flat 17 Ham House
- Words for roads or places for addresses include: street, lane, alley, way, avenue, drive, plaza and square.
- Street names will NOT be spelled out if they are made up of two or three common words like these:
Green Lane, Whitehouse Way, Mill Park Avenue
If they are unusual names, they will be spelled out: B-E-A-U-C-H-A-M-P (/biːʧəm/) Street, B-I-C-E-S-T-E-R (/bɪstə/) Drive
- Well-known cities will NOT be spelled out. You need to know them.
Sydney, Oxford, Edinburgh, Toronto, Paris etc
Unusual places will be spelled out: L-E-I-C-E-S-T-E-R (/lɜːstə/), L-E-W-E-S (/luːɪs/)
Days, dates and times
- IELTS exams often pick days or months which can be confused: Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday-Monday, June-July, or September-December or which are hard to spell: Wednesday, February
- Dates in BR.Eng are usually written dd/mm, but the Am.Eng form mm/dd is also accepted, so ‘The twenty-fifth of January’ may be 25 January, 25th January, January 25 or January 25th.
- BR.Eng uses two forms of expressing time, so 2.30 may be ‘half past two’ or ‘two thirty’.
- BR.Eng uses ‘and’ in dates after 2000 so 2004 = ‘two thousand and four’ (Am.Eng. ‘two thousand four’
- Br.Eng uses ‘a fortnight’ which is two weeks/a couple of weeks.
- ‘per’ means each and every
◦Per day – daily, day after day, each day, every day
◦Per week – weekly, each week, every week
◦Per month – monthly, each month, every month
◦Per year – yearly, annually, each year, every year.
- BR.Eng uses ‘oh’ instead of ‘zero’: 01953 642091 — oh-one-nine-five-three-six-four-two-oh-nine-one
- Doubled numbers are not sounded individually: 448552 — double-four-eight-double-five-two
- Numbers are usually given in pairs or triplets: 916258 — nine-one, six-two, five-eight or 916258 — nine-one-six, two-five-eight
- Phone numbers count as ONE number. If the instruction says ‘NO MORE THAN ONE WORD OR NUMBER, but the answer is a telephone number, the telephone number is counted as ONE number.
- Pay close attention to easily confused numbers, like five and nine. IELTS exams often choose difficult numbers such as
13 or 30 (thirTEEN or THIRty)
14 or 40 (fourTEEN or FORty)
15 or 50 (fifTEEN or FIFty)
16 or 60 (sixTEEN or SIXty)
17 or 70 (sevenTEEN or SEVENty)
18 or 80 (eighTEEN or EIGHty)
19 or 90 (nineTEEN or NINEty)
- In BR.Eng it is common to say ‘a’ hundred and ‘a’ thousand rather than ‘one’ hundred or ‘one’ thousand.
- Large numbers use ‘and’: 101 = ‘a hundred and one’ (Am.Eng = ‘one hundred one’), 951 = ‘nine hundred and fifty-one’ (Am.Eng = ‘nine hundred fifty-one’)
- If the number is has more than one unit (hundreds, thousands etc), omit the ‘and’: 1,200 = one thousand two hundred, 1,500,000 = one million five hundred thousand.
- Very large numbers are
◦Three zeros (000) = thousand
◾1,000 = a thousand
◾50,000 = fifty thousand
◾100,000 = a hundred thousand
◾625,500 = six hundred and twenty-five thousand, five hundred
◦Six zeros (000,000) = million
◾1,000,000 = a million
◾6,000,000 = six million
◾7,500,000 – seven and a half million
IELTS exams usually refer to
- pounds = pounds Stirling, British pounds – £. £1.50 = one fifty • one pound fifty • one pound fifty pence • one pound fifty pee and £3.25 = three twenty-five • three pounds twenty-five • three pounds twenty five pence • three pounds twenty five pee
- euros = € – €1.50 one fifty • one euro fifty • one euro fifty cents and €3.25 = three twenty-five • three euros twenty-five • three euros twenty-five cents
- dollars = $ – $1.50 one fifty • one/a dollar fifty • one dollar fifty cents and €3.25 three twenty-five • three dollars twenty-five • three dollars twenty-five cents
If the currency is written on the question paper, DO NOT write it in your answer. If it is NOT on the question paper, you must write it on your answer sheet.
As with currencies (and percentages), pay attention to the instructions and the space on the question paper. If you must write ‘millimetres’ or ‘miles’ there will be NO unit of measurement on the paper.
- Metric measurements often abbreviated.
◦kilometre(s) – km
◦metre(s) – m
◦centimetre(s) – cm
◦millimetre(s) – mm
◦litre(s) – l
◦gram(s) – g
◦tonne(s) – mT
- Imperial measurements usually not.
◦mile/miles – mi
◦yard/yards – yd
◦foot/feet – ft
◦inch/inches – in
◦gallon(s) – gal
◦ounce(s) – oz
◦pound(s) – llb
◦tons – T
Learn expressions like
behind, in front of, on/to the right, on/to the left, next to, opposite …
as well as the compass points:
north (top), northern, northerly
northeast (top right hand), northeastern, northeasterly
northwest ( top left hand), northwestern, northwesterly
southeast (bottom right hand), southeastern, southeasterly
southwest (bottom left hand), southwestern, southwesterly
west (left), western, westerly
east (right), eastern, easterly
centre (middle, heart)
You may write secondary points as one word (northwest) or two (north west).
Don’t try to correct as you listen – you’ll probably miss the next answer. Correct at the end.
Remember that you can write on the question paper as much as you like – the examiner doesn’t look at it. Write in your own language if that’s easier!
On the Answer Sheet, if you need to make a correction either CROSS OUT the wrong answer (fastest) or RUB OUT (erase) the wrong answer and then write in the correct answer. NEVER put arrows to switch two answers – the IELTS examiner WILL NOT count either answer and you will lose two marks.