IELTS News: October 2019

Oct 12, 2019 | IELTS, IELTS News, IELTS Test

The last quarter of the year!

Are you any closer to the band score you need?

Below you can read about the latest happenings in the world of IELTS and how they might affect your plans for 2020. 

IELTS Study Into How The Way You Write Can Affect Your Score 

The IELTS partners funded a study into how the way we write can affect our final band score. The language in the final report is quite dense, but there are a lot of useful insights that could help you.

Speed of Writing

The report found a connection between the speed of writing (or fluency) and the lexical resource and task achievement scores.  

If you can get high scores in Reading and Listening, but not Writing and Speaking, this could mean your passive vocabulary is excellent. However, to turn this vocabulary active, you must also use the words you learn regularly in your own writing and speaking.

The candidates who scored highly could readily recall the vocabulary they needed and thus wrote faster. 

The study also showed that candidates who paused more between paragraphs scored lower for Task Response. 

This will be a reflection of the level of a candidate’s vocabulary, but also shows the importance of planning your essay before you start.

Be Careful Where You Look

Where candidates looked when they paused was also a factor that could predict how well they scored.

Candidates who stared at the word or expression they had just written tended to use a lower level of vocabulary. Generally, a greater number of eye-movements within the paragraph they were writing tended to end in lower task response scores. 

However, looking back at the instructions during pauses usually resulted in greater phrasal complexity and better cohesion. 

Perhaps this is because successful students plan their essay on this part of the paper, and also brainstorm synonyms for keywords before they start writing. Both tactics that I teach my students to use.

Finally, the more participants looked away from the screen, the lower their score in all four areas of the descriptors.

Other Conclusions

It is worth mentioning that the researchers also noted that lower-level writing tended to use more causal connectives (phrases like ‘as a result of’ or ‘as a consequence’).  

I have long said that these types of phrases are overtaught. The public descriptors also note that overuse can limit your Coherence and Cohesion score. 

Another finding was that candidates who revised and corrected their work when they had finished writing tended to achieve a higher score.


So to improve your score, you should bring your vocabulary to a level where you can recall it readily. Don’t just study the week before – start studying much earlier than this. 

Ideally, you should plan your essay before you start writing, and brainstorm synonyms for keywords. 

Avoid becoming distracted while writing and revisit the instructions to help you stay on track. 

Also, avoid overusing cohesive devices.

International IELTS Job News

Medical Professional Can Obtain UK Visas With OET

The British Home Office now allows doctors, nurses, midwives, and other medical professionals to use OET for general visa or Tier II visa applications.

The new policy streamlines the process so that medical professionals don’t need to take two different types of English exams.

This change will enable UK hospitals and medical practices to recruit staff more quickly. 

The change came into effect on October 1, 2019. 

Australia and New Zealand also recognize OET for visa and immigration purposes.

OET test candidates come from 12 health professions — dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology, and veterinary science.

Need help with OET – get in touch!

IELTS International Study

International Education

At this time of year the Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide appears.

Cambridge has come top for the seventh year in a row, followed by Oxford. Overall, there is is very little movement in the top 20.

St. Andrews was awarded university of the year for the whole of the UK, while Strathclyde was given Scottish university of the year. The Welsh winner is Aberystwyth.

Further Reading

Keep your eyes on our blogTwitter and LinkedIn accounts for more useful reading.

If you need help with the IELTS test, check out our coaching options here.

That’s all for this issue.

See you in October!