IELTS practice exercises

Sometimes it’s good just to do some exercises

This site is now huge and has many hundreds of pages and exercises. This is where I keep a few of what I think are the best and most useful exercises. If you want more detail, you also find links to the lessons where these lessons come from.

Reading practice 1

True False Not Given practice

The majority of professional players on the ATP and the WTA tours now use polyester strings made by Luxilon, a company that specialised in the past in manufacturing fibres for female undergarments. The trend was started by the then little-known Brazilian player Gustavo Kuerten who more or less by chance discovered that this string was almost completely “dead” – meaning that the players are able to swing much harder at the ball and impart much more spin on it without it flying off uncontrollably as it would do with a traditional gut string. Kuerten of course went on to achieve much success and, in the clay court game at least, is regarded as one of the modern greats. His most lasting legacy though may not be his titles, rather it may be that his use of a material primarily made for women’s bras allowed him and successive champions to change how the tennis ball flew. Players were able to find completely new angles on the court because, in the hands of a master, a shot hit with a luxilon string that might look as if it were heading way out of court would suddenly drop like a stone, describing an almost perfect parabola. This technological innovation has revolutionised the way in which the game is now played. For example, Roger Federer, a man who many regard as the greatest player of all time, may have begun his career as an attacking all-court player, but in latter years he has been forced become a much more defensively orientated player who chooses his time to attack more carefully. Indeed, he is on record as saying that new string technology has changed the face of the game and that he has had to adapt his game to counter players who stand behind the baseline and produce winning shots from almost nowhere.

True/False/Not Given - Luxilon

Decide if the answers to these questions are: TRUE - there is information in the text that shows that this is the author's opinion FALSE - there is information in the text that shows that this is NOT the author's opinion NOT GIVEN - there is not enough information in the text to determine whether this true or false
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Reading practice 2

True False Not Given Practice

Humans have always speculated about what society may or should look like in the future and there is a long and honourable tradition of writers who have described their vision of the world in a future age. One possible division of these books is into utopias which paint a picture of an ideal society and dystopias in which the world is a much less desirable and often frightening place. Perhaps the most famous utopia remains Plato’s Republic, written around two and half thousand years ago, which is also partly a political manifesto proposing a form of government where philosophers kings rule in the interests of the many. In its day, this most undemocratic proposal was less controversial than it would be today, as there was a strong body of opinion in Athens that democracy was not a model form of government. While many today may find Plato’s vision unpleasant, his intention was otherwise and the book has the optimistic goal of showing how the ills of society could be cured. This optimism stands in stark contrast to George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984. That book too presents a version of what society may look like in the future, but it has a quite different purpose: the aim of the book is to serve as a warning. The reader is meant to be shocked and horrified by the world of deception and tyranny it portrays, a world where the state authorities, in the form of Big Brother, have absolute control of every aspect of individuals’ lives and where truth is lost.

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Listening practice 1

Short answer questions 1


What are the three topics in the Oxbridge Polytechnic Open Day?

♦ welcome talk and application procedure in the morning

1. ________________ after coffee

2.________________  after lunch

Which three courses and facilities does the speaker give as reasons for studying at Oxbridge Polytechnic?

♦ classical literature

3. _________________


Sentence completion questions


5. All applications must be received  before _____________________.

6. Any forms that arrive late will not ______________.

7. People often forget to include a ____________________ with their application.

8. All candidates must state if a ______________ will be needed from their local authority.


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Read the answers and the explanation

Check your skills

Don’t just check your answers. Check to see why the answers are right and what the problems are. That way you will improve your skills.  Check these notes

  1. spelling: see what the typical problems in English spelling are
  2. clue words: sometimes you can listen for so-called key words, but just as often you need to listen for meaning
  3. notes: if you are writing out 3 words in full, you have stopped listening – big mistake – make notes

1. accommodation

Spelling: this word must be spelled correctly. Double cc and double mm

Clue words: “I’m going to start off by giving you this welcome talk when I explain about Oxbridge generally and our application procedure.Then there will be a short coffee break before Alan Davies will  tell you all about the accommodation.”

You start to concentrate when you hear “welcome talk” and “application procedure”. That tells you the answer is soon. When you hear the word coffee you know that your answer is coming.

Suggested notes: Don’t try and spell accommodation: try to write “accomm” or something similar.

2. research programme/research program

Spelling: two tricky words here. programme is UK English  (except for computer programs) and program is US English – both are fine.

Clue words: “Finally, after lunch Professor David Mitchell will explain all about our research programme.”

Hopefully, this was nice and easy. You hear the words Finally, and after lunch and you know the word you need are next.

Suggested notes: Again, there’s quite a lot to write so you want to make notes: I’d use “res prog”

3. business studies/business studies course

Spelling: business is the trick word here. One s and then two more in “ness”. Also be careful that you get studies right. The y turns into an i

Clue words: “I now want to explain why I think Oxbridge is such a great place to study. We do of course have an international reputation for academic excellence in Classical Literature. But what makes us special is our Business Studies course.”

Part of the clue is seeing that you are probably waiting to hear something like “classical literature” – the one you are given. Don’t expect to hear all the words in the question though. You are listening for meaning not just words so you need to see that “a great place to study” and “what makes us special” are reasons for studying at Oxbridge.

Suggested notes: bus/stud/course

4. weather station/new weather station

Spelling: weather and whether are quite different – wh is for whether – think of it as like who/where/when/what/why

Clue words: You may be less familiar with a new development here. As we all know the environment is a new and exciting field of study and we have set up a new weather station where all sorts of interesting data about the atmosphere is collected. Indeed this weather station has just won a national  award for the most innovative centre in environmental studies. It’s certainly something we are very proud of.

When you here “a new development” you should think the next item is coming. This time the answer is slightly unexpected. Sometimes that does happen. don’t panic. Write down what you hear. You may get another chance later to guess. When you hear “atmosphere” then you should get the meaning. Finally, you get the words again with “won a national award“. The message is keep listening, don’t start writing too soon or you may miss the clue words – you should see here that “won a national award” and “something we are very proud of” come at the end. Sometimes IELTS does that to you.

Suggested notes: weath/ stat

5. 27th February (generally they will accept any reasonable variation here so “February 27″ “27 February”  are good too)

Spelling: days and months simply must be learned

Clue words: “Can I now explain how the application procedure works. You need to put this deadline in you’re diaries. We have to receive your complete UPAS form by 27th February, Any forms received after that date cannot be accepted I’m afraid.” There are plant of clues here even if you don’t hear the words in the question. “Now” tells you she is speaking about a new topic. “Application procedure” tells you the answer is coming soon. “Deadline” means the same as “must be received before. Listening for meaning again, not just words.

Suggested notes: Easy. 27 Feb

6. be accepted (note you need both words here as the sentence you complete must be grammatical)

Spellingaccept is a tricky word again. Don’t confuse it with except and make sure you get the cc

Clue words: “Any forms received after that date cannot be accepted I’m afraid.“”After that date” = “late” in the question, so once again you need to listen for meaning and not just so-called key words. This is hard for another reason. It comes very soon after the previous question. This is why you make notes. If you are still writing F_E_B_R_U_A_R_Y, you won’t hear the answer.

Suggested notesbe acpt or accept perhaps. You can work out the grammar later in your 10 minutes thinking time

7. letter of recommendation/recommendation letter (this is a long answer – make notes and keep listening)

Spelling: recommendation – this is another double letter problem: this time one c and mm

Clue words: ”It’s also vital that your application is complete. Every year sad to say we have to reject a number of applications because something has been missed out. So if you don’t to want to miss your chance of studying here at Oxbridge please listen carefully to this. There is one thing that people often fail to include with their application. As is clearly stated on the form we need a letter of recommendation from someone who has taught you at school or college. If you don’t know what this is, it is similar to a reference.” In a way this is easy as there are lots of clues there. “something has been missed out” and “people often fail to include” both = forget in the question if you remember to listen for meaning and not just words. Don’t be fooled by reference though. That is only similar to a letter of recommendation.

Suggested noteslett/rec perhaps. You need to remember though that your answer in this type of question must be grammatical

8.  maintenance grant (another long answer so notes are necessary again)

Spelling: maintain but maintenance, note also that it is -ance not -ence. It’s details like that you need to learn to notice.

Clue words: “Another difficulty for many candidates is that enclosed with the application we need the P45 statement from you about how you intend to pay the tuition fees. It is also necessary to fill out the P46 saying whether you will require a maintenance grant from your local council. This grant is not a scholarship, it is the money that some councils, not all give you to pay for your accommodation and living expenses.”. Key word strategy,as so often, is dangerous here. The questions says “need” but you hear “necessary”. Also see how “councils” comes after the answer. You need to keep on listening and not start writing immediately. Also, be careful of “scholarship“. It is NOT a scholarship.

Suggested notes: maintence -grant (all you need is to write something you understand, remember)

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Listening practice 2

Sentence Completion

You will hear two students speaking about their work at university. The male voice is Matt and the female voice in Julie.

Fill in the gaps with UP TO THREE WORDS or a NUMBER

  1. Matt needs to ____________ next week on the theme of Professor’s Jones’ lecture
  2. Last week’s lecture had _____________ as its topic
  3.  One idea in the lecture was that towns are becoming increasingly _______ in nature.
  4.  Julie’s password is ________.
  5.  Julie has to submit a _______ by the end of the semester.
  6.  Julie teaches ________ in her spare time to earn more money.

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The answers

See the answers

1, Give a presentation/lead a seminar

2. Town planning/business developments

3. Residential/commercial

4. JE14/JA40

5. a paper/an assignment

6. dancing/painting

 Get the whole lesson for this exercise with another set of questions


Find the mistakes

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Grammar practice

Cause and effect language

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Task 1 writing

Dealing with numbers

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Task 2 essays

Find the good essay writing vocabulary on this essay about junk food

Now write the essay using words from the Academic Word List

Now recreate it sentence by sentence thinking about coherence

Read the whole lesson on this essay