Top Tips for IELTS

Welcome from Dominic Cole


Who is Dominic Cole?

At home in my office

At home in my office

Who is Dominic Cole

Well, I am Dominic Cole and I have been teaching English for over 20 years now (I did have a previous career as a lawyer, but I prefer to forget about that).

I have lived and worked in the UK, Egypt, Romania and China - mostly working at university and high school level. I am now back in the UK and living near Cambridge.

I no longer teach in the classroom and this site is where I do all my teaching

Why do I run this site? Is it all really free?

Is this site completely free?

Yes, the site is completely free and will remain so.

I run the site for pleasure and out of curiosity. I genuinely love helping people out and when I started there were very few sites - approximately none - like this around.

The curiosity part is that I am fascinated by the idea of "remote teaching" - i.e. teaching people that I will never meet. This site is in some ways an experiment to see how this can be done.

What is the best way to study IELTS?

What is my best advice?

I don't have an answer to this question. IELTS works differently for different people. Here are three very simple guidelines for you though:

1. Understand how the test is scored. A lot of people lose out because they don't understand the rules of the game.

2. Remember that IELTS is a test of English. Lots of people get obsessed by learning tips and tricks. These can help but the reason most people don't get the score they need is that their core English isn't good enough. Often this can mean that the best practice is not exam practice.

3. If you are having problems getting your score, find a teacher. There are lots of them posted on this site. Really good ones who understand IELTS and teaching. A few hours with a good teacher can save a lot of heartache and will be money well spent.

In the classroom
In the classroom

My mission statement

What sort of teacher am I?

My teaching style online is relaxed - I behave on my site just as I did in the classroom.

I'm personal and quite informal - you'll see I always use "I" and "you"

I use humour

I try to get people to think and learn how to teach themselves.

Can you teach me in person?

Can I teach you personally?

Sorry, this is the one service I don't provide.

Thousands of people visit this site and my priority is to make the site as accessible to as many people as possible. That takes all my time.

If you want a teacher do visit my teachers' page. There are a lot of very good options there.

Do you have any books or courses?

Do I have any books or courses to sell?

Not right now - but they are coming - perhaps one day!

The material will appear slowly (because I want to get them right) once I've sorted my site out - that's very much my priority.



How often do I post new lessons?

As often as I can!

I have recently though become a full-time dad and this means that sometimes I am just too busy.

IELTS may be important but life is more important.


8 Responses to Welcome from Dominic Cole

  1. Elizabeth September 14, 2016 at 7:17 am #

    Hello sir,
    Can you tell me in brief about map description in task 1.
    I have my IELTS test tomorrow.

    • Dominic Cole September 14, 2016 at 9:03 am #


      First of all good luck tomorrow. I don’t have anything much on maps yet for the simple reason I need a source of maps to use. They should be coming soon. Too late for you I know so here are a few tips:

      The skills you need are very similar to other task 1 types. Remember to summarise and look for major changes/differences and not include all the detail

      It is a very visual task and it may take you some time to see what has happened. Don’t be afraid to spend time just looking at the map to understand it. This isn’t time wasted. You don’t want to write too much as you do this as it may confuse you, but I strongly suggest that you mark on the map itself the changes so you don’t forget them.

      You need to focus on change normally – this means that you need vocabulary to describe change – this can include words like develop/increase/shrink etc. Don’t forget though that sometimes what is equally important what has not changed – don’t forget them. You also need the vocabulary of comparison when you have two maps – so remember to compare and contrast.

      Be careful with your tenses. You normally get a map or two maps showing two different time periods. This means for example that you may want to think about using the past perfect as well as the past if you get two maps from the past. Eg “The farm which had grown cereal crops in 1980 was a supermarket in 2001”.

      Think carefully about how you organise the information. Maps are tough as there is sometimes no obvious starting point. The logical approach is normally to start with the biggest changes and then move onto the smaller ones. This is a very similar skill to other task 1 types.

    • Nuwan October 1, 2016 at 9:30 am #

      Dear SIr

      Thank you very much for your free tutorials specially your writing task 2 essays. My exam was on 10th September GT in Sri Lanka and my result is
      Listening 7
      Reading 7
      Writing 7
      Speaking 7

  2. Denis Bristow September 19, 2016 at 1:06 am #

    HI Dominic,

    I have found your site invaluable. I help Chinese students with the grammar in their university assignments and that is where I started to become acquainted with IELTS. My main focus in IELTS is speaking as most of the students I know find that the most difficult area to master. I give of my time freely and they “pay” me with Chines cuisine nights much to my delight. Those nights give the students (About 8 of them) some together time where they are encouraged to only speak English. It can be a lot of fun as I become the guide on the side and not the sage on the stage. Many times I find myself being asked for different ways to say the same thing. This often gets us into expressing past, future and present tense.

    I have one very serious concern, and that is that the students are never given any feedback on why the only achieved certain scores in their IELTS tests. I emailed the Cambridge University to ask why this is not done and I have not received an answer. I have emailed the university several times over the past 12 months. I would like to be able to focus attention more directly on what area needs improving in the speaking tests. So, if a student attains a score of 5 for speaking instead of a 6.5 for example, then what are the areas where the student was weakest? I have a 35 year background in adult education within an organisational setting and I am strong on giving focused feedback on areas of weakness. I know how focused feedback can be used to lift a person to greater results.

    Can you help me with this aspect of IELTS, especially helping me understand why feedback is not given.

    • Dominic Cole September 19, 2016 at 9:02 am #

      Chinese cuisine is a great currency to deal in!

      I see your point about lack of feedback. In fairness though very few national/international tests that I’m aware of give a detailed breakdown. I imagine it’s to do with administrative burden – IELTS is a huge business and in China for example IELTS struggle to find sufficient examiners such is demand.

      Interesting point you make about tenses and Chinese leaners.

  3. Noni September 23, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    Hi Dominic! I am Noni from Uzbekistan and I am 16 years old. You know, I have been learning English for 2years. Additionally, I have my IELTS test in December 3rd. My writing and reading are my weaknesses. Could you please help me how to achieve high score from the ielts test in a short time. Can I get high score until December? Please give your suggestions!!! Thank you!

  4. shilpa November 18, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Hello sir, myself shilpa from India. I am a nurse by profession and got selected for addenbrooke hospital in the UK.I am not able to clear my ielts. Overall it goes 7+but sometimes speaking or else writing ends up with 6 making it difficult to club. Could you please help me out with my essays by correcting them.

  5. Venusa December 2, 2016 at 10:06 pm #


    I am having question on IELTS writing re-evaluation, please let me know if you can provide guidance?

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