IELTS: Common Misconceptions

IELTS: Common Misconceptions

There is a considerable amount of information about the IELTS exam available, which can sometimes be misleading. Some sources of information are better than others, so it's important to be well-informed before taking the test. Here are some common misconceptions about the IELTS test:

The IELTS test is easier in my own country. IDP is easier than British Council.

The IELTS test is created by Cambridge University and is distributed by two different companies, British Council and IDP. Regardless of the company or the country, the test is exactly the same. Also, the examiners, markers, and invigilators are trained in the same way to test and mark all four sections of the test.

Completing IELTS practice tests will be enough to ensure a high band score.

Practicing before the IELTS test is the key to success; however, there are a variety of theoretical and practical ways of practicing and a combination of both will ensure the highest rate of success.

In terms of theory, completing IELTS listening and reading practice tests online and from books is a great idea. Completing speaking and writing practice tests with a tutor will help with these sections. With all sections of the test, you should put yourself under test conditions when practicing, with time limits and no cell phones.

For practicality, watching television, movies, and videos will help improve listening and speaking. Reading books, blogs, newspapers, and magazines will help with reading skills. Writing a blog, journal, diary, or an email will help improve your writing skills. Speaking to friends or even hanging out at a café or library will develop your confidence in your speaking abilities. Also, all of these practices will constantly improve your vocabulary and grammar.

Testing conditions will help you get comfortable with test expectations and will help you form strategies. Real world practice will help you develop your natural English and you may also learn faster because you will enjoy yourself more.

It’s easy to cheat on the IELTS test.

The IELTS exam is a high-security test. There are many processes in place to secure the integrity of the test. When registering for the test, candidates must provide their passports to confirm their identity. When registering on the day of the test, candidates will need to provide their passports again, have their photo taken, and provide a scan of their right index finger. The candidate's ID will be checked during the speaking exam as well as the reading and writing sections of the test. Candidates will also need to have their finger scanned in and out of the testing room for washroom breaks. Along with this, invigilators are with test materials at all times and papers are double counted to ensure that all test materials are accounted for. These measures are taken for every test.

Here are some misconceptions about each section of the IELTS test:


My opinion could impact my speaking score.

Your opinion on questions during the speaking section of the IELTS test is not assessed, only your English ability. The examiner takes into account your fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and your pronunciation, not your opinions. Try to answer the questions as openly and honestly as possible.


It’s impossible to complete the reading section of the test.

The academic version of the reading test is suitable for candidates doing an undergraduate, postgraduate, or professional registration. The readings are related to academic topics and are taken from books, journals, newspapers, and magazines.

The general version of the reading test is related to topics about everyday life in an English-speaking country. The readings are taken from notices, advertisements, books, magazines, and newspapers.

If you are an avid reader, you will be able to finish the reading section of the IELTS test. Reading on a regular basis, forming reading strategies, and doing practice reading tests will also help you to finish the reading section within the 60-minute time limit.


Writing more than the word count will result in a higher band score.

You must write at least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2 in order to obtain full marks on the IELTS test.

Make sure that anything over this contributes to your writing. The higher number of mistakes you make or times you go off-topic will hurt your score, regardless of your word count.


Every candidate will have a headset when doing the listening section of the test.

All centres are different. Some centres may use headsets, while others use a sound system with speakers. Please check with your centre before taking the test so you know ahead of time.

Knowing all of this information before you take the IELTS exam can allow you to feel more comfortable and confident on the day of the test.

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How To Deal With Tricky Questions In The Speaking Test

How To Deal With Tricky Questions In The Speaking Test

There's no denying that the IELTS Speaking test is hard work. This part of the test requires you to listen carefully to what you are asked in order to provide clear and extended answers to the questions. You're expected to demonstrate your spoken English skills through a number of tasks, while trying your best to keep calm and relaxed in front of the examiner.

There are many things that you can do to help you be prepared and succeed on your Speaking test, from reading useful IELTS blog posts to watching IELTS Speaking test samples, to practicing speaking English with friends and relatives. But even if you practice, and practice, and practice, you could still get a tricky question you simply do not know how to answer. Whether it is a question you did not understand or a topic you are not familiar with, a question that confuses you in any way can really throw you off your game.

So, what should you do if you a get a tricky question on your IELTS Speaking test? First, identify the root of the problem: is the question “tricky” because you did not understand it or missed a word, or because you are not familiar with the topic and do not know how to answer it?

Asking For Clarification

Just as it's totally natural to not understand a question on the Speaking test, it's perfectly normal and acceptable to ask the examiner for clarification:

- Part 1 (introduction and interview): Even though examiners must stick to the script in Part 1, they are allowed to repeat the questions if necessary. If you don't understand what you're being asked, politely ask the examiner to repeat the question. Some of the phrases/questions you can use to do so include the following:
o “Sorry, I didn't get the question.”
o “Could you repeat the question, please?”
o “Could you say that again, please?”

- Part 2 (long turn): Part 2 is different from Parts 1 and 3 in that it does not follow a question-answer structure. The examiner will read out instructions and will then give you a task card which includes the topic and points to cover during your talk. You will have time to read the task carefully before deciding on what you're going to talk about. If you don't understand a word from the task card, try to guess the word’s meaning by using the text provided before and after the word.

- Part 3 (two-way discussion): Given that this part of the interview is a two-way discussion, if necessary, you can ask the examiner to repeat or even rephrase a question in Part 3. For the latter, you can use questions such as the following:
o “Could you explain the question, please?”
o “Sorry, could you rephrase that?”

Managing Difficult Content

When you are faced with a question you just don't know how to answer during your Speaking test, it is crucial to stay calm and focused. Take a deep breath, then try one or more of the following approaches:

- Make time to think

It is important that you acknowledge that the question was asked and that you are thinking about what to say. Something as simple as “That's an interesting question” or “I've never thought about that before” will provide you with a few seconds to work through your thoughts on how to approach the question while avoiding awkward silences.

- Ask questions

In Part 1, you will be asked questions about yourself and about familiar topics, so it is unlikely that you won't be able to answer them. However, in Part 3 you will be asked more abstract questions and you will be encouraged to discuss these more fully, hence these are more likely to pose a greater challenge. If you are having trouble gathering your thoughts to answer a question in Part 3, ask the examiner to clarify what has been asked. Go deeper into the question to see if you can get more details to help you figure it out.

- Speculate and give two sides to an argument

While it's essential that you have views and express your opinions in the discussion, it's also acceptable to speculate and to give two sides of an argument. This will allow you to give a more elaborated response, even if you have no experience or strong views on the topic.

- Attempt an answer

In the speaking test, your main goal is to demonstrate your speaking ability and not to be an expert on a variety of topics. If you don't know the answer to a question, you can let the examiner know that you're unsure and that you're going to attempt an answer by saying something like “I'm not really sure, but I would say…’ or “I don't know much about this topic, but I think…”. It's always better to attempt to give an answer rather than not trying at all.

Above all, keep in mind that regardless of what questions you get, being prepared and keeping calm and focused during the interview, even in the toughest of times, is truly the key to success.

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Word Counts Count!

Word Counts Count!

It’s IELTS test day and you’ve just about completed your writing test. There's a short time remaining, so you look over your writing. You then realize you haven’t paid attention to the number of words you’ve written, and you ask yourself: have I written enough?

As an IELTS writing examiner, it pains me to think about this scenario because it may result in a test taker losing points because she has written too few words. It may seem like a simple thing to remember, but for a variety of reasons, including feeling nervous, running out of time, or forgetting about the word counts, test takers do not always write the minimum number of words required for Writing Task 1 and Task 2, and, as a result, they lose valuable points.

Below are some important things to keep in mind about word count:

• Writing Task 1 and 2 – the same, but different

There are two parts to the IELTS writing test: Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2. You have 60 minutes to complete both tasks. For Task 1, you must write at least 150 words. It is recommended that you spend about 20 minutes completing this task.

For Task 2, the minimum number of words is 250 – that’s quite a bit more than Task 1, so keep this in mind when you are planning what to write. It is recommended that you spend about 40 minutes on Task 2. Also, it’s important to remember that Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1, so you want to ensure you give this task the time it deserves.

• There is a minimum, but no maximum

While there is a minimum number of words required for each task, there is no maximum. Keep in mind, however, that you will not receive extra points for writing more than the required number of words. While it is ok to write more, especially if you think it is necessary to fully answer the question, you should consider that your time may be better spent re-reading your answer, ensuring it is complete, and checking grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.

• Use your own words!

Using your own words is very important; if you copy phrases or whole sentences from the question, these will not be included in your total word count. In other words, when you write your answer, don’t copy phrasing or whole sentences from the question. If you do, the copied words will be taken off your total word count, and if this takes you below the minimum required word count, you will lose points.

• If I don’t count my words, how will I know?

As I mentioned above, you need to plan your time well in order to complete the writing tasks. Try to leave some time to go back and re-read your answer, and check spelling, grammar and punctuation. While you may have a short time to check these things, you probably won’t have time to count your words.

I strongly recommended that you practice for the IELTS exam before test day. By practicing the writing tasks, you'll get a sense of how much space it takes for you to write 150 and 250 words. I recommend that you take advantage of the practice tests that are available online at to help you prepare for your IELTS test. I also recommend that you consider taking a free IELTS seminar ( to help you prepare.

• Write clearly

Sometimes a test taker’s writing is hard to read. While nobody expects perfect handwriting on the IELTS test, I recommend that you try to write neatly enough so that the examiner can read your writing and can count the number of words. If the words run into each other or are very difficult to read, it may be hard for the examiner to count the words you have written. At the end of the day, you want to have every word that you write count, so try to take care to write as neatly as you can!

Finally, please remember that the only words that count are those on your answer sheet; any words that you write on your question sheet are not included in the total word count.

Hopefully, these tips about word count on the writing test will help you better prepare for your IELTS test. Remember that preparation and knowledge go a long way in helping you get ready for your IELTS test. Good luck!

Word count: 724

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Halloween at ECLC

Halloween at ECLC

Halloween is a popular holiday in North America celebrating a mix of old superstitious traditions and modern activities. On October 31st, children (and adults) dress up in costumes, collect candy door-to-door, and enjoy games and movies about ghosts, vampires, and witches. But the whole month of October is filled with Halloween-themed activities and ECSL have the opportunity to experience many of them in Halifax. Over the past month, students watched a scary movie, visited a frightful Haunted House, and ended the month with our annual Halloween Party here at ECLC.

On Friday, October 27th, ECLC hosted a spooky but fun party for students filled with different games, activities, and snacks. Students carved their own pumpkins, participated in a variety of Halloween themed mini-games, and joined our annual costume parade to show off their creativity.

Our team here at ECLC always looks forward to our fun-filled holiday parties and can't wait for our Christmas celebrations next month.

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Exciting News! ECSL has changed its name to East Coast Language College (ECLC)

Exciting News! ECSL has changed its name to East Coast Language College (ECLC)

I wrote this blog a few months ago but wanted to post it again in case you missed it. We are slowly changing things over to the new name so we want to be sure everyone knows why we made the changes.

I am very excited to be able to finally share the news with you that after 20 years, ECSL is changing its name to East Coast Language College (ECLC). You will start to see our new name on materials over the next few months and the complete changeover will be completed by the end of 2018.

Some people may be asking why we have decided to change our name. We feel that after 20 years, we needed a name that better reflects what we do. In 2016, we became a registered Private Career College with the province of Nova Scotia. This is a very in-depth process and requires inspection and approval of our premises, our curriculum, and our instructor qualifications. We gained approval for our ACE TESOL teacher training program, which will be offered for the first time in October 2017. We are very proud to be the only private language school in Nova Scotia that is both accredited by Languages Canada and approved by the province of Nova Scotia to deliver teacher training. In addition, we are the only school in Halifax that has our teacher training program listed on the TESL Canada website as an approved program.

Our pathway program to universities and colleges was the first of its kind in Nova Scotia and our graduates continue to achieve outstanding success at post-secondary institutions. The additional languages we offer in the evenings – Spanish, Mandarin, French, and Arabic – make us more like a college for adults rather than a school for children. Over the years, many people asked why we were not called a college, so we decided to take the plunge and change our name to coincide with our 20th anniversary.

We are very excited by this change and we look forward to working with you for the next 20 years as East Coast Language College (ECLC)!


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EduCanada Fair in Tokyo

EduCanada Fair in Tokyo

EduCanada Fair in Tokyo

East Coast Language College is attending the EduCanda Fair in Tokyo! Yoharu is looking forward to meeting new students at our booth in the embassy of Canada. Former students please also drop by and catch up if you are around!


November 2nd (Thur) 17:00-19:00

November 3rd (Fri) 11:00-17:00


Embassy of Canada

7-3-338 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8503 Japan




East Coast Language College (ECLC)11月にカナダ大使館が開催するカナダ留学フェアに参加します。語学留学、ビジネス英語、児童英語教授コース、大学進学パスウェイ、日本語で個別相談に応じます。是非、カナダの東海岸、日本人の少ない町、ハリファックスの魅力をお見せしたいので、学校資料でももらいに来てください!お待ちしております。




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Experiencing Canadian Customs & Holidays at ECLC!

Experiencing Canadian Customs & Holidays at ECLC!

Here at ECLC, we love to show our students Canadian customs, teach them about holidays, and help them try things they might not have the opportunity to do on their own.

At the start of the Fall term, ECLC welcomed our new and returning students in a very traditional Nova Scotian way with a lobster and corn boil! On a beautiful Friday morning, we headed over to Point Pleasant Park. Students played games, enjoyed the scenic views, and had a good meal for lunch!

Students had the opportunity to see fresh live lobster, which is a staple in the Maritimes. They took turns holding the lobsters for fun photos and then learned how it is cooked and prepared. We boiled lobster and fresh corn-on-the-cob in the park for them to enjoy. For many students, this was the first time they had seen or eaten lobster which is very common to us Canadians. We hope it was a great memory to tell their friends and family about! Check out the awesome photos!

Last weekend, for Thanksgiving, we provided a traditional "Thanksgiving dinner" to students. We cooked a beautiful turkey, with all the fixings, like potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving is a time for families to eat together and express their gratitude and appreciation for the things they have in life. This was a great, and tasty, cultural learning opportunity for our students. Take a look at the delicious meal here!

We look forward to celebrating the upcoming Christmas holiday with students as well. We have a special extra week of class at the end of term (December 18-21) that students can choose to add to their programs where we will provide general English lessons in the afternoons and fun Christmas activities in the evening, such as turkey dinner, cookie baking, ice skating, and a play at the Neptune Theatre. If you have any questions about this week's program or pricing, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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