Message from Simon

My original blog is now working again. This is only a back-up site.


IELTS Listening: spelling and capital letters

People often ask me about spelling and capital letters. Here’s my advice:

  1. Correct spelling is very important. I know students who have lost up to 10 points in their IELTS listening tests because of spelling mistakes.
  2. Capital letters, on the other hand, are not important. You can write all of your answers in capitals or in lower case – it won’t affect your score.
  3. Plurals are very important. e.g. If the question asks you to fill the gap “There are many ______”, the answer could be “reasons” but not “reason”.

Note: I don’t recommend learning spelling rules. It’s better to keep a list of your mistakes, and learn correct spellings by heart.

IELTS Reading: true, false, not given

Read the following passage about the performer Houdini.

Harry Houdini (1874 to 1926) was a Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted attention as “Harry Handcuff Houdini” on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk can.

In 1904, thousands watched as Houdini tried to escape from special handcuffs commissioned by London’s Daily Mirror newspaper. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface. While many suspected that these escapes were faked, Houdini presented himself as the scourge of fake magicians and spiritualists. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he was keen to uphold professional standards and expose fraudulent artists. He was also quick to sue anyone who pirated his stunts.

Are the following statements true, false, or not given in the text?

  1. Houdini was more successful in Europe than in America.
  2. Many people were skeptical about Houdini’s escape acts.
  3. He took legal action against those who tried to copy him.