At the beginning of September I had just moved into my new flat and unfortunately had no internet connection. Under normal circumstances this isn’t a problem, but Yvonne HAD LESS THAN 2 DAYS for her IELTS exam. Insane.
To get an internet connection I had to go to the library, to MacDonalds, to Starbucks, and even empty my phone data plan!
Thankfully though it all worked out wonderfully!
Yvonne bought the IELTS Sentence Guide on Thursday, worked with me online, listened to all the tutorials, did all the work, sent all the essays then 15 days later sent me a fantastic email joyfully explaining her new IELTS score!
Have a read below for the whole story, then get in contact if you have your exam soon! I would love to help more students!
Email 1 September 4th.
Email 2 September 4th.
To be honest, going through the whole Sentence Guide course (where you write 10 essays in total), will probably be too long.
But if you want, you can buy the Sentence Guide – and we will skip some parts and go straight into essay correction. Then complete the whole course after the exam. Here is the link: https://dichvugiadinh.info/online-ielts-course/ -This costs $127 with 8 checks, and the online course with the easy to follow structure.
Alternatively you can get 2 checks here: https://dichvugiadinh.info/essay-correction-service-
All the best!
Email 3 September 4th.
Hello there IELTS students. I hope it’s all going really well and you’re studying hard. And even just listening to this podcast is a step in the right direction because you’re getting native English speaker’s voice in your head, you’re going to remember things, you’re going to get lots of IELTS tips. So keep going. Keep doing this
And in this episode, I talk with Yvonne. She was a student of mine. She got in contact with me about three days before the exam. She wanted to know about the sentence guide. Her previous results were 6.5, and then a couple of months later I think she got a 6 in the writing. And then she did a three-day course with me, took the exam, and about Yvonne: weeks later she sent me an email saying “Thank you so much. I got a 7.5.”
I’m not saying it’s just all my work. Of course that would just be a little bit untruthful. She did do a lot of work herself. And it just goes to show that with some correct guidance, some correction, and knowing what to do in a situation, then it can have a profound impact.
And that result now is going to practically change her life because now she can get the ball rolling, she can get the permanent residency, she can start applying for more jobs, and just basically get a move on and doing things. And of course she saved $300 by not having to take the test again.
So it just goes to show that little changes in certain parts can have profound and a massive impact later down the road. So have a listen to this interview. It’s one of my favorites. She’s a nice lass. And yeah, hopefully you’ll learn a lot from Yvonne’s experience.
Ben: Hey there. Alright, Yvonne. How’s things.
Yvonne: Good, thank you. How are you?
Ben: I’m good too. I’m good. Wow. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It’s going to be really helpful for the site and for the students. So we really appreciate taking the time out to do this.
Yvonne: No problem.
Ben: Alright. Okay then. So I’ve got about seven questions so I don’t think it’ll take long. And yeah, we can do the questions and you can get back to the beach or whatever you’re doing.
Could you just tell us about your situation? Like how long have you lived in Australia?
Yvonne: Next February is coming up to eight years in Australia.
Ben: Eight years! Wow! Okay then. And did you start there studying?
Yvonne: Yeah. I did my undergrad here for the first four years and then I went to work for full time and then I’m studying full time masters.
Ben: Right. Okay. And you needed the IELTS for permanent residency?
Ben: Right then. Okay. So what was the actual situation with the IELTS beforehand? How many times have you taken the IELTS exam before?
Yvonne: For this time I took twice.
Ben: Okay. And in total? Have you taken it before?
Yvonne: Yeah. I took it once eight years ago. Just before I came to Australia.
Ben: Ah, okay then. Just to start the undergrad course?
Ben: I see. Right then. So you’ve taken it twice beforehand and then you’ve gone and contacted me. I think I’ve got the email in front of me here actually. I was just looking through it before and it was like “I just came across your website yesterday and I am sitting at IELTS exam this Saturday. Will there be enough time for you to correct my essays and provide me with some feedback to improve?”
And you’ve got 6.5 on your first one and 6 on the second one. Is that right, yeah?
Ben: Okay. Was it just the writing that you had difficulty with? Or is the other sections a bit of a problem too?
Yvonne: Just writing.
Ben: Right. Okay. So what was the main problem with your writing?
Yvonne: I’m not sure actually. I think I just don’t know what to write. Like the style. I think got ideas but I don’t know how should I write it just to get 7.
Ben: Like the structure and presenting the argument.
Ben: I see. Okay then. And how was this problem solved?
Yvonne: I think your study guide… Sentence Guide is very good in a way that it tells us what to write in each sentence. Like for the first paragraph, first sentence would be the introduction, second one is what sentence, etc. And going to first paragraph, you need to start with what question, and the second, and third, and fourth.
I think with this Sentence Guide, it’s very helpful because it provides a structure and you wouldn’t forget what to write.
Ben: Uh-huh. Yeah. That’s true. And yeah, that’s what I like about it. I just try to make it as simple as possible. Because I think in your case, your English language skills were very proficient but we just needed to work on the IELTS (sort of like) essay skills.
What was the main value you got from the course?
Yvonne: I would think that because previously I just ask my friends to proofread my essays that I practiced on. And actually they don’t give me… I mean they do give me feedback. But they’re not a professional marker. So they wouldn’t know what I’m wrong and what I’m right of. They’ll just base on the opinions and on writing style.
But you know what IELTS is after, so you provide me the right direction.
Ben: Yeah. I remember it was like at the beginning of September and I just moved in to my flat. And I didn’t have any internet connection here. And I remember it because you got in contact on the fourth and I think your exam… let me just check the calendar… So that was Thursday you’ve got in contact and then your exam was three days… no, two days later on the Saturday, on the sixth. And I remember… Yeah, it was the sixth, wasn’t it?
Yvonne: Yeah it was the sixth.
Ben: Yeah. In the morning. And I was like “Oh no, this poor girl. She’s just going to the exam and I can’t correct her essay.” So I was going down to the library, the public library… Really, yeah.
Yvonne: Oh, thank you so much.
Ben: And I was trying to upload the connection… Upload the essay checks and the video as well. And then I was doing it through my mobile phone as well. But in the end did those essay checks, did they actually help you? I hope they did because if not…
Yvonne: Yeah. They did because I wouldn’t know what to write, like what I said previously. Because I think what we need is a professional marker’s opinion. So as to give us the right direction and what we need to improve on.
Ben: And how many, just out of curiosity, how many checks did you get back from me in total? Because I remember there’s one or two when I checked afterwards. After uploading them, it hadn’t gone through so I had to upload it again. And then I tried to squeeze in another one, hopefully with the idea of you getting it Saturday morning. But can you remember how many you’ve got back in the end?
Yvonne: I think I got five if I’m not mistaken. I think I got three on the essay two, and two on the essay one.
Ben: Ah, yes. Yeah. I remember now. Yeah. Yeah, I’m just going through the email so it was quite a few. You’ve still got two or three essay checks left if you want to use it.
Yvonne: I don’t think I want to take it again.
Ben: Yeah. If you want to go through and get another grade. So in the end you’ve got a Band 7.
Yvonne: Point five. 7.5.
Ben: 7.5. Wow. And before, the last one you took before…
Yvonne: Was 6.
Ben: Was 6. Wow. That is crazy. That is crazy. And what advice would you give to other students in a similar situation? Like they’ve taken the writing, they’ve taken the exam a few times. What advice would you give to them?
Yvonne: I think you just need to stick to the Sentence Guide. Because I remember when I went in that day, my mind went blank again.
Yvonne: Yes. And then I’m like “What should I do?” And I just remembered… It just popped up like there’s few sentences that you can actually… I think you taught us to just change a few words and just to fit it in your essay. I think I did that and I just followed the structure. First the introduction and…
I remember in the first paragraph, you said that you have to have an introduction sentence. And then you have to support why. I took it as an example then go back to to emphasize your point again. I think I just followed that structure and just write accordingly.
Ben: Yeah. Because I think what I tried to do and what I tried to give the student is the ability to sort of like… This happened to me when I was looking at the IELTS questions like years and years ago, I’d be like “Wow. How can I get from this stage of like mind went blank and thinking where to start.”
Yeah, because you’re like look at it and you think “Alright. Where can I actually start this monster and where’s the first small steps I can take? And if I can make that into a system. Systemize it. Make it into a process. Then it’s actually not that difficult. You know?
Once you get the ball rolling and you’ve got sort of like a plan to follow, then it’s just putting the ideas onto paper. Then put in those sentences into a structure and then write in that structure. And in about thirty minutes later you’ve got your actual essay. So yeah. Definitely.
Alright. Another few questions. What was… So that was for the writing. And so you got… I think… Just looking back at your emails. You’ve got 6.5 the first time you’ve tried it. Like the first time you’ve started preparing again. And then you got 6 and then you started working with those with me. And then within about two or three days you did the…
Yvonne: I think it was still one-and-a-half days.
Ben: One-and-a-half days? Awesome.
Yvonne: Yeah. You remember that I think I contacted you on Thursday afternoon my time. And I have my exam on Saturday morning.
Ben: Yeah. I was just like “Oh my word. This is… These are my next few days.” It probably wouldn’t have been a problem with me just moving into the flat and no internet. I was down at the library, down at McDonald’s trying to upload at McDonald’s by five. But it was worth it. It was worth it.
Anyway, the other exams: the speaking, the listening. How well did you do with those? I haven’t asked about them.
Yvonne: It’s actually quite fluctuate. So for my first time, I got 9 in my reading. I got 9 in reading. I got 8.5 in my listening. Then I got 7 in speaking. That’s my first trial.
Yvonne: And then… So I just missed that point five to get through my writing. So I took second one. Second one was pretty bad, I would say. Because I got 9 in my reading for the first time. I got 6 for reading in the second time.
Ben: Wow. That’s big change, isn’t it?
Yvonne: Yeah. And my listening and speaking maintained the same. So I got 8.5 for listening, and I got speaking a 7.
Ben: Right. I see. I see. And then that was when your writing was…
Ben: 6? Okay. Yeah. Alright.
Yvonne: I’m sorry, no. The reading is 6.5 the second time. Not 6, 6.5.
Ben: I see. I see. Right then. And do you have any idea why your reading score fluctuated so much?
Yvonne: I actually don’t know. I don’t understand. I think… What I remember is I think the first one is really really easy, the questions. And I think I finished like within thirty minutes.
Ben: Okay. You just flew through it then.
Yvonne: Yeah. And then the second one is a bit harder. But I don’t actually expect to get a 6.
Ben: Did you… Sorry?
Yvonne: 6.5, not 6. I keep on mentioning 6.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. 6.5 for the reading. 8.5 for the listening. 7 for the speaking. Yeah? And then 6. Do you have any advice because the… for the listening. Because that was pretty consistent and you managed to nail that in an extremely high score, both times. Do you have any advice for the students regarding the reading?
Yvonne: Reading or listening?
Ben: Ah, sorry. For the listening. Yeah. For the listening.
Yvonne: I would say, just… Read through… Because they would give us time to read through the questions, and you will have kind of an idea of what you’re looking for. And I think one thing that’s quite tricky about the listening task is normally they will tell you the answer.
Let’s say, the word… how should I say it… So they will tell you a sentence then you thought you have the answer straight away. But actually they have “But…” So actually the second sentence is the right answer. Not the first one.
Ben: I see. Yeah. Yeah. So for example like if this call was… I know you didn’t do it on purpose, of course. But if this call was sort of… if this recording was a listening test and the student was taking down the IELTS scores you were saying, it had been very similar. Because you’d have sort of like said one score, then go back and correct it yourself.
Ben: I see. Just to help the listeners there. Right. So for the listening, you’d recommend just being completely focused and not take the easy, obvious, first answer given. But wait and just analyze it a little bit.
Yvonne: Yeah. I think it happened… my third IELTS test, it happened quite a lot of it on sentences, the answers. Actually, it’s the second one that’s the answer. I think yeah, quite a bit of that. So that’s what I remember on the test.
Ben: I see. I see. So once you’re aware of that trick, you can start paying attention. It is a deliberate misdirection. They wanted to…
Ben: Yeah. Alright. And then for the speaking. Are there any facts there or any tips you could give to the students for the speaking?
Yvonne: I’ve scored all the same for my speaking, I scored 7 for all three times. I don’t know. I think you just need to speak slower. And think before you speak. Because for me, I tend to speak without thinking. So sometimes my sentences have a lot of mistakes, and I realize and like “Oops, it’s too late.” Just think and then you speak slower.
Ben: I see. I see. Yeah. Because I think just from speaking from you now, you sound quite confident. You don’t have that much of… you don’t have hardly any accent. So you would just say slow down and think before you’re actually speaking. Yeah. You’re going to actually improve your chances of your accuracy. You’re going to reduce your errors there. That’s good advice.
And I didn’t ask you before, Yvonne. I’m so sorry. It’s quite rude of me. But I’m just wondering where are you originally from?
Yvonne: I’m originally from Malaysia.
Ben: Ah, okay then. Okay. Do you have any tips for Malaysians speakers of English? For learning the language? Would you say it’s difficult as you encounter?
Yvonne: I think for Malaysians, because we learn English when we’re really young, so I would say English is one of our main language. So I don’t think it’s a… For reading and listening, I think we are pretty much alright because we are being trained to do that. But writing and speaking. Speaking, a lot of Malaysians tend to have an accent. They would have like… yeah. Our typical Malaysian accent. So I think it’ll be good to just don’t have that accent. Not accent but some words like we normally tend to put “la” behind every sentence.
Ben: I see. And how did you manage to overcome that?
Yvonne: I think you just have to (like what I’ve said) you have to think. So you just have to make it a habit not to put anything behind your sentence, that last word. So for example, I will ask you “What’s your name?” For Malaysian we put “la.” “What’s your name la?”
Ben: I see. I see.
Yvonne: It’s just in the habit because all Malaysians back home speaks like that.
Ben: Right. So you would recommend slowing down and just being conscious and being aware of it, and make an effort to stop putting the “la” on the end. And really focus on that until it starts to… Until they start noticing it, catching it, and then eliminating it. Yeah?
Yvonne: And there’s another point. I realized for speaking test. Actually they will ask you… I cannot remember which part… they ask you a question and then they have that subsequent questions. So you would tend to use the same words.
Like you will say “teenagers.” Like when we are nervous you would start with “teenagers,” and “teenagers,” and “teenagers.” So I think you can say that… I think what you taught us you can say like “young adults” or “adolescents.”
Yvonne: So I think just try to make more vocabs out of it. From simple conversation.
Ben: I see. Yeah, because for example if they ask you about (I don’t know) studying in a foreign university, and then you start talking about students, then the next questions would be more complex questions but on the same topic, going deeper.
Like “Have you ever considered studying at a foreign university?” And I think, yeah. In this situation you would recommend using different vocabulary. Like “young learners,” or “young adults,” or “foreign student,” or whatever, just to avoid the repetition.
Yvonne: Yeah, I think that’s important.
Ben: Yeah. I see. Just like the writing then. It’s very similar situation. Avoid the repetition, show the examiner your vocabulary, and squeeze in that topic-specific vocabulary when it’s relevant.
Okay. Right then. Yvonne, I think that’s everything. What advice now would you give to… Well, what are your plans now? Sorry. What are your plans? Are you going to stay in Australia for the rest of your life? Are you going to get you P.R.?
Yvonne: Maybe not the rest of my life. I would say, for another couple more years, I would say. And then I will see how it goes with my career and stuff.
Ben: I see. Awesome. Right then. Well, thank you so much Yvonne. It’s been wonderful chatting with you. And it’s good to finally get a voice to all those emails.
Yvonne: Yeah, I’ve always been listening to yours but not you to me.
Ben: Yeah. I thought of that just before we started. I was like “Yeah, this girl, she knows my voice and she knows me. But I’ve got no idea about her.” Yeah. Thankfully, I was like “Oh my God, I wonder if it’s a bad connection or she’s got a really strong accent. And it’s just going to be a disaster.” But it’s the complete opposite. You spoke really clearly so it all works out well. It’s been great.
Okay, Yvonne. Well thanks again, and I wish you all the best. Yeah?
Yvonne: Okay. Thank you, Ben for making those efforts. Like go to the library and record.
Ben: Yeah, I just felt sorry for you with the situation. Three days to go. It’s stressful and I was like “Oh, poor lass.” Alright.
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