Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

We all hang out in the private Facebook group and our students have some fantastic questions.

Today you’ll get three questions and three answers about IELTS vocabulary from 3 Keys students.

Question #1: A student asked us a question about a model essay sentence from a Change Over Time Task 1 question. Could you please tell me the meaning of this sentence and when to use it, “From 2o quarts and 15 quarts respectively in 1980 gas showed an initial fall and coal a gradual increase with the two fuels equal between 1985 and 1990”

Answer: This is a complicated sentence that is trying to express a simple idea. It’s confusing. It just means that gas started at 20 quarts and coal started at 15 quarts in 1980 and then gas started to fall and coal started to increase until 1985 when they became equal and they stayed equal until 1990.

There is a lot going on in this sentence.

We don’t recommend that you write complicated sentences like these.

It will bring your score down.

Instead focus on the message.

What do you want to communicate?

What is the main idea?

In your Writing don’t worry as much about the vocab and grammar.

It’s more important that you can communicate clearly.

Clear communication is the priority.

Don’t lose the meaning by getting lost in the words.


Question #2: Someone asked about the idiom “Making ends meet.”

This idiom means making enough money to survive and pay your bills.

They wanted to know if this idiom is formal or informal and where to use it on the test.

Answer: This phrase would be great to use in Writing Task 2 and anywhere on the IELTS Speaking test.

It could connect with many IELTS topics like jobs, income, being a student, etc.


Question #3: The student asked about “by contrast” and “on the contrary.”

They mean the same thing and they are used to link two contrasting ideas.

For example, “Lindsay loves non fiction; by contrast, Jessica loves fiction” or you could say the same sentence and swap in “on the contrary.”

Answer: Even though it’s not natural to use linking words you need to use linking words in speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 1 and Task 2.

Make sure you use the right linking words at the right time on IELTS.


Let us know what questions you have in the comments section below.

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