First Page IELTS

I repeatedly advise students preparing for IELTS to read more fiction as a way to acquire and consolidate a wider range of vacabulary and grammar, but they often refuse to believe in the benefits of reading ‘for pleasure’. If anybody in the class has a novel with them, I ask to see it and then highlight – from the first page – all of the language likely to get them band 7 or above.

A third 'first page', again from Harry Potter! This time I've highlighted the suitablility of items for IELTS Speaking and/or IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2.

Select a different First Page:


  • For useful tips, click or tap highlighted words and phrases in the text below.
  • Click or tap again to close.
  • Suitability for IELTS is indicated in brackets:
    • S (IELTS Speaking)
    • W1 (IELTS Writing Task 1)
    • W2 (IELTS Writing Task 2)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


The Dark Lord Ascending

The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands directed at each other's chests; then, recognising each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and started walking briskly in the same direction.

'News?' asked the taller of the two.

'The best,' replied Sevems Snape.

The lane was bordered on the left by wild, low-growing brambles, on the right by a high, neatly manicured hedge. The men's long cloaks flapped around their ankles as they marched.

'Thought I might be late,' said Yaxley, his blunt features sliding in and out of sight as the branches of overhanging trees broke the moonlight. 'It was a little trickier than I expected. But I hope he will be satisfied. You sound confident that your reception will be good?'

Snape nodded, but did not elaborate. They turned right, into a wide driveway that led off the lane. The high hedge curved with them, running off into the distance beyond the pair of impressive wrought-iron gates barring the men's way. Neither of them broke step. In silence both raised their left arms in a kind of salute and passed straight through as though the dark metal were smoke.

The yew hedges muflled the sound of the men's footsteps. There was a rustle somewhere to their right. Yaxley drew his wand again, pointing it over his companion's head, but the source of the noise proved to be nothing more than a pure white peacock, strutting majestically along the top of the hedge.




  • appeared out of nowhere - Appeared suddenly! (S,W2)
  • blunt features - If a man has 'blunt features', he looks like a tough guy. (S)


  • a few yards apart - Use this to describe the difference between 2 things or people. (S,W1,W2)
  • beyond - further away from (S,W1,W2)


  • wands - The sticks used by wizards and magicians, but also any long stick that has a special - often industrial - function. (S,W1,W2)
  • brambles - Small, low plants with thorns. (S,W2)
  • wrought-iron - Black iron that has been modelled into complex shapes. (S,W2)
  • rustle - The sound made by leaves being disturbed, either by the wind or by people. (S,W2)


  • stowed their wands - stow (v) a weapon, or a tool that is normally kept in a particular place or 'holder'. (S,W1,W2)
  • walking briskly - walk (v) briskly (adv) - also common is 'a brisk (adj) walk (n)' (S,W2)
  • manicured hedge - manicured (adj) + garden or parts of a garden, or anything that is made to look tidy through the use of cutting tools. For example, nails (on your fingers) can be 'manicured'. (S,W2)
  • drew his wand - draw (v) (a) wand (n) - Also 'draw a sword' - Means take hold of it and prepare for action! (S)


  • the taller - Notice that when two things are compared, there is no superlative (S,W1,W2).


  • bordered - Use this to describe what is on each side of a long, straight, piece of land. (S,W1,W2)
  • flapped - The sound made when the wind blows against things. The wings of a bird also 'flap'. (S,W2)
  • elaborate - Explain in more detail. (S,W2)
  • barring - 'Bar' = 'block' (S,W2)
  • muflled - If you 'muffle' something you make it quieter. The exhaust on a car or motorcycle usually has a 'muffler' to make it quieter. (S,W1,W2)
  • strutting - If you 'strut', you walk with your head high as though you are more important than other people! (S)


  • trickier - More difficult. (S)

Irregular verb

  • led - V3 from 'lead' (S,W2)

Phrasal verb

  • broke step - If you 'break step' you stop walking. (S)