Age in Task 1 Writing

People in the 14-17 group of age were most affected by the changes.

I know, this seems to make sense, and your meaning is clear, but if you want a high score for vocabulary you need to use better collocation inside your noun phrases:

  • People in the 14-17 age group were most affected by the changes.

The following are all possible. Unfortunately you just have to memorise them. Try to use them as soon as possible in your writing practice and soon they will become automatic.

  • a person who is 49 years of age
  • a person who is 49 years old
  • a person who is 49
  • a 49 year-old person
  • a 49 year-old

More often in IELTS, ‘person’ is plural (= ‘people’), and so these noun phrases are also possible:

  • 49 year-olds
  • 49 year-old people
  • people in the 50-60 age group
  • people aged between 50 and 60
  • people aged 50-60
  • people (who are) 50-60 years old

Of course we could be more specific about ‘person’ or ‘people’:

  • A 49 year-old English teacher
  • English teachers in the 49-59 age group

Having an impact on someone

Passive smoking brings negative impact for people who do not smoke.

Indonesian flag This is a collocation problem for Indonesians translating “..membawa dampak negatif untuk..”

In English the collocation is:

  • Passive smoking has a negative impact on people who do not smoke.

Note! s.th./s.o. has + an impact + on + s.th./s.o. 

Using the correct collocation will have a very positive impact on your IELTS score for vocabulary in both speaking and writing!

You can listen to a song featuring ‘impact’ here.

photo credit

Raise the issue

The growth of cashless payments has raised the debatable issue whether this payment method is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Raise the issue
One problem here is that the issue is the growth of cashless payments, while one aspect of the issue is whether or not it is useful. Another problem is that an issue is normally raised by someone

It would be better to begin with someone raising the issue, and then focus on a specific aspect of the issue:

  • In a recent meeting the prime minister raised the issue of the growth of cashless payments. We discussed whether this payment method is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Note this structure: raise the issue + of + [name of issue]

Alternatively you might avoid doing any raising of issues and stick to more standard cause / effect:

  • The growth of cashless payments has caused much debate about whether this payment method is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Whatever you decide, note that in English raise collocates strongly with issue. Otherwise it goes together with things like ‘your hand’, ‘the Titanic’ and other items that need to be lifted from a lower position to a higher position. If this is not the meaning of raise that you are trying to communicate then your IELTS score for writing and speaking may go down, rather like the Titanic!

Cannot ‘also can’!

In addition to smoking, excessive drinking also can cause illness.

Actually the meaning is clear, it’s just not good collocation. Don’t write also can, write can also instead:

  • In addition to smoking, excessive drinking can also cause illness.

Indonesian flag Indonesians.. Are you translating directly again?! 😉

For the sake of future generations

It is important to consider the negative effects for the sake of our young generation.

We like ‘for the sake of’, but not ‘our young generation’. It’s grammatically correct but doesn’t feel right. Therefore we probably have a collocation problem.

How about this:

  • It is important to consider the negative effects for the sake of future generations.

When you think about it, future generations all start out young, and we would hope that there will be more than one future generation. In academic writing it is also better to avoid personal pronouns, even possessives (‘our’). We therefore recommend the phrase for the sake of future generations.

The price is expensive (1)

Because of the recent increase in fuel prices, the price of food is more expensive than before.

Indonesian flag This is obviously a direct translation of harganya lebih mahal!

This is really a collocation problem. The IELTS examiner will understand what you mean, but you will not receive a good score for vocabulary. A product or service can be expensive, but the price of the product or service is either high or low.

More correct collocation is as follows:

  • Because of the recent increase in fuel prices, the price of food is higher than before.
  • Because of the recent increase in fuel prices, food is more expensive than before.

Meanwhile here’s a song illustrating some common collocations when talking about money.

Budget

In Australia I will need a lot of budget because I have to buy many things.

First of all budget is countable, and since you’ve written ‘a lot of’, then there should be an ‘s’ on budget. But there’s another problem. Budget has 2 meanings that are potentially useful in this situation:

1. Budget as a sum of money that has been set aside for a particular purpose:

In Australia I will need a large budget because I have to buy many things.

2. Budget as a document containing a list of items:

In Australia there will be many items on my budget, and so I will need a lot of money.

In both of these examples..

  • budget is a singular countable noun
  • ‘large’ collocates with budget
  • ‘item(s)’ collocates with budget (don’t forget the preposition ‘on’)
  • as a singular countable noun, budget requires some kind of determiner (article, possessive, etc.)

Often students who are preparing for IELTS feel they have to do everything to avoid repetition, and so they use budget instead of ‘money’. However, budget is not synonymous with ‘money’. When you’re talking about money and comparing how much things cost, it’s safer to use words like ‘money’, ‘cheap’, ‘expensive’, etc.

Add a comment below and tell us about some of the items on your budget for study in Australia!

Using shoes and clothes

I always use special shoes when I’m working in the laboratory.

Candidate: Ya ya ya Mr IELTS Examiner. I should say wear special shoes!  But the context is perfectly clear and you understand what I mean, right? I mean, you can easily picture the shoes I’m talking about, right?

Indonesian flag Examiner: Yes, I understand. But you’re using weak verb/noun collocation, and so I have to give you a low score for vocabulary. Next time you want to translate ‘pake baju’, or ‘pake sepatu’, please ‘pake’ wear. OK?

Candidate: OK!

  • I always wear special shoes when I’m working in the laboratory.

I am easy / difficult

Easy and difficult are sometimes difficult to use for Indonesian native speakers.

I am difficult to understand grammar.
Using a dictionary makes me easy to understand English.

If you say these in an IELTS interview, the examiner will understand you but you will get a low score for grammar. For a higher score, use the following:

  • I find it easy/difficult to understand grammar.
  • Using a dictionary makes it easy for me to understand English.
  • Smoke from my neighbour’s garden makes it difficult for me to breathe.

These last two examples will increase your IELTS scores for vocabulary as well as grammar. They include strong collocation as well as structural sophistication. At the same time, if you speak and write like this then the examiner will find it easier to understand you.

Indonesian flag You need to be very careful with the following:

I am difficult to understand.

This means that other people find it difficult to understand you, perhaps because you are talking and at the same time eating rendang yang kurang empuk (under-cooked beef), or because your neighbour is playing loud dangdut music and nobody can hear you.

I am difficult.

This means that you are an ‘orang susah’.

I’m easy.

This can mean that you are kind of ‘polos’, for example if you are in a restaurant, and perhaps in a hurry, and your friend asks you what you want to eat, you might say “I’m easy,” meaning “Apa saja!” (“Whatever..”)