New writing topics (June 2014), Greece

Our student D.C.  who has recently taken the IELTS test in Thessaloniki, Greece  shared the following writing task 2 topic with us:


Nowadays, artists are not considered as important as scientists. What is your opinion ?


New speaking topics (June 2014) in Greece

New speaking topics (June, 2014) in Greece, as our students remember them


Part 1

What’s your name?

Do you work/do you study?

What do you do if you want to relax?

Do you prefer quiet places or noisy ones?

Which one do you prefer the most : reading a book or watching tv?


Part 2

Talk about a film that you have seen recently and liked. Please say :

–       What was the name of that film?

–       What was the plot about?

–       What made it memorable to you? Why?

–       When and where did you watch it?


Part 3

–  Is it better to watch films at home or outside? Why?
– What other forms of entertainment do you like?
– What other things do you think people do in their leisure time?




I am happy to introduce a new section in my blog : Interviews with colleagues experienced in IELTS preparation who are kind enough to share their wisdom with us. The first one I asked to interview is a very dear colleague with a vast experience in exam preparation, Paula McIlwaine.

1464601_10202917132002047_1757426822721004297_nPaula has a BA in Interpreting and Translating (English, German, French) from Heriot – Watt University, Edinburgh. She moved to Greece in 1991. Since then she has taught at various private language schools, preparing students of all levels for various English language exams and also has been an examiner since 2001. For the past 5 years she has been working for a well known private school in Thessaloniki, Greece (Mandoulides School) teaching speaking skills, English composition and literature, IELTS, PSAT and SAT English. She was also responsible for the debating team of the school and now prepares the group discussion team .


An Interview with Paula McIlwaine

Vicky: Paula, thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I am very happy to have you here.Can you introduce yourself and talk to us about your work in education?

Paula : Pleased to be here! I moved to Greece in 1992 and have been teaching English as a second language ever since. I have worked at schools, colleges and small language schools.

Vicky : When did you first start preparing students for the IELTS exam?

Paula : Since 1994

Vicky : Which part of the exam do you consider to be the most challenging one?

Paula : The readings – some are long and candidates need speedy skills.

Vicky : What does it take for someone to pass the exam when the score they have to achieve

is 6+? Is it technique? Is it vocabulary? Is it grammar?

Paula : I think it is a combination of many skills – obviously excellent grammar and a wide range of vocabulary are vital, but also a broader knowledge of many subjects in English helps in the reading/writing and speaking sections.

Vicky : Let us say someone can score a 5 when they start studying for the exam and their target goal  is 6.5. How long does it take, in your opinion, for a student to improve his/her level?

Paula : That very much depends on personal time for study and the number of test papers done, corrected and learnt from.

Vicky : Tell us the 5 most important tips for improving IELTS scores.

Paula : Positive attitude/ methodical work / realistic goals / willingness to learn from mistakes / practice under exam conditions – especially where timing is concerned

Vicky : Can you share with us a technique that you have used successfully?

Paula : In the reading section .. definitely read the subtitle to get a broad idea of the subject of the text and skim read quickly to get a feel for it too before tackling any questions.


Vicky :Thank you so much for your time, Paula!

Paula : Thank you!




New speaking topics (May 2014) in Greece

New speaking topics (May, 2014) in Greece, as our students remember them

Speaking Interview

Part 1

Where are you from?

Do you study or do you work?

Do you use computers?

How important are computers in our life? Why?

What are the positive and negatives sides of using computers?


Cue Card


Talk about an old friend that you met after a long time you haven’t seen each other. Please say

– Who is your friend?

– Describe your friendship with him/her.

– How long didn’t you see him/her for?

– What did you two talk about?

– How did you react when you saw him/her again?


Part 3

-How important is friendship?

– Why is maintaining friendships good?

– Why do friendships come to an end sometimes?

– Do you enjoy meeting friends and new people?

– Would you come to your classmates’ reunion after 10 years? Why?

– Is there a benefit to reunions?

– Would you like to have friends in different parts of the world?