Focus on IELTS

Title: Focus on IELTS
Author: Sue O’Connell
Publisher: Pearson Longman
Reviewed by: Kaithe Greene
Review date: March 2007

Focus on IELTSAs is the case with other internationally recognised exams, the IELTS testing procedures and criteria are under constant review. For this reason it is a good idea for both teachers and students to have access to the most recent study materials available. This book is an up to date study aid for the current IELTS tests. It aims to help students prepare for the IELTS test, and used in conjunction with the cassette and skills book is equal to that task.

After the Map of the Book or index, which is colour coded for clarity, there is a useful overview of the IELTS test; useful because it contains a thorough yet concise summary of both the test format and the marking criteria.

Every unit contains speaking, grammar and vocabulary sections, whilst listening and writing skills alternate with reading skills, thus building up to a balanced syllabus throughout.

The text is illustrated throughout with a wide range of colour photos, diagrams, graphs and charts, which break up the text and give the pages an attractive appearance. Another very practical feature of this book is the Exam Link boxes which appear every few pages. They contain a lot of pithy advice, such as:

“Unreal, or type 2 conditionals, are a useful way of discussing solutions to problems in Task 2 of the writing paper. They allow you to imagine an unlikely or unreal situation in the present or future and talk about possible results.”

And, another favourite of mine:

“Reading. Don’t rely on guesswork. Always go back to the text to find the information you need.”

Vocabulary buzzwords are included in Essential Language boxes which appear in each unit. These give a range of words and phrases together with their lexical functions in both written and spoken language.

The academic word study and review sections which follow every second unit are particularly useful for IELTS candidates intending to study in English speaking countries; and would be equally useful for other students with an interest in academic English.

Towards the back of the book a useful grammar section called Key language bank, easily identifiable by its pale green pages, reviews a full range of structures. Arranged in alphabetical order, the descriptions of various structures contain references to the appropriate units and pages. Something I particularly like in this part of the book are the many little gems of wisdom entitled Just Remember, such as:

“Adverbs of degree are fairly common in academic texts. Using appropriate adverbs like slightly, fully or highly in your writing for the IELTS test will help you express yourself more precisely and will also increase your vocabulary range, which is taken into account in marking.”

These serve as a timely reminder of how the usage of language relates to the IELTS testing criteria – something the candidate needs to be aware of.

The writing practice bank at the back of the book provides the student with a selection of model answers. This is something many candidates sorely need, along with guided practice tasks designed to help the student understand how texts are created in English. ESL Reviews & ArticlesKaithe is currently teaching EFL with The British Council in Tunis when she is not practising her doting skills on her two adorable granddaughters in West London. In her spare time she is an IELTS examiner and materials writer.