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Monday, 5 December 2011

Listening and reading  

The tables below indicate the mean raw scores achieved by candidates at various levels in each of the Listening, Academic Reading and General Training Reading tests and provide an indication of the number of marks required to achieve a particular band score.

Band scoreRaw score out of 40
Academic Reading
Band scoreRaw score out of 40
General Training Reading 
Band scoreRaw score out of 40

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Saturday, 3 December 2011

The IELTS Question Paper Production Process

The production of IELTS question papers is a lengthy process which includes a number of quality checks. The objective of these checks is to ensure that the material in each test is suitable for the test purpose in terms of topics, focus, level of language, length, style and technical measurement properties.

We apply both qualitative standards for the production of test material involving the judgement of qualified professionals, and quantitative, statistical standards for the selection of suitable test material and the maintenance of consistent levels of test difficulty over time.

The stages in the process of producing question papers are shown in Figure 1 below. The first three stages of commissioning, pre-editing and editing involve gathering and choosing appropriate test content that reflects the aims of the Academic and General Training modules.

Once the best material has been selected, it is then given to representative groups of language learners to check that each question – or item - is at an appropriate difficulty level for IELTS; that candidates will be able to understand the questions and that each question can help us to differentiate between more and less able candidates.  This stage is known as pretesting. Approved material is stored in an item bank and can then be introduced to live tests – tests that are used as the basis for awarding official IELTS certificates – through a process known as standards fixing.  Each of these stages is explained in more detail below.

1.   Commissioning of Material for Question Papers
2.   Pre-editing and Editing of Material (Rejection or Revision of Material)
3.   Pre-test Construction
4.   Pretesting move
5.   Pre-test Review (Rejection or Revision of Material)
6.   Banking of Material
7.   Standards Fixing Construction
8.   Live Test Construction and Grading
9.   Live Test Release

There are one or two commissions each year for each of our item writing teams. These feed material into the question paper production process. To reflect the international nature of IELTS, test material is written by trained groups of item writers in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the USA and is drawn from publications sourced anywhere in the world. Overall test content is the responsibility of both externally commissioned language testing professionals – the chairs for each of the Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking
sub-tests – and of Cambridge ESOL staff.   Item writers work from test specifications.  These specifications detail the characteristics of an the IELTS sub-tests, outline the requirements for commissions and guide writers in how to approach the item writing process including selecting appropriate material; developing suitable items and submitting material for pre-editing and editing.

Pre-editing is the first stage of the editing process and takes place when commissioned materials are initially submitted in draft form by item writers. A meeting is held involving chairs and Cambridge ESOL staff to review the material.

The purpose of pre-editing is to ensure that test material is appropriate in terms of:
• topic
• topicality
• level of language
• suitability for the task
• length
• focus of text
• style of writing
• focus of task
• level of task.

At this stage, guidance is given to item writers on revising items and altering texts for resubmission.  This is seen as an important element in item writer training and advice is also offered on any rejected texts and unsuitable item types.

Following pre-editing feedback, material is completed and submitted for editing. Editing takes place at meetings involving Cambridge ESOL staff and chairs. Item writers are encouraged to participate in editing meetings dealing with their material. This is seen as another important part of their ongoing training.

At editing, texts and selected items are approved for pretesting or are sent back to a writer for further revision. Revised material is then re-edited at a subsequent meeting.

Pretest construction and Pretesting
IELTS pretests are very similar to the tests that will be used in live administrations.  The tasks are in their final form including task rubrics (instructions) and Examples. Listening pretests are professionally recorded to ensure that they are of acceptable quality. Listening and Reading pretests are administered to IELTS candidates at selected centres or to prospective candidates on IELTS preparation courses. The pretests are marked at Cambridge  ESOL and statistically analysed. Writing and Speaking pretests are administered to representative samples of candidates to assess the appropriateness of this material for use in live tests, and to establish that the tasks are capable of eliciting an adequate sample of language to allow for the assessment of candidates against the scoring criteria.

Pretest Review
The Validation Unit at Cambridge ESOL collates and analyses the pretest material.

Listening and Reading pretests
All candidate responses are analysed to establish the technical measurement characteristics of the material, i.e. to find out how difficult the items are, and how they distinguish between stronger and weaker candidates. Both classical item statistics and latent trait models are used in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the material. Classical item statistics are used to identify the performance of a particular pretest in terms of the facility and discrimination of the items in relation to the sample that was used. Rasch analysis is used to locate items on the IELTS common scale of difficulty. In addition, the comments on the material by the staff at pretest centres and the immediate response of the pretest candidates are taken into account.

At a pretest review meeting, the statistics, feedback from candidates and teachers and any additional information are reviewed and informed decisions are made on whether texts and items can be accepted for construction into potential live versions. Material is then stored in an item bank to await test construction.

Writing and Speaking pretests
Separate batches of Writing pretest scripts are marked by IELTS Principal Examiners and Assistant Principal Examiners. At least two reports on the task performance and its suitability for inclusion in live versions are produced. On the basis of these reports, tasks may be banked for live use, amended and sent for further pretesting or rejected.

Feedback on the trialling of the Speaking tasks is reviewed by experienced examiners, who deliver the trialling tasks, and members of the item writing team who are present at the trialling sessions. The subsequent reports are then assessed by the paper chair and Cambridge ESOL staff.

Banking of material
Cambridge ESOL has developed its own item banking software for managing the
development of new live tests. Each section or task is banked with statistical information as well as comprehensive content description. This information is used to ensure that the tests that are constructed have the required content coverage and the appropriate level of difficulty.

Standards Fixing and Grading
Standards fixing ensures that there is a direct link between the standard of established and new versions before they are released for use at test centres around the world.

Different versions of the test all report results on the same underlying scale, but band scores do not always correspond to the same percentage of items correct on every test form. Before any test task is used to make important decisions, we must first establish how many correct answers on each Listening or Reading test equate to each of the nine IELTS bands. This ensures that band scores on each test indicate the same measure of ability.

Once we are satisfied with the quality of the material, each new test task is introduced as part of a live test administration (with limited numbers of candidates and under tightly controlled conditions).  We use information from this exercise to confirm our estimate of how difficult the new task is when compared to the established test material.  The task is then ready to be used in combination with other material as part of a fully live test.

Test construction
At regular test construction meetings, Listening and Reading papers are constructed according to established principles. Factors taken into account are:

•      the difficulty of complete test versions and the range of difficulty of individual items
•      the balance of topic and genre
•      the balance of gender and accent in the Listening versions
•      the balance of item format (i.e. the relative number of multiple choice and other  item      types across versions)
•      the range of Listening/Reading skills tested.

The item banking software allows the test constructor to model various test construction scenarios in order to determine which tasks should be combined to create tests that meet the requirements.

Data are collected routinely from live administrations and analysed both to confirm the accuracy of the initial grading process and to support additional investigations into quality assurance issues.

Ongoing Research and Development
In addition to this routine of test development and validation, the IELTS partners carry out academic research to support the tests and sponsor external researchers. Details of this research are given in the IELTS Annual Review, which can be accessed on the IELTS website: Based on this research work, regular improvements are made both to the test itself and to its administration.You have read this post. 

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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Energy Consumption 
Process Description 

Aluminum is derived from the naturally occurring ore called Bauxite. Bauxite is refined into alumina which is electrochemically reduced into aluminum in reduction cells or pots (Hall-Herault process). The molten aluminum is then either cast into ingots, bars, rolled into sheets, plates or foil, or drawn into rod. These intermediate shapes are then shipped to processing plants which shape the aluminum into consumer products. Click on a process step below for more information.

Electricity GenerationPhoto of a power plantEighty-two percent of Kentucky's coal is used to generate electricity. After coal is mined, it is transported to power plants by trains, barges, and trucks. A conveyor belt carries the coal to a pulverizer, where it is ground to the fineness of talcum powder. The powdered coal is then blown into a combustion chamber of a boiler, where it is burned at around 1,400ÂșC. Surrounding the walls of the boiler room are pipes filled with water. Because of the intense heat, the water vaporizes into superheated high-pressure steam. The steam passes through a turbine (which is similar to a large propeller) connected to a generator. The incoming steam causes the turbine to rotate at high speeds, creating a magnetic field inside wound wire coils in the generator. This pushes an electric current through the wire coils out of the power plant through transmission lines. After the steam passes through the turbine chamber, it is cooled down in cooling towers and it again becomes part of the water/steam cycle.

Graphic illustrates how electricity generated by conventional coal combusion

Coal-Fired Power Plant

Coal-Fired Power Plant
Coal-fired units produce electricity by burning coal in a boiler to heat water to produce steam. The steam, at tremendous pressure, flows into a turbine, which spins a generator to produce electricity. The steam is cooled, condensed back into water, and returned to the boiler to start the process over.
For example, the coal-fired boilers at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant near Knoxville, Tennessee, heat water to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees Celsius) to create steam. The steam is piped to the turbines at pressures of more than 1,800 pounds per square inch (130 kilograms per square centimeter). The turbines are connected to the generators and spin them at 3600 revolutions per minute to make alternating current electricity at 20,000 volts. River water is pumped through tubes in a condenser to cool and condense the steam coming out of the turbines.
The Kingston plant generates about 10 billion kilowatt-hours a year, or enough electricity to supply 700,000 homes. To meet this demand, Kingston burns about 14,000 tons of coal a day, an amount that would fill 140 railroad cars.

Friday, 5 August 2011

You have read this post. Why don't you write down your opinion it. I greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

January 14, 2010

In today’s world, it is private companies rather than government that pay for and carry out most scientific research. Do you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Rephrasing the question

Emergence of free market economies has initiated (encouraged) private companies invest huge amounts of money in scientific research, so as to enable them to use the findings, for profitable business activities.  The increasing domination of private enterprises, especially multinational corporations in carrying out most research projects has downplayed the role of the government and raised certain issues.


1.   Huge investments are required for scientific research and so government can concentrate on more priority issues like health care and social security.
2.   Better quality research and better utilisation of money for research in it is carried out by private companies.
3.   This would expedite (speed up) the development of the economy through technological innovations.
4.   This would enable government to invest in essential research concerning the basic needs of the society.


1.   Monopolisation of certain research and consequently the products from inventions may be priced very high. (eg: medicines)
2.   Profit motive and therefore no social commitment. May not be accessible to the poor.
3.   Sometimes research may be hampered as private companies may not be able to invest as much as government as it may not be financially feasible (alternative sources of energy).


Since the resources of the government is greatly limited, there is no harm in allowing private companies to carry out majority of scientific research.  Hence, government can concentrate more on essential research concerning the basic needs of the people, where private companies may not be interested in participating.


·         Research and development
·         Carry out research
·         Research into
·         Research on
·         State funding
·         Corporate research
·         Corporate companies
·         Monopolistic policies
·         Multinational
·         Inventions
·         Discoveries
·         Scientific development
·         Social commitment
·         Profit motive
·         Money making
·         Researchers
·         Scientists
·         Greater benefits
·         expedite
·         private enterprises
·         monopoly
·         private sector

You have read this post. Why don't you write down your opinion it. I greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

1. January 9, 2010

Some people believe that the charity organisations should give aid to those in the greatest need wherever they live.  However others are of the opinion that such organisations would better concentrate, instead, on helping people who live in their own country.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Rephrasing the question

There are many charity organisations that function beyond their national boundaries reaching out to millions of underprivileged, especially the most disadvantaged (underprivileged) in poor regions of the world.  However, there are certain people who oppose (object to) the international nature of such humanitarian activities and suggest their aid should be limited to the poor in their own countries. 

Aid to people wherever they live because:

  1. There are poor countries where the local charity organisations are not financially capable of meeting the basic needs of the underprivileged.
  2. There are very rich countries where there is very little requirement for extensive charity work, but have great amount of charity money at their disposal.
  3. Even in rich countries during serious emergencies, like, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes need the help of international charity organisations.

Help those in their own countries:

  1. Dependence on rich countries will increase and discourage them from becoming self reliant. 
  2. Sharing in poor countries will increase when they do not get help from abroad.


1.       In spite of (despite) certain drawbacks, I would consider, charity organisations should not limit (confine) their activities within their own national boundaries as it has greater advantages for the beneficiaries.


  • ·         Aid agency
  • ·         Benefactor
  • ·         Charities
  • ·         Philanthropic groups
  • ·         Humanitarian
  • ·         Donations
  • ·         Sponsorship
  • ·         Outreach
  • ·         International Aid
  • ·         Natural calamities
  • ·         Floods
  • ·         Hurricanes
  • ·         Famine
  • ·         Earthquake
  • ·         Tsunami
  • ·         Unemployment
  • ·         Poverty
  • ·         Dependence
  • ·         Self-reliant
  • ·         the disadvantaged
  • ·         the underprivileged
  • ·         the deprived
  • ·         the most vulnerable sections of the society
  • ·         poverty-stricken areas of the world
  • ·         destitute
  • ·         oppose
  • ·         object to

Friday, 22 July 2011

Explanation and Vocabulary of Essay Question (February 6, 2010)

Air travel can only benefit the richest people in the world. Ordinary people can get no advantage with the development of air travel. To what extent do you agree or disagree?


·         Development of air travel would trigger increasing competition resulting in lowering of air fares, making it possible even for ordinary people to travel by air.

·         When demand for affordable tickets increases, economy flights would be introduced catering to ordinary people for tourism, education, business and emergency travel.


·         Aircrafts
·         Flights
·         Travel by air
·         Journey by air
·         Airlines
·         Planes
·         Business class
·         Economy class
·         Tourist class ( the cheapest set of seats in flight)
·         Chartered flights
·         Fly
·         Flying
·         Frequency of flying
·         Affordable
·         Disadvantageous
·         The common man
·         The general public

You have read this post. Why don't you write down your opinion it. I greatly appreciate it.