IELTS, TOEFL Academic reading: Read quicker! I need more time!


There’s not enough time!


If only I had more time…I could do better if I had more time. I need more time.

Slow down! There are no short cuts!

Academic reading tests are hard because they don’t give you much time. You need to be able to read faster! Here are three simple tips that will help you read more quickly.

1. Change your way of thinking.

If you want to succeed you will have to ENJOY READING.

Read something you like – do you like football? Aeroplanes? Video Games?


2. You will only get better at reading if you READ!

Read 1 article a day for 15 minutes. Try this for a month.

No excuses!

You can find good, free articles here.




3. Learn to skim and scan

Reading techniques help you find information quickly.

Download our worksheet here.

improve reading

For more help with academic reading. Check out Richard L King’s book Teach Yourself IELTS reading.





Big list of antonyms for academic English : IELTS, TOEFL and TOIEC



Here’s a great list of academic antonyms to help you with your IELTS speaking and writing.

Lists are great, but how can you use them? Do you learn them? Do you just read them? What do you do? Read the advice below.

  1. Read through this list and circle 10-15 antonym pairs that you don’t know and learn them. Test yourself on them.
  2. Read through the list. Choose ten hard pairs you don’t know, print them off and stick them on your wall / toilet wall / fridge door – anywhere you will look, often
  3. Play a game with them like the awesome word frog game
  4. Play pelmanism. Choose ten you think are useful. Write them on small pieces of paper. Put them face down on a table. Now turn each one over and try to match the pairs.



Synonyms – a common list for IELTS, TOEL and TOIEC


What are synonyms?

IELTS exams are full of synonyms – two words that mean nearly the same thing.

The IELTS reading paper made me feel sick.

After I did the IELTS reading paper, I felt ill.

Sick and ill are synonyms.

How they are used on the IELTS, TOEFL and TOIEC exams

In exams you’ll find that the questions often use synonyms. For example.

Pete went skiing last month and broke his leg in three places. Lucky guy!

What part of his body did Pete injure? His leg.

Break (past tense broke) doesn’t mean the same as injure, but in the context of this sentences it does! So, it’s still a synonym.

To get the score you want, you’ll need a big vocabulary! Here’s a big list of synonyms for you learn! Print it off, stick it on your door, your wall or your fridge.

Amazing — incredible, unbelievable, improbable, fabulous, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing, astounding, extraordinary
Angry — mad, furious, enraged,
Answer — reply, respond, retort, acknowledge
Ask– question, enquire of, interrogate, examine, quiz
Awful — dreadful, terrible, unpleasant
Beautiful — pretty, lovely, handsome, attractive, gorgeous,
Begin — start, open, launch, initiate, commence, originate
Big — enormous, huge, immense, gigantic, vast, colossal
Break — fracture, shatter, smash, demolish,
Bright —brilliant, sparkling, shimmering, radiant, vivid
Calm — quiet, peaceful, still, tranquil
Come — approach, arrive, reach
Cool — chilly, cold, frosty, wintry, icy, frigid
Dangerous — perilous, hazardous, risky, uncertain, unsafe
Decide — determine, settle, choose, resolve
Definite — certain, sure, positive, determined, clear, distinct, obvious
Destroy — ruin, demolish, extinguish
Difference — disagreement, inequity, contrast, dissimilarity, incompatibility
Dull — boring, tiring„ tiresome, uninteresting
Eager — keen, fervent, enthusiastic,
End — stop, finish, terminate, conclude, close, halt
Enjoy — appreciate, delight in, be pleased, indulge in, like
Explain — elaborate, clarify, define, interpret, justify, account for
Fair — just, impartial, unbiased, objective, unprejudiced, honest
Fall — drop, descend, plunge, topple, tumble
False — fake, fraudulent, counterfeit, spurious, untrue,
Famous — well-known, renowned, celebrated, f
Fast — quick, rapid,
Funny — humorous, amusing,
Get — acquire, obtain, secure,
Go —depart, fade, disappear, move, travel, proceed
Happy — pleased, contented, satisfied, delighted, elated,
Hate — despise, loathe, detest, abhor,
Help — aid, assist, support, encourage
Hide — conceal, cover, mask,
Hurry — rush
Hurt — damage, harm, injure, wound, distress
Idea — thought, concept, conception, notion, understanding, opinion, plan, view, belief
Important — necessary, vital, critical, indispensable, valuable, essential, significant, primary
Interesting — fascinating, engaging,
Keep — hold, retain, withhold, preserve, maintain, sustain, support
Little — tiny, small, diminutive
Look — see, glance, watch, survey, study
Love — like, admire, esteem, fancy, care for
Make — create, originate, invent, beget, construct, design, fabricate, manufacture, produce, build, develop
Mark — label, tag, price,
Neat — clean, orderly, tidy,
New — fresh, unique, original, unusual, novel, modern, current, recent
Part — portion, share, piece, allotment, section, fraction, fragment
Place — space, area, region, location, situation, position, residence
Plan — plot, scheme, design, draw, map, diagram, procedure, arrangement, intention
Popular — well-liked, approved, accepted, celebrated, common, current
Put — place, set, attach,
Quiet — silent, still, soundless
Right — correct, accurate, factual, true,
Say/Tell — inform, notify, advise, relate, recount, narrate, explain, reveal,
Scared — afraid, frightened,
Show — display, exhibit, present, note, point to, indicate, explain, reveal, prove, demonstrate, expose
Slow — unhurried, gradual, leisurely, late, behind, tedious,
Stop — cease, halt, stay, pause, discontinue, conclude, end, finish, quit
Strange — odd, peculiar, unusual, uncommon
Tell — disclose, reveal, show, expose, uncover, relate, narrate, inform, advise, explain, divulge, declare,
Think — judge, deem, assume, believe
True — accurate, right, proper, precise, exact, valid, genuine, real, actual
Unhappy — miserable, uncomfortable
Use — employ, utilize, exhaust, spend, expend, consume, exercise
Wrong — incorrect, inaccurate, mistaken

Check out Richard L King’s book for more help with your IELTS


The top ten idioms in English – IELTS /TOEFL / TOIEC speaking!




I’ve done no research on this and so, there is no way  I can be sure that these are the top ten idioms used in English.

Adding idioms to your spoken language will make you sound more natural and more like a native speaker. But PLEASE DON’T use them all the time!

Choose two or three idioms that you like and remember them. Use them at the right time and don’t try to force them into every sentence.

idioms chris speck3



1.g 2.j 3.a 4.i 5.b 6.h 7.c 8.d 9. f 10.e

Check out Richard King’s book for more help with your IELTS exams!


Improve your IELTS, TOEFL and TOIEC reading speed. Skimming and scanning.


You don’t always get better at reading just by reading. To get the score you need in the IELTS, TOEFL or TOIC you need to read quickly and accurately.

Change THE WAY you read to improve your speed

Learn to SKIMread quickly and superficially so you find out only the important or significant details.

Learn to SCAN – search the text for important words to find the exact piece of information you need.

You already know how to SKIM and SCAN in your language.

You MUST learn to do this to get better at academic English.

Download our worksheet –  Improve your IELTS reading speed – click the picture below.

improve reading

For more help with your IELTS, TOEFL or TOIEC, check out Richard L King’s book – Teach yourself IELTS reading.



Improve your IELTS and TOEFL reading: One article a day. No excuses.

The Olympics in Brazil made me think about training. Sorry if this sounds a bit angry!

Your brian is a muscle.

You need to train it.

The reading section of the IELTS exam is the hardest section because you need to be well trained at reading and have a huge vocabulary.

Here’s the training.

Choose the first article from the fantastic Guardian Weekly, an international broadsheet.


One article a day. No excuses.

If you have a study partner. Get them to read it to and then TALK ABOUT it.

Read it in less than ten minutes.

Do not check all the words in the dictionary BUT if you feel there is an important word you should know then please do CHECK.

Do it everyday. No excuses.

but it’s boring…I have other work to do…I’m hungry…it’s late…I have to have some fun sometimes.

Success is your choice.

Please let me know how you get on!

For more help with your IELTS reading. Try Richard L King’s book.


Writing better sentences for IELTS and TOEFL

Watch this video with a short poem by the writer Gary Provost

We’re not novelists but varying the rhythm of your sentences can help you with your writing. Some sentences can be short. Some need to be long to show that you can use effective and complex structures. Above all, the sentences you write must be effective at communicating your ideas.