IELTS本試験が変わります – by 土橋健一郎

こんにちは。アゴス・ジャパンIELTSリーダーの土橋です。

 今春から、IELTS本試験に一部変更があります。これからIELTS本試験を受験される方は、下記2点をご確認ください。

 (1) 筆記試験の試験科目の実施順序が変更されます。

英検およびJSAFによりますと、2019413日(土)以降のIELTS本試験から、筆記試験の試験科目の実施順序が下記のように変更されます。

 現在の実施順序(変更前):

Listening→Reading→Writing

■413日(土)以降(変更後):

Writing→Reading→Listening

 この変更は、アカデミック・モジュール、ジェネラル・トレーニング・モジュールの両方で実施されるとのことです。

なお、各試験科目の所要時間に変更はありません

 下記リンクから、英検およびJSAFホームページにおける公式発表をご確認いただけます。

英検IELTS:

http://www.eiken.or.jp/ielts/students_info/2019/0404_01.html

JSAF IELTS:

https://www.jsaf-ieltsjapan.com/

 

(2) 筆記試験をコンピューターで受験するIELTSが始まりました。

2019327日より、筆記試験をコンピューターで受験するIELTSが開始されました。正式名称を Computer-delivered IELTS (CDI) と言います。

現在のところ、日本国内でCDIを受験できるのはBritish Council Japan(東京都新宿区神楽坂)の一会場のみです。試験日は20196月まで発表されておりますが、平日にのみ設定されており、土・日の受験はできない模様です。

詳細は下記British Councilウェブサイトをご覧ください。

 British Council:

https://www.britishcouncil.jp/exam/ielts/which-test/computer-delivered-ielts

 なお、英検およびJSAF会場で受験するIELTSは、これまで通りペーパーテストを続けており、従来型の紙と鉛筆の試験が廃止されたわけではありません。「コンピューターでもIELTSを受けられるオプションが増えた」ということであって、「コンピューターで受けなければならなくなった」ということではありませんので、ご注意ください。

 今後新たな情報が入りましたら、こちらのブログでも随時お伝えしていきます。

 土橋

Why background knowledge is vital for TOEFL®/IELTS success

Do you ever feel that your performance on the TOEFL® or IELTS test ‘depends on the topic’? If topics you know about and are interested in come up, you get a higher score, but when you get unfamiliar or boring topics, your score goes down.

Well, a lot of students complain about this, so it seems that having some knowledge about the common TOEFL®/IELTS topics can affect your score. Of course, the makers of TOEFL®and the makers of IELTS would argue that you don’t need any specialist knowledge of any topic to perform  well in the tests. However, it certainly makes things quicker and easier and gives you more confidence if you know something about the topics in the test you’re taking.

In some cases, you can even answer questions without reading or listening. Here are a couple of examples of reading questions from the TOEFL® Official Guide (5th Edition) that I answered correctly without reading a word of the texts. Take a look at this one – can you get the correct answer?

Topic: Politics/History (from Practice Test 1, The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test, Fifth Edition, p. 226)

3. The author mentions “bankers and investors” in the passage as an example of which of the following?

A. The Democratic Party’s main source of support

B. The people the Democrats claimed were unfairly becoming rich

C. The people most interested in a return to a simple agrarian republic

D. One of the groups in favor of Andrew Jackson’s presidency

If you know anything about US politics, and the history of the Democratic and Republican parties, you can assume that “bankers and investors” are unlikely to support the Democratic party. I don’t know anything about Andrew Jackson (I’m not American, so have never studied American presidents!), but I assume he’s a Democrat because it seems this question is focusing on the Democratic party. So this means A and D are unlikely to be correct. Using common sense, it’s pretty obvious that bankers would not support a return to a ‘simple agrarian republic’, so the correct answer must be B.

Now try this one:

Topic: Geography (from Practice Test 1, The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test, Fifth Edition, p. 240)

6. According to paragraph 3, one cause of mountain formation is the

A. effect of climatic change on sea level

B. slowing down of volcanic activity

C. force of Earth’s crustal plates hitting each other

D. replacement of sedimentary rock with volcanic rock

I haven’t studied geography since I was 15, but I’m pretty sure that the only option that makes any sense is C.

Now of course, answering questions without reading/listening is not always possible, and you shouldn’t imagine that becoming an expert in a wide range of subject areas is guaranteed to get you a high score in TOEFL and IELTS. Your English study and test preparation are still absolutely essential.

However, increasing your background knowledge about the common TOEFL and IELTS topics can really help you to answer questions more quickly and give you more confidence. In the Speaking and Writing sections, you’ll be able to think of ideas and opinions much more quickly and easily to give better answers.

This is why our new Essential English course is topic-based – to help you  improve your English study and test skills while increasing your background knowledge. If you’d like more information, why not come to a free demonstration lesson of the Essential English course? I’d be happy to let you experience a lesson, and to answer any questions you have about English or test preparation.

You can register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates in April:

Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00

Saturday 13th April, 15:00-16:30

Saturday 27th April, 15:00-16:30

*Before coming to the demonstration lesson, take a look at the following sentence – it has some common Japanese learner mistakes. Can you spot them?

‘Overtime working can have a bad effect to workers’ mental.’

After the demonstration lesson, I’ll explain what the mistakes are, and how to express this idea using natural, high level English.

See you soon!

Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan

For more information about English study, please visit the Essential English home page here.

How long does it take to improve your English?

This is the question everyone wants to know, but is extremely difficult to answer because there are so many variables. For example, your current level, your past experience of learning, how much time you have to study and practice, how stressed you are with your work, what family commitments you have etc., etc. However, let’s look at some rough guidelines.

Unfortunately, the makers of TOEFL and the makers of IELTS don’t provide any guidance on this. Probably, they don’t want to make promises they can’t keep (because of the variables I mentioned earlier). But we can use the CEFR level system to make some estimates (that’s the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a system for assessing language levels. Wikipedia entry is here.)

One level of CEFR is approximately 20 points on the TOEFL, and about 1 band in IELTS. On average, to achieve that kind of improvement, it would take around 160-180 hours of guided study. That means learning in the classroom with a teacher on a structured program covering language development and four skills work, with additional self-study that is guided by the teacher.

So if you study English in class for 3 hours a week, and do 6 hours of guided self-study, then that’ll take about 4 to 5 months.

I’m not promising you can do that of course – again, there are too many variables  to guarantee anything. So to make that kind of progress in such a short time means you really have to work hard, not miss any lessons, do all the self-study, and be able to focus for the whole period of study.

But it is possible.

If you’d like more information about your English study, why not come to a free demonstration lesson – we can have a chat about English study after the class.

You can register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates:

Saturday 30th March*, 15:00-16:30

Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00

*Before coming to this lesson, take a look at the following sentence – it has some common Japanese learner mistakes. Can you spot them?

‘Overtime working can have a bad effect to workers’ mental.’

After the demonstration lesson on March 30th, I’ll explain what the mistakes are, and how to express this idea using natural, high level English.

Hope to see you soon!

Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan

For more information about English study, please visit the Essential English home page here.

Why your English (probably) isn’t good enough to get 100 in TOEFL/7.0 in IELTS

If you’re struggling to reach 100 in TOEFL or 7.0 in IELTS, there’s a strong possibility that it’s not just your strategy that you need to work on. You probably also need to improve your English.

Of course, you may have been lucky and had some great English teachers at school, or you may have had the opportunity to study abroad. But for most Japanese people, even if you went to good schools, your English probably didn’t get to a high enough level to achieve top scores in the TOEFL or IELTS tests. But why is that?

Well, there are two fundamental problems – how you studied, and what you studied.

At school, you probably had English lessons where the students were quite passive – a lot of listening to the teacher, a lot of grammar translation, and a lot of vocabulary tests. This means that you probably have a lot of knowledge of English, which is good, but TOEFL and IELTS are not just testing your knowledge. These tests assess how you can use English in realistic scenarios that you will encounter when you study abroad.

The range of English vocabulary and grammar you studied at school was probably also too narrow, too basic, and quite unnatural. Here’s a real example from a student showing some common problems:

‘My trip to Kyoto was good because I could enjoy various dishes.’

This sentence has several problems:

  1. ‘My trip to Kyoto was good.’ – this is not grammatically wrong, but it sounds a little unnatural. Native speakers are more likely to use a different expression, the word ‘good’ is very common and basic, and native speakers would usually use stronger language to express this idea, like this: ‘I had a fantastic time in Kyoto.’
  2. ‘because I could enjoy various dishes.’ – here, there is some direct translation from Japanese, ‘various’ is used wrongly, and ‘dishes’ sounds unnatural when used in this context. This is better: ‘mainly because of the great food.’

So this sounds much more natural and high level:

‘I had a fantastic time in Kyoto, mainly because of the great food.’

If you can already produce this kind of sentence, then you’re probably at the right level to get 100 in TOEFL or 7.0 in IELTS. If not, you might need to work on your English!

 

If this sounds like you, then check out the second in our series of videos about our new ‘Essential English‘ course here. You’ll find another useful example of how to change your English there.

You can join the Essential English course from April 6th 2019.

The course is specially for TOEFL and IELTS students who are currently scoring 70-89 (TOEFL), or 5.5-6.0 (IELTS) who need to improve their English. The classes are very active and lively – so you’ll get plenty of opportunity to use the language you’re learning, and get feedback from your teacher.

For more information, please visit the Essential English home page here. You can also register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates:

Saturday 16th March, 14:30-16:00

Saturday 30th March, 15:00-16:30

Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00

Hope to see you soon!

Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan

Why improving your English is key to increasingTOEFL and IELTS scores

Hi, this is Mike, and in this blog post I’m going to explain why improving your English is probably the key to improving your TOEFL or IELTS test scores, and to introduce a new course we’re developing to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re taking TOEFL or IELTS, you may have experience of ‘hitting a plateau’. This is when your score stops going up for an extended period of time. You keep practicing and taking the test, but your score just doesn’t change. It’s a very common problem, but why does it happen?

Basically, when this occurs it’s usually because you’ve reached your limit in terms of your English. It’s important to remember that TOEFL and IELTS are (very accurate) measures of your English level. So if your knowledge of English and ability to use it are too low, you’re not going to increase your test scores beyond your limit, even if your strategy is really good.

To help students overcome this issue, the Curriculum and Instruction team at Agos is currently developing and piloting a new course called ‘Essential English‘, which you can join from April 6th 2019.

We’re designing the course specially for TOEFL and IELTS students who are currently scoring 70-89 (TOEFL), or 5.5-6.0 (IELTS) who need to improve their English.

If this sounds like you, then check out the first in our series of videos about the course here. For more information, please visit the Essential English home page here. You can also register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates:

Saturday 16th March, 14:30-16:00

Saturday 30th March, 15:00-16:30

Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00

Hope to see you soon!

Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan

 

‘Coffee Chat’ Event – Speed Chatting: a great chance to practice speaking – by Mike Thundercliffe

Hi everyone, Mike here. I hope you’re not suffering too much from the summer heat, and found some time to relax during obon!

On August 06, we had our first student ‘coffee chat’ event based on the concept of ‘speed chatting’. This was a free event, and was designed to give Agos students some extra speaking practice in a relaxed environment. It was great to see everyone chatting confidently and having fun, and the teachers enjoyed it too!

What’s ‘speed chatting’?

Basically, the speed chatting format allows students to speak as much as possible, and to work with different students and teachers. It went like this:

  • We had three groups of four/five students, each with a native speaker teacher in the group (me, Danny Robinson and Jim Giguere joined this event).
  • A question (similar to TOEFL Independent Task 1 and 2, or IELTS Part 1 questions) was put up on the screen.
  • First of all, the students had a chance to listen to the teacher answering the question.
  • Then, each student spoke in turn.
  • After each student spoke, the teacher gave some detailed feedback.
  • Each student had the opportunity to talk about the same topic twice.
  • Then we mixed everyone up into new groups, and changed the topic.
  • We had tea, coffee and snacks throughout the two-hour event.

What did the students think?

Here’s some of the feedback from the participants:

  • “It was very helpful to get lots of feedback, and there were a lot of chances to listen as well. It was a very productive time!”
  • “It was a good chance to practice as I don’t have much opportunity to speak to native English speakers and get feedback.”
  • “This session helped me to find some things I didn’t know about, such as linking words and phrases together.”
  • “It was great! I hope this event takes place more frequently. The open, relaxed environment enabled me to join the conversation, and it helped me to build up my confidence.”
  • “By having this opportunity to speak casually, I was pleased that I could find my weakness. Now I know what I need to study more.”

 

 

Are we going to do it again?

Definitely! We are going to run the event on Friday 08 September at 19:00-21:00. The event is open to anyone who has already taken or is currently studying on a TOEFL Speaking Strategy/23 Toppa course, or IELTS Speaking Core/Advanced course. The maximum number of participants will be 16, so please register soon if you’re planning to attend. You can do that here:

Hope to see you there!

Mike

Improve your Vocabulary for TOEFL and IELTS Speaking Tests – by Dan Bates

Hi everyone, I’m Dan and today I’m going to give you some advice on how to improve your vocabulary for your TOEFL and IELTS speaking tests.

I’ve noticed that many of mys students find it difficult to express themselves when it comes to talking about their feelings and emotions in English. All too often, my students will rely on ‘basic’ or neutral vocabulary to describe how they were feeling. For example, “I was happy/sad/tired/angry” or “It was fun/nice”. Using this ‘simple’ or ‘neutral’ vocabulary (in bold) limits your ability to truly express your feelings and can have a negative impact on your grades in TOEFL and IELTS. Only using simple vocabulary in your speaking test can limit your TOEFL score to a 2, or your IELTS Lexical Resource score to a 5.

However, talking about your feelings is an easy opportunity to use some more advanced vocabulary and boost your scores.

So, what should you do? First, learn some less common synonyms and phrases for emotions. I’ll get you started with the emotion ‘happy’.

Common/neutral word Less common word
happy delighted, ecstatic, chuffed (Brit. Informal)

These three adjectives are direct synonyms for ‘happy’, and can simply replace ‘happy’ when describing a joyous occasion. If you can use an idiomatic phrase too, the grader/examiner will definitely be impressed. Here’s an idiom for ‘happy’.

‘happy’ = ‘over the moon

You can also use some collocations using a modifier with the adjective, as below:

‘very happy’ = ‘deliriously happy

You can now express yourself with a number of words and phrases that are sure to catch the grader/examiner’s ear. The great thing about focusing on vocabulary for feelings and emotions is that they are very adaptable to a whole range of questions. It doesn’t matter what the topic of the question is, you can always talk about how the topic makes you feel. Here are some more examples:

Common/ neutral word

Less common word Idiom

Collocation

sad depressed

‘I was depressed when I didn’t get the job.’

down in the dumps

‘I was down in the dumps when I didn’t get the job.’

incredibly sad

‘I was incredibly sad when I didn’t get the job.’

tired exhausted

‘I was exhausted after the tennis match.’

dead on one’s feet

‘I was dead on my feet after the tennis match.’

completely drained

‘I was completely drained after the tennis match.’

angry furious

‘My dad was furious after I damaged his car.’

fly off the handle

‘My dad flew off the handle after I damaged his car.’

absolutely furious

‘My dad was absolutely furious after I damaged his car.’

So, go ahead and find some words, idiomatic phrases and collocations for the other feelings and emotions (you can start here: http://www.thesaurus.com/ )* and then practice using them to answer the following questions.

Speak for 30 to 45 seconds on the following topics:

  1. your happiest childhood memory
  2. your favourite pet
  3. a memorable day from high school
  4. a place you enjoy visiting

Record your speech on your phone then listen back to check you used the less common words and phrases in your answers. Practice until it becomes natural to use these words.

Finally, remember to take risks and do use these words when you take the exam. It’s better to use less-common words (even if you make some mistakes) than playing it safe and using simpler vocabulary. If you can start using these words more frequently, you’ll be ‘over the moon’ with the results!

*When you use a thesaurus, you should also check the synonyms in a dictionary to ensure you understand the nuances in meaning.

Giving Full Answers in Speaking Tests – by Mark Feeley

Hi everyone, and welcome to the instructor blog! I hope your studies at Agos are going well.

I’m Mark, and today, I’m going to be talking about the importance of more fully explaining your ideas in speaking tests, and how this can help you to improve your score. Although I’ll be using an example from an IELTS test, you can use a similar approach to the TOEFL Independent Speaking tasks.

A lot of test takers in Japan struggle to give full answers in the IELTS or TOEFL speaking tests, but it’s very important to fully explain your ideas. This is true for the IELTS or TOEFL tests, but is also crucial in MBA interviews and in the university seminars you will attend in the future.

Take the following example. Here is a typical IELTS Speaking Part 1 question (you may also get similar questions in TOEFL Speaking Task 1):

‘What do you like about the area where you live?’

A typical answer might be:

‘I like my area because it is convenient, and… er…’

The problem here is that a word like ‘convenient’ means many things.  It can also mean many different things to different people, so you should explain what you mean.

A much better answer to this type of question might be something like:

‘What I like about where I live is that it’s convenient. For example, it’s close to the shops, so if I need something to eat I can quickly nip out of my apartment and grab a bite to eat at a local store. Also, there are loads of clubs and bars near where I live so if I want to catch up with my mates at the weekend it’s quite easy and I know it won’t cost me a fortune for a taxi back home.’

As you can see from this example, not only is the answer more clearly explained, but giving a full answer gives you the opportunity to use a wide range of vocabulary (and grammar), including some less common phrases such as ‘nip out of my apartment’*, ‘grab a bite to eat’* and ‘mate’*. By more fully answering questions, you will also therefore be able to demonstrate to the examiner or grader the range of vocabulary that you are able to use.

Also notice how we can use fairly simple linking words (marked in bold in the example) to expand and join our ideas together. The example above uses a simple way of expanding your ideas, like this:

Example 1 → so…→ and…         Example 2 → so…→ and

So how can you improve? The most important thing is to practice a lot, and try recording your speaking. After you have finished, listen to your speaking and ask yourself whether there is anything that you could add to more fully explain your answer. Better still, ask a classmate or teacher to check for you, as they may be able to notice something that you can’t.

I hope you find this useful. Good luck with your studies at Agos!

*‘nip out of my apartment’ = leave my apartment for a short time and come back

*‘grab a bite to eat’ = quickly get something to eat

*’mate’= British English (informal) meaning ‘friend’ – US English equivalent is ‘buddy’

「何となくわかった気になっている症候群」を脱しよう — by 小林朋子

こんにちは。TOEFL / IELTS講師の小林です。今日は、英語を何となくわかった気になっている現象を脱することについてお話します。

英語を読んでいる時、単語の羅列を見て、その中の知っている単語から予測して一応何となくわかった気になっている方は少なからずいます。でもそういう方のスコアを聞いてみると、TOEFLで言えば15点(30点中)のように20点にいっていない方ばかりです。そういう方は、英語の文の構造、構文、論理展開など重要な視点で英語を読んでいないのです。例を挙げてみましょう。

次の文を20秒で読んで下さい。文構造(SV等)をつかめますか?

Room for a kitchen table, intended to be used by the household for informal family meals rather than by the kitchen staff for preparing meals, was provided.

文中にカンマがあるので、時間をかければそれ程難しくないと思います。文構造は、Room was provided. です。文構造を捉えられないと、intendedが動詞かな?などと思ってしまうことがあるようです。文の構造を捉えることによって、正確に読むことができるようになります。因みに冒頭のRoomは無冠詞なので「部屋」ではありません。場所とか空間といった意味です。

構文ではどうでしょうか。次の文を読んで下さい。

These conditions are hostile to plants, making it difficult for new growth to become established in the enriched soil.

makingがどういう使い方なのか、またmaking itのitが何を指しているか理解できますか?makingは分詞構文、itは仮目的語で不定詞to become~を指しています。高校生くらいで理解できる構文です。

では、次の文の論理展開を考えてみましょう。

While most physicians refused to deal with Beethoven after encountering his ill temper, supporters of his music refused to abandon him because of the radical changes he had brought about as a composer.

冒頭のWhileは対比の関係を表します。何と何が対比されているでしょう? 「ほとんどの医者がベートーベンを診ることを拒否した」という内容と、「ベートーベンの支援者は彼を見捨てることを拒否した」。ざっくり言えば、一方はベートーベンを見捨て、他方は見捨てないという対比です。さらに支援者が見捨てない理由も述べられています。「作曲家としてベートーベンがもたらした根本的な変革」です。つまりこの一文の中に、対比と因果の論理関係が含まれています。このような論理関係は文と文の関係でもよく見られます。TOEFLやIELTSの英語を読むときは、どのような論理展開になっているのかをしっかり意識して捉えていくことが重要です。これはリスニングの講義を聞くときも同じです。

これまで述べてきたような読み方ができていけば、TOEFLやIELTSのリーディングだけでなく、留学してからの学習でも役立ちます。何となく読むのではなく、意識して読んでみましょう!

Grammar for IELTS Writing – Using a variety of complex structures – by Danny Robinson

Hi everyone, my name is Danny and I teach IELTS classes here at Agos.  Today I’m going to give you some advice about how you can start to show more grammatical range in your writing.

Why is using a range of grammar important?

To achieve the higher bands for the IELTS Grammatical Range & Accuracy criterion (Band 6 or above) in writing, you have to show that you can accurately and flexibly use a variety (range) of structures, including complex structures. If you only use simple structures, you will be limited to a 5 for this criterion.

This means that you need to be very aware of the structures you are using, otherwise it is very easy to just use the same patterns again and again.  Here are some strategies for avoiding this.

Strategy 1: Changing the order of the sentence

There are many ways that sentences can be structured.  So one of the simplest methods of avoiding too much repetition and showing grammatical range is to simply change the order of the different language “chunks” that make up the structure you are using.  Here is an example of this using a sentence from a typical Task 1 graph analysis essay:

 Over the period shown, the number of crimes committed by children under 15 years of age increased significantly to just over 30% of the total reported in 2010, rising from around 10% in 1990.

 This can be changed to the following sentence, which expresses exactly the same ideas:

Rising from around 10% in 1990, the number of crimes committed by children under 15 years of age increased significantly over the period shown to just over 30% of the total reported in 2010.

Strategy 2: Change the verb forms

Slightly changing the grammar of the verbs can create another different structure:

 Increasing significantly over the period, the number of crimes committed by children under 15 years of age rose from around 10% in 1990 to just over 30% of the total reported in 2010.

Strategy 3: Using a good balance of sentence lengths

However, also remember that good writing is about clearly and precisely expressing what you want to communicate as simply and efficiently as possible.  Unnecessary complexity can also be a problem.  A balance is best.  You should always aim to express yourself in the simplest and clearest way possible while considering the complexity of the idea or information you are expressing.  If you can achieve this balance, it should also have the positive effect of making your writing more engaging for the reader.

A useful starting point for assessing how well you are achieving a balance between clarity and efficiency, as well as showing that you can use complex structures accurately and flexibly, is by considering sentence length.  A series of long complex sentences with several subordinate clauses is just as boring to read as several short simple sentences, and again, may actually reduce clarity by being unnecessarily difficult.

  • Avoid adding subordinate clauses for their own sake:
 The process of industrialization has resulted in the raising of the economic performance of many of the poorest countries in the world.  

 This can be changed to the following sentence, which expresses the same ideas more efficiently:

 Industrialization has boosted the GNP of many poorer countries.

While this first sentence demonstrates impressive complex grammar it isn’t really necessary to express the writer’s point.  It is OK to include some sentences like this, but if all your sentences are this length, your writing may become overly complex and difficult to read.  Also, you will be more likely to make errors, and you will probably find it difficult to include everything you need to say within the time limit of the test.

  • Break up long sentences when possible:
 The immediate effects of reducing government support for the unemployed would probably be to cause protests from charities, to make richer people who pay higher taxes happier, and to scare people on lower incomes, who have long benefited from such programmes.        

 This can be changed to the following sentences, which express the same ideas more clearly:

 Reducing government unemployment support would probably have three immediate effects. Firstly, it would cause protests from charities. Secondly, richer people who pay higher taxes would be happier. Lastly, it would scare people on lower incomes, who have long benefited from such programmes.         

  • Combine short sentences

Equally, if you have a series of one or more very short sentences, see if it is possible to combine them, without losing clarity, by using conjunctions and/or punctuation.  In fact, sometimes this might actually improve clarity as well as efficiency:

 Television can be a useful educational tool. It is a tool that prevents education.

 This can be changed to the following sentence, which expresses the same ideas more clearly:

 Television can be an educational tool, but it may also prevent education.

How can I improve?

Achieving the best balance between showing a range of grammar knowledge and flexibility, without allowing your language to become overly complex and difficult to read requires a lot of practice.  Here are some things you can do:

  • Study different grammar patterns
  • Analyse model answers to see how other people use a variety of grammar
  • Read and analyse texts related to common IELTS topics that you can find in English newspapers and a variety of online sources
  • Apply some techniques to answer real IELTS questions

With study and practice, you can improve your grammatical range and flexibility, and so achieve your IELTS writing scores.  Good luck and perhaps I’ll see you in class soon!