IELTS – Hope it helps !

I would like to share my profile so that things are clear in the very beginning. I gave my IELTS – ( Academic module ) on 26th Sep 2015. Following is the breakup of my score:

Listening – 8.5 , Reading – 8.5, Writing – 7.5 , Speaking – 6.5 [Overall an 8]

I am no expert in teaching or guiding but this post is just to share my experience about IELTS. I intend to give some helpful tips (or suggestions you may call it) to those who opt not to consult any specialists or coaching institutes for that matter.

IELTS is no rocket science. All we need is some practice and we ready to roll. I hope some of what I write in the sections below would make sense to you.

What is IELTS ?

English proficiency test. Tests if you are literate in English.

If it’s a test, What does it Test ?

Tests four different attributes of communication in English i.e. Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

How do I start about preparing IELTS ?

First and foremost, book the test. You’ll receive a booklet with practice tests sent to you by IDP ( the agency that conducts IELTS) . Attempt these practice tests once you are aware of the test format. Give 2 tests every weekend so that you can attempt all the tests within a month.

How important is knowing the test format ?

Trust me, all you need to know for IELTS is its pattern. Since it is a standardized exam, its format more or less remains the same. Be sure about the format of the exam ( duration of each section and question patterns to be precise). I ll try to list few points about the test format but for details visit the IDP website or maybe buy a book (Any book would be fine. Barron’s or any other. No favorites here!)

What’s the format ?

The Listening, Reading and Writing (LRW) tests will be conducted on a single day. The speaking test will be scheduled few days later. The LRW would last 2 hrs 45 mins (2 hrs 30 for the test and 15 mins for instructions). There would not be any break in between. Make sure you are ready for it. The speaking module would not last for more than 20 minutes.

  • Imp: There is no negative marking. Answer everything !
  • You might be asked to fill in the blanks or match the following or suggest titles to paragraphs. It ll be like doing your school exercise.

I have tried to list down few points which I feel are most important in individual section. Here they are:

1. Listening

30 minutes, 40 questions, 40 marks

  • The recordings in IELTS once begun cannot be paused or re-played. So give undiverted attention when the recording is played (Use headphones even when you practice at home just to get the feel of the exam).
  • For habitual Hollywood movie or sitcom viewers, this section should not be a problem. The accents would either be British or American (rarely other).
  • If you struggle with understanding English accent, please make sure you give special attention to this section. Watch English movies or stuff like that. Lot of audio tests are available on YouTube. Take them and keep a track of scores you achieve. Try to beat yourself.
  • The audio recording will surely test your skills to understand the directions (left, right or NEWS). Make sure you practice them well.

2. Reading

3 passages, 60 mins, 40 questions, 40 marks

  • Just glance through the questions quickly before you attempt at marking or writing answers.
  • The passages are in increasing order of difficulty . So, recommend you to finish accordingly.
  • Don’t get stuck on a question. Mark it and move to the next one. Come back once you are done with all others.

3. Writing

2 Essays (or Tasks), 60 minutes

Task 1 ( Recommended Time to complete: 20 mins)

  • To analyse a graph or a process and write a report.The graphs would be simple but make sure that you do not make it too mathematical.
  • Try to find out if there are any common patterns like steady increase or steady decline in the quantities given and emphasize on it. Do not make it complex or show your mathematical skills here. You are tested on English, not maths.
  • Make sure you reach minimum word criteria ( 250 words for this section)

Task 2 (Recommended time to complete: 40 mins)

  • A generic statement would be given and you would be asked to share your views about the same. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the statement. Choose a side for which you can write the maximum since at least 400 words are required.
  •  Task 2 carries more marks than Task 1. Plan it well on a rough sheet (maybe 5-8 mins) and then start writing.
  • You can also include instances or examples from your personal life or anything that you have observed. In my opinion, a personal touch makes the essay more lively. But do not just do that for the sake of it.
  • Read some samples of essays online that have been graded well (Like 7 or 8 0r 9). Also read the ones that scored very low and shortlist things that might have caused these samples to score high or low. Keep in mind when you attempt your essay.

4. Speaking

Around 20 mins, 40 marks

It would start off with your introductions and then you will be given topics to elaborate (Felt like Extempore but without the audience). Since I had scored very low in this section, I would be the wrong person to recommend the right things. However, I can tell you what not to do:

  • Do not use abbreviations or slangs. It freaks them out and you ll be interrupted to explain about the slang used.
  • Do not directly jump at speaking. You ll be given time to think about the topic and solidify your thoughts. Utilize it well.
  • Your voice samples will be recorded. So make sure you speak once or twice on a mobile recorder and check if you are audible and understood.
  • No worries if your grammar goes wrong. Correct it and proceed.

What is a good IELTS score ?

There is no good or bad here. If the score you get qualifies you to the universities you aim, its doesn’t matter. To quantify and generalize, try to maintain a minimum of 6.5 in each section so that IELTS score does not become a matter of worry when you hit the apply button on college websites. Having said that, why score less when you can score more. Aim for the sky !

Now that you know the format well and have practiced each section, go ahead with the tests provided by IDP. Make sure you keep track of scores. The aggregate in each section would be your final band.

Let me know of your suggestions about the post. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong on anything. Please refrain from pointing out at grammatical mistakes (as someone rightly said- “Bhavanao ko samjho, shabdon mein kya rakha hai”).

All the best. Cheers!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scion Of Ikshavaku : Book 1 of The Rama Chandra Series

EPITOME

After losing a fierce battle to the Lankan King Ravan, Dashrath is forced to sign treaties with the wealthy Lankan kingdom for trade. The illegitimate treaties imposed by Ravan sucks the wealth out of once an Unconquerable city, Ayodhya.

The shame of being defeated for the first time ever and letting his people down leads Dashrath to premature senescence. Even the Anti-aging drink (Somras) administered to him loses its effect. He grows weak and becomes indecisive. The city of Ayodhya is chaotic. The lawlessness and poverty stricken city is awaiting its next Vishnu. One who could put an end to Ayodhya’s misery and retain its glory.

Unaware of the destined Vishnu, the nobility of Ayodhya and its allies consider the birth of Dashrath’s first child inauspicious. The primary reason for this being that Dashrath’s first child was born the same day he lost the battle to Ravan, leading to decline of Ayodhya’s might. The first child or the eldest Prince of Ayodhya was named Ram Chandra. Ram was destined to be the next Vishnu, the protector of the realm.

Ram aches for fatherly love all his childhood. He is sent to Guru Vashistha’s Gurukul along with his younger brothers Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrughan to attain primary education in the field of Warfare, administration and literature. The Princes develop love and mutual respect for one another. They hone their skills to the utmost perfection.

The adolescent Princes complete their formal education and return back to their home, Ayodhya. Ram is assigned the challenging task of controlling the crime rate in the city. To everyone’s surprise, Ram installs an entire framework of laws and succeeds in task allocated to him. This made him a revered figure of the Ayodhyans. His popularity amongst the masses grew exponentially.

Impressed by his sincerity and able administrative qualities, Dashrath anoints Ram as apparent heir to the throne. Ram accepts this honour with utmost humility.

Some days later, Mahrarishi Vishwamitra, the Chief of Malayas visits Ayodhya. He convinces Dashrath to send Ram and Lakshman along with him. Ram and Lakshman are assigned the task of saving Vishwamitra’s and other Malaya homes. The brothers accomplish this with ease. On the way back to Ayodhya, a sequence of events land Ram in The Kingdom of Mithila for the swayamwar of the adopted daughter of its ruler, King Janak. The adopted daughter was Sita, The Prime Minister of Mithila.

Ram hits the Fish eye with an arrow fired from Lord Rudra’s bow Pinaka and wins Sita. Angered by his mockery at the Swayamwar, Ravan decided to attack Mithila with his bodyguard platoon. In order to save Mithila from Ravan’s bestial attack, Ram fired upon a Daivi Astra that made the bodyguard platoon lose consciousness and Ravan was defeated. But Ram self-imposed an exile of fourteen years as a penance for having fired a Daivi Astra.

Sita and Lakshman accompany him in the long exile. Thirteen years pass on without much trouble. The trio along with some Nagas settled to the south of Godavari in Panchavati. One day, Ravan’s half -brother Vibhishan and half-sister Shurpanakha visit Panchavati seeking residence for some time as they abandoned Lanka. Shurpanakha develops a liking for Ram. She tries to harm Sita with a knife. Raged by this, Lakshman pushes Shurpanakha resulting in the knife slicing her own noes.

Lankan Royal blood was flown. Ravan must seek vengeance. He decides to kidnap Sita while Ram and Lakshman were out for hunting and escapes in the Pushpak Viman. Ram hurls an array of arrows on the flying machine but could not alter the course of events. Sita was kidnapped. His beloved wife was taken by the notorious King Ravan.

                      Ram vows to destroy Ravan and free his beloved wife.

Maggi – Taste Bhi ! Health Bhi ?

If you haven’t been watching the news channels off lately, here is something shocking. The Food and Drug Administration of India (FDAI)  was investigating some samples of Maggi. To everyone’s shock,  test results showed presence of harmful elements such as Lead and MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). To what extent ? 17 times the permissible limits. For ages, Maggi has been a part of our shopping list. This incident has certainly made us doubt its tagline – Taste bhi ! Health bhi ! 

Before we understand in detail the harmful elements that Maggi contains, let us know what Maggi really is. Here are some facts about Maggi:

  • Maggi is an international brand of instant soups, stocks, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasonings and instant noodles. Owned by Nestlé since 1947, the original company was founded in Switzerland in 1872 by Julius Maggi.
  • Maggi penetrated into Indian markets in 1980s as an instant noodle – easy to cook and ready to serve. From there on, the sales of Maggi have only increased. India has emerged as the largest consumer of Maggi noodles across all Nestle operations in the world.

Although Nestle has denied all the allegations of adulterating Maggi with any element whatsoever, the FDA has called off batches of Maggi from the market in Uttar Pradesh as a precautionary measure. So, what are these harmful elements that led FDAI to take this extreme step:

1. MSG

  • Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is naturally present in various food items such as mushrooms, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and soy sauce. The artificial form of MSG is derived from Glutamic Acid.
  • Excess consumption of MSG promotes sluggishness in the body. It may also cause headache, nausea, increased thirst and a twitching sensation in the mouth. In some cases one may feel numbness, skin rashes and excessive sweating too.

2. Lead

  • Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities.
  • Children six years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing. For adults, excess consumption of lead might result in Kidney disorders and high blood pressures.

All said, Maggi has been an integral part of our diet right from Kitchen, college canteens to bachelor pads. For many of us, it is the only thing we’ve ever cooked that tasted yummy ! It has mediated several love stories in college campuses. It has been the first thing in our mind when we had to cook after coming to home on a tiring day.

Those trips to hill stations wouldn’t have been the same without us relishing Maggi in heavy rains. Those late night studies wouldn’t have been the same without us bunking into canteens and sharing Maggi with friends. Isn’t it amazing how a pack of noodles is enough to create memories that last till our own existence. Maggi, you’ve done this for us !

But as they, everything that has crest also has a trough. Maybe, this is Maggi’s trough, for it has enjoyed its crest way longer.

Rahul Gandhi (The PAPPU) is back ! Does it really make a difference ?

The PAPPU of Indian politics, Rahul Gandhi is back and the Indian National Congress  (INC) claims he is back with a bang.

To begin with, not everyone is lucky enough to have a sabbatical of 2 months just to decide about their future. And even if they’ve had it, they certainly did not have it in Bangkok which is known for its happy endings (If you know what I mean).  But Gandhi Scion is an elite, no doubt about that. And he is entitled to have his personal space. So let me give this to him.

But according to me and majority of Indian youth, his presence never mattered either. His cluelessness and dilemma about the socio – economic environment of the country has strengthened this belief even more. He was never an effective leader nor did he have the charisma to pull off the longest standing party of the country. The pre-electoral interview with Arnab Goswami is a classic example of his illogical thinking. Belief of those who thought of him as the future PM was dismantled after the interview.  It was hilarious. All India Bakchod (AIB) wasn’t the first team to introduce the concept of roasting celebrities for the Indian audience.

Not just the interview, pictures of him taking a nap in the parliament disgusted every Indian. What’s even more disgusting is the fact that Congress still wants him to rule the party and the country. Doesn’t the party have someone who could atleast be reasonable with the arguments.

Dynasties have ruled India for centuries. And it has given us some of the greatest rulers. Lord Ram, the Raghuvanshi prince is an example of this. Even he had to prove his worthiness prior to his declaration as  apparent heir to the throne. Comparing someone as holy as Ram to Rahul Gandhi would be foolishness. But this is not a comparison. It’s a fact that being born with a noble last name doesn’t entitle you to leadership. Proving your mettle does !

It baffles me to see the INC spokespersons praising the Shehzada for no reason.

On a lighter note: The day Rahul Gandhi becomes PM or does something considerable, Abhishek Bachchan would start think of winning an Oscar for the best actor. The day Rahul Gandhi becomes PM or does something considerable, the laws of nature would defy themselves.

8 characters that every Boys Hostel has

1. The IP Man (Abey utorrent mein kya IP lagaun ?)

Got wi-fi issues ? Unable to access sites that your college blocks so that you can study (LOL on them for thinking that) ? Who is your savoiur ?

The IP man….The IP man…

Abey.. IP address change karke dekh

Abey.. IP address change karke dekh

2. The Food Guy (Maala bhookh lagli, Khaila dya):

You’ve had some sleepless nights watching GOT, HIMYM, TBBT and what not. And when you find yourself hungry, you step up to this guy’s doorsteps. From Khakhras to Chivdas, biscuits to home-made sweets, he is the one stop destination for your midnight snacks.

khale bhai tu...

khale bhai tu…

3. The Byomkesh Bakshi (Bhai, woh pink top wali kaun hai !!!! Architecture ????)

From her relationship status to her address. From her current boy-friend to her ex, the entire hostel turns up to this guy for the information. And girls, we always do our homework.

Uska already bf hai...

Uska already bf hai…

4. The CHACHAD and CHATUR 

You know the difference. Let me not get into it.

Mein tujhe dekh legi.. chachad

Mein tujhe dekh legi.. chachad

5. The Exam Guide (Your Key to success):

From marking up all the important questions to having a photo copy of all the notes from lectures you never attended, this guy makes sure you pass exams with flying colours.

exam mein pakka aayega

exam mein pakka aayega… rat le

6. The PornHub (Arey bhai kuch naya hai kya !!!! Pendrive laun ????)

No words for you brother. Keep up the good work for a noble cause. Your downloads are invaluable. His external hard disk is the most valuable thing in the entire hostel. #Respect#TakeABow

7. The Stinky Guy (yeh nahata kyun nhi hai yaar)

You cant breathe freely when he is around. He rocks your nostrils hard. Seldom does he bathes and washes his clothes.Dear Narendra Modi, swach Bharat Abhiyan must certainly be extended to this guy.

You Stink!!!!

Is it me or the dead fish ???

8. The Cool Guy (Bhai tu toh dude hai ): 

He is the captain of the football team, lead guitarist, and dating the hottest girl in your college. He is everything you’ve ever dreamed about. Every guy wants to be him, every girl wants him.

Legen.. wait for it...

Legen.. wait for it…

If there is anything a guy misses the most after his college days, its the time spent in hostel. Yes, we create our own world here and memories that last forever.

And for those of you still in hostel, PARTY HARD guys !!! These days never come again. Share it if you agree.

Things you must do or visit when in Gokak

Gokak is a small town located at around 70kms from Belegavi in Karnataka. And if you somehow land here, following are the things you shouldn’t miss:

Waking up early in the morning and enjoying a healthy walk:
I know you’ve been planning for ages to wake up early in the morning and jog. But never ever miss waking up early when in Gokak. Watch the sun’s rays penetrate the cluster of clouds. Trust me, you can feel oxygen reaching your lungs. For the joggers, the best place to be is Mayur School ground. From kids playing football to the youngsters sweating on the jogging track to the old folks doing the Anulom-Vilom, you’ll find people from all the generations.

Enjoy the local delicacies: If you’ve burnt enough calories jogging, time for you to take in some. Don’t miss having a KT (Quality Tea or Karnataka Tea;I am not so sure ) and mouth-watering Puri Bhaji at Chaya. While you are back on your way home or hotel, don’t forget to get some Kardant parcelled. Trust me, its something your sweet tooth has been craving for.

kardant

Kardant

Visit Gokak Falls: Well, if you are in a mood for some sight – seeing then this is where you should begin with. The Niagara of Karnataka as people call it. While you are here:

  • Don’t miss a walk on the suspension over – bridge. It will scare the hell out of you if it’s windy.
  • For believers, there is an ancient Shiv Mandir as well.
  • For architectural enthusiasts, the Forbes textile mill might be of some interest. This mill was constructed during the British rule. There is an outlet opened up for shoppers too.
  • For science geeks, the hydro – electric power station would garner some interest. Get prior permissions and visit in there.
  • For others, there’s the waterfall. I hope you haven’t forgotten.
Gokak Falls

Gokak Falls

Godchinmalki – The Staircase waterfall: The waterfall is one of its kind. Its amazing to see how water carves its own way and mould the rocks in the form of staircase.The beauty of this waterfall could only be captured by the naked eyes. But don’t under-estimate your camera too. Click!!!

godchinmalki

Godchinmalki

Hidkal and Dhupdal dam: Spare some time for water reservoirs here. Capture the sight of calm blue water on the bed of sand. And spend some time in the well maintained lush green gardens here.

Hidkal Dam

Hidkal Dam

Konnur: I know you have shopping malls and plazas at your place, but give this little shopping village a chance. You might find in some traditional Karnataka sarees. For those who don’t like shopping, don’t you dare enter this place. Yogikolla: Drive your way beside the markande river and pay your regards to the Goddess here in Yogikolla. Soothe your ears with sound of flowing water.

Yogikolla

Yogikolla

Kadabagatti: This spot gives you the panaromic view of the city. Watch the sun disappear behind the rocky mountains and the sky painted with colours that only nature could produce. Hang in there for a little while after sunset to witness the city lights.

kdb

Sunset View

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this if you have already visited the place. If not, give this place a chance whenever you are around. There is something for everyone here.

Best time to visit the place – August to September.
Best hotel to stay in – Gokak Resort

India’s Daughter – An Eye opener

It is shameful that a country as rich in culture as India is not able to protect the women folk. In one hand, we worship them in the form of Devis and on the other hand we rape them as Devils. We resort to excuses when anyone questions us about gender equality. We often tend to suppress voice that echoes truth, the bitter truth. One such case is the recent ban on India’s Daughter – A documentary filmed by a British director Leslee Udwin on Nirbhaya Rape case.

After having watched the documentary, I realised that there was nothing in it to be banned. It’s just that our country has become intolerant to criticism. We feel pained when any such incident occurs but never have we taken a stern action to prevent it. That’s the bitter truth. And when a British Director films such reality, the government bans it calling the film derogatory to the Indian society.

Dear government, aren’t you running away from the truth and making excuses for not being able to curb this heinous act of cowardice by Indian men.

Why don’t you ban the Kashmiri separatists ? Why don’t you ban J&K CM who credits Pakistan Government for the successful elections ? Why do you tolerate VHP or MIM who induce communal tensions ? We certainly understand that there is some hidden agenda behind it.

Banning this documentary has exposed the double standards of Indian government. The government should have let the people watch it and then decide on their own.

The ban on this documentary is certainly an infringement on our rights.