New! SAT/ACT and GMAT idiom lists

As part of my attempt to make thecriticalreader.com the official repository of all things related to SAT, ACT, and GMAT grammar, I’ve posted lists of preposition-based idioms for those tests. (For now, they’re the same as the ones in my SAT, ACT, and GMAT grammar books, but I will update them if I come across additional tests with other examples.)

For SAT/ACT idioms, click here.

For GMAT idioms, click here. (more…)

SAT/ACT Idiom List

SAT/ACT Idiom List Be curious about Be particular about Bring about Complain about Set (ab)out Think about Wonder about Worry about Known as/to be Recognized as Serve as Translate as Accompanied by Amazed by Assisted by Awed by Confused by Encouraged by Followed by...

GMAT Idiom List

GMAT® Idiom List This list can also be downloaded as a PDF. Bring about Complain about Concerned about Curious about Excited about Particular about Think about Wonder about Worry about Appear as Employed as Established as Known as Regard as Think of x as Adept at...
New! free daily idiom email program for ESL students

New! free daily idiom email program for ESL students

The Critical Reader is excited to announce the sometime in the next few weeks (exact date TBA), we will be launching a free daily email idiom program for English learners.

If you would like to sign up, please enter your email in the form below. (Note that you must use the form to register; comments for this post have been disabled.) 

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The focus will be on words and phrases that can be used in IELTS Writing and Speaking, but the content will also be broadly relevant to other popular tests, including TOEFL, PTE, and (especially) CELPIP. And if you’re just looking to improve your English in general, you’re of course welcome to join as well.

Every day, members will receive an email with a new expression + definition, along with a sample sentence clearly illustrating its use. Both informal and formal language will be covered and labelled appropriately.

This program does not focus on the clichés commonly taught in ESL classes or on social media (e.g., A piece of cakeonce in a blue moon) but rather on common, contemporary phrases and collocations that can help your speaking or writing sound more natural.

In addition, if there are any expressions you find particularly confusing or would like to have a better understanding of how to use, please feel free to let us know, and we will do our best to incorporate them into the program.

My top tip for IELTS Listening: put your finger on the text

My top tip for IELTS Listening: put your finger on the text

In many way, IELTS Listening is as much a test of attention and multitasking as of aural comprehension. Regardless of accent, the recorded voices on the tape speak more slowly and clearly than people generally do in real life, and they do not use the kinds of slang* and idiomatic language that can be confusing to many non-native English speakers.

The difficulties of the Listening portion lie elsewhere, in processing the written information on the page and the spoken information on the recording at the same time, and in connecting one to the other. In principle, this is simple because the two convey the same information. However, they may not always be identical: the written portion may restate the recording word-for-word or, at certain points, it may paraphrase/condense the spoken part. When the latter occurs, it is easy to become confused and miss essential information simply because it takes you a few extra seconds to figure out which phrase or sentence on the page corresponds to what you are hearing. And in Listening, every second counts.

An additional challenge is that multiple-choice questions accompanied by a long list of answer choices are physically separated from the rest of the text, making it necessary to continually jump back and forth between different parts of the page while you listen. There’s a lot of content to manage, and if you spend just a couple of seconds too many re-reading an answer choice and stop paying close attention to the recording, you may miss the information you need to answer the following question. (more…)