Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Thanksgiving is Thursday, November 27!

The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621. The Pilgrims (early European settlers) shared a feast with the Native Americans to give thanks for the years harvest.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a day to remember all the things in life we have that we are grateful for. It is a time to give thanks.

Thanksgiving is normally celebrated with family and friends and includes a large meal.

The most commonly eaten meal on Thanksgiving is turkey. Common side dishes include mashed potatoes, yams, rolls, and pumpkin pie!

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. It is the biggest shopping day of the year.

Stores will have huge sales. Many people will line up outside the store before they have opened to make certain they get the best deals.

Please remember there will no classes November 27 or 28. We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving break!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Daylight Savings

Sunday, November 2, Daylight Savings Ends! This means that everyone sets their clocks one hour back. 

One easy way to remember how Daylight Savings works is that in the spring, we "spring forward" and lose an hour, and in the fall, we "fall back" and gain an hour!

The purpose of DST is to extend the amount of daylight by an hour in the afternoons during spring, summer, and much of fall.

In order to make certain you don't oversleep and miss anything important, make certain to set your clocks back one hour the night before. For example, change your clock from 11:00pm to 10:00pm.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Halloween is celebrated in America every year on October 31. 

This is a fun holiday that is celebrated by people of all ages! It is typical  to dress up. People will dress up as witches, princesses, superheroes and more!

Little kids will dress up and walk around the neighborhood trick-or -treating. Trick-or-treating is when you ring on people's doorbells and say trick-or-treat to receive candy!

There are many Halloween themed parties complete with pumpkins, skeletons, witches and black cats.

Many people carve pumpkins. At night, people will put candles in them.

Corn mazes are also a classic way to celebrate Halloween. For those who like to be scared, there are haunted corn mazes!

Check out the nearby corn mazes and haunted houses in and around the Seattle area-

Scary Corn Mazes-
Looking to be scared? Come check out some of the areas best haunted corn mazes complete with chain saws, fake blood, and lots of screaming.

Stalker Farms-Located in Snohomish, this maze features the Field of Screams and Last Laugh Haunts.

Wild Waves Theme Park- Come visit Wild waves and prepare to be scared. Ride the attractions, but beware, there are monsters waiting to come out and scare you!

Kube 93 Haunted House- Located in a former morgue that was built more than 100 years ago, this haunted house is one of the scariest attractions around.

Corn Mazes
These mazes are done during the day. The goal is to find your way out of the maze. While you are there, pick up a pumpkin to take home to carve! This is a great activity for all ages.

Craven Farms- Located in Snohomish, this farm features a 15 acre corn maze, a pumpkin slinger, tractor rides, and more!

Fox Hallow Family Farms - Located in Issaquah, this farm has attractions that range from hay bale mazes, pony rides, mini tractors, and of course, a pumpkin patch!

Bob's Corn and Pumpkin Farm - Located in Snohomish, this farm features a 10 acre corn maze, hay rides, a pumpkin patch, and more!

Now the question is, how will you celebrate Halloween?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Difference between IELTS and TOEFL

Confused about the difference between IELTS and TOEFL? Below are some major differences between IELTS and TOEFL. 

  • TOEFL is internet based; that is, you will not talk to humans during the test, even during the speaking part. IELTS is paper based; that is, humans administer the test and you will have an interview with an examiner for the speaking part.
  • You need good typing skills for the TOEFL, but good and clear hand writing for the IELTS.
  • TOEFL take a bit longer than IELTS, but there is a 10 minute break. IELTS takes shorter, but has no break.
  • All parts of the TOEFL test are completed on the same day in the morning, but the speaking part of the IELTS could happen one day before the test day or in the afternoon of the test day.
  • TOEFL fee is a bit lower than the IELTS fee.
  • The speaking and writing parts of the TOEFL are integrated; that is, you should write/speak based on a reading or listening and add your opinion as well. The speaking and writing parts of the IELTS are generally a response to a question. 
It is recommended that you check the dates and location for both tests to see what is available and more convenient for you.

Thank you to Nasrin Nazemi, our Assessment Coordinator, for providing this information.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mid-Quarter Costume Party!

Come to the Mid-Quarter Costume Party on Friday, October 31st from 6-8p.m!

Dress up and enjoy lots of food and music with fellow IELP students and faculty.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taking the GRE

  • Most widely accepted test for getting into graduate school (including some business schools) in the USA.
  • Often required but NOT the only part of admission
    • Academic record
    • Personal statement
  • Costs $195 (in the U.S.)
  • Can take it once every 21 days, and no more than 5 times in a year.


  • New version as of August 2011
  • Computer-based Test
    • Only option in the U.S.
    • At least 3.5 hours long, with a 10 minute break after section 3.
    • Can now move around within sections, skip and return to questions!
    • Onscreen calculator for quantitative reasoning


  • Analytical Writing
    • 1 section with 2 questions
    • Always first
  • Verbal Reasoning
    • 2 sections
  • Quantitative Reasoning
    • 2 sections
  • Unscored Research Section
    • 1 sections
  • [The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Unscored Research Sections may appear in any order].

Computer Adaptability

  • After you take the first section (for both verbal and quantitative reasoning), the computer uses your score to determine the difficulty of the 2nd section.
    • If you score well on section 1, you will get harder questions on section 2.
    • Harder questions are worth more points.


  • Analytical Writing
    • 0-6 (half point increments)
    • 1 combined score for both questions
  • Verbal Reasoning
    • 130-170 (1 point increments)
  • Quantitative Reasoning
    • 130-170 (1 point increments)
  • Schools often care most about percentile
    • E.g. 80th percentile means that you did better than 80% of test takers.

Analytical Writing

  • Task 1: Analyze an issue
    • Agree with, disagree with or qualify a statement and support your position.
  • Tast 2: Analyze an argument
    • Read and evaluate someone else's argument.
    • Are parts of the argument sound? What is wrong with it? What does the argument need to be better? Etc.
  • Specific instructions vary for both topics - read them carefully!
  • Both require skills taught in IEP writing classes

Analyze an Issue: Example

  • A nation should require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college.
  • Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.
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Analyze an Argument: Example

  • "We recommend that Monarch Books open a cafe in its store. Monarch, having been in business at the same location for more than twenty years, has a large customer base because it is known for its wide selection of books on all subjects. Clearly, opening the cafe would attract more customers. Space could be made for the cafe by discontinuing the children's book section, which will probably become less popular given that the most recent national census indicated a significant decline in the percentage of the population under age ten. Opening a cafe will allow Monarch to attract more customers and better compete with Regal Books, which recently opened its own cafe."
  • Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.

Verbal Reasoning

  • Topics
    • Reading comprehension
    • Text completion
    • Sentence equivalence

Reading Comprehension

  • Skills similar to those in IEP reading classes:
    • Identify main ideas and supporting details
    • Summarizing
    • Inference
    • Understanding meaning at textual, sentence and word levels
  • Question types:
    • Multiple choice: select one answer
    • Multiple choise: select multiple answers
    • Select in text (click on the appropriate sentence)

Text Completion

  • Tests prediction skills, knowledge of tone, vocabulary, etc.
  • Mary be 1 or more blanks
  • Example:
    • In parts of the Arctic, the land grades into the landfast ice so _______ that you can walk off the coast and not know you are over the hidden sea.
    • (A) permanently (B) imperceptibly (C) irregularly (D) precariously (E) slightly

Sentence Equivalence

  • Tests ability to draw conclusions based on the available knowledge, understanding of meaning.
  • Select 2 answer choices so that the 2 completed sentences have the same meaning.
  • Example:
    • The corporations expects only _________ increases in sales despite a yearlong effort to revive its retailing business
    • (A) dynamic (B) predictable (C) expanding (D) modest (E) slight (F) volatile

General Tips: Preparation

  • Your IEP courses teach skills used on the GRE - take advantage of this and study hard!
  • Studying takes time
    • Start early and plan your studying.
  • Make sure you can USE the vocabulary.
    • Don't just memorize a list - be able to use words in context.
  • Find out what kind of scores your programs care about.
  • Use all your resources
    • Check the GRE website ( frequently for updates and free practice materials.
    • Don't be surprised by test formatting.
    • Take as many computer-based practice tests as possible.
  • Don't hate the test - think of it as one of many tools to show your skills!

General Tips: During and After the Test

  • Think positive - if you feel good about yourself, your score will improve.
  • Take the questions 1 at a time.
  • If a question is REALLY hard, skip it and come back to it later.
  • If you really can't figure out the answer, guess.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself - it's a hard test!
    • Everybody gets some questions wrong.
  • Celebrate!

GRE Resources

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taking the IELTS

What is the IELTS?
One of the most widely accepted English language tests in the world
Has two types: Academic or General Training
Costs $210 (in the U.S.)
Offered at 800 testing centers up to four times a month and you can take it as many times as you wish.
Nearest testing centers: Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, BC


   Time Limit
    30 minutes with 10 minutes to transfer answers
      40 questions
    Listen to two conversations, a speech, and a lecture
     60 minutes
     40 questions
      3 sections
     60 minutes
     2 tasks
     Write at least 150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2
     11-14 minutes  
      2 parts
     Recorded, face-to-face appointment with a trained examiner. Part 1 is an interview, Part 2 is an individual long turn, and part 3 is a discussion with the interviewer


  • Overall Scores:1.0-9.0
  • Band Scores
  • University of Washington requires a 7.0 overall


  • 30 minutes with 10 minutes to transfer answers
4 Sections
1.Everyday conversation between two people
Ex. A conversation in a travel agency
2.A monologue about an everyday topic
Ex. A speech about a general topic
3.A conversation between up to four people in an academic setting
Ex. A study group meeting to talk about an assignment
4.A monologue on an academic topic
Ex. A university lecture
  • Each section heard once
  • Variety of accents
  • 40 Questions

Question Types

  • Multiple Choice
  • Matching
  • Filling out a form
  • Complete notes
  • Complete a table
  • Complete a summary
  • Complete a sentence
  • Short answer (Complete sentence) questions

Skills tested:

  • Understanding main ideas and details
  • Recognizing opinions, attitudes, and purpose of the speaker
  • Following the development of an argument

Skills similar to those in IEP Listening and Speaking Classes

  • Understanding main idea and supporting details
  • Understanding speakers’ reason for speaking, purpose, and opinions
  • Understanding relationship between ideas and details


  • 60 minutes (no time to transfer answers)
  • 2,150-2,750 words
  • 3 sections
  • Academic Reading or General Training Reading

Academic Reading

  • 3 authentic texts from books, journals, newspapers, and magazines
  • Each section has one text
  • General academic topics
  • Undergraduate level
  • Diagrams and charts
  • Glossary for technical terms

General Info

  • 40 questions
  • Question Types
  • Multiple Choice
  • True/False/Not Given
  • Matching
  • Identifying the author's opinion
  • Sentance, summary, and note completion
  • Table, chart, or graph completion
  • Short-answer Questions

Skills tested

  • Identify main ideas and supposting details
  • Summarizing
  • Inference and implied meaning
  • Recognizing author's opinion, attitudes, and purpose
  • Following the development of an argument


  • 60 minutes
  • Two tasks
  • Academic Reading or General Training Writing
  • Rated according to content and response to the prompt, coherence and cohesion, vocabulary, and grammar.

Academic Writing

Task 1
  • At least 150 words
  • Describe and summarize information from graphs and charts
  • Explain a process, event or data
  • Describe how something works
  • 20 minutes
Task 2
  • At least 250 words
  • Respond to an argument or problem
  • Undergraduate level
  • 40 minutes

Skills similar to IEP Writing Classes

  • Organize and compare data
  • Describe stages of a process
  • Describe an event
  • Support claims with examples and 
  • Analyze arguments
  • Express needs, wants, likes, and dislikes
  • Present a solution to a problem
  • Write for a specific audience
  • Demonstrate awareness of tone of information
  • Compare and contrast information and opinions


  • 11-14 minutes long
  • Face-to face interview
  • Recorded
  • 3 parts
  • Rated according to fluency and coherance, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation

Part 1:Introduction and Interview

  • 3-4 minutes
  • General Questions on general topics

Part 2:Individual Long Turn

  • 3-4 minutes
  • Students get a card with a topic to talk about
  • 1 minute to prepare
  • 1-2 minutes speaking
  • 1 minute of answering questions

Part 3:Two-way Discussion

  • 4-5 minutes
  • Examiner asks questions related to the long-turn topic

Skills Similar to those in IEP Listening and Speaking Classes

  • Share your ideas and opinion, and provide logical support
  • Summarize, analyze, and discuss information from different sources
  • Answer questions and paraphrase what you heard
  • Speak at length on a single topic
  • Work on pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar in speaking


In order to register to take the IELTS, you must go to the official site at

General Tips:


  • Your IEP courses teach skills used on the IELTS –take advantage of this and study hard!
  • Studying takes time
  • Start early and plan your studying.
  • Find out what kind of scores your university wants for admission.
  • Know your test! (see handout)
  • Check the IELTS website ( for free practice materials.
  • Take as many practice tests as possible.
  • Don’t hate the test – this is an opportunity to use what you’ve learned!

During and After the Test

  • Think positive – if you feel good about yourself, your score will improve.
  • Take the questions 1 at a time.
  • Remember to answer all the questions!
  • If a question is REALLY hard, skip it and come back to it later.
  • If you really can’t figure out the answer, guess.
  • Celebrate!