English lessons - Introduction & Tips

SelfAccess.com - Hints and Tips

SelfAccess.com contains hundreds of lessons and practice exercises suitable for IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC and FCE preparation. You can study for these exams online using our online academic English lessons; these lessons will help you prepare for IELTS, FCE, TOEFL or TOEFL. There are lessons which practise the Listening, Reading and Writing papers. The General English lessons cater for all levels of ESL students: elementary to advanced.

The latest ESL lessons can be accessed from the classroom page. For other lessons go to the lessons library. A full list of available lessons will be displayed. The title of each lesson, topics focussed on, skills practised and release dates are all outlined. Click on the lesson title to begin working through the lesson. Read the tips and hints below so you can learn the most from our online English lessons.

Reading and Listening

In these sections you will be asked to answer questions or complete information based on a recording or piece of writing. As in the exam it is a good idea to read the questions before starting to listen or read. Try to predict what the answer may be. Predict what kind of information you need to pick out, for example, a price, a location, a description, a percentage etc. When you have read all the questions click on the "Start Reading" button or “Click Here To Listen”. This will help you focus on important information when listening, and develop your ability to scan-read. These skills are essential as in IELTS you will only hear recordings once, and in the reading paper you have a limited time so you must not stop every time you come across a new piece of vocabulary.

There are reading exercises which require you to reorder paragraphs in an essay or article, and general comprehension questions to help develop your ability to understand gist, or general understanding of the writer’s thoughts. To help you with this, read the article through quickly once. Then read again more slowly and complete the task.

You can also practise sentence transformation exercises for FCE, improve your grammar and practise with our many types of cloze exercises.


The writing tasks focus on the skills you need to be successful in IELTS. They may require you to re-order paragraphs in order to improve your ability to structure an essay. You may have to type in suitable discourse markers to improve the coherence of your writing. You may have to correctly analyse visual data and provide accurate figures as in IELTS Task 1 Writing. Other exercises work on your grammar by making you rewrite sentences or complete a cloze test. As in the real exam, it is vital to read the question very carefully before starting. The questions in IELTS writing tests are often long and confusing, and it is essential to analyse them correctly before you start.


All of the exercises are auto correcting and you can get instant feedback by clicking on the Check your Answers button. You will be given a percentage based on how many of your answers are correct and how many attempts you made.
In many exercises you will be given feedback, telling you where to find correct answers and why your answer may not be the correct one.
Don’t Worry!
If you do not understand what is required of you or cannot find an answer, click on the Hint button and it will give you part of the answer.
If you are still having difficulty go into the General English lesson library. This contains hundreds of lessons at different levels, from Elementary to Advanced. You can search for lessons based on skill, level or topic.

Types of ESL exam practice activities at SelfAccess.com

short answers
multiple choice answers
matching classifications
completing sentences
completing notes
completing a summary
completing a table
completing a form
matching sentence halves
selecting headings for paragraphs
recognising a writer's views or claims
reconstructing essays
re-ordering sentences
completing open clozes
identifying errors
transforming sentences
analysing graphs
using discourse markers
matching vocabulary definitions

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