IELTS Preparation: Understanding the task types

ielts preparation

There is clear evidence that learning the various task types in IELTS is the quickest and most effective way of improving your band score. We recently conducted research on over 100,000 British Council candidates using Road to IELTS (our official IELTS preparation product) to do just this. We found that after using the program for just six hours, candidates’ scores in the Reading module activities improved by, on average, 64%.

Clearly, in six hours there can be no significant change in their level of English; their improvement came from learning how to answer the questions. This can be achieved in a relatively short period of time.

How do I know if I understand the task types?

First, let me ask you some questions:

  • Do you really understand the difference between “Yes”, “No” and “Not Given” in the Reading test?
  • Do you know the kind of questions you should expect in Part 3 of the Speaking test? And do you know how to answer them to gain the maximum number of marks?
  • Do you know which tenses to use when you are describing a graph (Academic), or writing a letter (General Training)?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you are not yet properly prepared for your IELTS test.

What can I do?

If you do nothing else, you really must understand how the test works. This means becoming familiar with the question types and task types in each of the four skill tests. It will take the stress out of the experience. It will save you time in the test, and give you the best possible chance of achieving the band score you need.

And my advice to you? Start your preparation with Road to IELTS, which describes all the task types and gives you a lot of practice. If you register for IELTS with the British Council, you will get a Last Minute version free of charge. You should also consider subscribing to the full version here. It could make all the difference to your band score.

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How Can You Help Yourself in IELTS?

IELTS tips

When you plan your higher education abroad, you must have to work on your English language communication skills before applying. To achieve required score in IELTS is must if you are seeking admission in an English speaking country. You start classes for guidance and attend seminars related to IELTS to get better insight and ideas about how to get maximum score.

There are a few things you should be doing to help yourself for obtaining desired bands in the test.

1. The best time to study IELTS is 3 months before the exam. That keeps the learning fresh as the practice has improved you   language ability.

2. Involve ‘English’ in your daily life by reading English newspapers and magazines, watching English movies and having conversations in English.

3. Keep up with current affairs and other human interested stories as writing task is based on general interest. You should have ideas and sufficient vocabulary to express them when you write an essay.

4. Practice every day what you learn. Practice of all four modules can be done in routine with your friends. Discuss the new words, movies and books. Make sure you use only English.

5. Understand well when your teacher is providing exam instruction. Follow it when you prepare for the test. Stick to word limit, completing task in particular time, how to answer correctly, what to use and what to not while speaking, etc.

6. Work on techniques. Speed up with time schedules of the exam. Practice writing paragraphs in lesser time before exams. Appear for mock tests and observe where you lack. Work on the weak points to be your best in the test.

For more information regarding foreign education, IELTS coaching and student visa, visit nearest office of  Vatslya Education Consultancy.

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Top 10 IELTS Misconceptions that stop students getting a high score

IELTS tips

Tips how to get IELTS Good Score

If any student spends enough time while preparing for IELTS test, they would come across few misconceptions about this test.  These misunderstandings are not only false, but they are dangerous too.

A good part of doing well in this IELTS test,  apart from the high level of English language and better tests skills, is getting educated about how this test works and knowing what the examiner expect about this test. If any student who is looking to Study Abroad and preparing for this test and if they lack accurate information, they are most probably going to make many mistakes and lower your band score.

Below are the leading misunderstandings with regards to IELTS test that stop students to a get good score. And they are as follows:

There is only one correct answer in the speaking test

Many students who take the test before going for Abroad Higher Education think that speaking test in IELTS is similar to mathematics than English. But in reality, there is no correct or wrong answer, the examiner just want to evaluate a student on four areas that such as Pronunciation, Grammar, Verbal Resource and Fluency and Consistency.

Students can give different replies to a query and they all could get a high score. Many schools teach their students since the young age that there is one way to reply a query and one answer only. But this is not the case in IELTS Speaking and Writing test and there are many correct responses.

The examiner should agree with my opinion

IELTS is not an opinion test or a knowledge test. It is a test for the English language. The examiner can personally disagree with each view you have and you could still get a score of 9. The reason is that the examiner is adjudicating your speaking and English writing abilities and not agreeing or disagreeing with you. In the IELTS test, a student who wishes to Study Abroad can speak or write with regards to what they feel about, without worrying about the examiner’s view or feelings.

Again this fear has come from schools at a young age where students often agree to what their teacher had told them. But this is not the case in IELTS test.

Few testing centers are easy than others

All the testing centers have similar standards and they mark the test takers with same criteria. Test takers have the exact similar chance of getting the score they deserve in every center. IELTS is the standardized English language test and it is similar in every center across the globe. This is one of the key reasons that IELTS is widely accepted by the world’s leading universities.

Few examiners are more generous than others

Many students who take this test as part of their Abroad Study plan often complain that they didn’t get a high score as their examiner was not friendly with them. Their job is to provide you with the accurate score. They just have to do their job.

Studying IELTS to get a good score

Students who are planning to Study Abroad should learn and practice more about IELTS test. Their ability in the English language is also important. If any student is not getting the score they require, they require enhancing their English before taking the test.

Students are required to work on their English language before preparing for IELTS test. And if their English is at the required level, they could enhance their skills and study about the test.

Generally, test takers would require completing almost 200 hours of guided education to enhance by one band score, though there are always many potential students who could do it much faster.

Learn big words and insert them in writing test

Often test takers insert difficult words in their writing as they think it would make an impression on the examiner. Doing this looks unnatural and it their cohesion and coherence would suffer. Test takers are required to display a range of vocabulary but they should do it properly. Learning few difficult words and then writing them in the essay without knowing the actual meaning would create a big problem.

Can’t ask the Examiner in the Speaking Test to repeat the question

Speaking test is not the listening test and students can ask the instructor to repeat the question if they are not able to understand. Test takers can ask the examiner to explain the meaning of any word.

Need to have UK or US accent for doing well in the Speaking Test

Many test takers interested in Study Abroad who do not have these accents are also getting 9 in the speaking test. It is not about the accent, it is about how easily one has understood. It is also about clear speech and utilization of pronunciation.

Having a wide range of grammatical structures

In IELTS writing test, test takers are evaluated on two things when we talk about grammar and those two things are test taker’s ability to use many structures and ability to write error-free sentences. The problem is that the more structures a student use the more they are likely to make mistakes. Test takers should use only those structures that they feel they are comfortable with.

It is better for students who take the test to Study Abroad to use grammar they are comfortable using and minimize the mistakes they make, rather than inserting tenses and structures. Mistakes would bring their score down. But if they also focus more on other areas of test they could score well in their test.

If you are looking to take IELTS Training, it is recommended that you go with a company that has got years of experience in providing training in IELTS and other tests. Global Tree is one of the Best Education Consultants in India that helps you to crack your IELTS exam.

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Understand the Speaking test of IELTS

IELTS tips

The Speaking test is as close to a real-life situation as an exam can get.

You will talk to a certified examiner in the IELTS Speaking test. The test is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get. A variety of accents may be used, and the test will be recorded.

The content of the IELTS Speaking test is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills.

The examiner will want to see how well you can

  • communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions
  • speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language
  • organise your ideas coherently
  • express and justify your opinions
  • analyse, discuss and speculate about issues

Make sure that you relax and talk fluently. You will need to speak naturally.

Timing

The IELTS Speaking test takes 11-14 minutes.

Three sections

The Speaking test is made up of three sections:

Section Duration Information
Part 1 Introduction and interview 4-5 minutes The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.
Part 2 Individual long turn 3-4 minutes The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking. The examiner will then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.
Part 3 Two-way discussion 4-5 minutes The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Marking

You will be assessed on your performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners.

You will be marked on the four criteria of the IELTS Speaking Test Band Descriptors:

  • fluency and coherence
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy
  • pronunciation

Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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Understand the Reading test of IELTS

IELTS tips

You will need to read quickly and efficiently, and manage your time

You will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions in your IELTS Reading test.

The content of the Reading test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests. Details of each version are given below.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Reading test is designed to assess a wide range of reading skills, including how well you

  • read for the general sense of a passage
  • read for the main ideas
  • read for detail
  • understand inferences and implied meaning
  • recognise a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • follow the development of an argument

This is the case for whichever version of the IELTS test you are taking.

Timing

The IELTS Reading test takes 60 minutes.

You are not allowed any extra time to transfer your answers, so write them directly on to your answer sheet.

You will need to manage your time during the test because you will not be told when to start or finish each section.

Three sections

You will be given three different passages to read, each with accompanying questions. You can expect to read 2,150 – 2,750 words in total during your test.

IELTS Academic Reading test

There are three sections to the IELTS Academic Reading test, and each contains one long text.

These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest.

They range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical.

Each text might be accompanied by diagrams, graphs or illustrations, and you will be expected to show that you understand these too.

A simple glossary is provided if the material contains technical terms.

IELTS General Training Reading test

There are three sections to the IELTS General Training Reading test.

The texts used in each section are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be made up of 6 – 8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements. The topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country.

Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work-related issues, e.g. applying for a job, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training.

Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest.

Questions

There are 40 questions.

A variety of question types is used. You may be asked to

  • fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table
  • match headings to written text to diagrams or charts
  • complete sentences
  • give short answers to open questions
  • answer multiple choice questions

Sometimes you will need to give one word as your answer, sometimes a short phrase, and sometimes simply a letter, number or symbol.

Make sure you read the instructions carefully.

Marking

Each correct answer receives one mark.

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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Understand the Writing test of IELTS

IELTS tips

Write clearly, organise your ideas and use a varied vocabulary.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Writing test is designed to assess a wide range of writing skills, including how well you

  • write a response appropriately
  • organise ideas
  • use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately

This is the case for whichever version of the IELTS test you are taking.

Timing

The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2.

You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

Two tasks

There are two tasks in the IELTS Writing test. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Writing tests

The content of the Writing test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

IELTS Academic Writing test

Write in a formal style in the IELTS Academic Writing test.

In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should find the issues interesting and easy to understand.

IELTS General Training Writing test

The topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest.

In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style.

In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.

Marking

Your Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner.

Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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Understand the Listening test of IELTS

IELTS tips

You will be listening for a purpose and hear a variety of accents.

A variety of voices is used in the IELTS Listening test, so you might hear Australian, British, New Zealand or North American accents.

You will be listening to a pre-recorded CD-ROM, and the passages that you hear will increase in difficulty as you go through the test.

The content of the Listening test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

Purpose of the test

The IELTS Listening test is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills, including how well you

  • understand main ideas and specific factual information
  • recognise the opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
  • follow the development of an argument

Timing

The IELTS Listening test takes approximately 30 minutes, and you are allowed an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers from your question booklet to your answer sheet.

Four sections

The IELTS Listening test is broken down into four sections:

Section Description
1 You listen to a conversation between two people set in an everyday social situation, e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency, and answer questions on your comprehension.
2 You listen to a monologue set in an everyday social situation, e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference.
3 You listen to a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project.
4 You listen to a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

You will begin by listening to a recording of instructions and a sample question for section 1. Then you will read the questions for section 1, listen to section 1, and answer the questions.

This procedure is repeated for sections 2, 3 and 4.

In the final 10 minutes, you will transfer your answers onto the answer sheet.

Each section is heard once only.

Questions

There are 40 questions.

A variety of question types is used, and you may be asked to

  • answer multiple choice questions
  • label a plan, map or diagram
  • fill in a form
  • complete a table
  • complete a flow-chart
  • give short answers

Marking

Each correct answer receives one mark.

Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

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9 important tips to quickly prepare for the IELTS

ielts
Do you speak English well already, but are still not sure how to pass the IELTS?

TIP 1

The first step – define your level and record your results while you prepare for it. It’s always a good idea to see visible progress and understand your weaknesses.d then you just have to come, focus – and achieve

TIP 2

Make a plan! One day focus on all the sections, some day only on Speaking or Listening. Depending on your results, and progress. (#1!)

TIP 3

Include constant English language on your background at any time of the day or night (yes, even if you sleep, the brain learns some of the information ). The BBC Podcasts, the HSE podcasts, podcasts IELTS, anything, as long as you are nor overwhelmed. In addition, repeat after listening. This can be very useful in the exam! After all, if the repeat skill becomes a habit, the listening becomes merely an exercise in vocabulary: even if you did not catch the answer at first, then certainly when your mouth silently repeats it for you, you just need to carefully write it in the note-book.

TIP 4

Reading – it’s pure logic plus some British formalism. The main advice: Do not read the text! Read the first question and immediately look for the answer to it. Then the second question. And so on. The practice is so simple that you can handle for half an hour. Check everything.

TIP 5

Speaking – it’s about how to make an impression. Do not learn the answers. Just speak as fluently as possible for at least for an hour every day. Pinpoint two minutes, choose a theme and forth. Talk to the mirror. Talk to the camera. Meet up with friends in pairs and threes, talking turns on various topics, throw around ideas and vocabulary. Experiment with a mirror, a video camera and the human beings.Practice makes perfect. Exercise, download manuals, go through special apps and online exams. As a student, the world is your information oyster! And, generally, if you attend IELTS classes your teacher will guide you in a way that will force you to create and learn. The best teachers inspire progress and fun from their students!

TIP 6

Make yourself a picture of successful results and visualize it. Yes, in the best tradition of the movie “The Secret”. As corny as it sounds, our body, mind, psyche adapt to the images of the desired result. If you see yourself in the exam (or even from the eyes of the examiner), you can see your confidence pose, relaxed and calm voice – your neurons are gradually aligned to the desired number. And then you just have to come, focus – and achieve

TIP 7

Get a tutor or attend professional IELTS preparation classes. This is not only useful for Speaking, but in general allows you to organize your studies better and learn tips and tricks of IELTS.

TIP 8

Listening Make sure you practice listening as much as you can! You can practice with sample IELTS listening tests but you should also expose yourself to as much English as you can. Find resources on the internet that suit your level and gradually increase difficulty. And don’t worry if they are not exams or specifically for IELTS, any kind of listening helps. Try to make listening fun and listen to things you like.

TIP 9

Writing – it’s the same logic, plus a bit of vocabulary. Read reference essays, discharge design, compose sentences. Get flashcards or conventional paper for the repetition of terms and phrases.
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Timing and word length in the writing module

IELTS tips

The writing module contains two compulsory tasks, namely Task 1 and Task 2. In Task 1, you must summarise and compare information from a graph, chart, table or diagram, or a combination of these, and Task 2 is a topic on which you have to write a discursive essay. The topic may be in the form of a statement or a question.

Task 1 tests your ability to analyse data objectively without giving an opinion, whereas Task 2 usually requires a subjective piece of writing on a fairly general topic. In addition, it is worth noting that the exam is not testing knowledge of English language, but rather competence in using English. In other words, it is not testing memory. Awareness of this might help reduce some of the problems that many candidates have in the IELTS exam.

In the exam, the minimum word limit for Task 1 is 150 words and you need to spend about 20 minutes on this part of the test. Task 2 must be at least 250 words, on which you need to spend about 40 minutes. In both Tasks, there is no upper word limit.

Many candidates frequently exceed the minimum amounts by a very wide margin, which creates several problems. Rather than concentrating on producing a good essay, candidates write beyond what is necessary, thinking that there are extra marks for writing more. This is usually not the case.

It is very important that you try to keep the word limits, and perhaps write just a little more. You could write between 150 and 180 words for Task 1 and 250 and 300 for Task 2. If you write too few words, you will lose marks. While practising for the IELTS exam, count the number of words you write per line and then work out how many lines you need to reach the 150/250 word limit. It may surprise you how little you have to write! You could draw a line to mark the word limits when you are writing your homework. This will help train you to keep to the limits and help you to focus on where you are going and what you are aiming for.

One important reason for writing just a little more than the word limit is to give yourself enough time to check what you have written. During the actual exam, you should spend 6-7 minutes analysing the question, about 30 minutes writing your essay, and 3-4 minutes checking your essay for mistakes.

Task 1 or Task 2 first? Students frequently ask whether they should do Task 1 first or Task 2. This obviously depends on the individual. It is probably wise, however, to do Task 1 first. From the psychological point of view, it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you have finished it.

Note that the value of the marks given to each Task is reflected in the time. There are twice as many marks for Task 2 as for Task 1. The marks are combined to produce one Band Score from 1 to 9 for the whole test. Note also that if you write less than 150 words for Task 1 and less than 250 for Task 2, you will lose marks.

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Advice for IELTS General Training Task 1 Letters

letter-writing

If you are preparing for the IELTS General Training test, you will be asked to write a letter to a fictional person or organization. The reason for writing the letter and the details you need to include will be given to you.

That may sound easy to some of you but before you write the test, I think you need to sit down and ask yourself, “Do I actually know how to ORGANIZE a letter in English? If you are unsure, keep reading because this advice about proper letter structure could make a big difference to your performance.

This isn’t your typical DO and DON’T article. Instead, I am going to demonstrate ORGANIZATION for you using an example correspondence. What follows are two letters: The first is a request for letter writing advice and the next is my reply. In this way, you can read about and see how to organize your ideas.

As a BONUS, although this entry focuses on organization, if you look carefully, you will get some clues about how to use TONE or polite language when writing to a stranger. Remember, using the correct TONE is important in letters.


Dear Sir or Madam,

I signed up for the IELTS General Training exam and would like some advice about Task 1 letter writing.

I have a lot of questions but I will start with asking about how to organize my ideas. I write lots of emails, but I am not sure if I can write a letter well. How do I know if my ideas are arranged correctly on the test?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Yours faithfully,
Mr. John Rochon


Dear Mr. Rochon,

Thank you for your letter. It would be my pleasure to help you prepare for the writing test.

You are wise to ask about the format of the IELTS letter. You may write letters or emails everyday but the IELTS letter is part of an exam so it’s important to be clear about what is expected. Knowing the most effective way to organize your ideas will improve your score.

The good news is that you already know a lot about the correct structure. In your letter to me, you began with a greeting. You used “Dear Sir or Madam” which was suitable because you did not know my name. You also ended with the complimentary closing “Yours faithfully” which signaled that the letter was finishing. Finally, to close, you ended with your signature. IELTS candidates lose points for forgetting these little details, so excellent work!

Between the salutation and closing is the body of the letter and it is made up of short paragraphs that are organized simply and logically. In fact, if your letter focusses on each of the bullets from the task assignment in a separate paragraph, you can be sure that your letter will be easy to read.

To help you a little more, I am providing you with some useful pointers for organization and a model letter.

If you have more questions, please call me at my office and we will set up a face to face appointment.

I hope you find this information useful and good luck with your exam.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Angela Rutherford


Here are some pointers for organizing your ideas in IELTS letters:

  1.  Think about how each sentence relates to the one before and after.  Choose words that clearly guide the reader from one thought to the next.For example, where appropriate:
    1. Use sequencers – “To begin with . . . Finally, . . .”
    2.  Use phrases to signal your ideas – “The reason why I need time off . . . The solution to this problem is . . .  “
    3. Use specific linking words to show contrast, similarity, cause – “similarly, however, as a result . . .”
  2. Avoid repeating key words in your answer.  Don’t be boring and repetitive – you want to demonstrate that you have a variety of words in your vocabulary bank.
    1.  Think of synonyms for words that you are repeating (the problem, this issue, these complications, another annoyance . . .)
    2. Use pronouns (she, them, these . . .)
  3.  Each task bullet point can be used to create the body paragraphs.
    1. Let the first sentence of the paragraph communicate the subject in some way.
    2. Either indent the first line of each paragraph or separate the paragraphs from each other with a space.
  4. Be sure the main purpose of the letter is clear from the beginning to the end.
  1. Open the letter with a short explanation of the purpose and close the letter with a call to action that relates to this purpose.

Open the letter with a short explanation of the purpose and close the letter with a call to action that relates to this purpose.


Sample Question and Model Answer

You recently ordered a small item online but when it arrived it was unusable.
Write a letter to the company that sold you the item:

  • give details about the order you made
  • explain what was wrong with the item
  • tell the company what you want them to do about it

Dear Sir or Madam:

Three weeks ago I ordered a cover for my Samsung phone from your online store. I was excited when it arrived but very disappointed to find that the product was poorly produced and unusable. I am hoping you will replace it.

In relation to the specifics of the order, I purchased this leather wallet/phone case through your website called Phone Fun on January 14th using my PayPal account. The order number is 257380 and I am attaching a copy of my receipt.

The issue with the cover is that the credit card pockets are sewn shut and I am unable to store my cards inside securely. The picture of the item on your website clearly shows cards safely stored in the little pouches so I’m sure this is a manufacturing flaw.

As a solution, and because I really like the functionality of the cover, I am hoping that you will agree to send me another one for free. Otherwise, I would like a full refund and I will be contacting PayPal complaints if I do not hear back from you in regards to this within a week.

Thank you for giving the matter your attention and I hope to hear your reply soon.

Yours faithfully,
XYZ

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