How IELTS Can Increase Your Salary

I’ve met so many students for whom English is their second language who totally hated it when at school. It was forced upon them in their own countries and they ended up not liking it. As a young student it’s hard to know what you want to do when you get older, so studying English can seem like a waste of time.

But many wealthy parents know the advantages that come from being an international citizen in the information age. Those advantages diminish if you can’t understand English, and they expand as your English ability improves.

This is especially true in a global economy that promotes more advantages to the well-educated. In China this year, a third of all university graduates need to be supported by their parents. The average salary of a graduate in China is between $396 and $586 USD a month.

In Singapore, salaries vary widely based on major, but Computer Engineering averaged around $3000 USD for fresh graduates, according to the Singapore Ministry of Education (note: this link opens a .pdf file of the results of the survey).

But let’s compare that to the USA. In particular, we’ll look at one of the more successful US colleges, Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon is well known amongst tech circles as a school that produces high quality technical graduates. About 20% of the school is international students. By analyzing their careers section from their Career and Professional Development Center, we can see some interesting comparisons with graduates from overseas universities.


Carnegie Mellon 2013 Undergraduate Salaries


In 2013, as you can see, the salary levels are a massive jump over China and Singapore. Carnegie Mellon is obviously a successful school as their averages are considerably higher than the US average. But even the US average is 50% higher than the averages from Singapore. Not everyone gets a job after graduating though and as you can see below, quite a few people go onto postgraduate study.

Where graduates went to work and the destinations of those who went on to study after their graduate degree.

Where graduates went to work and the destinations of those who went on to study after their graduate degree.


While some went to famous employers like IBM, Google and Amazon, a large number continued to study. The Computer Science department graduated many students who simply went on to get jobs. The average first year salary is below.


Carnegie Mellon 2014 Graduate Computer Science Salaries


Very impressive numbers! But what about postgraduate students? Was it worth doing the extra study?


Carnegie Mellon 2014 Postgraduate Computer Science Salaries


Definitely! The minimum starting salary if you complete postgraduate studies jumps $39,000 to $85,000.

I really think these numbers will shock some people. The differences are truly staggering. In some cases it will take a graduate in China HUNDREDS of years to earn what a graduate of Carnegie Mellon will earn in 5 years.

Is there that big a difference between the quality of graduates from Carnegie Mellon over graduates from schools in Singapore and China? The answer is No! And you can be sure of this because at least 20% of the graduates from Carnegie Mellon are international students.

No, the difference is OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to study in the USA leads to job opportunities in a wealthier market. That starts with your English ability.

If you’d like to learn more about improving your IELTS score or just your general English ability, sign up for our Newsletter, or leave us a question in the comments. By the way Carnegie Mellon require a 7.5 or above in IELTS for admission.

All the data and graphics for this post is sourced from the following pages:





How to write the Task 1 letter for General IELTS

Task 1 for the General Training IELTS is about writing a letter – either formal, semi-formal, or informal. You are given a situation with key information to include in your letter.

What’s important are the following:

  • Addressing all parts of the task question
  • Writing in the appropriate tone for the situation. This means using the suitable words and phrases that are either formal, semi-formal or informal.
  • Writing in a logical and organized manner so that it is clear and easy for the reader to understand your letter.

Structure for your formal letter:

  1. State your reason or purpose for writing the letter.
  2. Details of your situation. Address the 3 bullet points listed in the Task question. Make a paragraph for each one.
  3. A suitable closing.

Here’s a sample task from the website:

general task 1 - dorm problem letter


First, decide the tone of the context. This would be formal as you’re requesting for a transfer. This also decides how you’ll organize your letter. For example, an informal letter would start with a greeting or making a personal reference that the person receiving the letter would understand. In a formal letter, you need to make things clear and structured.

Next, make a quick plan of  what you’re going to write for each paragraph, addressing each requirement of the task. I don’t have to write these out but make a very quick guide.

  •  Your purpose; important identifying details (room number, building)
  • Describe the situation: roommate has different priorities from me and I can’t study; he parties all the time, too noisy or invites too many people over
  • I can’t study for my exams; several of my personal items have gone missing
  • Request for another room, preferably a studio apartment (no roommates); a thank you and that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.

Now, you write your letter.

I’ll continue with a sample letter in a future post. Feel free to ask questions.

If you want to get your writing checked – see here:

Do you want to find specific information about different IELTS lessons?

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

I’ve had a lot of emailed questions and comments from students  who want to find out more about a specific lesson that they have read. If  you  want to find out more about a specific topic, please use Search by Tags . You can do this 2 ways:

  1. At the bottom of each post, there is a section that says Posted in: followed by a  list of tags (topics) that you can click on. This will bring you to all the posts that have been tagged for that topic. For example, if you want to know more about how to write introductions, click on the introductions tag.
  2. On the right side of the page of each post, you’ll see a box that says “Search by Tags” under a box that says “Check my essay”. This Search by Tags box is filled with tags (topics) of different sizes – the bigger the size of the word, the more posts there are under this tag. Click on a tag to see all the posts related to that topic.

If there are topics not covered, feel free to email me or comment and I’ll try my best to write a post on it.

Good luck everyone!

(If you see at the bottom of this post, I’ve tagged everything.)

Practice your English through the news

Day Ninety Eight Dustin Diaz via Compfight

The more you listen to or read English news, this is what happens:

  • You start to recognize more vocabulary words and phrases and in different contexts (situations in how the word is used)
  • You start to recognize different sentence structures
  • You learn more about common topics that are useful for your exam. You learn about different viewpoints that you can use in writing your essays.

Here are some good general news websites:

Another useful tool is  Google Alerts. Set up alerts to specific topics or words/phrases that come up in the news or blogs and it will send you an email about it.

These are just a few news sites especially catered for English language learners. If you find some that are useful, please add them to the comments below and I’ll include them in the list.

So have a go and make it a habit to read and listen to news every day, even for 10 minutes a day. Take note of anything new that you’ve learned. This could be a vocabulary word, or an idea or viewpoint about a popular topic as you might be able to use that idea in your essay writing.