In the last two posts, I looked at the …

“I guarantee you will get IELTS 7” // ‘The Guaranteed IELTS 7 Course’ // "This will take you from 4 to 7" syndrome

… proving that it is all impossible (hence the above picture). Obviously there are no guarantees for any test, of any sort. But why do schools and teachers offer these false guarantees? How do they make money if they allow students to study at their schools forever in an endless quest to get IELTS 7?

Well, imagine this situation. Imagine a big classroom holding 20 students. Imagine Teacher X, who just turns pages in an IELTS book, and lectures in Chinese. If this is a school, it pays the teacher the same rate, so it doesn’t matter to the school if there are 2 or 20 students in the class. This situation doesn’t matter to the teacher involved, since there is no correction of written work, so the teacher can just do the same thing (whether it is to 2 students, or to 20 students). Again, 2 or 20 (or 50, if there is enough space), it just doesn’t matter to anyone.

But it does matter in one aspect. Obviously, if the independent teacher or the school can get 20 (or 50) paying students into the classroom, then this teacher/school makes much more money. So, the trick lies in getting students into that classroom. Enter the ‘guaranteed IELTS 7’ course (which could last forever if it is just page turning from units taken at random from a collection of IELTS books, listlessly listening to somebody lecturing about IELTS in Chinese).

Of course, in the worst sort of learning environment, you could spend a year, and get nowhere. The point is, it doesn’t matter because the classroom is big enough to hold the old ‘guarantee students’, as well as accept the ‘new guarantee’ students. And the old students get bored, de-motivated, and eventually realise that the system isn’t helping them. At some point, these students move on.

So, this imaginary classroom never actually fills up. The ‘Guarantee IELTS 7’ students pay the money and sign up, stay for a certain period of time, eventually lose interest and leave, allowing the next group of ‘guarantee IELTS 7’ students to take their place, all in a sort of rotation system. Does anyone ever get an IELTS 7? Remember, there is no real 'guarantee'. There are too many other factors, but that’s not the point. The point is the school or independent teacher got you into the classroom.

So, think carefully about what 'guarantee' really means?


Find the meaning of the underlined words, also repeated below.

  • quest (n)
  • progression (n)
  • listless (adj)
  • motivation (n)
  • rotation (n)




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