Preparing for your IELTS exam

Lots of people ask us about IELTS - an English qualification recognised by workplaces and academic institutions around the world. Here's a quick overview:

The IELTS exam is divided into FOUR parts:

Listening – a 30 minute test of 4 different recordings of increasing difficulty

Speaking – lasts between 11-14 minutes and has 3 sections which include short questions, a 1-2 minute prepared speech from a topic on a card, and some more general and hypothetical questions

Reading – 60 minutes and 3 sections and uses a variety of skills such as paragraph matching, general comprehension and true/false/not given statements

Writing – 60 minutes and 2 sections. The first task is writing at least 150 words describing a chart, graph, process or map. The second task is writing at least 250 words and is a "pros and cons" argument.

Meet the team: Giorgia Gonzalez

Giorgia Gonzalez is really the heart of the school. She is both our Centre Manager, and our Customer Support Manager, so is here to help you get the most out of living and studying English in Brighton. 


Where are you from?

I am from a town in the centre of Italy called Fabriano.

When did you move to Brighton and why?

Meet the Teachers: Andy Smith

Welcome to Meet the Teachers! The new way to get to know everyone at Castle School of English in Brighton, or just catch up with your favourite teachers. Our first teacher is Andy Smith who has been with us for several years now. He is a very popular teacher who is well known for his fun and educational General English and IELTS class in Brighton. 


Hello Andy. Please tell us some more about yourself. How long have you been a teacher?

​Since 2015, although I also taught in France for a year a long time ago. Before doing my teaching qualification I had a corporate job and decided to do something different with my life.

Where did you do your training?

Explore Brighton online!

Learning English in Brighton is only a part of your language experience! Brighton is an exciting and vibrant city with so many fun attractions – shops, bars, cafés and tourist sights.

If you’re thinking about visiting Brighton next year, here at Castle School of English, we have selected some great videos and tours to help you learn about our city. Now you can start exploring Brighton from the comfort of your own home!

Check out our 6 favourite videos about life in Brighton:


1. Brighton is the coolest place to learn English – in the world!

Really, it is unique. For a small city, it is full of life, laughter and above all….style!

Learning English outside of the classroom

Our teachers are often asked by students for tips on how to learn English outside the classroom to help speed up their learning and practise their new skills in a natural environment.

So our very experienced and talented Director of Studies, Christian Tiplady, has put together a few helpful hints to help you hone your new skills and immerse yourself into learning English wherever you go.

Christian recommends:
Use apps such as memrise and quizlet to test your vocabulary and learn new words every day.

Develop your pronunciation by listening to audiobooks and repeat aloud whilst recording yourself- you can use your phone for this exercise.

Listen to language learning podcasts such as BBC 6 minute English or discussions on the radio to improve your listening skills.

What should I pack for studying abroad?

We recently had a student arrive at Castle School who brought with them 3 large suitcases for a 3 month stay. While we understand the longing for reminders of home, this is not the most economical way to travel!

If you are planning a trip to the UK and just cannot decide what to bring, follow our guide and avoid getting charged at the airport!

Pack this:

Which exam is right for me?

Earning an exam qualification is a great way to increase your career prospects so it's important to choose the right one for you. At Castle School, we understand this decision can be daunting so here is some information about the exam classes we offer to help you decide:

At Castle School we offer exam preparation classes in FCE, CAE and IELTS. In these classes you will learn ways to read long texts, write in different styles and listen to longer audio pieces. You will learn about the exam and practise the best way to answer exam questions. Due to the advanced level, it is important that your English skills are suitable before you start your exam course.

What level do I need to be?

The FCE (First Certificate in English) is for students who have an upper-intermediate (B2) level of English.

Learn English in 2020!

Happy New Year to all from Castle School of English. We have had a very enjoyable Christmas break and now we are back hoping to make 2020 our best year yet!

Have you been thinking about taking an English course this year? If you have, why not take a look at our website? You will find descriptions of the different classes we offer, learn more about our accommodation and you can even use our course calculator to find the price for the best course to suit you. We also add weekly blogs with helpful tips on adjusting to life in the UK and all the amazing events that Brighton has to offer.

Missing food from home?

Many students crave the food of their home country when they are in the UK and at Castle School we can help you find some great places in Brighton to make your stay a bit more palatable!

One of the best reasons to choose to come to Brighton is how wonderfully multi-cultural our town is with literally hundreds of places to eat in almost every cuisine imaginable. Many of our students and international staff have found a few places in Brighton that provide the perfect taste of home.