The International English Language Testing System, which is commonly known as the IELTS test, is a very popular platform for those who are looking to migrate to an English-speaking country for the purpose of pursuing higher studies or to work and make a career for themselves.
The test is classified into four parts, namely the listening test, the reading test, the writing test and the speaking test respectively. This article will help you understand what are the nuances of the writing test and how to excel in the IELTS writing section by following some useful tips and strategies.
Modules of the IELTS test – Academic & General
Before getting into the details of the writing test, let us begin by understanding the test modules. There are two different modules of the IELTS test, namely the IELTS academic test and the IELTS General training test.
The former, which is the IELTS academic module, is primarily taken by those candidates who wish to study in a foreign country where English is the primary language used for communication and teaching.
On the other hand, the general training test is meant for those who are going to migrate to an English-speaking country and hence have to prove their ability to speak in English. This has to be understood very well by you as it will help you decide on the module specifically and attempt the test accordingly. There are a few candidates who will not choose the module correctly and in will repent in the end.
As mentioned previously, the IELTS test is divided into four parts or four components. The major difference between the IELTS academic module and the IELTS General training module is in the reading and writing sections only.
The IELTS listening test and the IELTS speaking test are one and the same for all the candidates regardless of the module taken by them. The major differences in the writing section will be dealt with in detail in this article.
Two different modes of taking the test:
Have you known that you can now take the IELTS test on a computer? Yes, the IELTS test can be taken on a paper or on a computer.
The first one is known as the IELTS paper-based test. The name clearly suggests that all components of the IELTS test other than the speaking are taken on answer sheets. The examiner will physically evaluate the writing test and give you the score.
In the case of the second mode which is known as the IELTS computer delivered test or the IELTS computer-based exam is a newer mode of test-taking in which the listening, reading and writing tests are taken virtually on a computer. This makes it easier for both the candidate as well as for the evaluator to rate your performance.
For this reason, there is an increasing demand for the computer delivered test. It should also be remembered that the computer delivered test is now open to candidates globally. You need to book a test slot for this as you do it regularly for the paper-based test.
Comparison between the IELTS paper-based test and the IELTS computer delivered test:
The IELTS paper-based test offers an opportunity for all the candidates to present the information clearly on the answer sheet using a pen or a pencil. Particularly in the writing test, the candidates can write the reports, letters and essays in separate answer sheets which are clearly designated.
Some candidates feel that this way of expressing on the answer sheet gives them more scope to put forth the thoughts and ideas clearly. You will get the same amount of time in the writing test whether you are taking it on a paper or on a computer.
According to the instructions given in the question paper, you are allowed to use 20 minutes of time to finish the writing Task 1 and the rest of the 40 minutes to complete the writing task two. However, this choice relies completely on you as to which task you want to start first.
The speaking test is conducted usually on a different date from the listening, reading and writing tests. It will take 13 days of time for the results to be delivered online if you prefer to take the paper-based IELTS test.
While the overall test format remains more or less the same, there are certain changes that are made to the newly introduced computer delivered IELTS test. The first and the foremost advantage is that the candidate need not write anything. All they have to do is to type their responses using the keyboard. The responses in the writing test have to be typed in the empty box that the candidates will see on the screen. There is no need to take extra paper as they can just use the enter key to start the next paragraph.
One more advantage of taking the IELTS computer delivered test is that you need not count the number of words as the word count is clearly displayed at the bottom of the screen. You can also have the opportunity to switch between the two tasks whenever you want to. This makes it much easier for most of the candidates who have lost touch in writing on a paper.
Most of us are habituated to typing nowadays and this is the perfect platform for taking the IELTS computer delivered test. Under certain circumstances, you may also request the speaking test to be conducted on the same day as the listening, reading and writing tests. The results also can be delivered in just five to seven business days unlike the IELTS paper-based test where it takes up to 13 days for the results to be delivered.
So, if you are in a hurry to meet an academic deadline, then the IELTS computer-based maybe the right platform for you to complete your test faster and to get your results. The IELTS test results are valid for 2 years from the date of obtainting the results of the test.
An overview of the IELTS writing test:
The IELTS writing test is usually combined with the listening and reading sections of the test. You will get a total of 60 minutes to finish two tasks. You should give the responses for the two tasks that are given completely so as to get the score that you desire. Remember that failure to attempt these tasks completely will definitely lead to decrease in the overall score.
The second task in both the academic as well as the general training writing test is essay writing. Even though the topic that is given for essay writing may differ, you should remember that all the candidates should understand the details of how to write an essay properly which is based on several factors that are called band descriptors.
It is very important for everybody to understand what band descriptors are and how these band descriptors will influence the overall score of a candidate in the test.
IELTS Writing scoring – band descriptors:
As clearly indicated by their name itself, band descriptors are those criteria based on which the candidate will be given a score in the writing section of the IELTS test. The overall score in the IELTS test ranges from band 0 to band 9. Remember that even half scores are given in the IELTS test. This means that you have a chance to get scores like 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, and so on in addition to the complete band point.The band descriptors will differ based on the task which the candidate is attempting.
In the case of the IELTS academic test, the first task in the writing test is to write a report based on some diagrammatic representation. It is important to compare two or more segments of the diagrammatic representation in a proper and accurate manner so that the information is conveyed to the examiner in the right sense.
In the case of the general training writing test, the first task is to write a letter. A situation will be prompted to the candidate, and you should take a clue from that and write a letter by clearly indicating the purpose for which the letter is being written.
Now, let us focus on understanding the band descriptors and the overall meaning of what they indicate. There are four band descriptors, each giving a score of 25%, which are used for the evaluation of the IELTS writing Task 1.
a. Task achievement:
As the name indicates, this band descriptor focuses exclusively on whether you have finished writing a task completely or not.
In simple, task achievement is all about completing the task properly by following the instructions given in the question paper. This begins by framing the structure properly and giving the relevant details.
Remember that the IELTS is a time-based test. So you should not waste any time in giving each and every minute detail, particularly in the first task.
To cite an example, there are different types of diagrammatic and schematic representations that you will see if you are taking the academic module. These include bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, tables, flow charts, process diagrams, life cycles and other representations.
It is not necessary to describe everything that you see in the representation. What is more important is that you should let the examiner know that you have understood the representation properly and you have described the all the necessary details.
For this, you should understand that you can write a minimum of 150 words. However, what should be kept in mind is that you should not to describe everything in detail but keep it to a brief.
Similarly, achievement of the tasks in the case of General training writing Task 1 indicates that you need to write the letter by understanding the given question prompt properly.
You should focus on the detail that is mentioned in the question paper and should not go on extending the same topic in all the paragraphs. If you do so, there is a chance of a reduction in the band score pertaining to this particular band descriptor.
The next important thing about band descriptors is that you can find a public version of the band descriptors which will help you understand the detailed description and analysis for each of the band points.
b. Coherence and cohesion:
Coherence and cohesion are two major terms that will have an impact on your overall score. Together, they contribute 25% of the score in the writing test. Let us try to understand what coherence and cohesion mean.
Coherence is a term that focuses on linking the ideas in a particular paragraph. Remember that no side headings or bullet points are allowed in the IELTS writing test. You have to stick firmly to writing in paragraphs in both the task one as well as in the task two.
While coherence indicates the connectivity between the paragraphs in a letter or a report or an essay, the meaning of cohesion is to link two or more sentences within a paragraph.
In short, linking between paragraphs is coherence and linking within paragraphs is cohesion. For the purpose of getting a high score for coherence and cohesion, you should be aware of the factors which will form and link the ideas and sentences. This can be achieved in various ways, such as by using linking words or transition linkers.
Some examples of these words are nevertheless, however, additionally, moreover, in addition to, besides this, etc. You have to know the appropriate use of each and every transition word so that you will not confuse in the real test.
Do not use too many of the linking words as it may confuse the examiner when he or she is reading your paper. Limit the linking words to whenever there is a necessity of using and then use them appropriately.
Overuse or underuse of cohesive devices is always a problem which may affect the overall performance of a candidate in the IELTS writing test.
c. Lexical resource:
Lexis is an indicator of vocabulary. Resource means a wide range. So, when you combine both these words, lexical resource means that you are using a range of the vocabulary that is required to write a report or a letter or the essay.
Learning words as a group is definitely a positive indicator of learning vocabulary in the easiest possible way rather than trying to learn words which are unrelated and trying to combine them.
In the real test, since you just have 60 minutes of time to finish both the tasks, it is important that you know the vocabulary beforehand. Trying to recollect vocabulary is a laborious process and thus may lead to confusion.
There is a simple technique to learn vocabulary. Try to use the word that is given in the question paper and frame the related words to that particular word. The words which you select from the question are known as keywords.
What is suggested is that you can try to write the different forms of the keywords so as to generate vocabulary that is related in one way or the other to the given word. Remember that the wider your vocabulary range is, the better are your chances to score high in this band descriptor called lexical resource.
Try reading online resources or newspapers to get hold of as many new words as possible and make a note of it. Try to guess the meaning from the context. This is called contextual understanding. Try to generate new words like this and simultaneously keep learning new words and their synonyms. Remember that this process will eventually help to improve your language as a whole.
d. Grammatical range and accuracy:
This is the last band descriptor that contributes 25% to the overall score in the writing Task 1 both the academic version as well as the general training version. This term grammatical range and accuracy can be internally divided into two segments. The first segment is called grammatical range. This indicates that you have to use a range of grammar and components related to grammar in order to secure a high score for this band descriptor.
Are you wondering what the components of grammar are? Let me explain. Imagine that you are writing a letter. You should vary the kind of sentence structure that is appropriate to use at the time of writing a letter.
Repetitive grammar, which means that you are using the same kind of sentences or same kind of sentence structure, will definitely lead to decreasing your band score in the test.
Different kinds of sentences that you need to be aware of:
In English, when it comes to the IELTS test particularly, there are six different sentence types. As a test taker, you need to be aware of what each of these sentence types can do to increase your range of grammar.
The different sentence types are simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, complex – compound sentences , passive sentences, and conditional sentences. Just like their names, each sentence structure serves a unique function. It is important to show the examiner a range of sentence structures when you are writing a letter or an essay. This is the first component which is called grammatical range. This also includes the widespread use of tenses.
As you might be aware, the appropriate use of tenses along with the right punctuation will definitely you had better impression in terms of grammatical range.
The second component within this band descriptor is grammatical accuracy. Accuracy means correctness. So, you will have to understand that the sentence structure or the particular tense that you are going to use is suitable and apt to the given context so that it conveys the meaning in the right sense is called grammatical accuracy.
Remember that grammatical range alone will not give you the score. Grammatical range along with accuracy in all the components and all the paragraphs will lead to betterment in the score.
You should be aware of the band descriptors as given in the public version so as to get an overall idea of what they indicate. Get used to practice accordingly so as to improve your performance in each of these band descriptors equally so that your overall score will improve.
Let us understand how the band descriptors can help you get a better score. Before we get into that, it is important that you understand that each of the band descriptors is individually given a score out of 9 and then the mean value is calculated to be your overall score.
Imagine that you are getting 7 out of 9 bands for grammatical range and accuracy. For task achievement, you may get a score of 7.5 out of 9. Lexical resource is another component for which you may get a score of 8. If your score for coherence and cohesion is 8, then let us calculate the sum of all these values. The total of these values is 30.5. If you divide this value by four, you will get a value of 7.62.
In most of the cases, this value will be equal to its nearest whole number, which implies that your score for the writing Task 1 is 8.0. In some cases however, your score may be given as 7.5. This is because half scores are permitted in the IELTS test.
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
Now that we have understood how the scoring is done, let us get into the intricate details of the academic writing Task 1. In this case, you will be asked to write a report by looking at several illustrations. The illustrations can be of different types. You should be aware of how to interpret these illustrations and frame a report accordingly. There are several rules to be followed while writing a report.
a. You should write at least 150 words. This is clearly specified in the instructions itself. This indicates that if you do not write a minimum of 150 words, your report will be getting a low score. How do you know that you have written a hundred and fifty words? You should remember that the examiners will count the number of words that you have written. So, you need to count the number of words manually word by word. Some candidates will also have an estimate in their mind by looking at the number of words they have written in a line.
For instance, the answer sheet in the IELTS writing test usually comprises of a set of lines and you are asked to write along those lines. Imagine that you have written at least eight words in one line, then you can multiply it with the number of lines so as to get a rough estimate of how many words you may have written. This will save you a lot of time in the main test.
b. You should not that describe everything that you see. The instructions given in the Task 1 question paper will clearly mention that are the candidates how to make comparisons where they are relevant. This means that you have to learn how to select the information specifically according to the diagrammatic representation that is given.
c. You need to structure the task very clearly so that it is understandable. Usually, you should begin by writing the introduction followed by the overview and then the body paragraphs. Remember that the overview is a very very important paragraph and you cannot skip writing the overview. There is a particular method of writing each paragraph which must be clearly understood by you.
d. If you are taking the IELTS paper-based test, remember that your handwriting should be legible. Illegible handwriting will lead to a penalty.
e. Remember not to write any additional information other than what you see on the graph or the illustration. If anything additional to what is given is written, it’ll be considered as off topic which is one of the reasons for getting a low score in the test.
f. Memorized responses have to be avoided.
There are different types of graphs and illustrations that you need to be aware of.
a. Bar charts: – You will see the information represented in the form of horizontal and vertical bars which you need to interpret by looking at the information represented along the x-axis and the y-axis and forming the report accordingly. Do mention the units of measurement.
b. Pie charts: This representation is usually in the circular form. You will see that there are various segments or proportions that the pie is divided into, which are usually represented in the form of percentages. You need to represent the information by selecting the main features and the relevant details.
c. Line graphs: As the name indicates,.you will see that the data is represented in the form of lines. Understand the direction of the lines and the movement of these lines along with the years of study as seen on the axes and write a report based on this.
d. Tables: This is the easiest form of representation of information in a tabular column which comprises of rows and columns. You should look at the information specifically with reference to the rows and columns and write a report accordingly.
e. Diagrams:These are sometimes called process diagrams as they represent a process in the form of a diagram. You should understand the various steps that are indicated in the diagram and write a report. Sometimes, more than one diagrams may be seen.
f. Flowchart: A flow chart indicates a series of steps that will happen in the completion of a process. Remember not to keep any of the steps because each step is vital in the completion of the process. Try to represent the steps in the sequence using the right terminology and write a report.
g. Life cycles:There is a small difference between a flow chart and a life cycle. A flowchart is usually a linear process and the a life cycle is usually a cyclic process. While representing the life cycle, it is important to mention the stages or the phases in the life cycle clearly along with the number of days as is mentioned in the representation.
Watch the video for Lifecycle and process IELTS Writing task 1 question.
h. Maps:Maps are very important and these maps usually indicate the changes that have taken place in an area or a layout. It is important to consider the right tense in which the map has to be represented. While some maps depict and area using the past tense and the present tense, some other maps may present the layout of an area in the present and propose some changes for the future. As there is a particular band descriptor known as grammatical range and accuracy, it is important to consider the tense exactly as mentioned in the question.
Sometimes, you may also see the combination of different diagrammatic and graphical illustrations while you write a report. If you see a combination, you need to clearly specify the comparison between the two illustrations.
Tips to score better (procedure to write):
They are some tips and strategies that will help you get a better score in the IELTS writing Task 1(Academic).
Firstly, you need to follow the instructions very clearly. Understand what the instructions ask you to do.
Secondly, try to maintain good vocabulary that is suitable to the given representation. For example, you may have to use words like increasing trend and decreasing trend when you are describing a line graph. The same vocabulary might not be suitable to represent a map.
Furthermore, try to give as many linking words as possible whenever the context arises when you are writing a report so that you will get a high score for coherence and cohesion. Remember not to overuse or underuse linking words. The next thing to keep in mind is that you have to complete the report within 15 minutes only so that you can count the number of words and rectify your errors in the last 5 minutes.
Do not neglect the process of rectification of errors as this plays a major role in giving you a better score.
The overview paragraph should contain the major variations and the striking features that you see. You should represent any major increase or decrease that you see in the representation. Any steady or unfluctuating areas should also be represented clearly.
Finally you need to understand that the body paragraphs should be clearly demarcated on the basis of the features in detail. If you can follow these simple tips and strategies it is not very difficult to get your desired score when you’re attempting the Task 1 in the IELTS academic test.
IELTS General Writing task 1:
If you are a candidate who is appearing for the general training test, you will have to read the information that is given below as it helps you understand the nuances of letter-writing and how you can get a high score.
You will get around 20 minutes of time to write the letter based on the prompt given. The letter prompt in the IELTS General training test is usually comprised of a question or a situation that you may face in your day-to-day life. It is not rocket science to understand the letter. The only thing that you have to bear in your mind is that the letter has to be written by clearly mentioning the purpose and justifying your point of view using the relevant vocabulary.
The three types of letters that you have to be aware of are the formal letters, semi formal letters and the informal letters. Being a candidate who is appearing for the test, you should quickly identify the kind of letter within the first 10 or 15 seconds of the test. If you take longer than this time to identify the kind of letter, it may take even more time to finish the letter and that will have an impact on your second task.
Let us look at the kind of letters in this way so that it is easier for us to understand and identify the letter type. Formal letters are the letters which are usually written to people whom we do not know in person. So, you may start the letter by saluting them as ‘Dear Sir or madam’ as you do not know their gender.
This salutation is sometimes clearly mentioned in the question paper itself. Some examples of formal letters are those letters which are written to authorities, letters written to lodge a complaint to a customer service manager or those letters which are written to apologize to a person who is in an authoritative position.
Semi formal letters are usually written to people whom we know by their last name. However, the language of this letter has to be in a formal style. These letters are called semi formal letters as they’re not completely formal and they’re not completely informal too. Imagine that you are writing a letter to your manager. In this scenario, even though the context is formal, you will consider it to be a semi formal letter as you are aware of the last name of your manager.
Informal letters, which are also known as personal letters, are usually written to our friends and dear ones. Consider an example of a you writing a letter to your close friend inviting them for your wedding. The situation is not formal at all. This kind of letter is considered to be an informal letter.
The foremost thing that you need to do east to identify and classify the question into the specific type of letter by following the tips that we have just discussed. This will help you get a clarification faster than usual. You can attempt the task one with more confidence.
You should take around 5 minutes to complete the introduction in which you clearly mention the purpose of writing the letter. You need not give any addresses when writing a letter. However, it is important to salute the reader before you begin.
The conclusion also is very important. Usually, there are people who mix the last body paragraph with the conclusion. This might not be the right procedure to write as it does not indicate the action that has to be taken after the letter is read. Instead, it is much better if you can write a one or two-sentence conclusion in which you specify the course of action that needs to be taken.
Tips and high scoring strategies:
Now, let us understand some of the tips and strategies that will help you get a better score for letter writing. The first step is that you need to classify the letter into five paragraphs.
The first paragraph is the introduction which is written immediately in the next line after the salutation. In this paragraph, you can begin by introducing yourself and then specifying the purpose for which the letter is being written. Do not explain too much beyond this point in the introduction.
Followed by the introduction are three body paragraphs. You will surely notice that there are three hints that are indicated in the question paper itself. Write one body paragraph by developing one bullet point that you see. Remember not to club any two ideas into one paragraph.
Also, a candidate who is looking for a high score will definitely focus on the tense of the given bullet point. After you have completed writing the three body paragraphs, remember to write a conclusion, which becomes the fifth paragraph. Once you complete writing the letter, it is important to write the salutation at the end.
Usually, formal letters end with a phrase called ‘yours faithfully’. Semi formal letters end with ‘yours sincerely’. For an informal letter, you can use the phrase ‘best regards’ or ‘warm wishes’. It is important to write the full name at the end in the case of formal and semi-formal letters. You can just write your first name if you are writing an informal letter.
IELTS writing task 2 – Essay writing:
The ielts writing task 2, which is a task that is common for both the academic as well as the general training modules, is to write an essay based on a prompt that is given. It is easier said than done to say that essay writing is a very simple task.
However, if you can follow some simple tips and tricks and follow the right method to write an essay, it is not a very difficult task too.
All you have to understand is the procedure that is required to write an essay and the different kinds of essays that you will have to practice before attempting the real IELTS test.
Let us understand what essay writing is, and how to write a perfect essay by following a proper method and a structure. Remember that the essay will carry double the score in terms of weightage as compared with task 1( report or letter). So, according to the instructions given in the question paper, you have to spend around 40 minutes of time to write the essay.
However, it is according to your will in which to plan the essay within the shortest time possible so that you can focus on identifying the errors like punctuation errors or spelling errors. It is very important to rectify these minor errors before submitting the paper.
Let us look at the band descriptors that the examiners will consider while evaluating your essay. Just like the Task 1, the essay is also corrected on the basis of some evaluation or marking criteria which are known as band descriptors. Each of these band descriptors contribute equally to the overall score for essay writing.
a. Task response:
You might have noticed that there is a band descriptor called Task achievement when it comes to the evaluation of the writing Task 1. That band descriptor is replaced by what is known as task response when it comes to the evaluation of essay writing. This particular band descriptor will evaluate whether you have followed a pattern of writing the essay properly or not and whether the development of ideas is clear or not.
The term ‘response’ indicates that you need to have a good beginning and a good finish for the essay. This includes a good introduction which is very strong and puts forth your point in the right direction according to the prompt given. This is usually followed by giving your opinion which may be required if the question demands you to give your opinion.
However, there are certain types of essays in ielts writing in which your opinion is not required to be given in the introduction. You have to look at the prompt very carefully and determine if your opinion has to be given or not. This is usually followed by the body paragraphs which will give the details of your point of view with relevant examples and any survey or personal experience and the this is usually followed by the conclusion paragraph where you briefly outline the same point that you have previously indicated in the introduction.
b. Coherence and cohesion:
The next band descriptor that the examiners will consider while evaluating your essay is called coherence and cohesion. This is something similar to what you have seen in the band descriptors for IELTS writing Task 1. This includes the right formation of paragraphs along with the proper linking words and their appropriate usage. Remember that you should not overuse or under use these cohesive devices.
The formation of a proper link between diarrhea is what decides your score. Don’t try to discuss too many ideas in one body paragraph. Each body paragraph should have a central idea that you can explain properly using relevant examples that justify your point of view.
Remember to include examples as they will improve the worth of your essay. Don’t forget to write the conclusion. Following these simple ideas will improve your score for coherence and cohesion.
c. Lexical resource:
This band descriptor evaluates your score based on the range of vocabulary and the synonyms that are used while writing the essay. The overall sense of what you were trying to convey has to be very clear and that can be possible with the use of synonyms of the keywords as well as explaining them using paraphrasing. Using the right amount of vocabulary will decide your score for this band descriptor. Repetition of the same word too many times is a factor that may reduce your score. Try to use the different forms of the words that you know in the right way.
d. Grammatical range and accuracy:
This includes the appropriate to use of different sentence structures and tenses by writing a sentence in an essay. You need to show a wide variety of sentence structures in an accurate manner so as to get a high score for this band descriptor. You need to have a strong grip on basic grammatical structures, punctuation marks, and also check for any possible errors in spelling.
Types of essays:
Now, let us look at the different types of essays in ielts writing that you need to practice. Not all essays are similar. So, you need to have a clear idea of what the essay asks you to do and according to the prompt given, you need to write the essay clearly. While you have to give your opinion clearly in some cases, that is not a criteria in some other essay types. This totally depends on the prompt that is given. Spend a minute or two to read the question properly before you start writing the essay. Remember that planning is very important before execution.
Remember to underline the important parts of the sentence as you read. This will help you get a clear idea before you understand what you have to do. Based on the analysis, organize the ideas in a logical way and then sequence them in the form of an essay. The different types of essays that you have to look into and practice carefully are
a. Discuss both views
b. Discuss both views and give your own opinion
c. Do you agree or disagree?
d. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
e. What are the advantages and disadvantages?
f. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
g. What are the problems? What Solutions can be offered?/ how can the problems be tackled?
h. What are the causes of this problem? How can it be solved?/ what are the effects?
I. Double question/ two way question
j. Is this a positive or a negative development?
k. What is your opinion?
Even though the question types are of various types, the procedure to write the essay is more or less the same. You should first write the introduction and then frame the body paragraphs and a conclusion. Let us discuss in detail about each of these essay types.
a. Discuss both the views:
This is a discussion essay where you have to discuss two different points of view about a given situation. The opinion of both the sides has to be given clearly before reaching to a logical conclusion. The question prompts you to do this. This means that in one body paragraph you need to discuss the first View and the second you has to be discussed in the following paragraph.
In total, the essay may be written in four paragraphs. You need not specify your point of view in the introduction or in the conclusion directly as it is not mentioned in the question. However, you can put forth your point of view indirectly.
b. Discuss both views and give your opinion:
This is an extension to the question type that was discussed previously. The additional aspect is that you should not just discuss the points related to both the views but should indicate your viewpoint clearly in the introduction as well as in the conclusion. You may support either side or you may have a balanced opinion in which you may support both the sides. However, whatever your opinion is, you should justify it using relevant supporting details.
This is an argumentative essay in which you will be given a statement. you either have to agree or disagree with it. There is a very important point that you should know. In this particular essay-type, you cannot agree or disagree in a partial way. This means that you have to agree or disagree completely. When you write the essay, both the body paragraphs have to agree with the statement or both of them have to disagree. Whatever opinion you have stated in the introduction should be the same with what you said in the conclusion as well. Giving justification with the help of a relevant supporting statement is a must.
d. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
If you observe the question type, you’ll notice that you have an option to state the extent to which you agree or disagree with the given statement. This indirectly means that you have an option to agree or disagree to a certain extent.
However, this has to be clearly mentioned in the introduction as well as in the confusion along with proper and relevant justification that is given in the body paragraphs.
This is a type of essay in which you would have to discuss the probable concerns or issues about a topic that is given in the question along with offering feasible solutions to mitigate the problem.
The problems can be listed out with examples in the first body paragraph and the relevant solutions can be explained in the subsequent paragraph.
Alternatively, you may also give a problem and its solution in the same paragraph and then give the second problem and the second solution in the following paragraph.
f. Causes and effects:
This essay type is somewhat similar to the previous one. You have to indicate the causes of a problem along with the possible side effects or the after effects of it. The causes how to be explained in one body paragraph and the effects have to be outlined with examples in the next paragraph. The conclusion should indicate the causes and the effects in a brief yet understandable way.
g. Advantages and disadvantages:
When this kind of essay is given, you should first understand the topic clearly and then you have to outline the benefits of that as well as the disadvantages of the same.
For example, let us say that the topic is about technology. You will notice that the topic will be given in the form of a statement and you will be asked to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of Technology. You have to write about the advantages in detail in the first paragraph with examples and then move on to write about the disadvantages in the next paragraph.
In the introduction and the conclusion, you should highlight the advantages and disadvantages briefly. Do not go into the explanation of the advantages in the introduction itself. Keep it as brief and as clear as it can be.
Here is an extension of the previous question type in which you should not only highlight the advantages and disadvantages but you should also take a stand on whether you think that the advantages of a particular topic outweigh the disadvantages. This means that your opinion is mandatory.
You should either explain to the examiner that there are more advantages and disadvantages or vice versa. It is very important to take your opinion and explain it with relevant example so as to justify your point of view.
I. Is it a positive or a negative development?
This essay type is something similar to the advantages and disadvantages question type. However, here the topic is about development which you should explain based on whether you consider it to be a positive one or a negative one. You have to take one side and explain in detail about that point in the body paragraphs.
j. What is your opinion on this?
Sometimes, without any confusion, the question clearly mentions that you have to give your opinion on a particular topic or a particular statement. You may have a neutral opinion on a balanced opinion or a single-sided opinion based on the topic that is given. Remember to retain the same opinion that you have stated in the introduction throughout the essay and in the conclusion as well.
The task of Idea generation:
Before you begin the essay, it is very important for you to take sufficient amount of time to plan what to write and they generate the ideas that are relevant to the topic that is given. This makes the task of writing the essay much simpler and easier.
Most of the candidates who do this will have a better essay than those who do not plan. Planning makes it clear for you to structure your essay in a sequential and logical manner so that you do not miss out any ideas. It will also help you to generate the vocabulary that is related to the topics so that you can make a note of these words and use them while you write.
This can also improve your score for the band descriptor known as lexical resource. Also, since you have the skeleton ready in the form of a plan, you can focus on using a wide range of grammar accurately when you write. This improves your score for the band descriptor called grammatical range and accuracy.
Remember that extensive brainstorming is not required to generate the ideas as the topics that are given for essay writing are quite simple and those topics are the ones which we see and encounter in our day-to-day lives. Just try to imagine yourself facing the situation and this may help to generate ideas quickly and these ideas are more realistic.
There is a useful strategy which is may help you to plan your essay and execute it. That is called the POWER strategy. The first alphabet, P, stands for planning. The next one, O, is for organizing the ideas. W indicates writing, E means to edit what you have written and the last alphabet, R means to review and recount the number of words. As you have seen, the power strategy is a perfect one that can help you to understand what essay writing actually is.
Do not start writing immediately after you see the essay question. Ideally, you may spend 1 or 2 minutes to plan, 4 minutes to sequence and organize, 20 minutes to write the essay. The remaining time has to be utilized for editing and reviewing the essay.
If you can follow this plan, you can definitely finish writing your essay in 40 minutes or less than that. However, you can only follow this plan properly if you practice it beforehand. So, begin your essay preparation by learning the power strategy and applying it and practicing it with at least four to five essays before you attend the real IELTS test.
Another way to generate the ideas quickly is called Mind mapping. For this you may use the interrogative pronouns( what, when, where, which, whom, whose, who, how, why). Try to ask these questions and then try to get the answers and that will be your idea. It is quite simple to mind map for any kind of essay.
While doing so, remember to include any relevant vocabulary that can be useful to explain your idea in the correct sense. Paraphrasing may be an effective tool to ensure that you are writing in the appropriate way without repeating the same sentences. Let us learn how to paraphrase.
How to paraphrase a given statement?
Paraphrasing by definition means that you are a rephrasing the given sentence in your own words without repeating all of the words from the question. It does not mean that you have to use the synonyms for all the words. The overall meaning of the given statement has to be retained. Some of the words in the question have to be phrased in your own words and hence the name paraphrase.
Paraphrasing helps you to demonstrate the range of lexical resource or vocabulary that you have along with showing your ability to write the same sentence in the different way without changing its meaning.
There are different ways to paraphrase a given statement. It all depends on the topic that is given and the amount of practice you have done before you get confidence in paraphrasing the sentence properly. Thank you practice at least 5 sentences per day and you will automatically notice a progress in the speed and accuracy with which you paraphrase.
The first method to paraphrase is by using the direct synonyms of the keyword that are underlined in the question. Usually, the main key words are nouns, verbs and adjectives. You should understand the meaning of what the given statement says before you start paraphrasing. Just replacing the words with their synonyms will not serve the purpose.
You should understand whether a particular synonym is apt for the given topic and the situation or not. For instance, if the topic is about technology, you write the synonym in such a way that it implies the word technology. Not all words are perfect synonyms. The appropriate use of the word has to be known by you.
The second method to paraphrase is by replacing the word with its forms. For example, you may write a noun in the form of a verb or in the form of its adjective. For instance, let us consider the word ‘develop’. We all know that this is a verb.
You may paraphrase it and write it in the form of development which is a noun. You may also write it in the form of a past tense verb(developed). You may use it in the form of a gerund(developing) according to the situation. Hence, if you know how to paraphrase well, it is not at all difficult to do so in the main exam.
Another way to paraphrase a sentence is by changing it from the active voice to the passive voice or vice versa. Changing the voice of a sentence will also help improve your score for grammatical range and accuracy as you are writing a different sentence structure.
Structure for IELTS writing task 2:
Let us look at how to write a perfect essay by following a structure. Remember that an essay that is structured in a sequential and logical way will have a chance to get a better score than those essays which are not organized properly.
For this, you will have to learn a method properly and then practice accordingly. Let us look into the detailed structure that you can use for writing any essay in the IELTS writing test.
Always begin your essay with an introduction. The introduction has to be very clear and it has to be written in a brief and concised manner. Remember that including too many details and explanation in the introduction is not a right way to write an essay.
The introduction should begin with the general statement that is related to the essay topic. Think of any sentence that will give a proper start to your essay. If you cannot write any general statement, you may also begin your essay by paraphrasing the statement that is given.
Followed by the paraphrase statement is the thesis statement. This is a statement that clearly indicates your opinion. Always remember to write a strong thesis statement as this will help to boost your score. The thesis statement may or may not include your opinion depending on the kind of essay that is given to you. You may write one or two statements related to this.
Followed by the thesis statement is a general outline statement in which you briefly write what you are going to do in the subsequent paragraphs of the essay. For example, if you are writing an essay on the problems and solutions of a given topic, you may write an outline statement that this essay is going to talk about the problems first and then offer suitable solutions so as to alleviate the extent of the problem.
This general outline statement is optional and it is not mandatory that you have to write this kind of statement for every essay. Writing a good introduction is a perfect start for your essay as you will know how to structure the rest of the paragraphs of the essay and what you have to write in the conclusion. In simple words, the conclusion has to be the paraphrase of the introduction.
Followed by the introduction are the body paragraphs. Remember to include one idea in one body paragraph along with its detailed explanation and relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. The body paragraphs can be arranged in such a way that it makes a logical link with the introduction. You have to talk about the points that you briefly mentioned in the introduction in the body paragraphs.
Do not try to include any new and unrelated ideas in the body paragraphs as this may deviate the attention of the reader. You will lose marks for coherence and cohesion if this is the case. On this note, coherence and cohesion will play a major role in writing a good essay. You mean write either two or three body paragraphs depending on the number of ideas you have.
According to the instructions given in the question paper, you have to write a minimum of 250 words in IELTS writng task 2. So, plan in such a way that you write 80 to 100 words in one body paragraph so that the essay can meet the minimum word count. Try to write the body paragraphs by starting with an introductory statement which is known as the topic sentence. This topic sentence will indicate that you are going to discuss about a particular point in the body paragraph.
Followed by the topic sentence, you can give two or three supporting statements in which you are going to explain the topic in detail. Followed by this supporting statement, you can begin giving some examples (just one or two) which can help the reader correlate your point. Finally, you may give a statement in which you briefly outline the major points that are discussed in the body paragraph.
Writing a conclusion is mandatory for an ielts writing essay. The conclusion has to be the paraphrase of the introduction. There is one major point that you have to remember while writing the conclusion. You should not include any new ideas that were not previously discussed. Just to try to use your paraphrasing skills and rewrite the thesis statement in your own words. You can start a conclusion by using linking words like – to conclude, in conclusion, to reiterate, to recapitulate, to summarize, to sum up, etc. Such words can show the reader that you have reached the conclusion. Keep the conclusion simple and brief.
Don’t try to explain anything in this paragraph other than writing the conclusion statement. It is always a good practice to write a statement which is strong enough to summarize all your points discussed in the conclusion of the essay. The conclusion can be written in one or two sentences.
Analysis of an essay question:
Finally, now that you have understood all the details of how to write an essay, let us look at a simple example question which is taken from the IELTS previous test papers and how to frame your essay based on the prompt.
Write an essay on the following topic:
In many countries of the world today, one of the major concerns is overweight among children. What are the causes of this problem and what can this lead to?
Give relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience to support your point of view.
Write at least 250 words.
When do you read the first sentence of the question prompt, we understand that the major issue that is discussed here is overweight among kids. The second sentence in the prompt is asking you to outline the causes and the possible effects of this problem. This belongs to the essay type called causes and effects.
In the introduction, you should begin with the paraphrasing the statement that is given and then briefly outline the reasons for the problem along with what can happen if the problem goes untreated.
In the first body paragraph, you can start describing the causes in detail with supporting statements and give an example or two. The supporting statements how to adhere to the point that you are describing.
In the second body paragraph, you can discuss about the effects of obesity or overweight among children and what will happen if the excessive weight gain is not controlled. Finally, in the conclusion, briefly highlight the causes and effects. Remember that your own opinion may not be given directly in this essay type.