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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Writing Task 2 Basics



Lesson 2: Identify the Task
Once you have identified the topic for your essay, you need to identify the task.
The ‘task’ is the part of the question that tells you what you have to do to answer it.
This is one of the most important things you will have to do when you analyze the essay question because 25% of your grade for the essay is based on ‘Task Response’ - how you have responded to the task.
How do I identify the task?
In order to grade your task response, the examiner will be looking to see if you have answered the question.
If you have only partially answered the question, this will decrease your grade for this criteria.
Let’s look at the same essay question we looked at in lesson 1 when you identified the topic:


The crime rate among teenagers has increased dramatically in many countries.
Discuss some possible reasons for this increase and suggest solutions.


In the previous lesson, we identified the topic for this question as ‘teenage crime’.
The task - or ‘what you have to do’ - is usually at the end of the prompt. As you can see, you are being told to ‘Discuss some possible reasons for this increase and suggest solutions.
It’s very common in task 2 IELTS essay questions to get asked to do two things, and this question is a good example of this:
1.      Why teenage crime has increased
2.      Ways to solve this problem
You MUST discuss both those things to ensure you have fully answered the question and you must write roughly equal amounts about each part.
Doing any of the following things will reduce your score for task response, and hence may reduce your overall score:
1.      Only writing about reasons or only solutions
2.      Writing most of your essay about reasons and only a small part on solutions (or visa versa)
3.      Writing about the reasons and solutions for crime in general, and not referring to teenage crime (the topic)
4.      Writing about neither reasons nor solutions
This is why it is so important to spend some time at the beginning making sure you identify the task so that you know what you have to write about.
A Common Mistake
It is a common mistake for students to rush at the beginning to start writing as they are worried about not finishing, and then write about the wrong thing.
For example, when you have finished identifying the task, you will brainstorm your ideas. You may come up with reasons for an increase in crime such as ‘lack of parental supervision’ and ‘boredom’.
However, I have seen students come up with problems of teenage crime, such as ‘more young people being put in prison' and ‘stress for their parents'.
This particular task asks you to write about ‘reasons’, not ‘problems’ (though being asked to write about 'problems and solutions' is common).
So if you do this you will not be answering the question. This comes from rushing and not taking enough time to identify the task properly.
Other Question Types
The previous question was fairly easy, so to identify the task was hopefully not too difficult.
Some questions, though, will take more thought in order to identify what you need to write about.
Here is another example:
Advances in technology and automation have reduced the need for manual labour. Therefore, working hours should be reduced.
To what extent do you agree?
Again, look to the end of the prompt to identify the task.
You have to say if you agree or disagree with working hours being reduced, or, in other words, automation (machines) taking over from some human’s duties.
You must also say how much you agree or disagree ("to what extent").
Let’s assume you want to look at both sides of the issue. You therefore need to discuss the reasons why you agree, and the reasons why you disagree. Or put another way:
1.      The advantages of reducing working hours
2.      The disadvantages of reducing working hours
And of course in the introduction or conclusion you need to make it clear what your opinion is.
If you do all of these things then you will have answered all parts of the prompt. If you find more reasons to agree than disagree, then you can write more about this side of the argument, or visa versa.



Identify the Task - Practice
Now you can have a practice identifying the task for some IELTS essay questions.
Pick the one that you think best describes what you would write about in order to fully answer all parts of the question.

Top of Form
1.      The rising levels of congestion and air pollution found in most of the world cities can be attributed directly to the rapidly increasing number of private cars in use. In order to reverse this decline in the quality of life in cities, attempts must be made to encourage people to use their cars less and public transport more. Discuss possible ways to encourage the use of public transport.
Why people have been using cars more and public transport less
How to get people to use public transport more
The causes of increasing congestion and air pollution.

2.      Do the benefits of study abroad justify the difficulties? What advice would you offer to a prospective student?
(a) A discussion of the benefits versus the challenges of studying abroad (b) Strategies to cope with studying abroad
(a) The benefits of study abroad
(a) The benefits of study abroad (b) the difficulties of studying abroad

3.      Fresh water has always been a limited resource in some parts of the world. Today, however, growing worldwide demand has made this a global problem. What are the causes of the increased demand and what measure could governments and individuals take to respond to this problem?
(a) The problems with using too much water (b) Government solutions (c) Individual solutions
How (a) Governments and (b) Individuals can solve water shortage problems.
(a) Reasons for increased demand for water (b) Government solutions (c) Individual solutions

4.      As global trade increases, many goods including those we use on a daily basis are produced in other countries and transported long distances. Do the benefits of the trend outweigh the drawback?
(a) The benefits of this (b) The disadvantages of this (c) Your opinion on whether it is more beneficial or not
(a) The benefits of this (b) Your opinion on whether is is more beneficial or not
(a) The disadvantages of this (b) Your opinion on whether it is more beneficial or not

5.      Some people feel that animals should have the same rights as humans, but others think they are not as equal or intelligent as us so should not have the same rights. Discuss both opinions and give your opinion.
(a) The arguments for giving animals rights (b) The arguments against this
(a) Arguments for having animal rights (b) The arguments against this (c) Your opinion
(a) The reasons why animals are not as equal or intelligent as humans

6.      Currently there is a trend towards the use of alternative forms of medicine. However, at best these methods are ineffective, and at worst they may be dangerous. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
(a) How alternative medicine differs from Conventional medicine
(a) The dangers of alternative medicine
(a) The benefits of alternative medicine (b) The drawbacks of alternative medicine (c) Your opinion

7.      Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems. Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.
(a) Problems of overpopulation in urban areas (b) Government solutions (c) Individual solutions
(a) The problems of overpopulation (b) The solutions
(a) How governments can tackle urban overpopulation (b) How individuals can tackle urban overpopulation.

8.      Computers should never have been invented. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
(a) The reasons why computers were invented (b) The benefits of computers (c) Your opinion.
(a) The problems with computers (b) Solutions to these problems.
(a) The benefits of computers (b) The drawbacks of computers (c) Your opinion

9.      Unemployment has become an increasing problem in the recent past. What factors contribute to an increase in unemployment and what steps can be taken to solve the problem?
(a) The causes of increasing unemployment (b) How to solve this problem
(a) The problems with increasing unemployment (b) How to solve this problem.
(a) The reasons why unemployment is increasing.

10.  Some people think that young children should be allowed to do paid work, while others think that this should be illegal. Discuss both opinions and give your opinion.
(a) The advantages of allowing children to do paid work (b) Your opinion.
(a) The advantages of allowing children to do paid work (b) The disadvantages this (c) Your opinion.
(a) The problems of allowing children to do paid work (b) The benefits of allowing them to do paid work.
Bottom of Form
Lesson 3:
Brainstorming and Planning
Once you have analysed the question in the IELTS test you need to brainstorm some ideas to include in your answer.
Lets look at the same question we looked at in the first two lessons:

The crime rate among teenagers has increased dramatically in many countries.
Discuss some possible reasons for this increase and suggest solutions.


Brainstorming is an important part of the planning process.
In order to get a good score it will not be enough just to put a list of ideas - you need to extend and explain those ideas.
If you look at the IELTS prompt, it says this:

"Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge".
So you need to support your ideas using reasons and examples.

Developing Focus Questions
For this question, you need to write about reasons for the increase in teenage crime and solutions.
In order to make sure you fully answer the question it is a good ideas to develop some focus questions i.e. questions that will help you focus on what you need to write.
These are possible focus questions for this essay question:
Focus question 1: Why has teenage crime increased?
Focus question 2: What can be done about it?
You then need to brainstorm answers to these questions:
Why has teenage crime increased?
·         Breakdown in the nuclear family
·         Lack of things to do
What can be done about it?
·         Government - Provide better support for families & stricter punishments
·         Individuals – take responsibility
[Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a pair of adults and their children, as opposed to single-parent families].

Extending and Supporting your Ideas
However, you now need to think about how your are going to extend and support those ideas you have brainstormed. In other words, you need to ask yourself further questions about each of your ideas. For example:
Why has there been a breakdown in the nuclear family?
What is the effect of this?
What is a good example of it?
Answering questions like these will make sure you have fully supported and explained all your points.
For example:
Why has there been a breakdown in the nuclear family?
- high divorce rates
What is the effect of this?
- no male role model; boys go astray & may commit crime

Planning
When you have extended your main ideas, this then provides the basis for your plan.
Here is an example of the brainstormed ideas with further support, which has now become the plan for the essay:

Essay Plan
Why has teenage crime increased?
1) Breakdown in the nuclear family
- high divorce rates = no father as ‘role model’
– boys go astray, drugs & crime
2) Lack of things to do
- e.g. TV has shown nothing to do
– children see crime as entertainment
What can be done about it?
1) Govt - Provide better support for families
- e.g. more youth centres
– guidance and activities, sport

2) Parents – take responsibility
- provide loving environment, relative as role model


The essay can now be written. Here is an example essay written from the plan, with the main supporting ideas highlighted in bold:
 Sample Essay
Over the last decade there has been a massive rise in the level of crime committed by teenagers in a numbers of countries.  It is important to establish why this has happened and to look at ways to solve the problem.
            One reason is the break down in the nuclear family.  The high divorce rates have meant many children have been brought up in one-parent families with no father to act as a role model which is detrimental to their development.  This is particularly important for boys, who without this guidance are easily led astray by bad influences such as drugs and crime.  Another factor is the lack of things to do for the young.  For example, in the UK, many television programs about this issue have shown that teenagers hang around in the evenings with little to do.  When this happens, the boredom means they will find there own entertainment, which is often crime.
            There are, however, ways to tackle these problems.  Firstly, the government should provide more support for families.  They could, for instance, invest more into building and staffing youth centers which would provide guidance through the youth workers and also enable teenagers to focus their attention on sport and other activities.   Parents should also be encouraged to take more responsibility for their children.  Ultimately, the onus is on them to ensure their children are brought up in a loving environment which would make them less likely to turn to crime.  They could, for example, find a male relative to act as a role model.
            Therefore, it is clear that there are various reasons for this rise in crime, but solutions are available.  If we begin to tackle the issue now, we may be able to prevent the situation declining further.

                                                                                                                        Words 294
_____________________________________
A common mistake is to have lots of ideas that are not explained properly.
However, you can see that as a result of brainstorming some key ideas and making sure you have explained each of them, you have a fully supported and well organized essay.
Lesson 4:
Essay Writing Coherence
How do I Improve my Writing Coherence?
As part of the IELTS grading, you are marked on the coherency of your work.
Your work is coherent if it is easy to read and follow your ideas. 
One way to improve the coherency of your writing is to use transition words to guide the reader through what you are saying.
Here are examples of common transition words that will improve your writing coherence, and their meanings:

COMMON TRANSITION WORDS
Listing Points to Show New Ideas:
Firstly,  
First of all,
To begin,
Secondly,
Finally,
Furthermore,
In addition,
Also,
Moreover,
Showing an Example:
For example,
For instance,
To illustrate,
A case in point,
Showing Contrast:
However,
On the other hand,
In contrast,
Showing a Result:
Therefore,
As a result,
Consequently,
Thus,
Showing time: (commonly in essay introductions)
These days,
Nowadays,
At present,
To introduce concluding comments:
To conclude,
In conclusion,
In brief,
All in all,

Here is an example of them in use in an essay:
______________________________________________

Some people believe the aim of university education is to help graduates get better jobs.  Others believe there are much wider benefits of university education for both individuals and society.
Discuss both views and give your opinion.
These days, more and more people are making the choice to go to university.  While some people are of the opinion that the only purpose of a university education is to improve job prospects, others think that society and the individual benefit in much broader ways.
It is certainly true that one of the main aims of university is to secure a better job.  To begin, the majority of people want to improve their future career prospects.  Attending university is one of the best ways to do this as it increases your marketable skills and your attractiveness to potential employers.  For example, in Europe, further education is very expensive for many people, so most would not consider it if it would not provide them with a more secure future and a higher standard of living.  Also, universities have their reputation to consider.  They definitely want to ensure that their students are going to get the best jobs as this will affect future funding and university applications. 
However, there are other benefits for individuals and society.  Firstly, the independence of living away from home is a benefit because it helps the students develop better social skills and improve as a person.  Many students, for instance, will have to leave their families, live in halls of residence and meet new friends.  As a result, their maturity and confidence will grow enabling them to live more fulfilling lives.  Secondly, society will gain from the contribution that the graduates can make to the economy.  We are living in a very competitive world, so countries, especially developing countries, need educated people in order to compete and prosper.
To conclude, I believe that although a main aim of university education is to get the best job, there are clearly further benefits.  If we continue to promote and encourage university attendance, it will lead to a better future for everyone.
______________________________________________

How to use the words in sentences
As you now know, transition words are used to guide a reader through your writing and to make it more coherent. The better your writing coherence, the easier it will be to follow your arguments in your essay. 
One important point though before we go on. If you over use transitions they can make your writing look slightly mechanical as very good writers will need to use them less as they will have the ability to cleverly guide someone through their writing without them.
It is quite a high level skill though. So it really depends on your ability. If you are at a lower level of writing, you should make more use of them as they will make it easy for the examiner to follow your ideas.
If you have more sophistication in your writing, you may not want to use them too much or it could affect your style.
If you are unsure, it probably means you need to be using them! We'll now go on to look further at how some of them are used.
Most of these transition words are used in the same way in sentences and are followed by a subject and verb.

1) Full-stop, capital letter, comma
There are many ways to improve congestion.  For example, some cities in The Netherlands have pedestrian only city centres.
Many countries have now reduced their CO2 emissions.  As a result, there is now less pollution.

OR
2) Semi-colon, small letter, comma
There are many ways to improve congestion; for example, some cities in The Netherlands have pedestrian only city centres.
Many countries have now reduced their CO2 emissions; as a result, there is now less pollution.
Varying Position and Use of Transition Words
However, you do not want to use these words too ‘mechanically’ so you should vary their position, and don’t repeat the same word too often. You can vary the position with the following transitions:

1) Giving Examples
You can vary your use of ‘for example’ and ‘for instance’ by moving them to after the first phrase of the sentence or to after the subject or verb.
There are many ways to improve congestion.  Some cities in The Netherlands, for instance, have pedestrian only city centres.
There are many ways to improve congestion.  Some cities in The Netherlands have, for instance, pedestrian only city centres.
2) Giving a Contrast or Result
Similarly, you can place contrast or result transitions further down the sentence:
Tokyo now has a Sky Train.  Traffic problems, as a result/therefore/as a consequence, have decreased significantly.
These can also be joined to the previous sentence with the conjunction 'and’:
Tokyo now has a Sky Train, and, as a result/therefore/as a consequence, traffic problems have decreased significantly.
Note: you cannot join it to another sentence without ’and’:
Tokyo now has a Sky Train, as a result, traffic problems  have decreased significantly.  - this is incorrect.

3) Listing Points
These can also be varied.  For example:
Firstly, an advantage of a new public transport system is that it will reduce traffic congestion.
Again, to improve your writing, you should vary the way you use these.  They can be changed so they are no longer a transition but become part of the subject:
The first advantage of a new public transport system is that it will reduce traffic congestion.

This lesson has shown how you can use transitions to improve your writing coherence.
Make sure you find out more about these transitions so you know how to use them correctly, then practice using them in your writing.
Lesson 5:
Writing an IELTS Essay Introduction
Writing the Introduction
In the writing for task 2, you must write an IELTS essay introduction, but you only have 40 minutes.
In this time you need to analyze the question, brainstorm ideas to write about, formulate an essay plan, and then write your response.
Even for a native writer of English, this is a lot to do in 40 minutes!
So you need to use your time carefully. You need a good IELTS essay introduction, but one thing you do not want to do is spend too long writing it so that you end up rushing your paragraphs.
Your paragraphs are the most important thing as they contain all your supporting arguments and demonstrate how good you are at organizing your ideas.
You therefore need a method to write your IELTS essay introduction fairly quickly. When you write an introduction, you should make sure you do two things:
1.      Write a sentence introducing the topic and giving some background facts about it 
2.      Tell the reader what you are going to be writing about
How you do this will vary depending on the question, but here is an example:
____________________________________________
Example 1:
Question:
Blood sports have become a hot topic for debate in recent years. As society develops it is increasingly seen as an uncivilized activity and cruel to the helpless animals that are killed. Blood sports should be banned.
To what extent to you agree or disagree?

Sample IELTS essay introduction:
Despite the fact that killing animals for sport is popular in modern society, it remains a contentious issue. I believe that blood sports are cruel and uncivilized and so should be banned as soon as possible.
____________________________________________
As you can see, the first sentence consists of the topic plus some background facts on the topic which have been taken from the rubric.
The second sentence then gives the writers opinion and tells us that in the essay the writer will be arguing the reasons why it is cruel.
The topic does not have to be in the first sentence, but it should be made clear somewhere in the introduction. You must always have a thesis.

Paraphrasing
Another important point - don't copy from the question! You must paraphrase (put it in your own words). To do this you can use synonyms and move the order of the sentence around.
Using some of the same words is acceptable, but don't copy whole phrases.
You can see how the question above has been paraphrased. All the information is from the question, but it has been written in a different way and has not been copied.

Further Examples
Example 2:
Question:
Science and technology have helped the world make many advances. The Arts, such as painting, theatre and dance, to name just three examples, however, are also valuable.
What things do the Arts provide to the world that Science and Technology do not?

Sample IELTS essay introduction:
Societies have developed rapidly over time due to the many advances in science and technology. However, the arts are also very important and provide our world with many things that science and technology cannot.
____________________________________________
Example 3:
Question:
According to a recent study, the more time people use the Internet, the less time they spend with real human beings. Some people say that instead of seeing the Internet as a way of opening up new communication possibilities world wide, we should be concerned about the effect this is having on social interaction.
How far do you agree with this opinion?

Sample IELTS essay introduction:
A recent study has shown that as people use the Internet more, they are spending less time with human beings. I believe that although this has increased the communication around the world in positive ways, it has also led to negative effects on the day-to-day social interaction of human beings.
____________________________________________
Example 4:
Question:
Unemployment has become an increasing problem in the recent past.
What factors contribute to an increase in unemployment and what steps can be taken to solve the problem?

Sample IELTS essay introduction:
Over recent years, the level of unemployment has been increasing at an alarming rate in many countries around the world. This essay will discuss the reasons for this increase and consider what practical solutions are available.
____________________________________________
Example 5:
Question:
Some people think children in secondary school should study international news as part of the curriculum. Others think that this would be a waste of time as there are already too many subjects for children to concentrate on.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Sample IELTS essay introduction:
While some people are of the opinion that it would be useful to include international news as a subject in the school curriculum, others believe that this is a waste of students time because they are already overloaded with subjects to study. This essay will examine both sides of the issue.
Lesson 6:
Writing a Thesis Statement
In this lesson we will look at what thesis statements are, and how you can vary the way you write it according to the question.
They are a crucial part of writing an introduction.

What is a thesis statement?
Very basically, it tells the person reading your essay what will be in it. It may also give your opinion if the question asks you for this.
It is the last sentence of your introduction.
Don't get it mixed up with the topic of your essay - this is usually at the beginning of your introduction.

How do I write a thesis statement?
In order to make it effective, you must have first identified the task of the essay. If you are unsure about this, check out this lesson on identifying the task.
The task is what you have to do, and is usually at the end of the rubric. For example, look at this IELTS essay question:
As global trade increases, many goods including those we use on a daily basis are produced in other countries and transported long distances.
Do the benefits of this trend *outweigh the drawbacks?
What you have to do (the task) is explain whether you think, overall, an increase in the production of goods in other countries and their subsequent transportation over long distances is more advantageous or disadvantageous.
So your essay is obviously going to be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of this issue, and this is what needs to be made clear in your thesis statement.
It is also an opinion essay as it is asking you to make a decision on whether you think there are more advantages or disadvantages. So you need to make this clear as well.
Here is an example introduction, with the thesis in bold:
Due to the increase in global trade, many of the goods that we consume every day are made in a different country and then transported over a long distance in order to reach us. In my opinion, this trend has more disadvantages than advantages.
You would then go on to write about the advantages and disadvantages of global trade (focusing more on the disadvantages as you think there are more of these).
*Just a quick note on the word 'outweigh'. This word often confuses students and they end up writing a thesis statement opinion that contradicts what they write in the essay.
The simple answer - don't use the word! It is just asking you if there are more advantages than disadvantages. So just state what you think in the thesis without using the word, as in the example.

How does the thesis statement change with different types of question?
We will now look at how thesis statements can vary with different question types. However, you should not try to learn set phrases or sentences to fit certain essays.
There are some broad types of essay question that are common to see, but they can all vary slightly.
The golden rule is to always read the question very carefully (never rush this as you may not fully answer the question) and work out what you have to do.
Your thesis statement will then follow on from this, depending on what you have decided you need to write about in order to answer the question.
So below are some suggestions of what you could do for certain common kinds of essay question, but this is not to say these are right and other ways are wrong. There are numerous ways to write good thesis statements and these are just possibilities.

1) Writing about Two Opinions
Some questions ask you specifically to discuss two opinions and to give your opinion.
Some people think that young children should be allowed to do paid work, while others think that this should be illegal.
Discuss both opinions and give your opinion.
There are various ways you could choose to write an introduction and thesis for this.
Example 1
You could begin by paraphrasing the two opinions, then stating in the thesis what you will do:
Some people belive that it is acceptable for young children to undertake jobs that they are paid for, whereas others believe that this is wrong and should be illegal. This essay will discuss both sides of the issue.
This is quite simplistic but it makes it very clear what you are going to do.
You will obviously need to give your opinion as well in the essay, but stating this in the thesis ("This essay will discuss both sides of the issue and then give my opinion") sounds awkward so it is better without it.
Here is a sample essay with a similar thesis statement.
Example 2
Another possible way to do it is by having a sentence to introduce the topic first, and then paraphrasing the two opinions to make them your thesis:
At present, more and more young children are becoming involved in paid work. Whilst some people are of the opinion that this is an entirely acceptable practice, others believe that this is completely wrong and should be made illegal.
This is fine as your thesis will match with your essay - you go on to discuss the first opinion and then the second one.
Here is another model essay using such a thesis statement.
Example 3
Or of course you could modify this slighly to include your opinion:
At present, more and more young children are becoming involved in paid work. Whilst some people are of the opinion that this is an entirely acceptable practice, I believe that this is completely wrong and should be made illegal.
As long as you go on to discuss both sides of the argument, this is fine.

2) Agreeing or Disagreeing
Another type of question is when you are asked to agree or disagree with one opinion.
Currently there is a trend towards the use of alternative forms of medicine. However, at best these methods are ineffective, and at worst they may be dangerous.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
For this type of question, you need to state what your opinion is in the thesis statement.
Although you could feasibly do this in the conclusion, I think it is better to do it first so it is clear to someone reading the essay what your opinion is upfront. It is not wrong though to put it in the conclusion - this is your choice.
Your thesis statement here will depend on whether you agree, disagree, or partly agree. Here are some examples of each:
A thesis statement that agrees with the opinion:
Alternative medicine is not new. It is accepted that it pre-dates conventional medicine and it is still used by many people all over the world. However, I strongly believe that this form of medicine does not work and is possibly a danger to those using it.
A thesis statement that disagrees with the opinion:
Alternative medicine is not new. It is accepted that it pre-dates conventional medicine and it is still used by many people all over the world. I am unconvinced that it is dangerous, and feel that both alternative and conventional medicine can be useful.
A thesis statement that partly agrees with the opinion:
Alternative medicine is not new. It is accepted that it pre-dates conventional medicine and it is still used by many people all over the world. I agree that for certain conditions this type of medicine is ineffective and could even be dangerous, but for some illnesses it is a good alternative choice.
These examples illustrate why it is important to ananlyze the question carefully and brainstorm your ideas first so you have a clear idea of what you will be writing and what your opinion is.
Here is a model essay answering the question.

3) Other Essays
Some other essays may not ask you for your opinion specifically, but may ask you to discuss, for example, problems and solutions, causes and effects, advantages and disadvantages.
If you are asked to do this, then you should just clearly state that you will be discussing these two things in your essay. Here are some examples:
Problems and solutions:
Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems.
Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.
Sample thesis in bold:
Many countries of the world are currently experiencing problems caused by rapidly growing populations in urban areas. Both governments and individuals have a duty to find ways to overcome these problems.
View model answer for this essay.
Causes and Effects:
The percentage of overweight children in western society has increased by almost 20% in the last ten years.
Discuss the causes and effects of this disturbing trend.
Sample thesis in bold:
Over the last ten years, Western societies have seen close to a 20% rise in the number of children who are overweight. This essay will discuss some reasons why this has occurred and examine the consequences of this worrying trend.
View model answer for this essay.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
In order to solve traffic problems, governments should tax private car owners heavily and use the money to improve public transportation.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a solution?
Sample thesis in bold:
Traffic congestion in many cities around the world is severe. One possible solution to this problem is to impose heavy taxes on car drivers and use this money to make public transport better. This essay will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of such a measure.
View model answer for this essay.
This lesson has provided you with some broad guidance on writing a thesis statement for different types of essay.
It is important to stress again though that questions can vary so you must always analyze if carefully and identify exactly what you need to do and what should therefore be in your thesis statement.
Remember, a thesis statement is just telling the reader what the focus of your essay is and giving your opinion if necessary.
Lesson 7: IELTS Band 7 Writing
A question asked many times is how to score IELTS band 7 writing.
If you need a band 7 and you are not getting it, it is almost impossible to tell you why without seeing samples of your writing.
So the aim of this lesson is to look more generally at what is required to get a band 7 in the writing test. If you want to know specifically where you are going wrong, then you will need to discuss your work with an experienced IELTS instructor.
The frustration is normally for those who are stuck at a band 6 or 6.5 but just don't seem to be able to get that 7!
It can be quite a jump to go from a 6.5 to a 7, so this lesson will explain what is required for an IELTS band 7.
We'll focus on essay writing rather than task 1, but the criteria and principals are more or less the same. There is some clarification of some of the differences between the marking of task 1 and 2 at the end.
The Marking Criteria
To explain this, we'll begin by looking at the IELTS band descriptors for a band 7.
This is not a secret. This information is taken from the IELTS public band descriptors and is freely available from a test centre or you will find it if you search on the internet.
You are given a band score for each of the criteria, and the ones in this table in the descriptors column are those that are specifically needed for an IELTS band 7.
Criteria
IELTS Band 7 Descriptors
Task Achievement
·         Addresses all parts of the task
·         Presents a clear position throughout the response
·         Presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to over-generalize and/or supporting ideas may lack focus
Coherence & Cohesion
·         Logically organizes information and ideas; there is a clear progression throughout
·         Uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use
·         Presents a clear central topic within each paragraph
Lexical Resource
·         Uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility and precision
·         Uses less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation
·         May produce occasional errors in word choice, spelling, and/or word formation
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
·         Uses a variety of complex structures
·         Produces frequent error-free sentences
·         Has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors
When you are graded, you will be given a score for each of these, and this will then be averaged.
So if you are getting a 6.5, that means you must not be meeting the standard required as shown in the table for one or two of them.
For example:
Task acheivement = 7
Coherence and Cohesion = 7
Lexical Resource = 7
Grammatical Range and Accuracy = 6
Overall writing band = 6.5
As previously stated above, you'd have to show some of your writing to an experienced IELTS teacher to get some advice on which ones you are not achieving in and to find out if it is always the same criteria.
If you find out, you can then work on this to improve your score.
We'll now just have a look at each of them in a bit more detail to highlight some common areas where you may possibly be going wrong.
Task Achievment
Very bascially, this is an assessment of whether you have fully answered the question and provided good support for your ideas.
To address all parts of the task, you must respond to everything that is asked in the question.
To take an example, look at this question:
Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime.
Discuss both views and give your opinion.
The task is to discuss both the opinions and to give your opinion. So, for example, if you only wrote about one of the opinions or did not give your opinion, you will not have addressed all parts of the question so you can't get an IELTS band 7 for task achievement.
Or if you only wrote a small amount on one of the opinions, this may not be seen as fully answering the question either.
There is a lesson here that explains the importance of identifying the task to make sure you fully answer all parts of the question.
You must also have a clear position throughout. So if your opinion is not clear and you seem to change it during the essay, then this could be a problem for achieving an IELTS band 7 in this criteria.
You also need to fully extend and support your ideas. So it is not enough just to put lots of ideas down - fewer ideas are better that are explained properly with reasons and examples.
Look at some model essays to see how a clear position is presented throughout and how only a few ideas are presented but they are fully explained and supported.
Coherence and Cohesion
Very basically, this is how you organize and present your ideas, and how easy your work is to read.
So you will need to know how to organize an essay properly in terms of paragraphing and having ideas that logically and clearly go from one to the next to get an IELTS band 7.
Another key point here is that you have to have a clear central topic within each paragraph.
To take a simple example, if you are writing about the advantages and disadvantages of something, then you may want to have one paragraph about each. Each paragraph will then have a clear central topic - either advantages or disadvantages.
If you mix them up, this may not be clear.
Again, look at some of the model essays to see how each body paragraph clearly has one central topic.
You also need a mix of cohesive devices. These are the things that join and link your ideas, sentences and paragraphs. For example, transitions such as 'however', 'firstly', 'moreover', and other general linking words within sentences such as 'and' and 'because'.
You will need a variety and mix of these for an IELTS band 7, and you'll need to be able to use them effectively with some flexibility rather than mechanically.
Lexical Resource
Your lexis is basically your vocabulary, and as it says in the descriptors, you'll need to show that you know some less common words and be able to use them precisely.
Its in the accuracy that is needed for your vocabulary that problems can often occur with regards to getting an IELTS band 7.
As you can see, you can only make occasional errors in your word choice, word formation and spelling. This means the majority need to be correct!
This is obviously no easy achievement and so you'll need to be a fairly skilled writer to be making only occasional errors with your lexis.
You can find some useful and less common vocabulary by following this link, but you need to learn how to use the words correctly otherwise you may make more mistakes with word forms.
Using lots of new words that you don't know how to use properly could make your writing worse, so be careful! Only use words you know how to use properly.


Grammatical Range and Accuracy
As will be clear from the title, this one is assessing your level of grammar.
You will need to show you can use a wide range of sentence structures and have a high level of accuracy.
Just having a few complex sentences with words such as 'because', 'if' and 'although' may not be enough. You'll need to have an awareness of some more complex structures.
Again, like the lexis, this can often be where students struggle to get an IELTS band 7. You need to have frequent error-free sentences.
In other words, the majority of your sentences can't have grammar errors. This is not easy, so like with the lexis, you will need to be a fairly skilled writer.
Task 1
The last three criteria are more or less the same for task 1. The differences are in the task achievement as obviously you are being given a different task.
This is what the public descriptors have for task 1 (academic):
·         Covers the requirements of the task
·         Presents a clear overview of trends, differences or stages
·         Clearly presents and highlights key features/bullet points but could be more fully extended
The first point is obviously stating that you must do what you were asked in the question.
The second point means that at some stage in your writing you must clearly give an overview of the main things that are occuring in the graph or diagram.
See this lesson on writing a task 1 for more information on this.
Finally, to acheive in the last point you must be able to show that you can notice and write about the important things that are happening in the graph, and make comparisons between the data.
Again, the lesson above will help you with this.

Some final tips...
This lesson then has shown you how to get an IELTS band 7 in your writing, or what is required.
Unfortunately there is no magic bullet that is suddenly going to move you up a band. But there may be things you can improve on that will help if you think you are making errors in what what is needed in the criteria.
For example, are you always spending some time at the beginning analyzing the question carefully to make sure you are answering all parts of it and writing a plan / outline?
If not, you may be making errors by not fully answering the question or by not organizing your essay or ideas well.
Most of my students that I check are failing to get the majority of the sentences error-free or the majority of the lexis correct. So this may well be where you are falling down if you are getting a 6.5.
In this case you'll need to work on improving your grammar and checking your work very carefully for mistakes. If you have a writing teacher obviously this will help as they can check your work.
But again, planning first can help with this because if you plan then you will be able to write quicker. You will then have more time to be more careful and more time to check your grammar and lexis whilst you write and at the end.

Lesson 8: Pronouns & Coherency


In Writing Task 2 Lesson 4, we looked at improving your coherency with trasition words.
Another way to improve your coherency is with pronouns. You should make use of these so that you do not keep repeating nouns or ideas.
You can use personal pronouns:
I, you, he, she, it, we, they, one, them
Batteries are not bio-degradable, so people should not dispose of them in normal household waste.
Or demonstrative pronouns:
this, that, these, those
People dispose of batteries in their normal household waste. This causes enrironmental damage.
Pronouns refer back to a noun or noun phrase that you have mentioned before. Always make sure it is clear which noun it refers back to. It will usually be the last one you mentioned.
If another noun comes in between the noun you are referring to and the pronoun it may get confusing.
Have a look at how they are used in this essay taken from the 'model essay' pages.
The word in red is the pronoun, and the word in brackets in green is the word or idea / phrase it refers to.

Animal Rights Essay

Some people believe that animals should be treated in the same way humans are and have similar rights, whereas others think that it is more important to use them (animals) as we desire for food and medical research. This essay will discuss both points of view.
With regard to the exploitation of animals, people believe it is acceptable for several reasons. Firstly, they (people) think that humans are the most important beings on the planet, and everything must be done to ensure human survival. If this (ensuring human survival) means experimenting on animals so that we (humans) can fight and find cures for diseases, then this (experimenting on animals) takes priority over animal suffering. Furthermore, it is believed by some that animals do not feel pain or loss as humans do, so if we (humans) have to kill animals for food or other uses, then this (killing animals for food or other uses) is morally acceptable.
However, I do not believe these arguments (the previous arguments - though this is made clear by the noun repeated after it in this case) stand up to scrutiny. To begin, it has been shown on numerous occasions by secret filming in laboratories via animal rights groups that animals feel as much pain as humans do, and they (animals) suffer when they (animals) are kept in cages for long periods. In addition, a substantial amount of animal research is done for cosmetics, not to find cures for diseases, so this (animal research for cosmetics) is unnecessary. Finally, it has also been proven that humans can get all the nutrients and vitamins that they (humans) need from green vegetables and fruit. Therefore, again, having to kill animals for food is not an adequate argument.
To sum up, although some people argue killing animals for research and food is ethical, I would argue there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that this (the arguments that killing animals for research and food is ethical) is not the case, and, therefore, steps must be taken to improve the rights of animals.

Repeating the noun again

You will have noticed that two words were in blue. This is just to highlight an important point.
You should not just mention the noun once at the beginning of the essay, and then not again. Get a balance of nouns and their pronouns, not too much of one or the other.
Have a look at the essay and you'll see that sometimes the noun is used and sometimes the pronoun.
And you should always mention the noun again when it is a new paragraph or a new point you are making.
As you can see with the words highlighted in blue - nouns should be used here as they represent a new paragraph and new points. If you used pronouns it may not be clear which noun you are referring to.

 

Pronouns and Coherency Practice

Now practice with the paragraph below - choose the correct pronoun.

Preserving certain old buildings is important for several reasons. Firstly, structures provide an insight into the history of our countries, showing us how people many centuries ago lived their lives. Without , could only learn by books, and it would undoubtedly be sad if became the only way to see . Many of buildings are also very beautiful. Take for example the many religious buildings such as churches and temples that see around the world. Not only , but on a more practical level, many of buildings provide important income to a country as many tourists visit .
Lesson 7: IELTS Band 7 Writing
A question asked many times is how to score IELTS band 7 writing.
If you need a band 7 and you are not getting it, it is almost impossible to tell you why without seeing samples of your writing.
So the aim of this lesson is to look more generally at what is required to get a band 7 in the writing test. If you want to know specifically where you are going wrong, then you will need to discuss your work with an experienced IELTS instructor.
The frustration is normally for those who are stuck at a band 6 or 6.5 but just don't seem to be able to get that 7!
It can be quite a jump to go from a 6.5 to a 7, so this lesson will explain what is required for an IELTS band 7.
We'll focus on essay writing rather than task 1, but the criteria and principals are more or less the same. There is some clarification of some of the differences between the marking of task 1 and 2 at the end.
The Marking Criteria
To explain this, we'll begin by looking at the IELTS band descriptors for a band 7.
This is not a secret. This information is taken from the IELTS public band descriptors and is freely available from a test centre or you will find it if you search on the internet.
You are given a band score for each of the criteria, and the ones in this table in the descriptors column are those that are specifically needed for an IELTS band 7.
Criteria
IELTS Band 7 Descriptors
Task Achievement
·         Addresses all parts of the task
·         Presents a clear position throughout the response
·         Presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to over-generalize and/or supporting ideas may lack focus
Coherence & Cohesion
·         Logically organizes information and ideas; there is a clear progression throughout
·         Uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use
·         Presents a clear central topic within each paragraph
Lexical Resource
·         Uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility and precision
·         Uses less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation
·         May produce occasional errors in word choice, spelling, and/or word formation
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
·         Uses a variety of complex structures
·         Produces frequent error-free sentences
·         Has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors
When you are graded, you will be given a score for each of these, and this will then be averaged.
So if you are getting a 6.5, that means you must not be meeting the standard required as shown in the table for one or two of them.
For example:
Task acheivement = 7
Coherence and Cohesion = 7
Lexical Resource = 7
Grammatical Range and Accuracy = 6
Overall writing band = 6.5
As previously stated above, you'd have to show some of your writing to an experienced IELTS teacher to get some advice on which ones you are not achieving in and to find out if it is always the same criteria.
If you find out, you can then work on this to improve your score.
We'll now just have a look at each of them in a bit more detail to highlight some common areas where you may possibly be going wrong.
Task Achievment
Very bascially, this is an assessment of whether you have fully answered the question and provided good support for your ideas.
To address all parts of the task, you must respond to everything that is asked in the question.
To take an example, look at this question:
Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime.
Discuss both views and give your opinion.
The task is to discuss both the opinions and to give your opinion. So, for example, if you only wrote about one of the opinions or did not give your opinion, you will not have addressed all parts of the question so you can't get an IELTS band 7 for task achievement.
Or if you only wrote a small amount on one of the opinions, this may not be seen as fully answering the question either.
There is a lesson here that explains the importance of identifying the task to make sure you fully answer all parts of the question.
You must also have a clear position throughout. So if your opinion is not clear and you seem to change it during the essay, then this could be a problem for achieving an IELTS band 7 in this criteria.
You also need to fully extend and support your ideas. So it is not enough just to put lots of ideas down - fewer ideas are better that are explained properly with reasons and examples.
Look at some model essays to see how a clear position is presented throughout and how only a few ideas are presented but they are fully explained and supported.
Coherence and Cohesion
Very basically, this is how you organize and present your ideas, and how easy your work is to read.
So you will need to know how to organize an essay properly in terms of paragraphing and having ideas that logically and clearly go from one to the next to get an IELTS band 7.
Another key point here is that you have to have a clear central topic within each paragraph.
To take a simple example, if you are writing about the advantages and disadvantages of something, then you may want to have one paragraph about each. Each paragraph will then have a clear central topic - either advantages or disadvantages.
If you mix them up, this may not be clear.
Again, look at some of the model essays to see how each body paragraph clearly has one central topic.
You also need a mix of cohesive devices. These are the things that join and link your ideas, sentences and paragraphs. For example, transitions such as 'however', 'firstly', 'moreover', and other general linking words within sentences such as 'and' and 'because'.
You will need a variety and mix of these for an IELTS band 7, and you'll need to be able to use them effectively with some flexibility rather than mechanically.
Lexical Resource
Your lexis is basically your vocabulary, and as it says in the descriptors, you'll need to show that you know some less common words and be able to use them precisely.
Its in the accuracy that is needed for your vocabulary that problems can often occur with regards to getting an IELTS band 7.
As you can see, you can only make occasional errors in your word choice, word formation and spelling. This means the majority need to be correct!
This is obviously no easy achievement and so you'll need to be a fairly skilled writer to be making only occasional errors with your lexis.
You can find some useful and less common vocabulary by following this link, but you need to learn how to use the words correctly otherwise you may make more mistakes with word forms.
Using lots of new words that you don't know how to use properly could make your writing worse, so be careful! Only use words you know how to use properly.


Grammatical Range and Accuracy
As will be clear from the title, this one is assessing your level of grammar.
You will need to show you can use a wide range of sentence structures and have a high level of accuracy.
Just having a few complex sentences with words such as 'because', 'if' and 'although' may not be enough. You'll need to have an awareness of some more complex structures.
Again, like the lexis, this can often be where students struggle to get an IELTS band 7. You need to have frequent error-free sentences.
In other words, the majority of your sentences can't have grammar errors. This is not easy, so like with the lexis, you will need to be a fairly skilled writer.
Task 1
The last three criteria are more or less the same for task 1. The differences are in the task achievement as obviously you are being given a different task.
This is what the public descriptors have for task 1 (academic):
·         Covers the requirements of the task
·         Presents a clear overview of trends, differences or stages
·         Clearly presents and highlights key features/bullet points but could be more fully extended
The first point is obviously stating that you must do what you were asked in the question.
The second point means that at some stage in your writing you must clearly give an overview of the main things that are occuring in the graph or diagram.
See this lesson on writing a task 1 for more information on this.
Finally, to acheive in the last point you must be able to show that you can notice and write about the important things that are happening in the graph, and make comparisons between the data.
Again, the lesson above will help you with this.

Some final tips...
This lesson then has shown you how to get an IELTS band 7 in your writing, or what is required.
Unfortunately there is no magic bullet that is suddenly going to move you up a band. But there may be things you can improve on that will help if you think you are making errors in what what is needed in the criteria.
For example, are you always spending some time at the beginning analyzing the question carefully to make sure you are answering all parts of it and writing a plan / outline?
If not, you may be making errors by not fully answering the question or by not organizing your essay or ideas well.
Most of my students that I check are failing to get the majority of the sentences error-free or the majority of the lexis correct. So this may well be where you are falling down if you are getting a 6.5.
In this case you'll need to work on improving your grammar and checking your work very carefully for mistakes. If you have a writing teacher obviously this will help as they can check your work.
But again, planning first can help with this because if you plan then you will be able to write quicker. You will then have more time to be more careful and more time to check your grammar and lexis whilst you write and at the end.
Lesson 9:
IELTS Essay Conclusion

For an IELTS essay conclusion, many students write too much.
It is only a short essay, so the conclusion does not need to be too long.
You should also have a formula for writing the conclusion quickly so you can focus your time on developing your ideas and supporting them in your body paragraphs.
You should do three things in your conclusion:

1.      Use a concluding phrase
2.      Restate the thesis statement in different words
3.      Give some personal opinions, hopes, fears, or recommendations about the future
Take a look at this essay question and introduction. The thesis statement is in red:
Question:
Blood sports have become a hot topic for debate in recent years. As society develops it is increasingly seen as an uncivilized activity and cruel to the helpless animals that are killed. Blood sports should be banned.
To what extent to you agree or disagree?
 Sample IELTS essay introduction:
Despite the fact that killing animals for sport is popular in modern society, it remains a contentious issue. (thesis) I believe that blood sports are cruel and uncivilized and so should be banned as soon as possible.
In order to write the first sentence of the IELTS essay conclusion, you can paraphrase your thesis statement - remember to use a phrase to make it clear it is a conclusion:
To conclude, it is clear that blood sports must be prohibited as no civilized society should allow the pain and suffering of animals simply for fun.
For your final sentence, you can give some personal opinions, hopes, fears, or recommendations about the future.
I hope that governments around the world discuss this issue with haste and forbid this inhumane type of sport as soon as possible.
This then, is the full IELTS essay conclusion:
To conclude, it is clear that blood sports must be prohibited as no civilized society should allow the pain and suffering of animals simply for fun. I hope that governments around the world discuss this issue with haste and forbid this inhumane type of sport as soon as possible.

Further IELTS Essay Conclusion Examples
Question:
Currently there is a trend towards the use of alternative forms of medicine. However, at best these methods are ineffective, and at worst they may be dangerous.
To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Introduction:
Alternative medicine is not new. It is accepted that it pre-dates conventional medicine and it is still used by many people all over the world. I am unconvinced that it is dangerous, and feel that both alternative and conventional medicine can be useful.
Conclusion:
To sum up, I strongly believe that conventional medicine and alternative therapies can and should coexist. They have different strengths, and can both be used effectively to target particular medical problems. The best situation would be for alternative therapies to be used to support and complement conventional medicine.
_________________________________________________
Question:
Some people believe the aim of university education is to help graduates get better jobs. Others believe there are much wider benefits of university education for both individuals and society.
Discuss both views and give your opinion.
Introduction:
These days, more and more people are making the choice to go to university.  While some people are of the opinion that the only purpose of a university education is to improve job prospects, others think that society and the individual benefit in much broader ways.
Conclusion:
All in all, I believe that although a main aim of university education is to get the best job, there are clearly further benefits.  If we continue to promote and encourage university attendance, it will lead to a better future for individuals and society.
_________________________________________________
Question:
Global warming is one of the most serious issues that the world is facing today.
What are the causes of global warming and what measures can governments and individuals take to tackle the issue?
Introduction:
Probably the most worrying threat to our planet at the present time is global warming. This essay will examine the reasons why global warming is occurring and discuss some possible solutions.
Conclusion:
To conclude, although global warming is a serious issue, there are steps that governments and individuals can take to reduce its effects. If we are to save our planet, it is important that this is treated as a priority for all concerned.
Lesson 10:
Transitional Phrases for Essays
This lesson shows you transitional phrases for essays in order to help you present other people’s arguments in your IELTS writing essays for part 2.
This is when you want to make it clear those arguments are NOT your own.
This lesson is aimed more at those who are wanting a band 7 or higher as this page will show you a more sophisticated way of presenting arguments.
When you write an argumentative essay, it is likely that you will want to present two sides of an argument.
Take a look at this paragraph from an essay (which was recently posted as a model essay on this site) which is in answer to this question:
University education should be free to everyone, regardless of income.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
The person is presenting the side of the argument about why education should not be free:
_______________________________________________

Firstly, students should be charged because education is becoming more expensive to fund as universities grow in size. Consequently, making students pay may maintain standards and ensure the quality of the teaching.  In addition, students benefit from university in terms of higher paid jobs, so it is fair that they pay for at least some of the cost, especially given that the majority of students attending university are from the middle classes.  Last but not least, in many countries, there is a shortage of people to do manual jobs such as plumbing and carpentry, so making university more expensive may encourage people to take up these jobs.
_______________________________________________
The paragraph is fine but it does look like the opinions being presented are the writers.
What if you want to make it clear that they are not your opinions, but those of someone else because you intend to disagree with it in your next paragraph or because you don't want to make it clear which side of the argument you agree with until the end?
The paragraph has now got some transitional phrases for essays in red  / bold that make it clear that they are not your arguments, but another person's:
_______________________________________________
One argument put forward in favour of charging students is that education is becoming more expensive to fund as universities grow in size. Consequently, making students pay may maintain standards and ensure the quality of the teaching.  In addition, it is argued that most students benefit from university in terms of higher paid jobs, so it is fair that they pay for at least some of the cost, especially given that the majority of students attending university are from the middle classes.  Last but not least, in many countries, there is a shortage of people to do manual jobs such as plumbing and carpentry, so making university more expensive may encourage people to take up these jobs.
_______________________________________________
The last point “Last but not least, in many countries…” has not been changed, but this would be overdoing it. It is clear by this point that all the arguments the writer is presenting are other people’s.
In your next paragraph, you may then want to present your arguments. So you may begin your paragraph with something like:
However, I do not believe these arguments stand up to scrutiny. Firstly,...
Alternatively, you may want to present another paragraph with other people's ideas, that shows the opposite side of the argument. So your second paragraph may begin:
However, some people oppose these views. Firstly, they claim that...
And then you would let the reader know in your conclusion your position on the matter.
Here are some examples of transitional phrases for essays that can be used:
It has been argued that…
Some people claim / argue / believe / think that…
An argument commonly put forward is that…
Those that support (topic) argue / believe / claim that…
Proponents of (topic) argue / believe / claim that…
These arguments have been critisized for several reasons...
These are just some examples. There will be some other ways.
I suggested these as band 7 and above as it is a more difficult skill to place them in your essay.
They can't just be stuck in front of an idea and used like a transition such as "Firstly,..." in the hope of getting a band 7!
They create a certain register or tone that you are writing with so you need to make sure the rest of your essay fits with this style.
Check out the transitional phrases for essays in this model essay: Animal Rights Essay
This essay follows the pattern of presenting the first body paragraph as someone elses opinions, and the second body paragraph as your own.
Good Paragraph Writing
This lesson will give you the basic tips on paragraph writing.
You should follow the same structure that you would for writing any paragraph when you write an IELTS paragraph, though it may be shorter because of the limited time that you have.
This limited time and space means that you have to get your ideas across as clearly and succinctly as possible.
If you have planned well before you write, then you should be well on your way to being able to write your paragraphs quickly and clearly.
The following has all the components of a good paragraph. 
Read it through and identify why this is.

Studying Abroad
            Studying abroad has two main benefits.  Firstly, people who study abroad can get a better job when they return to their home country.  This is because their qualifications and experience mean that they tend to get jobs that are higher paid, and they can also gain promotion quickly.  Another advantage of studying abroad is the independence students can gain. For example, students have to cope with the challenges of living alone and meeting new people from different cultures.  As a consequence, they will become more confident in their life and in their relationships with others.  All in all, it is clear that studying abroad is a beneficial experience.

The Three Parts to Good Paragraph Writing
The 'text book' structure for a paragraph is as follows:
·         Topic sentence
·         Supporting sentences
·         Concluding sentence

1. Topic Sentence
The topic sentence states what the paragraph will be about.  It gives the topic of the paragraph, and it also restricts the topic to one or two main ideas which can be explained fully in the space of one paragraph.  The controlling idea is the specific area that the topic is limited to:
topic                  controlling idea
Studying abroad has two main benefits


2. Supporting Sentences
Supporting sentences explain and develop the topic sentence.  Specifically, they discuss the topic sentence by explaining the main ideas and discussing those more fully using reasons, examples, facts, results, statistics, or anything else that proves your ideas are true
The supporting sentences that explain the benefits of studying abroad are:
People get a better job when they return home (1st supporting idea)
·         Better qualifications & experience mean better pay and promotion (reason)
·         Now has a high standard of living (result)
 Students gain independence (2nd supporting idea)
·         Students have to cope with the challenges of living alone and meeting new people from different cultures.(example)
·         Students will become more confident in their life and relationships (result)

3. Concluding Sentence (Optional)
A concluding sentence can be used to signal the end of the paragraph. It tells the reader the important points to remember.  It is often a paraphrase of the topic sentence.
All in all, it is clear that studying abroad is a beneficial experience.
Concluding sentences are optional and paragraphs often do not have them.  You won't get marked down if you do not have a concluding sentence in IELTS, but it is a good way to add coherence to your paragraph.

Unity and Coherence
For good paragraph writing, there must also be unity and coherence.  The examiner will assess your IELTS paragraphs on their unity and coherence, which is clearly shown in the IELTS public band descriptors under "Coherence and Cohesion" for what is required for a band 7:
·         logically organises information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout
·         uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately
·         presents a clear central topic within each paragraph
1. Unity
Unity means that you discuss only one main (central) topic area in a paragraph.  The area that you are going to cover is usually introduced in the topic sentence, and your supporting sentences should only be used to develop that. 
For the topic sentence above, you could discuss only two benefits of studying abroad.  You could not discuss three benefits, or start discussing the disadvantages of studying abroad.  If you did, your paragraph would not have unity.
Even if there is no specific topic sentence (more advanced writers do not always have an obvious topic sentence), the paragraph should still have one central topic area so it retains unity.
2. Coherence
Another element of good paragraph writing is coherency. This means your paragraph is easy to understand and read because
(a) The supporting sentences are arranged in a logical order and 
(b) The ideas are joined by appropriate transition signals.
(a) Logical Order
For example, in the paragraph about studying abroad, there are two main ideas: People who study abroad can get a better job, and they will become more independent.   Each of these ideas is discussed, one after the other, with examples, reasons and results to support them.  This is logical order.
(b) Transition Signals
Furthermore, the relationship between the ideas is clearly shown by using appropriate transition words and phrases such as first of all, for instance, the result of this, another advantage,  as a consequence, all in all.    Using such words and phrases will guide the reader through your paragraph, making it coherent and, therefore, easy to understand.
IELTS Problem Solution Essays
Sometimes in the IELTS task 2 you will be given a problem solution essay.
In this type of essay you need to discuss the problems with regards to a particular topic and then suggest possible solutions to these problems.
One of the first things you want to make sure that you are able to do is identfy one of these questions when it arises. Here are some examples of this type of question:


Problem Solution Essay Questions:
_______________________________________________
Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems.
Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.
_______________________________________________
Nowadays many people have access to computers on a wide basis and a large number of children play computer games.
What are the negative impacts of playing computer games and what can be done to minimize the bad effects?
_______________________________________________
The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, but it has also created problems that did not exist before.
What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?
_______________________________________________
In the developed world, average life expectancy is increasing.
What problems will this cause for individuals and society?
Suggest some measures that could be taken to reduce the impact of ageing populations.
_______________________________________________
An important note. Some essays ask for reasons and solutions, not problems and solutions. Writing about a reason (or cause) is not the same as writing about a problem.
Check these model essays to see the difference.

Problem Solution Example Essay
In order to understand these types of problem solution essays further and how to organize your writing, we'll look at a problem solution example essay:
The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, but it has also created problems that did not exist before.
What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?
The enormous growth in the use of the internet over the last decade has led to radical changes to the way that people consume and share information. Although serious problems have arisen as a result of this, there are solutions.
One of the first problems of the internet is the ease with which children can access potentially dangerous sites. For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult. There is no doubt that this affects their thoughts and development, which is a negative impact for the children and for society. Another major problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking. These days, there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked, resulting in sensitive information falling into the hands of criminals.
It is important that action is taken to combat these problems. Governments should ensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site. Parents also have a part to play. They need to closely monitor the activities of their children and restrict their access to certain sites, which can now be done through various computer programs. Companies must also improve their onsite IT security systems to make fraud and hacking much more difficult by undertaking thorough reviews of their current systems for weaknesses.
To conclude, the internet is an amazing technological innovation that has transformed people’s lives, but not without negative impacts. However, with the right action by individuals, governments and businesses, it can be made a safe place for everyone.
(285 words)

Writing about Problems
From the problem solution essay, look at the problems paragraph, and answer the following questions (then click on the link below to see the answers):
1.      How many problems are discussed?
2.      What are they?
3.      What expressions are used to introduce the problems?
4.      How are the problems illustrated further?
5.      What results are discussed for each problem?
Your answers to these questions should tell you a lot about how to plan and organize a problem paragraph.
You only need two or three problems as remember you do not have much time and you need to explain the problems.
When you brainstorm your ideas for problem solution essays, think about (a) what the problem is (b) how you will explain it (c) and what the effect is. Your paragraph will then follow this pattern.
Here is an example of the brainstorming for this paragraph:
Problem 1: children can access potentially dangerous sites
Explanation / Example: Pornography sites
Result: Affects thought & development - negative for children & society
Problem 2: growth of online fraud and hacking
Explanation / Example: Evident from the constant news stories
Result: Criminals get sensitive information

Here they are illustrated in the paragraph, with the introductory expressions underlined:
One of the first problems of the internet is the ease with which children can access potentially dangerous sites. For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult. There is no doubt that this affects their thoughts and development, which is a negative impact for the children and for society. Another major problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking. These days, there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked, resulting in sensitive information falling into the hands of criminals.

Writing about Solutions
Answer the following questions about the solutions paragraph:
1.      How many solutions are given?
2.      What are they?
3.      What three different groups of people does the writer say are responsble for these solutions?
4.      How would the solutions be implemented?
5.      What three modal verb structures are used to make the suggestions?
Your answers to these questions provides you with some key tips on writing a solutions paragraph. Some of these points are now explained further.
a) The people involved
When you come to brainstorm your solutions, think of the key 'actors' who are involved. It is usually governments and individuals in some way or another.
There may be another group specifically realted to the topic. For example, in this case it is companies and parents. If you are discussing crime it could be the police. If it is violence on TV it could be TV and film producers.
You can then brainstorm your ideas under each 'group' and organize them in the same way.
b) Developing your solutions
Also, try to make sure your solutions are not too simplistic. It's all too easy to make sweeping generalizations about what people can do. For example, look at this idea:
The government should introduce stricter laws.
It it common to see such statements in IELTS problem solution essays with no further explantion. Give more detail about how or why this would work. For example:
Governments should ensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site.
Some specific detail has now been given on how this solution could work.
b) Modal Verbs
Modal verbs can be used to make suggestions in problem solution essays. These are usually found in solutions paragraphs.
Check out this grammar lesson if you are unsure how to use modal verbs.
Here again is a plan for the problem solution essay for the solutions paragraph:
Solution 1: Governments
Idea: Adequate legislation and controls for young people
How: More complex website access criteria
Solution 2: Parents
Idea: Monitor children and restrict access
How: Use a computer program
Solution 3: Companies
Idea: Improve IT security systems
How: Review current systems in place
Here is the paragraph again. Note how it follows the plan and the clear topic sentence that tells the reader the essay is moving on to discuss solutions (modals verbs are underlined):
It is important that action is taken to combat these problems. Governments should ensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site. Parents also have a part to play. They need to closely monitor the activities of their children and restrict their access to certain sites, which can now be done through various computer programs. Companies must also improve their onsite IT security systems to make fraud and hacking much more difficult by undertaking thorough reviews of their current systems for weaknesses.

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