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Top Tips for Scoring High on the IELTS Writing Section

Tips for IELTS Writing Task 1  – Describing Graphs!

A. First, let’s look at the IELTS assessment criteria:

  1. Task achievement. This means you should answer all parts of the question, your answer must be relevant, and you should provide supporting ideas for the points you are making.
  2. Coherence and cohesion. Your writing should be structured so it is easy to read and understand. This means you need to organise your ideas into paragraphs. You also need to link your ideas with words like howevertherefore and despite.
  3. Vocabulory. To get a good score, you need to use a wide range of vocabulary. Not everything has to be 100% correct, but any errors you do make should be few in number and should not affect understanding.
  4. Grammer (range and accuracy). As with vocab, you should use a variety of grammatical structures, and any grammatical errors should be few in number and should not affect understanding.

Task 1

Read the essay below. As you read it, think about the four criteria and decide how well the writer performs on each of them. Make notes.

When you have made your notes, read on to compare your notes with a teacher’s notes.

B. Secondly look at strategy for writing.
  1. You need to write 3-4 paragraphs and 150 words. If you don’t, you will be penalized.
  2. In the initial paragraph, you need to paraphrase the question. Start the paraphrase with one of the following prompts,
    • ‘The table shows/illustrates the trends in …. between …….
    • The graph shows……
    • The chart shows how the ….. have changed ……
  3. Don’t include below in your paraphrase.
  4. Write an overview as you second sentence of your introduction. Look at the beginning and the end of the chart to help determine your overview.
  5. Decide if the graph you are describing is a comparison, progression or both. You will need to use the appropriate language for each type. For example, if it is comparative ,  use ‘the same as’ or if it is progressive, use ‘ a slight increase’.
  6. Try to learn a few different ways to say the same thing so you don’t have to repeat yourself (‘increase’, ‘go up’, ‘rise’). Remember you will be marked on your language range and accuracy.
  7. Describe the most general trends in second paragraph, including the most striking characteristics.
  8. You need to add linker to help your essay to help with its cohesion and coherence; in other words, it’s flow. Here are some useful expressions: in addition, furthermore, however, although.
  9. In the 3rd paragraph you need to give a more detailed description.  You still need to focus on main trends, but focus more on elements within each part of the graph (For 10 years, there was a gradual upward trend until it peaked at 250units in 2002, followed by a dip.). Add data to support your information.
  10. Don’t describe all small details as this creates lists which sound mechanical.
    • Instead of writing :It went up by 2% and then dropped up 5%, then rose again for 2 years, and again dropped by 2%.
    • Write: It fluctuated between 5% and 2% for the first quarter of the year.
  11. You don’t have to write a conclusion, but it makes the writing seem more complete if you do.
  12. Don’t forget spelling and punctuation count towards accuracy.

……

 

Tips for IELTS WRITING TASK 2  (Best answer)

STEP 1: INTRODUCTION

Repeat the question in your own words

In the essay introduction, you should start by repeating the question. This does NOT mean that you should COPY the question.

You should say the question again, but using different words that mean the same thing (synonyms).

For example, if your question was something like: Some people believe that capital punishment should never be used. Others believe that it could be used for the most serious crimes. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Then the opening sentence of your introduction should use synonyms to say the question again in your own words. for example: It is a commonly held belief that the death penalty is a Draconian penalty and not appropriate in modern society. However, there is also an argument that the most despicable crimes should have this most severe of punishments.

Now, don’t worry about the high level of the example sentences above. I am a native English speaker and I am an English teacher, so the sentences should be good, shouldn’t they?

But, from the example, you can see that it is possible to re-write the question using completely different vocabulary and still retain the original meaning and ‘flavour’ of the original question.

Give your opinion

As soon as you have restated the question, then give your opinion on the subject.

This gives the examiner an overview of what is to come in your essay.

It is important to note that it does not matter what your opinion is! There is no right or wrong answer to an IELTS essay question. You do NOT have to try and think “What will the examiner think is the right answer here”. The examiner is only interested in the level of your English. So just give your first instinct opinion and don’t try to out-think yourself.

STEP 2: Support your opinion

Now that you have given your opinion, you need to back it up.

The best way to do this is to give examples.

You can begin this paragraph with phrases like:

  • Personally, I believe that…
  • From my point of view…
  • I am convinced that…
  • In my opinion…
  • In my view…

So, if your opinion was that you are against capital punishment, then as an example you could write about situations where people have been jailed for life for murder and then decades later they have been released as they were proven to be innocent. The relevant vocabulary here is “a miscarriage of justice”.

Your argument would be that when a miscarriage of justice occurs, the prisoner would most likely have faced the death penalty and would have been killed even though they were innocent.

Another example could be that many murders are committed in ‘hot blood’ and often as an ‘act of passion’.. This means that the murder was so angry about something that they were not thinking properly

STEP 3: Give the other side of the argument

In your next paragraph, you should look at the question from the opposite viewpoint to yours.

This shows the examiner that you have balance in your writing and it is a sign of a good essay.

You can start this paragraph with phrases such as:

  • It can also be argued that…
  • Someone who held the opposing view would say that…
  • However, there is also another side to this discussion.
  • In contrast, some people hold the view that…

STEP 4: Conclusion – Summarise your opinion

To finish off your IELTS task 2 essay, you need to summarise your whole argument as a conclusion.

Essentially, this means that you give your opinion again that you stated in the introduction.

To prove to the IELTS examiner that you have a good command of English vocabulary you should try again to use synonyms and not just copy your previous sentence. Now, you can add your expanded arguments (from step 2) into your opinion.

A conclusion that weighs up the arguments already mentioned is a really good opportunity to use a conditional sentence.

If capital punishment was reintroduced into society, I do not believe that it would act as a deterrent for heinous crimes. It is my strongly held belief that the death penalty would only result in future miscarriages of justice that serve no purpose in civilised society.

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