TOP IELTS ESSAY TIPS IELTS EXAM
Based on working with students and seeing what they struggle with most, here are the top 10 IELTS task 2 (essay) tips. Later I’ll be writing detailed posts on each of these, but for now you can use these as a reminder while practicing this weekend! ?
1. First step: read the essay question carefully and establish what the actual question is. Is it asking you for your opinion? Or does it want you to suggest solutions to a problem? Don’t fall into traps!
2. Before you start writing, plan what you’re going to put in each paragraph. Your plan does not need to include details, just a general structure. For example you can plan to write 3 main body paragraphs and each of them will discuss a suggested solution to a problem.
3. Write a 2-sentence introduction. 1st sentence: essay context; 2nd sentence: summarise what the essay is going to be about.
4. Make your introduction super general and don’t provide too much detail – save the detail for later!
5. Don’t write more than 4-5 paragraphs and try not to exceed 300 words. It’s been shown that longer essays receive lower marks as they are generally less concise.
6. Start each paragraph with an introductory sentence, which summarises the argument you are going to make in that paragraph. Make that sentence particularly simple and clear!
7. Use at least one example in your essay. Preferably, use an example for each claim you’re making.
8. Use at least 2 interesting grammatical structures, e.g. conditionals or inversion.
9. Proof-read your essay at least once, preferably twice.
10. Try to keep it simple! You’re not being graded for your intelligence or the originality of your views.
task response in IELTS writing –
one of the 4 grading criteria. In it, I look at what task response means in detail and give examples of common mistakes that candidates make. Understanding these mistakes should help improve your IELTS writing.
There are 4 issues to think about.
- Answer all parts of the task
Often IELTS task 1 and 2 questions will give you 2 or 3 points to consider. If you fail to answer all parts of the question, you will get a penalty. This may mean losing a whole band score.
This is a problem in task 1 in particular. In academic writing, you need to include all the key points in the graph/chart, while in the general IELTS letter you need to include all the items asked for.
Common mistake: to not spend enough time reading the question and to start writing too soon. In academic task 1 this may mean missing some of the key points in the chart/graph.
Solution: You should give yourself plenty of time to read and understand the question. Underline all the detail you need to include. This means making a proper plan and giving yourself enough time to plan.
to not answer the question in the essay task but to write about something similar. This can be a disaster as you may suffer a heavy penalty for this. There are 2 reasons why candidates may make this mistake. They have “learned” an essay on the topic or they try to be too clever and forget it is a language test not an intelligence test
Common mistake in task 1: not to include all the relevant detail from the diagram
- Present a clear position throughout the task
This means that it is important to plan the answer well. Use your introduction to state your position and then explain your position in more detail in each paragraph.
Common mistake: candidates do not make their position clear or fail to state any conclusions.
Solution: Again, the solution is to allow yourself enough time to plan. When you plan you should think about the structure of your essay and the introduction and conclusion in particular. For practice on this, I highly recommend Essay Map.
- Extend and support main ideas
Every IELTS essay question includes language to tell you to support your ideas with reasons and examples from your own experience. Do this. If you do not, you will not be answering the question.
Common mistake: to include too many general statements that are not supported by reasons or examples.
Solution: think about writing coherent paragraphs. One way to do this in practice is to learn to ask yourself one or two basic questions. “Why do I say think that?” “How can I explain that?” What is a good example of that?”.
- Write enough words
The question clearly tells you to write 150 words in task 1 and 250 words in task 2. That means at least 150 and 250 words. If you fail to do this, you will get a penalty. Again, you may lose a whole band score.
Common mistake: to think that task 1 doesn’t really matter and not leave enough time to finish it.
Solution: you need to have a clear strategy for timing before you enter the exam. It can often be a good idea to answer the essay (task 2) before letter/report (task 1).
VOCABULARY & EXPRESSIONS
caustic: sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way
scoff at: to laugh or say things to show that you think someone or something is stupid or deserves no respect
on the verge of: If you are on the verge of something or come to the verge of something, you are very close to experiencing it
Ex: Her husband’s violent and abusive behaviour drove her to the verge of despair.
narcissist: a person who has too much interest in and admiration for their own physical appearance and/or your own abilities
Ex:She is a narcissist who thinks the world revolves around her
Get along with: if people get along, they like each other and are friendly to each other
Ex: I get along well with most of my colleagues.
Notch up: achieve something
Ex: The company notched up over £10 million in profits last year.
Be of high importance: really important
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