IELTS Writing Tips

IELTS Writing needs specific skills to secure good bands in writing. The following tips will highligh the main areas of IELTS writing.

1. Write graphs objectivley

In task 1, don’t give your opinion but you should describe, compare and organize the data. In Task 1, don’t explain the data, just describe it. If you write less than 150 words you may be penalized, however, you will not be credited for more words. Always paraphrase the question in your answer. Never copy the question. Paraphrase it by changing its grammatical structure, vocabulary and order – rephrase and use synonyms.

Remember that Task 2 is worth more marks than Task 1, so don’t spend more than 20 minutes on Task 1. Make a paragraph plan and always give examples or supporting data. Remember to allow a few minutes to check your work.

2. Start and end your report properly

You can start your report like this:
In this report I am going to describe a graph which shows population of two countries; China and Spain between 2000 and 2005. Overall, population has increased in China by 50 percent as compared to that of Spain.
 So your introduction is based on paraphrase of the graph and overview.

You can end your report like this:
This ends my report. 
You don’t need a conclusion.

3. Use a variety of vocabulary

In writing, do not use the same word to express the idea. It is important to vary the words.
For example, for ‘Month’ you can use the word

‘period’ or

If you have used the word,
describe’, next you can use,
’ reveal’,
‘show’ or

It is not lexical variety, grammatical variety is also very important. For example, you can say

The graph shows that’ but next time you can say,
It can be clearly seen from the graph that’.

4. Structure your Task 1 report

Introduction should describe the purpose of the report and say what overall trends or comparisons you see. You need to remember that you are describing a graph to someone who doesn’t see it, so your words must draw the picture. Write what the graph is about, its dates and location. Remember that your opinion shouldn’t appear anywhere in the report. You also shouldn’t include other information, that doesn’t appear on chart. This kind of writing can be (and probably will be) penalized.
Body should describe the most important trends, while all the information is summarized to avoid unnecessary details. For example, if there is a graph that has 2 peaks, you should mention them; tell when those peaks appeared and what the peak values are. Mention all the bars and compare them. Notice how many distinctive features diagram has and divide information into paragraphs, one paragraph for one feature (or a group of similar features). You should link the paragraphs by sentences that logically connect them to one another. Important! You need to write about all the periods of time and all the subjects of graph. If it shows several years (1992, 1993, 1994) – write about all of them, if it is about men and women – write about both. Remember, summarizing doesn’t mean throwing away information.

5. Understand the types of IELTS Essays

There are three types of essays in IELTS: Proposal Essays, Discursive Essays and Argumentative Essays.

Proposal Essays serve a purpose of informing the audience about problems and offer a set of solutions aimed to deal with the problems. People of different occupations write proposals every day in such areas as business, education or entertainment, and suggest solutions to existing problems and difficulties. Proposal essays are of three types:

(1) Cause and Effect Essays which deal with the causes of the problems and then present the effects of the problem on people or society or environment
(2) Cause and Solution Essay which requires you to discuss the causes of the problem; its effects on society and finally propose its solution and its implementation
(3) Problem and Solution Essays which expose the problem at hand and provide its solutions.

The second essay is Discursive Essay. The goal of a discursive essay is to present a balanced and objective examination of a subject. Like an argumentative essay, the topic may be controversial, but the discursive essay attempts to present a much more balanced discussion of the issue. It does not, however, have to be expressly neutral. The essay should present both sides of the discussion, supported by facts and research. The author may draw tentative conclusions about the subject and suggest them to the reader. It begins with a introduction to the topic. Each issue should be discussed in a separate paragraph and each paragraph should begin with a strong topic sentence. The essay will typically alternate a paragraph of point followed by a paragraph of counterpoint. The writer may choose to either express a low-key opinion in the final paragraph or leave readers to draw their own conclusions.

Discursive essays include opposing statements of advantages and disadvantages of an issue of the opposing statements of different people.
The discursive essay may ask you to compare and contrast two things and then give your opinion.

Argumentative Essay has points either against a topic or for a topic but the discursive essay has the points both for and against the topic. The writer of an argumentative essay attempts to clearly present a strong position on a particular topic. Its purpose is to both educate and persuade the reader on a particular point of view. Argumentative essays follow a general format. The writer states an initial thesis that contains the point of view for which the author is arguing. The body generally presents both sides of the argument, although each con is refuted in turn. The author may first present the pros of the argument, then offer the cons and refutation later in one paragraph. Or, each con may be both presented and refuted in an individual paragraph. The author presents the desired conclusion in the final paragraph.

6. Writing the proposal essays

Proposal essays contain more than one question. Make sure that your answer fully covers all parts of the task. You might be asked to write about a problem and consider possible causes and solutions. For example,

TV has recently become an addiction among teenagers and affected their educational activities significantly.
What reasons do you see and what solutions do you present to tackle this problem?’

Make sure that any causes you suggest are relevant. Give reasons and examples. Make sure that any solutions you suggest deal with the causes of the problem.
For example,
The main cause of this problem is….’ Or ‘The reason behind is…’

Describe how your solutions might be put into practice, giving reasons and examples. Provide as much detailed explanation of your ideas and the effect as you can.
For example, ‘The solution to the problem is…’ or ‘The problem can be solved by…’

Finally, do present your conclusion. For example, ‘Finally or In brief’.

7. Writing discursive and argumentative essays

Before writing your essay in Task 2, decide exactly what your own opinion is. For each opinion you express, try to provide supporting examples. Make sure your argument is clear to the reader. Whenever you give an opinion, it must be backed up with reasons or personal experience. You will lose marks if you don’t do that.

In writing 2, you can use categories to organize your paragraphs e.g. one category – one paragraph. If you have many ideas about a topic, only choose the most significant and interesting ones. If you don’t use paragraphs, you will lose marks. Use key phrases and separate your ideas into paragraphs.

In proposal essay, you often have to discuss the similarities or differences, advantages or disadvantages, opposing point of views between two different opinions or ideas and give your own opinion. You have three main options in Discursive Essays:

a. agree with one of the views, and disagree with the other.
b. argue that neither view is correct, and that your own is.
c. argue that Both views are partly correct, or incorrect in certain circumstances.

Option C is usually the best choice, as it gives you plenty of points to make. Make sure the logic of your argument is clear and understandable. For example:

Some of the methods used in advertising are unethical and unacceptable in today’s society. 
To what extent do you agree with this view?

So your options are: (1) Agree 100% (2) Disagree 100% (3) Partly agree.

So choose option number 3 Partly agree.

8. Connecting Phrases: Use phrases such as ‘On the other hand’, to introduce differences and contrast. Use phrases such as ‘In the same way’, to introduce similarities and comparisons. Use phrases such as ‘Because of this’, to introduce effects and results.

On the opposite, in Argumentative essays, you need to clarify your posiiton right in the beginning. Remember that you need to xpress your own opinion, whatever it is.
For example. If the question asks

whether or not you believe ‘whether societies should use capital punishment’. 

There are, of course, two points of view: capital punishment should be used and capital punishment shouldn’t be used. Choose your position and challege the other position. Your writing will favour the position that you have taken. Your position is important to the content of your answer if the examiner cannot find a clear position in your answer, you will lose marks.

Give the reasons why you don’t believe in capital punishment but then look at the opposing view and say why you don’t accept it. In this way you will show the reader your powers of analysis when looking at such an issue. As I said earlier, your ideas need to be supported by examples and it is in the body of your essay that they should appear. For every idea that you present try and give an example from your own experience that shows that your idea is right. Quote from your experience and life or anything that you have read anywhere. You can actually invent examples as long as they seem realistic and believable.

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