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Impersonal points of view

These are useful both in the introduction for restating the question and in the main body for introducing
the main arguments in an impersonal way.

There are those who say that

It is often said that
Many commentators are of the view that
A common opinion is that
A popular belief is that
It is often said that
One argument put forward is that
It can be argued that
It is generally accepted that

Personal opinions
These phrases for expressing personal opinions are particularly useful in conclusions, where you are
much more likely to be personal. They are also of use in the introductions in opinion based essays.

Personal opinions
My personal view is that
It seems to me that
I tend to believe that
I am of the opinion that
I would argue that
In my experience

A second category of opinion language is showing the strength of your opinion. This language can be
used either with personal opinions or more impersonal opinions. Commenting

Of course,

making your writing look academic and more cautious Part of the academic process - and IELTS is at
least partly academic - is to generalise
appropriately. This language is needed to soften statements which would be too strong.

Generally speaking,
On the whole,
By and large


Explaining opinions
Sometimes it is sensible to restate an opinion with a further explanation. This is particularly relevant in the
main body of an essay when you have introduced a complex point or argument.

What this means is

In other words,
That is to say
To be more precise
In fact,

Using examples to explain

The language of examples is highly relevant in IELTS essays as it allows you to explain with real life
examples abstract ideas. The rubric of the essay almost always includes the words supportyour
Explaining through examples and introducing evidence

For example,
For instance,
A good illustration of this is
If we take an example
Evidence for this is provided by
We can see this when

Explaining cause and stating effect

The language of cause and effect is another way to expand on your main points. Equally, you can use the
language of reason to say why.

One reason for this is

The immediate cause of this
One of the causes of this is
This has resulted in
As a result,
This has led to

Evidently, this language is needed in the conclusion of the essay.

To summarise
In conclusion
On balance,
This is a complex issue with no clear answers
If we look at both sides of the argument


a fairly close synonym to problem:


this is slightly different to problem: it is something people have

different opinions about


this is something people argue about/ similar to question


you normally find or come up with a solution

One key here is to avoid words such as big and little and to choose accurate word combinations. Here
are some adjective-noun combinations
Adjectives Examples

A significant problem many countries face is falling birth rates


This is not a minor issue, rather it is a fundamental problem


A very real difficulty in many households is rising fuel bills


In my view, global warming is only a minor problem


This is a pressing problem that needs to be dealt with urgently

Up variations

Down variations

Up and down
Sometimes you need to describe a graph that goes up and then down. Here we have
fewer options.

No change


Preposition problem 1 by and to

Note how these two sentences mean exactly the same:
The rate of unemployment rose to 12% in 2010.
The rate of unemployment rose by 5% in 2010.

Preposition problem 2 in and of

This one is harder. We use in to describe changes in things and of to describe
changes in number or amount.
For example,
There was a rise in the rate of unemployment
There was a rise of 5% in the rate of unemployment.

Opinion Vocabulary for IELTS speaking

Here are some basic variations of I think. There are many more: my suggestion is to choose
those which you feel comfortable with

The impersonal IT
One strategy you can think about is using IT phrases to start your sentences when you
are about to give an opinion. This has two effects:

it makes what you say sound more intelligent/plausible

it gives you some ready-made English to use that is grammatically complex

you dont always need to say Some people say

Here are a few alternatives for you:

The impersonal THERE

Another alternative is to use a THERE phrase to be more impersonal. This works for the
same reasons as IT does and nearly all these phrases are also for giving opinions:

ONE and WE
This one is slightly trickier. Personally, I rarely use either of these structures but some
people do. So here are a few:

Timing how long does it take to write 250 words

You may not be convinced by 10 minutes: it seems a long time doesnt it? I have three main
arguments to put to you:
1. Try looking at it this way: the longer you spend planning, the better and the more quickly you
will write. To me, it is a given that you will write better once you have thought about your ideas
and the language you want to use.
2. More than that, if you spend 10 minutes on the plan, that still leaves you 25/30 minutes to write
250-275 words. Do the sums: thats approximately 9/10 words a minute, or put another way a
sentence every 2 minutes. No matter your level, that should be achievable.
3. Try timing yourself and how you use your 40 minutes. Im next to certain that if you start
writing before 10 minutes is up, you will find that in the writing process you spend minutes at a
time doing little you dont know what to say next or how to express it. Thats wasted time. If
you have read Aesop: the tortoise beats the hare.

How to plan
There is no easy answer to this question. Planning tends to be very individual and what
works for one candidate may not work for another. However, there are one or two
guidelines to follow:

be methodical: before you get to the exam, know exactly how you are going to plan your essay
and stick to that plan in the exam.

give yourself enough time: you only have 40 minutes to write in the exam, but dont start writing
too quickly. Time spent planning is rarely wasted and candidates who fail to finish are generally
those who start to write too soon.

remember its a language exam: IELTS is a test of language, so make sure your plan helps you
produce good language

keep it simple: your plan is there to help you write. If it is too complex, it may not work in a 40
minute exam scenario.

read the question: make sure your plan relates directly to the question.

What to plan vocabulary and examples

Most text books suggest planning ideas. This is hard to do in practice when you are
under pressure in the exam.
My suggestion is to focus first on vocabulary and examples. Vocabulary will give you
ideas and examples will allow you to develop those ideas in coherent paragraphs.

A brief introduction and conclusion

There are different ways you can write introductions and conclusions. The ones in this
essay are very short and functional this is a possible approach. You should still make
sure that:

the introduction identifies the task the question and outlines your position

the conclusion summarises the main points in your essay

Using linking language try this!

Its also important that you link your sentences together. One of the most effective ways
to do this is use this. It is a very natural linking word and can help you avoid
repetition. See how it introduces these sentences:
Perhaps the most significant of these is that not only has marriage become less
This naturally leads to fewer people
This can have the effect of
This phenomenon is likely to be harmful
This is particularly the case
A personal essay question example
Many IELTS essay questions simply ask you what YOU think and when this is the case, you really
do need to say what you think. See this example:
Some people believe that sport should be made compulsory in schools, while others take the view
that more time should be spent on academic subjects.
What is your opinion?
In this instance, my best advice is to make your personal opinion clear in your answer especially
the introduction and the conclusion. There is a danger that if you language is too impersonal, then
the examiner will decide that you have not answered the question. See these two examples and
decide which you think answers the question better:
There is much debate about the position of physical education on the school curriculum
nowadays. There is an argument that school time would be much better spent on academic and
vocational subjects that will prepare students for life rather than on doing sport which is much
less relevant. Equally, it can be argued that children learn vital life skills such as teamwork and
dealing with competition by practising sport at school.

There is much debate about the position of physical education on the school curriculum
nowadays. There are some people who make a valid argument that school time would be better
spent on academic and vocational subjects that will prepare students for life rather than on doing
sport which is much less relevant. Despite this, my view is that children learn vital life skills such
as teamwork and dealing with competition by practising sport at school.
I hope you see that the second paragraph works better simply because it makes the personal
opinion of the writer clear. The first introduction is very dangerous because it can lead to
an essay that doesnt answer the question as it is asked.
A more impersonal essay question example
Other IELTS essay questions are phrased more impersonally i.e. they dont ask you to express
your personal opinion. When this is the case, you can use much more impersonal opinion
language. See this example:
Some people believe that sport should be made compulsory in schools. What are the advantages
and disadvantages of this proposal?
Here there is no you in the question. You are being to discuss something more generally. Now
more impersonal vocabulary does become useful.
There is much debate about the position of sport on the school curriculum nowadays and it is a
well-balanced argument as to whether it should become mandatory. There are clear advantages
in encouraging children to do more sport as this will develop skills to prepare children for later
life. At the same time, however, there are possible drawbacks to making sport compulsory as it
may restrict time for more academic subjects. I will discuss both these advantages and
disadvantages in this essay.

The first rule of IELTS essays is to answer the question. One problem in doing that is
there are different types of IELTS essay questions each of which poses its own
In this post, I talk you through the three main types of essay questions and show you
how to identify them and what problems they pose.I strongly suggest that you practise
writing essays on each type of question before you get to the exam.

1. The discussion
Here you are given a social issue or problem and asked directly to discuss it and very
often asked to suggest a solution for it.
Two examples
In this type of question you are given the problem (here in red) and then told how to
discuss it/your task (in blue).
In many countries schools have severe problems with student behaviour. What do you
think are the causes of this? What solutions can you suggest?
Many universities charge higher fees for foreign students. Why do they do this? Do you
believe that it is fair?
Typical task words

Why do they think that?

What solutions can you suggest?

Typical problems
There are 2 typical problems with understanding this type of essay question.
1. You are being asked for your personal opinion: it is not enough to talk generally about the topic.
You must give your personal view.
2. Very often you given two tasks: for example, to discuss the causes and the solution. If you
discuss only one of these, you will be penalised on Task Achievement.
3. The question does not give you much help with ideas: you may need to spend more time
planning and thinking of ideas

2. The proposal
Here you are given an opinion about some social issue to discuss. Typically, you are
asked whether or to what extent you agree with it.
Two examples
In this type of question you are given an opinion (in red) and then told how to discuss
it/your task (in blue). Sometimes the question is longer and you are given some
background information (in green), then the opinion and then the task.
Fatherhood ought to be emphasized as much as motherhood. The idea that women are
solely responsible for deciding whether or not to have babies leads on to the idea that
they are also responsible for bringing the children up. To what extent do you agree or
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?
Typical task words

What is you opinion?

Do you agree that

To what extent do you agree?


Typical problems
There are three typical problems with understanding this type of essay question:
1. The questions are simply longer to read and sometimes harder to understand. Spend plenty of
time reading the question and underlining the key words and making sure you understand what
words like this and these refer to.
2. It can be easy to confuse the background information from the opinion. You must discuss the
opinion (the bit in red). If you only discuss the topic (the bit in green), you will be penalised on
Task Achievement.
3. You need to discuss the opinion in the question. You cannot only give your opinion.

3. The argument
Here you are given a problem or issue and two different solutions or opinions about it.
Typically, you are then asked to decide which solution/opinion is the better.
Two examples
The argument type essay question has two main types. In the first type, you get two
different situations or opinions (red) and then your task (in blue) is to decide between
In some countries people pay different rates of tax depending on their salary, in other
countries everyone pays the same rate. Which do you believe is the best system?
In the second type, you get a solution (in red) to a situation (in green) and you then your
task (in blue) is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of that solution.
Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations
today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to
thirty five hours?
Typical task words
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this
Typical problems
There are two typical problems here:
1. The essay discusses the problem generally and doesnt talk about advantages or disadvantages
or make a choice between the two options. Again this will be penalised under Task Achievement.
2. The essay only looks at the advantages or the disadvantages. It needs to look at both sides of the

Other question types

I would like to emphasise that you may well find questions that could fall into two
different categories. That is not so important. What really matters is learning to look at
each question and deciding what precisely it is asking you to do and what possible
problems it poses.

A checklist
This is my very simple checklist to help you decide which type of question you are
looking at:
1. Does it ask me what my own opinion is about a topic? Discussion question Use
my own opinions
2. Does it ask me to discuss a particular proposal? Proposal question Discuss that
3. Does it ask me to decide between two different opinions or look at the advantages and
disadvantages of a topic Argument question Discuss both sides and come to a
An exercise
Look at these reported recent IELTS questions and decide which type of essay you need
to write:
1. Many people have an unhealthy diet and do not take enough exercise. What do you think are the
reasons for this and what can be done to encourage people to lead a more healthy lifestyle?
2. Although countries with long average working hours are economically successful, this often has
some negative social consequences. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
3. Some people think that paying taxes is enough to contribute to society. Others argue that being a
citizen involves more responsibilities. Discuss.
4. Many people argue that children should stay in school until the age of eighteen. What are the
advantages and disadvantages of making school compulsory until the age of 18?
5. Many people nowadays leave their county to work abroad and take their family with them. What
are the advantages and disadvantages in terms of family development?

Exam day tips

Letters Tips

Listening tips

Reading Tips

Speaking tips

Vocabulary tips

Writing tips









10 practical tips for writing better exam essays

The key words in the title are practical and exam. Last week I ran a competition to write
an essay on aid and poverty. The essays I received were spectacularly good and I do
suggest you check them out in the comments section. My one worry though was were they

really practical essays in an exam. My essay, which you will find below, is I think much
simpler than almost all the essays I received and perhaps a more practical model for
I should add that these are mostly band score 8.0 writing tips and are written especially for
candidates who are aiming high. The moral is:
the road to band score 8.0 often means doing the simple things well

1. Read write read write read write read write

read write read
2. Dont be smart, be clear select your best idea
3. Write about what you know relax about ideas
4. Examples are easier to write than explanations
In an exam you are under pressure. You want to make things as easy for yourself as
possible. One practical idea to achieve this is to focus as much on examples as
explanations when you write. Why?
Its simply harder if you only think because. Some of the ideas may be very complex and,
under pressure, it can be difficult to explain these with reasons. What may happen is that
your sentences become too long and the ideas confused.
The practical bit is to concentrate as much on examples. This is a good idea as examples
tend to be easier to write as you are simply describing situations. You should also note that
the instructions tell you to use examples! All you need to do is make sure that your
examples are relevant to the main idea.

5. Dont write too much the examiner is paid by the minute

6. Writer know yourself
One of the most famous philosophical thoughts is know yourself. How does this apply to
exam writing? Did Plato really have IELTS in mind when he wrote his dialogues? Well, no,
The idea is that you should check for your mistakes when you write. The practical part here
is that you shouldnt check for mistakes generally thats too hard and probably a waste of
time in the exam. What isnt a waste of time though is to look for mistakes you know you
can correct the ones you normally make!

The really practical thing is to have your own checklist in your head before you start writing.

7. See the whole essay in your head before you start writing
8. Focus on the backbone of your essay
This is a related point. All the essay matters of course, but perhaps some bits matter more
than others. Id suggest the practical thing to do is concentrate on the backbone of your
essay, the bits that help you write better and the examiner to understand better. The
backbone is:

The introduction: this should identify the question and outline your position. Dont rush
it as it is the first thing the examiner will read. First impressions count.

2. The first/topic sentences of each paragraph: these should be clear and to the point.
They should identify exactly what that paragraph is about and show how it relates to the rest
of the essay. The practical tip is to keep the detail/clever ideas for the body of the paragraph.
Start off general and then build towards the specific.
3. The conclusion: this is the easiest part of the essay normally. Most often, all you need to
do is go back to the introduction and rephrase it
Get these bits right and the rest of the essay tends to take care of itself.

9. Dont just practice whole essays

10. Focus on the question and refocus on the question
Write Better Paragraphs- Start with a simple sentence.
Part of your job in answering IELTS essay questions is to give a clear answer that the
examiner can follow. One way you can do that is by following this simple tip
keep the first sentence in each topic paragraph simple dont try and say
too much too soon

Why is this a good idea?

Typically, it is a good idea to go from the general to the particular first of all make it
clear what you want to say generally, then add details/explanations later. It can also
actually be easier to write this way in the exam when you are under pressure. It really
can help to follow this sort of routine:
1. What do I want to say? general idea
2. How can I explain it? reasons

3. Can I think of any examples? examples

Problems often happen when reasons and examples get put in the first sentence when
you try to explain your idea without saying what it is first.

See two examples

To see what I mean, take a look at these two paragraphs below. They are both about
complex topics and express quite complex ideas. They do, however, start simply. Note

the shortest sentence in each paragraph is the first one (thats not a rule!)

I dont give reasons (use because) or examples in the first sentence

I do use more complex structures (relatives and if clauses), but I keep them for my reasons and
examples once the examiner is clear about my point of view

Do you believe that credit cards will replace cash payments?

It is highly likely that credit cards will replace cash in the foreseeable future. [Yes I do
think they will simple] The main reason why this will probably occur is that it is
cashless transactions are more convenient for both consumers and
businesses. [Why?]Just one example of this is that individuals will not need to worry
about exchanging currency when they travel abroad or purchase goods and services
from another country. [I explain more with an example] Likewise, companies are bound
to prefer a cashless system in which they are able to reach an international market
without the restrictions that cash payments can bring. [Heres another example and a
complex idea explained even though I started simply]
Who should look after the elderly? The government by providing care
homes or families?
There is a strong argument for saying that families should take the major responsibility
for caring for their elderly relatives. [I think families should do it simple] This is
largely based on the fact that children owe a debt to the parents who brought them up
when they young and it would therefore be morally wrong if they abandoned them when
they most needed care. [Now the reason why its about duty]So, the children of the
elderly should be prepared to make sacrifices in their careers and home life to provide
for their parents and this is especially true when they are sick and incapable of looking
after themselves. [A more complex sentence explaining the idea]

Linking Paragraphs in a an essay:

This is a quick lesson to remind you that linking paragraphs in an essay is a key skill in
task 2. The idea is that the examiner should immediately understand the structure of
your essay as s/he reads it. The skill you need is to show how your topic paragraphs
relate to each other. My tip is not to try to be clever, but make the obvious obvious.
Dont let the examiner misunderstand you!
How do you do this? Ill give you three examples of my own below. But first here are the
key skills you need:
1. make it clear what each topic paragraph is about
2. use simple language to express the main idea
3. re-read your first topic paragraph before you write the second
4. borrow language from one paragraph in the next

Make it clear what you want to say in BOTH paragraphs

The first skill you need is to make it clear what you want to say in each paragraph.
Normally, you want to do this in the first sentence of the paragraph. The reason for
doing this is that it allows the examiner to follow the structure of your argument. Look
at one of my examples. You should see immediately what the paragraphs are about and
how they relate to each other.
One reason why the loss of print books would be a step backwards is that people
would probably just read less.
A second reason for believing that it would not be beneficial for the internet to
replace traditional books relates to quality.
I hope it is clear that the two paragraphs balance each other by giving two different
reasons why the internet should not replace books. How have I done this? I kept it
simple all Im trying to do here is be clear about what I will say.

Dont be afraid of using simple language to express the main

In some ways this is just to repeat what I have just said. But I do want to emphasise how
simple language can be very effective and get you band score 9.0. I have many different
ways to talk about advantages and disadvantages. But sometimes it is better not to show
off. Here all Im trying to do is show the examiner how my two paragraphs relate, so I
use simpler language:

The clearest advantage of this new technology is that it enables people to read at their
own convenience and whenever they want.
There are of course some disadvantages to this technology.
This one is of course an advantage/disadvantage essay. So here I just concentrate on
showing the examiner what each paragraph is about and how they relate to each other.

Read your first topic paragraph before you write the second
topic paragraph
This is I believe a top tip. It is very easy to get lost in writing your essay when you are
under pressure. I suggest you stand back a little give yourself little breaks. One time
you could do this is when you start a new paragraph. Dont start writing immediately.
Rather I suggest you go back and read what you have just written first. If you do this,
you are much, much more likely to link your paragraphs together. See this example:
There is some reason to believe that newspapers and books will not survive into the
future in their current form.
Despite this, it is still likely that traditional print media will not completely disappear
for a variety of reasons.
This time I simply start my second content paragraph with a reference to what I have
said in the first. How can I do that? By knowing what I have just written.

Dont be afraid to borrow/repeat language

This is where I believe some candidates especially high level ones go wrong. They
believe that they need to use new and different words all the time. In fact, it helps your
coherence and cohesion if you repeat words some of the time. One place to do this is
when you are trying to show how your writing links together. Look again at my first
example where I repeat the word reason. I do this on purpose to show the examiner
how the two paragraphs link.
One reason why the loss of print books would be a step backwards is that people
would probably just read less.
A second reason for believing that it would not be beneficial for the internet to
replace traditional books relates to quality.

An exercise in linking paragraphs in an essay

Look at these very similar task 2 questions. They are all about the same topic, but the
task in each case is slightly different.

What is the task in each case? Try and say in your own words what the question is
asking you to do.
Some people believe that the internet will replace traditional books in the
future. Do you believe this would be a positive or a negative development?
As technology progresses, so has the way we read books and many people
now prefer to read using new forms of technology such as e-readers. What
are the advantages and disadvantages of this new form of publication?
Some people believe that newspapers and books will eventually be replaced
by new forms of technology such as the e-reader and the internet. What is
your opinion?

Improve your IELTS essays- Ask yourself 4 simple

Understand the instructions
The first step is to read and understand the question. The good news is that the
instructions are always the same. They always say:
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own
knowledge or experience.
To be clear, they tell you to do 3 things:
1. answer the questions
2. give reasons why
3. give examples for those reasons

This brings me to my simple suggestion. DO NOT PLAN IDEAS. Rather, I suggest you
plan much more precisely. You plan the 3 things the questions tells you must write
1. your answer (point of view)
2. reasons
3. examples

A practical technique ask yourself questions

I find that if I ask student in class for ideas, they often look at me and say nothing.
Thinking about ideas is difficult. But if I ask the same student the question Do you
agree that.?, they will give me an answer. Then if I ask Why?, they will tell me. Then
if I ask for examples, they will be able to give me those too. So, this is what I suggest you
do in your thinking/planning time. Forget about ideas you may go blank like my
students. Instead ask yourself these questions:
1. What is the question? (this is a really, really, really important first step that too
many people forget to do there is always a precise question that you need to answer)
2. What is my point of view? (the answer to this will depend on the question of
course, but very often the answer is surprisingly simple: something like I agree or I
disagree or I agree up to a point)
3. Why? (You must ask yourself this because the question tells you to give reasons.
4. What examples can I think of? (Again, this is compulsory as the questions asks
for examples)

How to use academic caution in IELTS for

One way to use cautious language in IELTS is to allow yourself to extend your answer in
a logical and natural way. This matters because this will make your speech more
coherent. Let me explain this with a brief example. Look at these two statements and
decide which one is easier to extend:
1. Young people watch too much television.
2. Most young people tend to watch too much television.

For me, it is much easier to extend B because I have the natural next sentence of:
But some dont and prefer to go out with their friends. By using the cautious most I
almost automatically get to some and achieve coherence. If you choose option A you
may find it difficult to think of the next thing to say.

What language do you need?

To make this work you need three areas of language.
opinion language: it helps to have a range of opinion language, especially for weak
opinions. You use this to introduce your view (see IELTS speaking opinion
concession language: this is the language of although but however and on the
other hand. You use this to introduce the next sentence/point of view.
cautious language: see the download for some suggestions here.

Cautious language download

Academic caution vocabulary (40441)

How to deal with difficult questions in speaking part 3 by

being cautious
In part 3 speaking you can expect to be asked questions that you have not thought about
before. There is no problem if you know what you want to say and you can follow the
normal pattern for a coherent answer:

make your statement

explain it a little

explain a bit more or give an example

come back to the question

Example 1 you know what you want to say

Here is the direct approach with no cautious language.
How do you think your city will change in the next 20 years?

I guess it will be about twice the size it is now because the population is growing
rapidly. There are a lot of new industries that have been set up there recently, so
people want to move there. Just to give you one example: in my own street at least 10
new houses have been built in the last 2 years alone. So, as I was saying, Id say itll
double in size in the next 20 years.
But could you do this, if you didnt know what you wanted to say? Quite possibly not.
What you may need to do is give yourself some thinking time.

Example 2 you dont know what you want to say be more

Now look at this example. Here the speaker doesnt know what to say at the beginning of
the answer but still makes a coherent response. I have highlighted the key language in
red. There are 4 points to note:
1. repeat/reflect the language of the question at the start to give thinking time and to get the
language in your head
2. the use of a weak opinion word (suppose) allows you to change your mind later
3. the use of might/may allows you to change your mind half way through and stay coherent
4. the use of although coherently links the two different ideas together

How do you think your city will change in the next 20 years?
How do I think it will change? Thats a tough question and one I havent thought about
before.I suppose it might be pretty much the same as it is now. Although now I come to
think of it, there are a lot of new industries that have been set up there recently and
people want to move there. Just to give you one example: in my own street at least 10
new houses have been built in the last 2 years alone. So, I suppose it may grow
substantially in the next 20 years.

This is the basic pattern used. Please note that it is just one alternative and should not
be learned by heart.

Part 3 speaking practice

Here are some direct opinions. See if you can make them more cautious and think of
ways to extend your answer:
Q: What factors influence peoples choice when they decide on a career?
A: People choose their careers because of the salary
Q: Do you think students should get some work experience before deciding on a fulltime career?
A: Yes I believe that students should get some work experience first.
Q: What sort of jobs do young people choose in your country?
A: Law is the most popular choice.
Q: Do people in your country often change jobs?
A: People in my country dont like to change their job.
Q: Is there much unemployment in your country?
A: Unemployment is not a big problem in my country.
Q: When people write a CV what should they highlight?
A: The most important thing to highlight in a CV is work experience

Obviously the word you will use most is because but there are some useful variations.

1. because , as a resultand as a consequence are used with a verb and because of,as a result
of and as a consequence of with a noun
2. some people believe you shouldnt start sentences with because. This is rubbish but in the
exam it may be sensible not to do it
3. due to is normally used with negative situations and thanks to with positive situations

Cause verbs
A useful variation is to use because as a verb. Here are the 3 main variations

1. you cause something to happen but it results in something happening

Other related verbs

These verbs can also sometimes be used to describe cause and effect


1. please note the spelling of affect as a verb and do not confuse it with effect the noun. Just to
confuse you, the pronunciation is identical

The essential nouns are of course cause and effect but there are alternatives here;

1. you talk about the cause of something but the reason for it

Talking about the size of the problem

An important group of climate vocabulary and ideas is to say how large the problem is:
crisis: Climate change is a crisis that cannot be ignored by governments.
record levels/amount: Despite the claims of some scientists, we are now
producing record levels of CO2 and there is no dispute about the connection between
this and global warming.
disaster/disastrous: It is not an exaggeration to say that the effects of global
warming are disastrous.
global: Although some areas are relatively unaffected now, climate change is a
global problem.
irreversible: The major concern is that the effects of our actions on the climate will
be irreversible.
long-term: The effects of our use of fossil fuels today may last for generations and it is
almost certain to have long-term consequences for humanity.

Negative Effects
This group of climate change vocabulary gives you language to explain what the effects
are. As you read through the examples note the different language I use for effects and
ill-health: It sometimes goes unnoticed that there is a clear connection
between climate change and ill-health.
floods/rainstorms: One result of the rising temperatures is that floods
and rainstorms are now a frequent occurrence.

the Polar ice cap: One major concern is that rising temperatures in the Arctic are
causing the Polar ice cap to melt, which in turn is leading to rising sea levels.
heatwaves and droughts: Most experts agree that there is an increased risk
of heatwaves and other extreme weather conditions.
the natural world: Climate change will not only have a severe impact on people, but
also devastate the natural world and lead to the extinction of important
food shortages: We are already seeing in many parts of the world that climate
change is leading to food shortages as a direct consequence of extreme weather
housing/homelessness: One side-effect of rising sea levels is that more and more
people who live by the coast will become homeless.
conflicts/wars: If no action is taken on climate change, then it is likely that there will
be more conflicts between nations, especially over water supplies.
cost: It has been shown that any delay in making emission cuts will increase the
cost of reducing carbon dioxide by almost 50%.

You may also need to discuss the causes of climate change too. You dont need any very
technical knowledge and this vocabulary should be enough. Again, note the cause
human activity: It is no longer possible to say that human activity does not
affect weather conditions.
greenhouse gas emissions: If we are to halt climate change, we need to make
substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
power stations: One of the leading causes of climate change is the number of dirty
power stations using fossil fuels.
carbon emissions: Carbon emissions are still rising year by year and are at
record levels.
illegal logging and deforestation: It should not be forgotten that illegal
logging in the Amazon Basin is still a major factor in climate change.
burning fossil fuels: Individuals can make a small contribution by not burning
wood and other fossil fuels.
CO2: The root cause of much global warming is the amount of CO2 in the

Possible solutions

These words and phrases show different kinds of solutions. Some show what should be
done (use more renewable energy and invest money), others show how it should be done
(quickly and together).
wind and solar power: An obvious solution is to deploy much more wind and
solar power.
renewable energy: Wind farms and other sources of renewable energy will
help to reduce Co2 emissions to an acceptable level.
international action/cooperation: International action on climate change could
have a significant impact.
quick/immediate action: Any action should be immediate because this is not a
problem that can be delayed.
investment: There should be greater incentives to invest in renewables and to
reduce the current reliance on fossil fuels.
decommission power stations: It goes without saying that coal-fuelled power
stations should be decommissioned.
protest/campaign: Individuals can help force governments to act by taking part
in legal protests against the continuing use of fossil fuels.
energy efficiency and waste: A greater emphasis on energy efficiency and
reducing waste would undoubtedly mean that less fuel was consumed.

Ways of taking action

Climate change is a problem that almost everyone can agree on. When you have a
problem, you need to take action. These words and phrases give you a variety of ways of
saying that. Note the different structures used with these verbs.
cope: It is clear that national governments are no longer able to cope
by themselves with the problem.
tackle: A global solution is necessary as only international bodies will be able
to tackle climate change.
avert: Investment in renewable energy will help avert the impact of the CO2
prevent: The only way to prevent a disaster is to reduce these emissions to zero.
act/take action: Governments should take decisive action to halt global warming.
fight/combat: A way needs to be found to make combatting global warming that
is affordable.
sustainable and affordable: The key is to ensure that all countries around the world
have the chance to adopt energy

How individuals can help

You may be asked what we as individuals can do about climate change. Here are some
ideas there are plenty of them:
lobby MPs: If enough of us lobbied our MPs and other elected
representatives then they would have to bring in legislation.
participate in peaceful protests: Another possibility is to take part in
marches and other peaceful protests to apply pressure on governments and raise
awareness of the issue..
community projects: In some areas there are small-scale community
projects to encourage local residents to install solar panels and, in some places, help
pay for them.
share transport: We also have the responsibility to consider how we contribute to
global warming by making unnecessary car journeys. We can always cycle to work,
have a joint school run with other parents and even share a car on the daily
commute to work.
diet and our carbon footprint: Reducing food wastage is perhaps the way
individuals can minimise their carbon footprint and so help global warming.
energy-efficient lightbulbs: Another small way in which we can use less energy is
to switch to energy efficient lightbulbs.
solar panels: There are an increasing number of solar panels on the market and
these can not only reduce energy bills but also mean that less carbon fuel is consumed.
heat insulation: Likewise, it is important that people insulate their houses
well so that less gas and electricity is consumed.


Golden rules

1. make sure you answer the question

2. either summarise or restate your position
3. do not use new information
4. aim for 2/3 sentences

1. Make sure you answer the question as it is asked. For example, if the question asks you to what extent,
make sure your conclusion says how much you agree.

2. Balance your introduction and conclusion using the sandwich technique

3. Vary your vocabulary: do not repeat the language of your introduction or the question word for word
4. Do not try and include too much information: state your position and choose your best argument for or
against. Do not try and summarise all your arguments.

How to structure essays :

Read and understand the question
One key to it is understand the question and to be clear about what you want to say in
your response. Clear thinking leads to clear writing.As ever, the first step is to read and
understand the question. Here is the question today:
Despite advances in medicine there are concerns that certain diseases
such as diabetes are increasing and some people believe future
generations will face greater problems with health and die younger than
we do today.
What is your opinion?
This question asks you to:
1. give your opinion this must be clear in the introduction and the conclusion
2. about whether health will be better in future this means that you need to talk about the future
and now there must be some comparison
3. about whether people will live longer this needs to be mentioned to

All these things must be included.

Think about the examiner make your opinion and

structure clear give your essay a backbone
IELTS essays get marked quickly. You dont want to allow the examiner to make a
mistake. So make life easy for him/her by showing the structure of your essay as clearly
as possible. There are 4 places you do this what I think of as being the spine of the
essay. (your spine is your backbone its what keeps you upright and gives you your
1. the introduction thats the first thing they read and where you make your first impression and
first impressions count
2. the first sentence of each paragraph (x2) examiners are taught that each paragraph should
have one main idea show them what it is in the first sentence
3. the conclusion thats the last thing they read and the first thing they remember!

The key is link these things together so that

the introduction matches the conclusion the opinion/point of view is the same: you just need
to change the language

the two body paragraphs link to the opinion/point view in the introduction

To do this try this simple essay structure plan. It may just look like 4 boxes on a blank
piece of paper , but it might save your life!

The process of writing the IELTS essays:

The key word in the title of this lesson is process. The idea is that if you want to write a
successful exam essay, it helps to think of the essay not just as a product but something
that is produced as a result of the process of writing. If you miss out on one of the stages
of this process, then the essay itself may not work.To get this right, it helps to
understand the different stages in the process of writing and what you want to achieve at
each stage of the process.
And so what you will find here is

a little bit more about why I think it helps to concentrate on the process of writing an essay

a suggested process with explanation about what you should think about in each stage

advice on common mistakes that can happen if a stage in the process is missed out

a practice exercise

I should add that there is no magic formula here. This is just one process that I believe
works for IELTS essays. You may be familiar with other processes. Thats fine.
The smart candidate will adapt what they read here to themselves.

Why writing should be a process avoiding two very

common problems
1. incoherence essays that do not fit together
If you think of your writing as a process, then you are much more likely to go through all
the stages of an essay (step 1, step 2. step 3 etc) and to recognise the importance of each
part of an essay. This way you are more likely to make your writing coherent. If,
however, you think of an essay as a whole product , it is much easier to miss out a vital
step and the essay as a result becomes incoherent.

2. the wrong essay an essay you already know or the

wrong question
The danger with pre-planned essays is that they dont answer the question. You sit down
and start writing an essay which is already in your head and not one that answers the
question in front of you.
Alternatively, you may get a question type that you are unfamiliar with. In this situation,
it helps to have a routine or process you can rely on. You can still answer the question,
even if it seems to be a question type you dont know. Learn the skill of writing an essay,
learn the process of exam essay writing and life becomes easier.

The pre-writing process

In many many cases, this is where things go wrong and this is the part of the process
that gets forgotten in the heat of the exam. There is always time for this part of the
process its not something that should be automatic and forgotten.

Stage 1 read and understand the question

Many good essays go wrong simply because they dont answer the question that is
being asked. All IELTS essay questions have a precise question that needs to be
answered. If you fail to give time to reading and understanding the question, you are
most unlikely to answer it well. A possible problem here is that some candidates may
come from an academic background where it is enough to write about the general topic
within the question. That doesnt work in IELTS. To avoid this common mistake simply
make giving enough time to read and understand the question part of your writing
Common mistakes

You get an essay topic, you have written before. You write the same answer. The question is

You write about a general topic, not the question itself.

You simply misunderstand what the question is asking you to do.

Stage 2 think dont just plan, really think

I could call this stage in the process Plan. Here I prefer the word Think. The danger
with plans are that they may be ready-made and they may not fit the question in front of
you. I prefer the word Think because it is more likely to get you looking at the question
in front of you and deciding how you can answer it using your language, knowledge and
experience at that moment. Part of the point is that you should treat each different essay
as a new essay. You can borrow structures/ideas/language from essays you have written
in the past, but you need to make certain they apply to the question in front of you. That
means thinking: thinking not just about what to include but what not to include. Your
ideas must link together to form a whole that requires more thought.
Common mistakes

The ideas and examples are fine, they dont relate to the question as it is asked

You start writing and then half way through you realise that your essay doesnt make sense its
too late to start over

The writing process

I think it can help to divide the writing process into 3 to reflect the 3 parts of your essay.
Each part of your essay does a different job to do, so why not treat each part of the essay
as a different stage in the process?

Stage 3 write an introduction look both backwards and

The intro matters for various reasons. Not the least of these is that it is the first thing the
examiner reads. Get it wrong and you have made an immediate bad impression. Thats
not good. Another point to focus on in this part of the process is that the intro is the link
between the question and your answer. In this stage of the process, I suggest you need to
ensure that you are looking back at the question (to make sure that you are writing
about the right thing) and forwards towards your answer (that anyone reading knows
what you are talking about).
Common problem to be avoided

You dont identify the question correctly

Its not clear what your position to the question is

Stage 4 develop your ideas in the main body be clear

about what you think and explain it
To me, this stage of the process is slightly different and it requires you to think in a
different way. The idea is that you dont just need to give an answer to the question: the
answer needs to be coherent. This largely means two things. Firstly, you need to make
sure that your ideas are clear one main idea per paragraph. You also need to be able to
explain those ideas and show why/how they relate to the question.
Common problems

Theres too much detail and it isnt clear what the main idea is

The ideas arent supported with reasons and examples

The ideas are good but they dont relate to the question

Stage 5 summarise the ideas in your conclusion make

sure your essay is a whole
No essay would be complete without a conclusion of course. The writing skill is slightly
different here too. I would suggest that it is different because it is a reading then writing
skill you cant very well write a conclusion until/unless you have read your essay. This
is because your conclusion makes your essay complete by going back to the introduction
and reflecting the question there and also looking back to the main body and picking out
your main points there. Itsa different writing skill because you are trying to say as much
as possible in only a few words that is what a summary is!
Common mistakes

sometimes the conclusion doesnt get written that means you havent written an essay

sometimes the conclusion doesnt match the content of the essay or, even worse, it doesnt
answer the question

Stage 6 go over what you wrote

The reality of exam essays is that you only have one chance to get it right. You dont have
time to write it once and then improve it as you would with a piece of real academic
writing. That said, it is important to check what you write. My personal suggestion is
that this stage of the process gets repeated during the entire writing stage do not leave
it to the end. Thats almost certainly too late.

Read and understand the essay First

The emphasis of this lesson is only this: that it pays to spend time reading and
understanding the question. The general message is that while this is normally a
simple step in the essay writing process, it is vitally important because:

there is always a question to be answered it wont just be about a general topic

your essay needs to focus on that question as it is asked this is Task Response 25% of your

more generally, many IELTS essays go wrong before they have even started as the question isnt
identified or understood

To help with this. I briefly talk you through 5 possible ideas to help you understand
questions. Most of ideas are very simple and in exams simple tends to be good. There
are also a couple of exercises for you to test your skills.

Thinking about questions 5 ideas to consider

Here are 5 different ways to think about questions. You dont need to use them all. All I
suggest is that consider them all and choose the one(s) that work for you. The rule, as
ever, is to do what works although you may find that what doesnt work now may work
later, and that if you keep on doing only the same thing, your writing may not improve
but stay the same.
1. analyse the question find the task
The idea here is to break the question down into parts and look at what is the task and
what is background information only. Typically, IELTS essay questions come in two
parts: the first part introduces the topic/background information and the second part
tells you what you have to write. That second bit is the task and the task is the bit your
essay must answer.
2. underline key words

If you are a more visual thinker, then it can help to underline/highlight key words to
make you focus on the question. There is a danger here though that you focus too much
on those words and ignore the meaning of the question as a whole.
3. rephrase the question in your words
This may seem to be a waste of time in the exam, but it can in fact be very practical. The
benefit of doing this is that you are much more likely to understand the question if you
put it into your own words. Also, it need not be a waste of time because you are very
likely going to rephrase the question in your introduction too and you can use what you
write in the intro.
4. categorise the question/essay
Some people like to put essays into categories such as opinion essay discussion essay
argument essay etc and decide to answer the question based on a certain model. To do
this, you look at the question and decide what type of essay it wants. This can help
because it makes the planning of your essay less stressful its already half done. Id add

you want to be flexible in how you use your models and remember to focus on the question in
front of you. This is especially true if you want a high band score, then you need to learn to vary
your models or have a much greater range of models.

you get a mark for answering the question , not writing a discussion essay or following a
particular model. The examiners do not have a special set of criteria for different models of essay
and it can be misleading to think that any one question must be written according to one model.

5. count the questions

Questions vary. Some questions require more than one answer. These can be dangerous
questions because if you only answer one part of it, you will lose considerably on Task
Response. Simple answer. Count how many questions there are

A key stage in writing the IELTS exam essay is the planning stage. Very often whether
you write an effective essay depends on how well you think before you start writing. The
trouble is that often it does not get done or done inefficiently.
This lesson is divided into 2 main sections.In the first the emphasis is on making sure
that your plans are practical that they fit your essay. The second section simply
outlines different things you might want to plan . The overall concept is that the more

clearly you think before the writing phase, the clearer and the better your
essay will be. The key word there for me is think.
Planning though does tend to be a very personal process and different things will work
for different people. This is part of the reason for giving you options. There is little right
or wrong and the question is: does it work? Try the ideas if they work, use them if
they dont, try something else!

Planning stage
Exam practicalities be prepared before the exam
practice and learn some skills

Make a plan for how long you plan before you walk into the exam room, you should know
more or less how long you expect to plan for

Know how you will plan the exam is not a time for experimentation there are different
ways of making plans find out which way(s) works for you before the exam

Know what you will plan there are different things you may plan know what you
personally need to plan before the exam

Planning for a purpose make sure your plan is practical

Its important that you make your plan practical. A good plan doesnt need to look good,
it needs to help you write an essay under pressure. Here are 3 ideas to give your plan a
purpose so that it helps you write better. Sometimes plans go wrong or arent made
simply because they arent practical.
Am I clear in my own head about what I want to say? Can I summarise it?
Aim: If youre not clear in your own head, then your writing almost certainly wont be.
Clarity is key to a good IELTS essay -without it youll lose both on Task response and
Skill: Try doing the Twitter thing and summarising your point of view to the question in
140 characters before you start writing. It needt be 140 characters of course, but if you
cant write a short summary statement before you start writing, then quite possibly your
ideas arent quite clear enough.
Practical use: Depending on how you write the essay, you can then use this summary
in either your intro or conclusion.
Can I see the structure of the essay in my head? Can I draw my essay?
Aim: The idea here is that your essay should form one complete whole. Sometimes in
the process of writing it is easy to get lost in the detail of what youre trying to say. The

solution is to make sure that you can see in your head (or on a piece of paper) what the
final essay will look like.
Skill: What I personally do here is draw a picture of my essay.Its much quicker than
writing things out and visual often works. How much detail you include will depend on
you. I typically dont include much as I am concentrating on the structure of the essay,
not the detail.
Practical use: This is practical as drawing a plan is quicker than writing one and time
is of the essence.

I choose to put not much detail on my drawn plan just the main ideas and notes of
reasons and examples. I use it as a map and I find too much detail can confuse. You may
like to put more detail there. Experiment.
Do I know what details to include? Can I tell my main points from my
examples and reasons?
Aim: The idea here is to make sure that you are able to support your arguments with
supporting reasons/examples. One reason some essays go wrong is that the main ideas
are not supported. Its no good having a great idea in an IELTS essay unless you can
explain it.
Skill: It often helps to categorise your ideas. You want to sort out what are main
points and what are supporting reasons and examples.If you can do this, you have made
a big step towards writing coherent paragraphs paragraphs that are made up of main
points, supported by reasons and ideas.
Practical use: This is extremely practical. When you get to write your main
paragraphs, you should be much better able to combine your ideas so that are coherent
with the main idea supported by reasons and examples.

What to plan -some different options

Another way of thinking about plans and making them practical is to think precisely
about what you want to plan. The idea here is that you dont just plan, you go into the
exam room knowing what you are going to plan. That way you have a better chance of
using your time wisely. Id suggest that these 5 options are all things you should
consider thinking about and planning before you start writing.

1.Your position to the question

What:This means that you should be clear about whether you agree/disagree etc.
Why: The examiner looks for a clearly established and coherent position throughout the
essay: if you dont have this in your head before you start, your essay will lose on Task
Response and Coherence
Tip: Its a simple thing.Read the task words in the question. If it says To what extent do
you agree or disagree, make a sentence saying I agree with this idea to some extent
2. The structure of the essay
What: You need to decide how many paragraphs you will write and what the function of
each paragraph is, ie supporting or disagreeing.
Model essay plans note: many candidate like to follow model plans. That can work.
It doesnt mean that you dont need to think about them in the exam though. The model
must fit the question.
3. The vocabulary you want to use
What:this may seem a little strange but it can work. If you are familiar with
brainstorming techniques, it is sometimes easier to come up with words than ideas. You
often find then that those words give you

A top tip dont think of ideas, think of main points, reasons

and examples
The reason for this is that you dont need ideas, you need main points, reasons and
examples to write complete paragraphs and you need to be clear about which is which.
4.The main points:
What: these are often very simple and may be no more than I agree or I disagree. One
of your aims should be to be clear and it helps to keep your main points as clear as
5.Supporting reasons
What and why: these may be more complex.You need them because both Task
Response and Coherence require you to support your ideas.
Tip: It is sometimes as simple as asking yourself the question Why do I think this?
6. Examples
Why: Examples are useful as they help you expand your main points into complete
Tip: Your examples do not need to be clever. The rubric asks you to use examples
from your own knowledge and experience. To get examples,it can help to ask yourself
the question about examples you know of personally.In exams it is often easier to think
of memories.

One final tip learn to select that means not including all
your ideas
Many essays go wrong because they try and include too much everything that is in the
plan. If you want to write a coherent essay in exam time, you need to make sure that all
your ideas fit together. Choose the ones that suit argument,leave out the ones that dont
no matter how good they are.

Introduction Link between essay and question

Overview the introduction looking backwards and
A good place to start is to understand the introductions role in the essay. One possible
way of doing this is just to see it as the link between your essay and the
question it looks both backwards to the question and forwards to what you will write
in the essay. If you understand that the question always asks you to write an answer
saying what you think about that question (whether in opinion/argument/discussion
format), then you should see that the intro should:
1. explain the question
2. outline your position in relation to it

Identifying the question looking backwards

The next step is to be aware of two problems that you may face when identifying the
question. A problem known is a problem at least half-solved.
Complex questions
Disruptive school students have a negative influence on others. Students who are noisy
and disobedient should be grouped together and taught separately.
Do you agree or disagree?
If you look at this question, you should see that it is complex as are most IELTS questions. It is
complex because it contains different parts. There is the background info Disruptive school
students have a negative influence on others, the proposition Students who are noisy and
disobedient should be grouped together and taught separately and the task Do you agree or
My best suggestion is that with questions such as these you should make sure that your intro
identifies both what I call here the background and the proposition. This may mean your
introduction is slightly longer, but it should ensure that you answer the complete question. If
you dont, you may lose on Task Response and Coherence.

Repeating the question

A second problem you may face is that you simply repeat the question. This is serious
because if you use the same wording as the question, the examiner may simply delete
those words. You think you have written 260 words, but in fact it is only230 words.
There will be penalised on Task Response heavily.

Tip: learn the skill of summary writing

A useful (perhaps necessary) skill here is the skill of summarising. To do this, you need
to understand that you can use words from the question sometimes you have no
choice as the word used is simply the correct word and it would be a mistake to change
it. What you should not do is repeat whole blocks of words. How can you do this in an
exam? Try this technique.

Read the question

Note key words think of any synonyms

Rewrite the question from those words without looking at the question (if you do, it is
much harder not to repeat things)

Look back at the question to see if you have covered all the main points

You may find this easier, if you have planned vocabularyearlier.

Exercise test your summary skills

Look at this question and then read my summary notes. Can you write an introduction
using those notes or your own words.
Disruptive school students have a negative influence on others. Students who are noisy
and disobedient should be grouped together and taught separately.
Do you agree or disagree?
My own version uses some original words from the question and some phrases of my
own. I wrote it looking at these notes. Some words I use, some I dont and some others I
change. These are just notes.

disruptive [create disturbance synonym]

school children [school children cant think of another word pupils(?)]

do not pay attention to the teacher [noisy and disobedient]

bad effect [negative influence on others synonym]

by themselves [separately synonym]

have own class [grouped together similar idea ]

See my introduction

Exercise write the question

Heres an exercise you can try with one of your own essays. Read the essay introduction
and then write the question. If you have written the intro well,you should also be able to
rewrite the question.
The introduction
There is some dispute whether the best method of assessing students is to use
examinations or some form of continuous assessment. This is a complex issue and my
belief is that there is probably no one method that applies to all educational systems.
See the question

Outlining your position looking forwards

My other very strong suggestion for the introduction is to outline your position. This is
the part that looks forward to the rest of the essay. The reason for doing this is that to
get a high score for Coherence and Task Response, you need to have a consistent
position throughout the essay and that includes the intro.
Two different approaches
There are different ways of outlining your position in an introduction. Broadly, these fall
into two categories either you give your answer/opinion or you simply say how you
will approach the question. Both can work.
1.Give the answer at the beginning
Here you state what you think in the intro. For example:
Some people believe that parents should teach children how to be good
members of society. Others,however, believe that school is the place to
learn this. Discuss both views and give your opinion
A childs education has never been about learning information and basic skills only. It
has always included teaching the next generation how to be good members of
society. Therefore this cannot be the responsibility of the parents alone. (Cambridge
IELTS 8 model answer)
More complex examples may also include reference to the reasons for the point of view.
This adds coherence to the essay by linking forward to the main paras. Though if you
want to do this you should normally try to use only a few words. The content is for the
main paras.
2.Say how you will approach the question
Here you dont give your opinion up front, you just say how you will approach the
Some believe museums should entertain people, while others believe their
purpose is to educate. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Museums often represent different things to different people. On the one hand, many
people feel a museums primary purpose is to entertain. However, others feel they
function to house an educational resource. The merits of both arguments will be
analyzed before a conclusion is decided upon. IELTS Writing Blog
Which is better? Neither though my preference is for the first type. You might note
that both these questions are Discuss questions. There is always more than one
approach available.

How many sentences?

There is no answer to this. It is perfectly possible to write a good intro to an IELTS essay
in 2 sentences. It is also possible to write 4 sentences. Two points to note though are:
1. the introduction is a map to the essay you want to spend as much time writing the content of
the essay as as possible. The more time you spend on the intro, the less you have for the content
2. some questions are more complex than others and have 2 parts. These questions may need
longer introductions

The content paragraphs some checklists for before

you write
The main body of your essay is the most important part and requires the most thought. In
this lesson I give you some checklists of things to think about as you write, or before you
write, the main paras. It is good to focus on what you are trying to do before you write,but
there is a danger that you will confuse yourself if you try and think of too many things. If
so, remember just this: your writing score is

25% Task response

25% Coherence and Cohesion

25% Vocabulary

25% Grammar
If you are well prepared, then that may be enough information. I would emphasise,
however, that it still pays to stop before you write each paragraph and ask yourself
how you will answer the task, be coherent and cohesive, use a range of vocab and
write accurately. You might even do this before each sentence!

Coherence linking your thoughts

Coherence is how well your ideas link together and is the skill of making sense it is
something you should focus on as you write. In essays, it works at two levels and as you
write you need to think about both of these:
1. Do the paragraphs link together so that my essay makes sense.? This is a question of essay
2. Do the sentences in the paragraphs link together so that the paragraphs make sense? This is
a question of paragraph structure.

Essay structure is coherence decide on the role of paragraphs

Nearly all IELTS essays follow a simple structure. There are either going to be 4 or 5
paragraphs in all with 2 or 3 body paragraphs. These paragraphs will generally do one of 3
things: support each other by making the same point in a different way, say something that
takes the opposite point of view or make a separate point altogether. This means that in the
exam you have to answer 2 questions:
1. How many paragraphs am I going to write?
2. Will those paragraphs support each other, take opposite views or make separate points
My best suggestion when you think about the essay structure is that you dont worry
about the type of essay you are writing: Opinion/Argument etc. You just answer
those 2 questions. This is a simpler approach and there is always more than one way to
answer a question. All you need to worry about is whether your approach is logical and
answers the question in front of you.

Essay structure is topic sentences too identify the main

points in your first/topic sentences
If you have planned well, you should already know your essay structure particularly if you
have drawn an essay map. All the same I do think it is wise to refocus on this as you begin
each content paragraph. The goal is to make sure that what you are about to write does link
back to the introduction. In practical terms, this means that you make sure that the first
sentence in each paragraph clearly states what that paragraph is about and that idea
is found in the introduction these are the famous topic sentences.
Top tip: Keep your topic sentences simple and to the point.Their function is not to say
anything clever,just to say where you are in your argument.


Sometimes it is easier to see the problem when something goes wrong. Try this.

See the example

Paragraph structure is coherence

You also need to focus on making sure your paragraphs make sense. Again,this is where a
good plan really can help. In practical terms, my suggestion here is that before you write
each paragraph you should know how that paragraph finishes. If you write dynamically
and simply keep on adding ideas, then there is every chance the ideas may not work
together no matter how good they are. Here is a quick checklist for you to look at
before you write:
1. Do I know the one main idea of the paragraph?
2. Do I know the structure of the paragraph?Am I going to list or explain one point more fully?
3. Am I clear about what is the main idea,what is a supporting reason and what is an example?
4. Do the reasons and examples support the main idea?

Cohesion linking your words

This is the twin of coherence it is linking as well, but this time linking words rather than
ideas. You will probably learn most about the skills of cohesion before the exam. That does
not mean that you should forget it in the exam itself. Here are 2 practical things to think
about that may help you write better:
1. consider beginning each sentence with a linking idea this need not be a word like
Furthermore,often a pronoun like Thisworks just as well
2. consider using synonyms and words of the same family to link your writing this is a very
practical idea because it will also help your vocabulary

Grammar and Vocabulary

Oh yes, these matter too! You should of course make sure that you make as few mistakes
as possible. It can though sometimes be a problem if you focus too hard on these as you
write -particularly at lower levels if you worry about these too much either the essay doesnt
get finished or it isnt coherent . Here are a few thoughts for you that may be practical in the

know how you will finish a sentence before you start it a lot of mistakes are caused by
starting- stopping starting again. The first bit is ok. So is the second bit. They just dont
work together.

good vocab tends to be precise vocab precise vocab tends to come from examples

some of the best grammar you can use comes from qualifying your ideas (modals,
relatives and if clauses)- so if you want to use better grammar think about not having too
many general statements, but using one statement that you explain in different ways
You might note that there is a strong connection between these ideas and coherence, which
is part of the reason why I started this lesson talking about it. If you want to focus on just
one thing as you write your content paras, for many people coherence may be the
best answer

The conclusion a summary of the essay and an answer

to the question
In many ways, the conclusion is the easiest part of the essay to write. This is because it
simply summarises the rest of the essay you dont need to create any new ideas/words to
write it. This lesson suggests a strategy for writing exam essay conclusions. It is to read the
essay before you write the conclusion. If that seems too time-consuming, let me briefly
explain why I think its a good idea.
1. its easier to write the conclusion quickly you only need to restate what you have just readit gives you both words and ideas
2. if your conclusion doesnt match the rest of your essay, you will lose on both Task Response
and Coherence. It can be easy to change your ideas as you write an essay with the result that
your conclusion says something different than the rest of the essay

Two questions to ask before you write a conclusion

Below I suggest things to look for in your essay, before you write the conclusion. The ideas
are simple and the process wont take long at all. If that seems too much, try simply asking
yourself these two questions:
1. What is my answer? (for that you need to look at the question!)
2. Why do I say that? (for that you could look at your topic sentences)
Unless you focus on these two points, your essay conclusion could become incoherent.

The question and the conclusion

There is always a direct question to answer. You may outline your position in the
introduction, but the conclusion is where you answer it directly. It can be easy to forget
hopw the question was asked and simply write a general conclusion that does not say

what your answer is. So if the question asks you To what extent do you agree,your
conclusion must say how much you agree, not simply that you agree.
Tip: Reread the question to see what type of answer you should give: look at the task
words carefully

Read this essay question. Ask yourself what language you need to include in the conclusion
to answer it

See the question

The introduction and the conclusion

The introduction and the conclusion in many ways match each other. The introduction
identifies the question and looks forward to what the essay will include by outlining your
position. The conclusion does the same sort of thing: it answers the question and explains
the main points in the essay. One big difference is thatyour conclusion must explicitly
answer the question.
introduction: identify question + outline position/what essay will include
conclusion: answer question + explain the main points why
Tip: Read the introduction first: make sure your answer in the conclusion matches
the introduction dont give a different answer in the conclusion