Effective examples versus ineffective examples on your Task 2 essay?

Let me offer an analogy regarding the importance of examples: Examples are to an IELTS essay as a tent pole is to a tent. In other words, examples are what hold up an argument in an essay (whether that argument is yours or someone else’s). Without them, an argument simply fails to hold much water and is impossible to prove. Thus to succeed on your IELTS Task 2 essay question, you’ve got to choose effective examples carefully. So what makes a good example good and a bad example bad? The answer is simple: (1) Good examples are specific. Bad examples are vague. (2) Good examples demonstrate the argument in action. Bad examples show little connection to the argument at all. (3) Good examples are displayed in a manner that does not disrupt the flow of the writer’s work. Bad examples feel like they have been randomly dropped into the essay. When it comes to choosing an effective IELTS Task 2 essay example, specific is always the goal. Take the following, for example: Don’t be ambiguous… For instance, mobile phone growth in some countries has been dramatic. Instead try being more specific… For instance, mobile phone growth in China and India has been dramatic. Don’t write in a manner that will make your IELTS examiner guess at your meaning… Cars are the example. Tell your examiner clearly what the link is between the argument you are trying to support and your evidence… Cars play a good example here as they are the largest source of carbon emissions in the developing eastern world. First impressions matter! Why the opening sentences of your IELTS Task 2 essay are critical When correcting essays written by my classroom and online IELTS students, I consistently see essay opening sentences like these: (1) ‘Culture is a well-known topic around the world.’(Problem: too ambiguous) (2) ‘There are many people in this world who work hard, like my father, for example.’ (Problem: too specific) (3) ‘The Global Economy has helped make the World a safer Place.’ (Problem: basic grammar) (4) ‘The invasion of computers in the classroom has caused student marks to skyrocket.’ (Problem: amplitude) Let me elaborate on why each of these examples prove to be terrible introductions to your essay: In the first example (1), the student is making a large, overly generalized statement that is somewhat ambiguous and therefore difficult to understand. In a nutshell, this sentence is too broad. The student’s meaning is probably closer to: It is a well-known fact that the cultures of the world are not uniform. Of course, it’s a bad sign if your IELTS examiner can’t understand the first sentence you have written! The second example (2) depicts a student with the opposite problem: their response is too specific. Giving examples before you’ve stated your argument is like trying to put on your shoes before you’ve put on your pants. The third example (3) is a basic grammar issue, in this case capitalization. I’m always astonished by the number of students who seem to have forgotten when to capitalize their words and when not too. In this example, only ‘The’ should be capitalized. The final example (4) shows a student who is trying to use more complex words in hopes of making themselves sound more academic. The problem is that this alters the amplitude of the sentence and therefore distorts the meaning of the piece. Saying that student marks have ‘skyrocketed’ is an overstatement. ‘Skyrocketed’ gives the

Write what the graph is about. For example. If it shows several years (1992. Important! You need to write about all the periods of time and all the subjects of graph. You should link the paragraphs by sentences that logically connect them to one another. while all information is summarized to avoid unnecessary details. When your Academic Writing 1 Task is graded by IELTS examiners. take the following 2 sentences as an example: (1) Our world today is unstable in many ways. IELTS students often like to write ‘I think…’. Body should describe the most important trends. (2) The current global situation is unstable in many ways. Sound more academic in your IELTS Task 2 response instantly! An important skill to master is the art of being able to present your opinion without using personal pronouns. if the graph is climbing up or dropping down. Conclusion should sum up the global trends shown on the figure and compare them if possible. A statement as outlandish as this would need to be supported with evidence. Notice how many distinctive features diagram has and divide information into paragraphs. its dates and location. 1993.impression that student marks have tripled or perhaps even quadrupled. one paragraph for one feature. Remember. summarizing doesn’t mean throwing away information. ‘I believe that…’ would become: ‘It is believed that…’. ‘Our world today…’ or other such phrases that express their personal opinion or the collective opinions of a group they belong to using active. For example. Dubai Gold Sales 2002 . they look for this structure: Introduction Body Conclusion Introduction should describe the purpose of report and say what overall trends you see.You need to remember that you are describing a graph to someone who doesn’t see it. So basically… ‘I think that…’ would become: ‘It is thought that…’. Can you see how sentence 2 has a much more academic air to it than sentence 2? Making this little change will do wonders for the tone of your essay. The secret here is to select what’s important. ‘Our world today…’ would become: ‘The current global situation…’ or ‘In today’s world…’. compare and contrast. you should mention that. A trick to instantly help your essay sound much more academic is to learn to write passively and to avoid phrases that use these personal pronouns. organize it. if it is about men and women – write about both. tell when those peaks appeared and what the peak values are. To see this in action. if there is a graph that has 2 peaks. you should mention them. personal pronouns. 1994) – write about all of them. ‘I believe that…’.

and a list of its components: . tentatively titled ‘Speedlite’. there was a sudden increase. sales recovered. from 120 to 180 million. In October and November. There were two main seasons for gold sales. sales remained steady. In conclusion. reaching an annual low of 120 million dirhams in July. sales declined steadily. However. Sales were consistently above 200 million dirhams per month. rising from 120 million dirhams in July to 210 million dirhams in August. Sales almost doubled. This was followed by a drop in September. the main sales period is in the early part of the year. rising sharply to a peak of 350 million dirhams in March. Let’s look at this cross-section of a new basketball shoe design.(estimates) The line graph shows estimated sales of gold in Dubai for 12 months in 2002 in millions of dirhams. From September to October. back to the July figure. and there was a small increase in December to 190 million dirhams. The main season for sales is in the December to May period. for the next four months. Describing spatial images on the Task 1 portion of your IELTS exam Describing spatial images on the Task 1 portion of your IELTS examination requires particular vocabulary to be employed. In August. except for a sudden increase in August. slumping in the summer.

yet the basic components that make up the shoe are quite unique. From the bottom up. such as the sole of the shoe (component 3) and the Foamtech part (component 15b). 2 of which hold patented technology. as we move from describing one part of the shoe to another. we would need to first select a part of the cross-section to begin with. Surrounding the foot is a foam mould. The wearer stands on the patented Foamtech.Speedlite shoe cross-section Component Code Reference Chart Component Code 3 11 12 13b 14a 14b 15b Description pliable rubber shoe sole patented one-directional mesh that lets moisture escape but does not let it enter foot heat-responsive foam that moulds the shoe to the shape of the foot air duct allowing air to escape to make the shoe more flexible flexible rubber framing the air ducts patented Foamtech foam/plastic mix allowing for greater jumping ability To describe this image properly. Ideally. The general shape of the shoe is somewhat standard. Thus. the sole of the shoe. which has been designed to give them an increased ability to jump. a plausible response would look something like this: This image is a cross-section of the new Speedlite high-top shoe. Component 3. a . The tongue of the shoe harbors Component 11. This means that the parts we describe in sequence will most likely be connected to each other in some way. we want to transition smoothly. 1 beneath the ball of the foot and 1 beneath the heel. denoted in this image as Component 13b. appears to be made of a pliable rubber base encasing 2 air ducts.

air ducts and Foamtech in-sole. the common frog experiences a number of radical physical changes. I would break this image down into 4 stages: early growth. If you are unfamiliar with how to structure your Task 1 response. the life cycle of the frog appears to have 7 stages. As you can see.) Let’s take the following diagram as an example. giving the reader an better impression of the shoe’s overall structure. -From an egg to a fully-grown adult. the Speedlite is expected to allow its wearer to jump at increased height. first physical changes. Personally.info) -From start to finish. our description moves from 1 part of the shoe to another in a sequence that follows how the shoe is built. .) How can we describe the overall process of this image? Take the following sentences as examples: -The common frog undergoes a number of physical changes over the course of its life.patented mesh. I’d like to go over some of the language you can use to accurately write the opening broad sentence in your IELTS Task 1 response. Here. In this post. for example the life cycle of a butterfly or the process nature goes through to create rain. terrain adaptation stage and full development. Component Codes are shared only as we move to new parts of the shoe and not for each individual part. To avoid overly focusing on minute details. Between the combination of pliable rubber. allowing excess water to exit but not enter. IELTS Task 1 – How to describe a cyclical image Cyclical images are images that depict a process that repeats. (Ryan’s note: The exact number of stages may depend on how you wish to dissect the image. please view my Task 1 structure tutorial here. (Please note: this is the second sentence in your response following your data type description sentence. Above the ankle is a third air duct allowing for further flexibility. we can see an image outlining the life cycle of a frog: (Image source: infovisual. making it an asset to any basketball player.

086.556.000.000 237.-Adapting from a water-dependent creature into one capable of surviving on land.210.193.200 127. World’s 10 most populous countries China India United States Indonesia Brazil Pakistan Nigeria Bangladesh Russia Japan 1. Russia. the data presented on a menu never evolves and the data presented in a bus schedule repeats but never really changes.000 158.000 1.732.000 142. although geographically largest.694 175. 2 – Trending data Tables that present trending data pull from alternate lexical resources. Let’s look at examples of the 2 manners in which a table can present data: 1 – Static data/cyclical data Static data (such as a menu) and cyclical data (such as a bus schedule) present data that does not evolve or change over time.626. the student’s response will need to vary in the lexical resources it uses.363 190.905.233.000 1990 29.000 150.084. When describing these kinds of tables.000 To describe this table. we would use comparative phrases like: There exists a huge difference between the first 2 entries and the remaining 8. Take the following table as an example: Canadian Population Growth 1985 27. Brazil. we often use language that denotes its static or cyclical nature and will thus typically speak in present tense.422 311. For example. Pakistan.342 .341. the frog undergoes a tremendous transformation over the course of its life.259. is only a fraction the population of China or India. Nigeria and Bangladesh combined. Identifying data types in tables A table can present data in 1 of 2 ways and depending on how the data is presented. China is bigger than the US.960.308. Indonesia.

In Canada. the nature of the language we use to describe it changes. the population of Canada grew gradually and at a somewhat steady pace to roughly 34 and a half million people.300 Because this data presents trends.000 2010 34.000 2000 32. please review my video regarding proper Task 1 response writing.) Images that depict a process typically come in 1 of 2 types: (1) an image depicting a cyclical process and (2) and image depicting a linear process. our language would vary. the population appears to have grown by more than 7 million people in a 25-year time span.567.700 2005 33. . Here. Today.788. Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown below.893. the lexical resources and written structures we use to describe static/cyclical and trending data are different.1995 31. we would need to accurately depict the way the data changes and this requires more than comparative sentences written in the simple present tense. Let’s take a look at this sample question: The image below shows a basic paper making process. Between 1995 and 2010.230. As you can see. In our description of this data. The following are some examples regarding how to describe the trends present in the above table: The Canadian population sees a faster overall climb between 1985 and 1995 than between 1995 and 2010. we are going to look at the linear variety. How to describe an image that depicts a process on your IELTS Task 1 question response (Before reading this blog post.

as this would waste time and cause our IELTS Task 1 response to grow needlessly long. So. Thus. please consciously try to pinpoint where I have included minute details among the minor details): . So our description would most likely resemble something like this (while reading this next section. paper making process that commences with the addition of 2 wood sources and concludes with the production of 2 separate commodities: (1) rough paper for boxes and (2) refined paper for printing.The first thing we should notice when looking at this image is that it depicts a linear. we must describe the process. we’d probably start with: This image outlines a linear paper-making process. which means we’re not going to describe every step in minute detail. the first step in writing our Task 1 response is to state the data type we have been given as well as the broad trend (or in this case process) it outlines. Next. Here we want to group minute steps together to help keep our description from becoming too long and too detailed. from raw material to finished product. Another thing we can see is that the process itself is quite long. as you are aware.

Shorthand is an unfortunate habit that IELTS students often exhibit in their essay response. (Both symbols are often used to denote examples but neither will bring formality to your writing. When looking at the response as a whole. the entire first few steps have been grouped into a single sentence presenting a single thought: grinding wood into pulp. not three hundred and fourteen US dollars. The resulting pulp is then washed and screened for purity before entering into either 1 of 2 finalizing processes.) e. ready to be shipped off and made into boxes. most likely in an effort to increase their writing speed. How to employ parallelism in your IELTS writing A piece of writing that employs a consistent form throughout is considered to follow parallelism. which is perfect and leaves us with a few words with which we can put together an interpreting paragraph to help conclude our passage strongly (we’re not going to focus on this section today. we describe the details of each finishing procedure separately. don’t use it.) .g. which requires the wet pulp receive additional cleaning and dying.(A dash is often used in shorthand to allow the writer to jump quickly from one topic to another. The second finalizing process produces refined printing paper. up from three hundred and fourteen US dollars in December last year. if you feel your reader won’t know what the acronym refers to. The pulp undergoes 2 separate pressing methods before being dried and finally rolled for storage. So. we can see it numbers at about 125 words. …we can see an instance of improper parallel structure. The finished product is stored as bales. Don’t let your examiner assume anything or they will only assume you don’t know how to write academically!) . we have grouped certain sections of the process together. Now let’s take a second and review what we have done here.84 USD in January of this year. though). The first produces rough box paper by initially forming and drying wet pulp.e. Writing in this manner helps strengthen the piece stylistically. / i. Common shorthand notes and symbols that should never be included in your IELTS Task 1 or 2 response are: … (This sign is formally called an ‘ellipsis’ and used to denote information the reader is to assume. It’s great for sending text messages on your mobile phone but not so great when you are expected to sound academic. As a basic rule. The cohesion we use helps the reader to see how the ideas relate to one another and makes the piece overall easier to read. Another stylistic note I’d like to touch on in this blog post is shorthand. we took our process and broke it down into smaller minor details: (1) the creation of pulp from raw materials. Mistakes related to parallelism are all too commonly committed by IELTS students. Secondly. we move on to talk about how the pulp is prepared before either being turned into box paper or printing paper by grouping these few steps. in the following sentence: Russian natural gas was revalued to $330. After this. such as the UK or IBM. Firstly. For example. Parallelism is the basic idea that writing structures and patterns should remain consistent throughout an entire piece of writing. with raw logs of wood being chewed into pulp and mixed with other purchased wood chips in a digester to further refine their consistency. (2) the finalizing process employed to create box paper and (3) the finalizing process employed to create printing paper.) @ (I am always astounded when I see students using the @ symbol in academic text!) acronyms (I regularly suggest students avoid them on their examination unless they are acronyms that refer to countries or very established companies. The student should have written the second monetary value as $314 USD. Finally. the pulp is rolled into reels and is cut. in a nutshell.The beginning of the process is twofold. For example.

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