Writing a good IELTS essay

Did you know that the essay in Part 2 of the IELTS test is worth twice as much as Part 1? So it’s really important to make a good effort in your essay. You only have 60 minutes to complete both parts of the writing test so it’s a good idea to start with the essay and leave the descriptive task to the last 20 minutes of the test.

 

So how do you write a good essay? It sounds obvious to say “read the question carefully” but it’s amazing how many candidates skim the question and write an essay that is off-topic or only partly answers the question. For example for this question “Teenagers should have part-time jobs while still in secondary school. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.” You might write only about the advantages or the disadvantages of teenagers working part-time. If you only talk about one side, you are not fully answering  the question and would score low in “task achievement”. See this link for the public descriptors. 

 

When you read the question, underline key words to keep you on track. Then make a plan. It might be a simple table of “for” and “against” ideas for a discussion essay or a bullet point list for paragraphs. If you don’t spend a few minutes doing a plan, then your essay is far more likely to go off-track and give you a lower score in “Task Achievement”.  A plan should give your essay direction and lead to a relevant conclusion. Your plan is also very helpful for organising your paragraphs.

 

Let’s move on to paragraphs. If you don’t use them (some candidates forget to use paragraphs), then your score is lower for “Coherence and Cohesion”(see the link above). Paragraphs should have one main topic with a good opening sentence, usually called the topic sentence.  Follow the topic sentence by evidence or an example to make it easy for the reader to follow. There is nothing worse than an essay which doesn’t flow logically. It is really hard for the reader if there are no paragraphs.

 

Finally, have a concluding paragraph to bring your ideas together and express your view. Even if you have given your opinion at the start of your essay, it’s a good idea to paraphrase (say it again in different words) to give strength to your viewpoint. So, remember the importance of the essay plan and your paragraphing.

If you have good grammar and a wide vocabulary (see the last two marking descriptors) it would be a shame if the first two descriptors let you down, simply by lack of planning and paragraphing. Good luck 🙂

 

June 12, 2018

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