IELTS – Tips for the Writing test With thanks to Dr Vivek.
Actually sit and write out tasks 1 and 2 while practising (US=tice). It is very tempting to think of what you would write and not do the actual writing. You will appreciate the importance of using a structured format and avoiding being repetitive only if you practice writing. Start by reading the How to prepare for IELTS – Writing test manual at the Hong Kong City University site to familiarize yourself with the test and to get useful hints.
Task 2 carries more marks. Spend more time on it. Twenty minutes on
task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2 would be a good balance.
Since task 2 is more important, it may be a good idea to do task 2 first and
task 1 later. However, make sure you write for each task in the allotted
area since the answer sheet has separate areas designated for each task.
For both writing tasks, it is a good idea to jot down your ideas on the question sheet so that you know the outline of what you will be writing. It may take 2 or 3 minutes but the time spent is worth it.
Writing task 1 requires you to describe a graph / table / diagram in AT LEAST 150 words. I had practised on a lot of graphs but the task we had was to describe the data in a table! So practise describing all kinds of graphs / tables. See how much of your writing is 150 words. If you write less that 150 words, you lose marks. If you write more, you are likely to
make more mistakes. Try and stick to around 150 words.
For task 1, first spend some time looking at the graph / table and understanding the information given. Don’t start writing immediately. Make sure you know what each axis of the graph represents and in what units. The following structure is suggested for writing:
A sentence describing what the graph / table shows. Another sentence describing the broad / important trends shown.
Description of the data. It may not be possible to describe all the data as there may be too much data presented. Describe the relevant and most important parts. If there is more than one graph / chart, describe any comparisons or trends that can be made out.
A concluding sentence which sums up the data / trends.
Practise using a variety of phrases to avoid being repetitive. The best practice for task 2, which asks you to present an argument, is to read newspaper editorials and magazine articles on current topics. Thiswill help you develop your ideas. A suggested structure for writing is:
1. Introduce the topic and state your stand, whether you agree or
2. Give arguments in support of your viewpoint supported by relevant
3. State the contrary viewpoint and give reasons why you don’t agree
4. Conclude with a short concluding paragraph.
5. If there is time left at the end, revise your answers and correct any
spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Tips for Writing
The writing part
The writing part has two tasks: minor & major. The minor task should be done in 20-25 minutes. Usually three things asked in the minor task;
1. Object (eg a cycle is shown & various parts are labeled)
2. Process (eg the various ways in which solar energy is used)
3. Data; (graphs of all types eg line graph, bar graph, pie charts, tables etc)
For data one have to write;
1. Introduction (what it is about do not copy the question what. Use your imagination & write in your own words what the data is about)
2. Then in the next Para write three things, this is very important.The three things are General trend, Comparisons, differences.
3. In the last Para write conclusion. Use pencil to write & take with you a new good quality eraser & sharpener. Write at least twenty words more than required. This way examiner gets an idea that you are confident & can write.
Tips for Line graph
Line graphs always show changes over time. Here’s some advice about how to describe them:
· Try to write 4 paragraphs – introduction, summary of main points, 2 detail paragraphs.
· For your summary paragraph, look at the “big picture” – what changes happened to all
of the lines from the beginning to the end of the period shown (i.e. from the first year
to the last). Is there a trend that all of the lines follow (e.g. an overall increase)?
· You don’t need to give numbers in your summary paragraph. Numbers are specific
details. Just mention general things like ‘overall change’, ‘highest’ and ‘lowest’, without
giving specific figures.
· Never describe each line separately. The examiner wants to see comparisons.
· If the graph shows years, you won’t have time to mention all of them. The key years
to describe are the first year and the last year. You should also mention any ‘special’
years (e.g. a peak or a significant rise/fall).
· Start describing details (paragraph 3) with a comparison of the lines for the first year
shown on the graph (e.g. in 1990, the number of…).
· Use the past simple (increased, fell) for past years, and ‘will’ or ‘is expected/predicted
to’ for future years.
· Don’t use the passive (e.g. the number was increased), continuous (e.g. the number
was increasing), or perfect tenses (e.g. the number has increased).
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IELTS writing task 2 Academic and GT Tips
In the second part of the IELTS Academic/GT Writing Test, you have to write 250 words. You should spend 40 minutes on this task. Writing Task 2 is worth more than Task 1, so you need to do it well.
For IELTS Writing Task 2, you have to write an essay discussing a topic. You will be given an opinion/ argument, different points of view or a problem to discuss.
Most students prepare phrases for introducing and linking ideas. However, not many students prepare good ideas and opinions for IELTS topics.
We’ll work on these areas:
- How to structure a good Task 2 essay.
- Preparation of ideas, opinions and good vocabulary for each IELTS topic.
- How to build and link sentences to create coherent paragraphs.
- Common mistakes in grammar and word usage.
Some hard work on these areas can make a big difference to your writing score. JJ
Today I want to show you what happens in my brain when I see any IELTS Writing Task 2 question.
Here are my thinking steps:
- I read the question very carefully, maybe five times. I ask myself “What’s the topic? What is the question asking me to write about?”
- I underline the key things that must be included in the essay. I always answer every part of the question.
- Now I think about my 4-paragraph structure. I can write any type of essay in 4 paragraphs; I just need to decide what to put in each paragraph.
- If I need to give my opinion, I think, “What is the easiest opinion to explain? What good vocabulary could I use?”
- Then I write down some vocabulary ideas that are related to the topic.
- I try to write 2 sentences for the introduction: I introduce the topic; then give a simple answer (including my opinion if the question asks for it).
- I write short ‘topic sentences’ to start each paragraph; then develop my ideas by explaining and supporting with examples.
- I look at the question from time to time in order to check that I’m answering every part of it.
- I know that I write about 7-8 words per line; therefore, I can quickly check the approximate number of words that I have written.
- If I need more words (to reach 250), I expand one of my examples in the main body paragraphs. If necessary, I draw an arrow to show where I want to add the extra words.
How to write an introduction!!
For IELTS Writing Task 2, keep your introduction short and simple. Don’t waste time writing a long introduction; the main body paragraphs are more important.
A good IELTS Writing introduction needs only 2 things:
- A sentence that introduces the topic
- A sentence that gives a short, general answer to the question
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