IELTS Preparation Unit 4: Writing

Hi, I'm Christine and I teach IELTS at Kaplan Dublin. I've been with Kaplan for two years now and have taught English in China, too.

I'll be giving you tips on how to prepare for and take the IELTS exam.

I'm looking forward to hearing your own hints and responses. The best of (Irish) luck in your exam!

IELTS Tip: - Writing Task 2 - Task Achievement -

In IELTS writing, you cannot get more than Band 1 for Task Achievement if you write unrelated to the task.

This means that you must ensure you understand the question and stay focused on it.

It is important to answer the exact question rather than write general information about the topic.

It is often helpful to 'interview' the topic before beginning, just like you would interview a person for a job. Let's take a look at an example question from 'Focus on Academic Skills for IELTS':

'Modern lifestyles are completely different from the way people lived in the past. Some people think the changes have been very positive, while others believe they have been negative.'

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

The key phrases are in bold above. The underlined words are less important, but require attention.

Now, let's 'interview' the key phrases.

Modern lifestyles:
How do people live these days? What are the main characteristics of modern lifestyles?How can I describe a modern lifestyle?
People work more / people (can) spend more / more global travel / people use technology more / fast-paced / comfortable / dangerous / healthy / stressful / expensive / freer / complex
Differences from the past:
How do these characteristics make modern lifestyles different? 
More decisions to make, increased stress, decreased quality of life / less free and family time / more women at work, changed family structure - increased divorce rates, less home support for children / increased family income / increased standard of living and quality of life / easier access to healthcare, education and housing / healthier lifestyles - more exerciseSmaller world - wider variety of free time activities, foods and lifestyle choices / increased world knowledgeLess demand for physical labor - less health risk / less face-to-face communication - lack of social skills and 'death' of conversation / laziness / more ways to communicate
Positive / Negative:
Which changes have been positive and which negative? 
Positive: increased family income / increased standard of living and quality of life / better healthcare, education and housing / healthier lifestyles - more exercise / smaller world - wider variety of free time activities, foods and lifestyle choices / increased world knowledge / Less demand for physical labor - less health risk / more ways to communicate

Negative:
More decisions to make / increased stress / decreased quality of life / less free and family time / more women at work, changed family structure - increased divorce rates, less home support for children / less face-to-face communication - lack of social skills and 'death' of conversation / laziness

Finally, ask yourself this:

  • How do I feel about the changes?
  • Do I feel strongly that they are positive or negative?
  • Do I feel they are almost equal but that one very slightly outweighs the other?
    If so, how can I communicate this?

Analyzing a question like this will help you build a framework for your answer and stay focused on the topic. Remember, you don't need to discuss all of your ideas in the essay and you must support your opinions with relevant examples. Choose the ones you feel most strongly about and use them.

The next step is to plan.

Remember to include:

  • An introduction
  • One side of the argument.
  • The other side of the argument. (The side that you agree with.)
  • A conclusion with your clear opinion.

Good luck trying this out. Let me know how it goes!

If you're looking for more IELTS help, you can read Christine's post on Pronouncing "S" and "Z", number 4 in our series.

Our other IELTS preparation articles:

1. Reading for Keywords
2. Capitalization
3. Tips for Speaking
6. Reading to Expand Your Vocabulary
7. Listening Practice
8. Grammar: Nouns and Verbs

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