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Thread: IELTS Tips - Writing

  1. #1
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    IELTS Tips - Writing

    Writing Task 1
    Tips of Writing a Letter (red colour shows correct answer)

    1. Answering the question.
    As I said above, task fulfillment (answering the question) is one third of your total mark and it is an area in which everyone should do well. This is often, however, not the case.
    What you must do is to write a letter, which would fully answer the needs of the problem in a real life situation. Even if you have covered all that the question itself asks, have you included everything in the letter needed to realistically perform its function. For example, a question I have seen somewhere gives the candidate the following task:
    You have some library books that you are unable to return as a member of your family in another city has fallen sick and you have had to go and look after them.
    Write a letter to the library explaining the situation. Apologize for the inconvenience called and say what you are going to do.
    You should write at least 150 words.
    This seems a fairly typical IELTS General Training Task 1 writing question. Answering the question in a way that will get you a good Task Fulfilment grade needs a number of things for you to do.
    a) Write at least 150 words.
    Writing less does not answer the question, which tells you to write at least 150 words. If you write less than 150 words, the examiner marking your paper will give you a maximum of 5 for Task Fulfilment or even less.
    b) Fully do all the things that the question asks you.
    In this case it asks you to do 3 main things:
    1. explain the situation
    2. apologize for the inconvenience
    3. say what you are going to do
    The important part is to fully do these things. Don't take 1 line to explain about your relative - people who do this often don't make the 150 word limit. Enlarge on what the question tells you. Use your imagination. It must be something fairly serious to make you leave town and you must be the only one possible to look after the relative so go into these things. Be realistic as well.
    You're writing to a library and you won't make it too personal. Apologizing won't take up much space but you can still devote a couple of sentences to it. Saying what you are going to do should be a full explanation as well.
    c) Make your letter realistic so it would function in a real life situation.
    This involves adding other things to the letter, which it may not ask you for, but without which your letter would not perform its function. For this question, it would mean introducing yourself by name, giving your library card membership number, telling the library the titles of the books that you have borrowed, the names of their authors, their library reference numbers, when you borrowed them and when they were due back.
    Finally, in this question, the situation might involve you getting a fine for the late books so you could ask politely for that to be cancelled due to the circumstances. Without this information, the letter wouldn't help the library much in real life and, even though the question doesn't ask you specifically to include it, the examiner reading your work will be looking for such things. These are things that are needed to get a 9 for task fulfilment and, theoretically, anyone, whatever their level of English, should be able to get a good mark here.
    2.The Opening Greeting of the Letter
    Your letter will probably need to be a reasonably informal letter to a friend or a semi-formal letter. The opening of your letter should reflect which one you are writing.
    A friendly letter will open with Dear followed by a name which should then be followed by a comma, eg:
    Dear John,
    A semi-formal letter will also open with Dear and then be followed by a name, (if you decide that in the situation you would know the name) or by Sir (if it's a man), Madam (if it's a woman) or Sir/Madam if you don't know, eg:
    Dear Mr. Phillips,
    Dear Mrs. Phillips,
    Dear Sir,
    Dear Madam,
    Dear Sir/Madam,
    The question also might specify how you are to begin so follow what it says.
    3. The Opening Paragraph of the Letter
    In a semi-formal letter, I feel it is important to state the reason for the letter straight away. You could use the following to help you:
    I am writing to ask/ tell//inform you that...
    I am writing to ask/inquire...
    I am writing with regard to...
    I am writing with reference to...
    I am writing in connection with...
    I am writing in response to...
    In reply to your letter, I am writing to... (if the question indicates that you
    have had a letter)
    If the letter is a less formal one to a friend then you should open the letter in a friendlier way. EG:
    Dear John,
    Hi there! It's been so long since I've heard from you. I hope you are doing well and I hope all you family are doing fine. I'm pretty good in spite of working hard. Anyway, the reason I'm writing is...
    4. The Substance of the Letter
    I've already gone into detail about answering the question fully and using your imagination to produce a realistic letter fulfilling all functions so I won't repeat that. Through great experience with IELTS, I can say that questions tend to ask you to do certain things. Here I will give you some ideas about some language to use in the substance of the letter which will help you to answer the task well.
    Asking for Help
    I would like you to...
    I would be grateful if you could...
    I need to ask your advice about...
    I'd like to ask for information about...
    What I'm looking for is...
    I'm writing to express my dissatisfaction/annoyance/ about...
    I'm writing to express my anger at...
    I am not happy about...
    ... is not what I expected/was expecting.
    I want to know what you are going to do about this situation.
    NB When complaining, don't get too angry. I've had students who really became too heated in their complaints. In a polite semi-formal letter, this should not happen. Also, do not over-exaggerate. If it's a reasonably small and understandable problem, do say that you're not satisfied but show that you understand and stay calm in your expressions.
    I'm very grateful for...
    I'd like to thank you very much for...
    I very much appreciated...
    I'm very sorry that/about...
    Please forgive me for...
    I'd like to apologize about...
    Please accept my apologies
    5.Ending your Letter
    First of all, in English we often end letters before the sign off with certain phrases. These can be included in most letters and will make your letter seem realistic and polished. For a formal letter, you could use:
    If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanking you in advance for your help, I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    For a more informal letter you could use:
    If you need to know anything else, just get in touch with me as soon as you can. Thanks a lot for your help and I hope to hear from you soon.
    Be careful though! IELTS examiners quite rightly look for writing that has been memorised and just repeated so, if you use expressions like the ones above, make sure that they fit in with the rest of your letter.
    Finally you'll need to sign off your letter. For a formal letter use:
    Yours faithfully, OR
    Yours sincerely,
    Remember the commas (it makes a good impression on the examiner if you use good punctuation) and spell "sincerely" correctly (a lot of people don't!).
    For an informal letter, love is not always appropriate though English speakers use it a lot. Better would be to use:
    Best wishes,

    1. You are writing a letter to the headteacher of a school or college, but you don't know their name. How do you begin your letter?
    A. Dear headteacher.
    B. Dear Sir / Madam.
    C. Dear Sir.

    2. You have received a letter from the manager of a company which buys computer components from your company, and you are now replying. What do you say?
    A. Thank you for your letter.
    B. Thanks a lot for your letter.
    C. It was great to hear from you.

    3. You recently stayed in a hotel and were very unhappy with the service you received. You are now writing to the manager. What do you say?
    A. I had a horrible time at your hotel recently.
    B. I would like to say that I am unhappy about your hotel.
    C. I would like to complain about the service I received at your hotel recently.

    4. You have sent a letter of application to a college, together with your curriculum vitae which the college requested. What do you say in the letter to explain that your curriculum vitae is attached?
    A. You asked for my curriculum vitae, so here it is.
    B. As you can see, I've enclosed my curriculum vitae.
    C. As you requested, I enclose my curriculum vitae.

    5. You have applied for a job, but you would like the company to send you more information. What do you say?
    A. I would be grateful if you would send me more information.
    B. I want you to send me more information.
    C. Send me some more information, if you don't mind.
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  2. #2
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    6. In a letter you have written to a company, you tell them that you expect them to reply. What do you say?
    A. Write back to me soon, please.
    B. Please drop me a line soon.
    C. l look forward to hearing from you soon.

    7. In a letter you have written, you want the recipient to do something and are thanking them in advance of their action. What do you say?
    A. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
    B. Thanks for doing something about it.
    C. I am gratified that you will take appropriate action.

    8. The company you work for has received an order from another company and you are writing to them to acknowledge the order and let them know when you can deliver. What do you say?
    A. About the order you sent on 12 January for...
    B. I would like to remind you of the order you sent on 12 January for...
    C. refer to your order of 12 January.

    9. In a letter, you explain that the recipient can contact you if they want more information. What do you say?
    A. Give me a call if you want some more information.
    B. If you would like any more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
    C. If you would like any more information, why not get in touch?

    10. You began a letter with the recipient's name (e.g., Dear Mr. Perrin). How do you end the letter?
    A. Yours faithfully.
    B. Yours sincerely.
    C. Best wishes.

    11. You did not begin the letter with the recipient's name (see number 1 above). How do you end the letter?
    A. Yours faithfully.
    B. Yours sincerely.
    C. Best wishes.
    System Manager (2231-11) applied 03-Oct-09 |CO Assigned 17 Nov 2010 |Visa Grant 22 Nov. 2011 |Landed 18-Feb-2012

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  3. #3
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    Writing task 2
    Writing a Persuasion/opinion topic(writing task-2)

    1 The Introduction
    First of all, don't repeat any part of the question in your introduction. This is not your own work and therefore will be disregarded by the examiner and deducted from the word count. You can use individual words but be careful of using "chunks" of the question text.
    Your introduction should first say what you understand by the question. Then give the main issue or issues that you intend to bring into your answer. Don't go into any detail; you can save that for the later paragraphs.
    Finally, the question often asks you to take up a position over an issue(PERSUASION TOPIC). There is no right answer for putting your views at the start and then explaining this through the essay, or developing your opinion though your essay and stating your final stance at the end. I personally like the opinion at the start of the essay. Quickly and clearly answer the question, making your attitude plain. Don't give any reasons. Again, that's what the body of your essay is for. You don't have to do it this way though. You can wait until your conclusion to give your position as regards the question.
    2 The Body of Your Essay
    You should aim to have 3 or 4 paragraphs in your answer. This is not exact. You can write more or fewer paragraphs, as your answer requires. Remember you've only got about 40 minutes to cover all the question areas so don't be too ambitious and try to write too much.
    In the body of your essay you should do several things. You need to examine all parts of the question. Remember there is often more than 1 question contained in the essay question text. You need to look at all that is asked and look at both sides of every issue. IELTS essay questions usually ask you something which has two or more points of view, and you need to consider both sides of every argument no matter what your opinion is.
    Look below at the example. The question asks whether or not you believe whether societies should use capital punishment. There are, of course, two points of view:
    (1) capital punishment should be used and
    (2) capital punishment shouldn't be used.
    Let's say for example that you don't believe that capital punishment should be used by societies. No matter what point of view you have, you should look at both sides, though naturally your writing will favour the position that you have taken. Give the reasons why you don't believe in capital punishment but then look at the opposing view and say why you don't accept it. In this way you will show the reader your powers of analysis when looking at such an issue.
    Don't forget that when you have finished looking at this issue there is a second part of the question to be analysed too.
    As we said earlier, your ideas need to be supported by examples and it is in the body of your essay that they should appear. For every idea that you present try and give an example from your own experience that shows that your idea is right.
    An example from your own experience means something that you know from your life, from your country's news or history or anything that you have read anywhere. You can actually invent examples if you need as long as they seem realistic and believable. The examiner is probably not going to research anything you write about.
    The example below should illustrate what we have been discussing here.
    3 The Conclusion
    This doesn't need to be a long paragraph. You need to sum up your points providing a final perspective on your topic. All the conclusion needs is three or four strong sentences, which do not need to follow any set formula. Simply review the main points (being careful not to restate them exactly or repeat all your examples) and briefly describe your feelings about the topic; this provides an answer to all parts of the question. An anecdote can also end your essay in a useful way.
    An Example of the IELTS General Training Task 2 Writing
    It's very difficult to visualize and understand all the things that I have said above. Here I will try and provide you with an example question and then go through the stages of thought to show you how to approach an IELTS General Training Writing Task 2 essay.
    Here is a possible question that would be typical for a Task 2 essay question.
    "Do you believe that societies ought to enforce capital punishment or Are there alternative forms of punishment that would be better used?"
    First of all you need to consider the question. What does it ask? Straight away, you can see that it asks 2 things.
    It wants to know if you believe that society should use capital punishment and it also wants to know if you can offer any alternatives to capital punishment. Your answer should give a balanced view of both parts of this question. What is important to realize is that there is no correct answer here. You can present any point of view as long as you can support it.
    So, in your planning stage you should have a roadmap for the introduction, each paragraph and the conclusion. Here is my brief plan for the essay.
    • What cp is. Where it's used. (not my country). Differing opinions.
    • I don't believe in cp.
    • There are alternative punishments.
    1. Inhumane - we shouldn't sink to the level of criminals.
    2. We can get convictions wrong; prisoners can be released if there's an error. Mentally ill. Examples.
    3. Alternative punishments: life means life; hospitals for criminally insane. Costs more but society has a duty to care.
    4. Many countries favour it and they say it works. Prisons too full. Killers deserve nothing less. Some crimes deserve it. Not my morals though.
    I don't agree. We can do other things. Avoid mistakes and make modern society a humane one.
    The above is a basic plan of how I want to write my essay. It's not rigid. I can change my ideas and format as I write if I feel I can do better.
    I can also add things that I've forgotten as the essay goes on. It's normal of course for you to have new, good ideas as you write and the skill is to get them into your essay without upsetting the balance of the essay. How do you do this? It's practice again. You won't get good at writing essays and adapting your writing well without practice.
    So, below is an example essay using the plan above as a basis.
    Example Essay for the IELTS General Training Task 2 Writing
    Capital punishment is the killing of a criminal for a crime that he has committed. Previously most countries employed this method of punishment but nowadays it is much less widely used. I personally do not believe that societies today should use capital punishment and I also believe that there are alternative punishments that can be used.
    My main argument against capital punishment is that I believe we do not have the right to kill another human being regardless of the crime. I don't believe in the old religious maxim of "an eye for an eye." Modern societies shouldn't turn to such barbaric punishments.
    Another argument against capital punishment is that people can be wrongly convicted and executed. If a man is in prison, he can be released if later proved not guilty. If he is dead, there is nothing that can be done. In the UK, a group of supposed terrorists were convicted of murder in Birmingham in the 1970s. They were proved innocent about 15 years later and released. If they had been executed, innocent people would have died.
    There are alternative punishments available. For bad crimes prison life sentences can be given with criminals imprisoned for the rest of their lives. Also a lot of horrific crimes are committed by people who are mentally sick. These people are not responsible for their actions and can be kept safely and permanently in secure hospitals. Yes, this costs a lot more but I believe it is the duty of society to do this.
    There are arguments for capital punishment. Many people feel its threat stops serious crime and that criminals deserve nothing less. It's cheaper and keeps the prisons manageable. I can understand this point of view but I cannot agree with it.
    So, in conclusion, I don't believe in capital punishment, as there are less barbaric alternatives available. We can avoid horrific mistakes and make modern society a humane one.
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  4. #4
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    In Writing Task 2 you receive a topic and you have to write an essay of 250 words.
    This task has more weight than Writing 1. It also takes longer – 40 minutes, when Writing 1 takes only 20 minutes.
    The topic of essay can be one of 3 possible types: description of opinion, argument or social problem.
    Any essay you write on any topic must have structure – you receive (or lose)points for it. Structure means at least 4 paragraphs (5 is better). First paragraph is introductory, the next two or three is the actual essay – its body, and the last one for conclusion.
    The first thing to do is to understand what kind of topic is before you.
    • For argument – you need to explain both sides and agree with one of them
    • For opinion – you need to present another point of view and say which one you agree with and why
    • For problem – you need to explain it, discuss and offer solution and discuss it too.No matter what type of essay you are writing, you must provide some facts, evidence and information. When you explain the problem – evaluate it; say when/where/who for it is especially difficult. If you present an idea of solution – discuss it; say what its good and bad sides are. Add examples from your own experience to support what you're saying.
    In any essay logical sequence of information is very important. Jumping from one idea to another it is very bad for you score, all ideas must be connected logically. Another important thing is “smart” words – try to use them as much as you can, it is also affects your score. Punctuation is important too.
    IELTS Writing: telling the difference between formal and informal
    Many of you have asked me about the difference between formal and informal writing in IELTS and this tells me that it's a common problem. So here is what you need to know about the styles of writing in IELTS.
    If you are preparing for the Academic IELTS module, both Task 1 and Task 2 in the Writing test are formal. For General Training candidates, Task 2 in Writing is always formal, and Task 1 can be formal or informal.
    As you know, Task 1 for GT module is a letter, and if the topic asks you to write to someone you know, that is an informal letter – as opposed to writing to someone you don't know; which is formal.
    The difference between formal and informal styles is mainly in the vocabulary. Informal words are the ones used in everyday conversations and formal are used in books, contracts, business letters and essays. If the task requires formal writing – avoid using informal vocabulary. If the task requires informal writing, such as a letter to a friend, avoid using formal ‘heavy' words.

    Apart from the vocabulary in formal writing it is best to avoid words like “I”, “you”, “we”, unless you are expressing an opinion. For example in an essay instead of writing “You would find it difficult to get a job without proper qualifications”, write something like “One would find it difficult to find a job without proper qualifications”, or you could write “Finding a job without proper qualifications would be rather difficult”.
    For those of you who don't live in an English speaking country and don't speak English on daily basis it will be difficult to tell the difference between formal and informal vocabulary, which is why I compiled this short list of words. You could memorize it and use in your writing while practicing – this way the chances you will use the correct word in the exam increase.
    Formal Informal
    Inform me Let me know
    Cancel Drop
    Contact Get in touch
    Obtain Get
    Apologise sorry
    Postpone Delay
    Request Ask for
    Compensate Make up
    Establish Set up
    Discover Find out
    Handle Deal with
    Investigate Check up on
    Tolerate Put up
    Increase Go up
    Children Kids
    Many / Much A lot of
    Many / Much Heaps of
    IELTS Essay Plan –
    Traffic congestion and possible solutionsA student asked me about the following topic, whether I think it is a situation essay or an argument one.
    “The first car appeared on Britain's road in 1888. By the year 2000 there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on British roads. Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use. What are your views?”I think this is a situation essay because it is talking about a problem and is looking at a possible solution.
    Essay plan
    Introduction paragraph
    Here you should explain what is the problem, what is it's reason and it's consequences. The problem is traffic congestion and a higher number of traffic accidents, the roads are jammed and the environment suffers from increasing amounts of pollution.
    First body paragraph – an explanation of the reasons for this situation
    The reason is people are accustomed to using their own cars and that population growth combined with higher living standards means that more and more people own cars.
    Second body paragraph – a possible solution (alternative transport)
    Explain what forms of public transport should be developed more and why the state they are now is not sufficient to convince people use the public transport. How exactly can government develop the public transport and how can it encourage people use it.
    Third body paragraph – another possible solution (laws to control cars ownership)
    Write about what kind of laws can be introduced world wide to limit the number of cars per family / per company. Write whether or not you think it will work and why.
    Conclusion paragraph:
    Summarize what was said before, do not add new information.

    IELTS Essay plan: Good and bad of multicultural society
    This is a suggested plan for an essay on the following topic:
    “Today a lot of different cultures and ethnic groups live together in one country. Why is this so and do you think this is a positive or negative development?”
    Essay plan
    Introduction paragraph
    In the introduction paragraph you should first explain about the situation, mention its reason and consequences:
    Example: Due to the highly developed technology, advanced communication channels and massive amounts of information delivered by media about various countries, people get more motivated to leave their home country and move somewhere else in the world. In turn, this creates a situation where well-developed and thus desired countries are getting filled of a mixture of cultures, all brought by immigrants. As beneficial as this development is to the well-being of a country, it's drawbacks shouldn't be forgotten.
    First body paragraph – 1 point against multicultural society
    • People stick to their own ethnic group and don't interact with other groups, thus creating the opposite of united society.
    Make that point, explain why this is so and why this is bad for the country. Then mention the good sides of cultural mix to smoothly move on to the 2nd paragraph.

    Second body paragraph – 1 point for multicultural society
    • People from various cultures contribute in multiple different ways to development because they bring with them different sets of skills, characteristic from their home country.
    Make that point; explain why this is happening and why this is to the benefit of the ne country.
    Third body paragraph – 1 point for multicultural society
    • People broaden each other's horizons by exposing a larger audience to the traditions of their own country.
    Make that point, explain how this is happening and what are the benefits for the new country.
    Summarize what was already said without adding new information, express your own opinion.
    IELTS Essay plan: Women ruling the world would reduce violenceI've received a letter from a student who ran out of ideas to write about in his IELTS essay. Nick (not his real name) was asking me if I could send him a plan for his essay and I thought that more people could find it useful, so here it is:
    Essay topic: Some people think that if women were to rule the world, there would be less violence in it. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?Essay plan
    Introduction paragraph
    In the introduction you can first state that there are people who think that women have a less violent nature than men and for this reason suggest that women would make the world a less violent place if they were in power. Then you could mention that putting the women in charge won't necessarily have that effect, because there are arguments for and against.
    First body paragraph
    � 3 points against women in power
    • Ruling the world takes some cruelty that women might not have
    • Having more submissive nature than men, women can create even more violence
    • Women are not decisive enough to enforce order and thus reduce violence
    Second body paragraph
    � 3 points in favor of women in power
    • Women have less violent nature
    • Women have less tolerance for violence
    • Women are very concerned with making the world a safer place for the sake of the kids
    State your personal opinion (let's assume that you're in favor of women in power), then summarize what was said in the second paragraph.
    System Manager (2231-11) applied 03-Oct-09 |CO Assigned 17 Nov 2010 |Visa Grant 22 Nov. 2011 |Landed 18-Feb-2012

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