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IELTS Writing part 2 help (general and academic)

IELTS writing part 2 is an essay, the difference between academic and general is the questions in academic are  “more difficult”. But it is a small difference. There are 5 or so main type of essays. In order to learn how to get an IELTS  7/8/9 in the writing, I recommend you

a – read the PDFs linked below

b – watch videos by me on my youtube channel

 

Once you have read the PDFs and watched the video you will know about

  • the types of essays and the differences
  • the structure expected
  • the four criteria the examiner uses to give you a mark
  • how to avoid typical mistakes (in grammar, vocab, orgnaisation and answering the question)
  • how to maximise your mark

 

A – ESSAY TYPES ( you can read in any order, but I recommend following the order given)

firstly read about … topic sentences

then the types…

Advantages and Disadvantages

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Discuss both sides and give your opinion

Two Questions Essay

To what extent do you agree?

B – Watch the videos here (in any order)

 

 

IELTS Essay – 2 questions – Rubbish

You can learn how to get a 7,8,9 in an IELTS two question essay by going through the steps below. Before doing them, I would advise you read the pdf on how to answer an IELTS two questions essay here.

STEP 1 – analyse the IELTS Two Questions essay task yourself and answer the questions:

What is the general topic? What are the specific details / parts of the topic and two questions? What is your answer?

Nowadays we are producing more and more rubbish. Why do you think this is happening?  What can governments do to help reduce the amount of rubbish?

(sent by a student, source unknown, perhaps Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests)

2 – watch the video where an IELTS examiner examines it

3 – plan the ideas  and paragraph structure and / or write your answer.

4 – watch the video analysis of an example answer

 

5 – read through the checklist below

IELTS two questions essay – Rubbish – checklist

6 – use the checklist for your writing (if you did it)

7 – watch a full analysis of another IELTS two questions essay here

 

IELTS speaking test: practice format / compare

You are going to practice answering questions in an IELTS speaking test, then compare your answers with another student.

a – Record yourself answering the questions below

b – Compare your recorded answer to the answer given by a 7 level student here

Part 1 – (for students)

Do you work or are you a student?

What subject are you studying?

Why did you choose this subject?

What do you hope to do when you finish your studies?

Let’s talk about weekends?

What do you usually do at the weekend?

What do you think you’ll do next weekend?

Do you enjoy your weekends more now than when you were a child?

How important is it for you to relax at the weekend?

Let’s talk about music

What sort of music do you like listening to?

Has the kind of music you like changed over the years?

Do you prefer listening to live music or recorded music?

Do you think listening to music helps you study?

Part 2

Describe a special gift or present you gave to someone

  • Who was the gift or present for?
  • Why did you decide to get this gift / present?
  • How did the person react to the gift / present?

And what do they think about it now?

——————————————————– (question to break off part 2 and go into part 3…)

Do you enjoy getting gifts?


Part 3

On what occasions do family members give gifts to each other in your country?

Do people tend to spend a lot of money on gifts?

What type of gifts to children give to adults?

At what age do children start to choose gifts for their parents?

How important is giving gifts within families?

What sort of aid do countries give to other countries?

What motivates one government to give aid to another one?

Exam Speaking: Talking about the future

In the IELTS /  Cambridge exams there is a 100% chance you will be asked a question about the future, most likely more than one. In the TOEFL it’s also reasonable to believe that you will be asked a question about the future.

A lot of canditates when talking about the future use “maybe” and “probably”, but it is a good chance to improve your range of both vocabulary and grammar.

First, watch an example of a student activating a range of structures. What structures can you hear?

 

 

Second, below are a series of questions about the future. Use the attached sheet here to improve your range of grammar and vocab when answering the questions.

If you want, make a link to a video you have done and post the link in the comments, I will have a look and give you feedback.

 

 

Personal Questions (IELTS part 1, CAE / CPE part 1)

Ask and answer the following questions……………

What will you be doing in 3/5/10 / 25 years’ time?

Where will you be living in 3/5/10 / 25 years’ time?

How many children / grandchildren will you have in 3/5/10 / 25 years’ time?

Will you do / be the following more or less in the future?……………………………………

e.g. “Will you read more or less in the future?” / “Will you be happier in the future?”

read / do dangerous things / dance / draw / donate money / write / trust people / watch movies / use technology / make presents by hand / look in the mirror / use public transport / drive a car / fly / use a phone / exercise / eat / go to concerts / travel / work / visit zoos / spend time with friends/ go to restaurants / visit libraries / sleep / go shopping / use electricity / go to cafes / study English / use English / read or watch the news / use paper / make speeches or presentations / go to parks / do gardening / use a computer / write sms’s / wake up early / play with children / lie on the beach / help elderly people / spend time in crowded places / sit in traffic jams / be happier / energetic / take photos / be late

 

General Questions (IELTS part 1, CAE / CPE part 1)

To make the questions suitable for Part 3 of the IELTS / CPE / CAE, just use  “Do you think people will …. more or less in the future?”

e.g. “Do you think people will read more or less in the future?”

“Do you think people will dance more or less in the future?

 

Active Grammar: Criticising yourself and others (past actions)

If you’re not happy about something that happened in the past and want to criticise yourself or another person, you can use…

 

subject + should + have + III

First, watch the video:

 

 

 

 

Now, read through written examples and watch the student video:

 

 

 

Note, ALL OF THE SENTENCES BELOW ARE ABOUT SITUATIONS THAT HAPPENED IN THE….

PAST

 

not about situations happening now or that might happen in the future

 

e.g. You can criticise yourself or your friends

I should have started learning English earlier. =Real situtaion: I didn‘t start English earlier and now I’m not happy about the fact and I want to criticize myself for this.

You should have told me earlier. =Real situtaion:you didn’t tell me earlier, I’m not happy about the fact that and now I’m criticizing you for this.

 

If you’re not happy with what your government / president did / did not do IN THE PAST, you can use this to critcize them…

The president shouldn’t have wasted so much money on useless roads last year. = I’m not happy that the president wasted money on the roads last year and I want to criticise him / her for this.

The government should have invested more money into education over the last ten years. =  I’m not happy that the government did NOT invest more money into education over the past ten years  and I want to criticiseit for this.

 

You can also criticise your parents for what they did  / didn’t do for you when you were younger:

My parents should have helped me more when I was younger.  = My parents did not help me enough and I want to criticise them

 

LINGUISTIC CHOICE:

You can improve your linguistic choice in this situation by making the criticism stronger or weaker.  In exams like IELTS  / TOEFL this will help improve your pronunciation and range scores

I really should have studied more for the exam. = strong criticism that I didn’t

I should have studied for the exam. = standard criticism

I probably should have studied for the exam.=  soft criticism

 

Analysize another student:

Listen to the student criticise herself for things she did  / didn’t do in the past using “really should have” and “possibly should have”. Does she

sound MORE critical when she uses “really should have” than when she uses “probably should have”

pronounce “have” as “ev” and fully join it to “should” or “shouldn’t” to produce “SHOULDev” or “SHOULDN’tev” (or is “ev” pronounced separately?)

 

 

 

 

GRAMMAR +

After criticising yourself or someone else about the past, you can imagine the alternative situation. This helps emphasise your point to the listener  /reader of HOW BAD THIS SITUATION WAS / IS!!! The structure for imagining about the past = if + subject + had(n’t) + III, subject + would (n’t) + have + III

e.g. Compare the three situations below. All are fine, but which shows the worst / saddest result…

  1. I really should have studied for the exam! I had studied more intensively, I would not have failed my exam.
  2. I really should have studied for the exam! I had studied more intensively, I would not have failed my exam.and my parents wouldn’t have taken away my car.
  3. I really should have studied for the exam! I had studied more intensively, I would not have failed my exam and I would not have lost my wife and house and wouldn’t be living on the streets now.

 

It’s probably 3.

EXAM TIP

in exams, some students use 3rd conditional mechanically. If you want to sound more natural…..

 

a –  avoid repeating the same thing

e.g.:

I should have studied more for the exam. If I had studied more for the exam…. =  repeating / saying the same thing= mechanical

I should have studied more for the exam. If I had been more studious …………. = not repeating = more natural

you can use “If I had(n’t) done so, ……”  if you can’t think of how to say the same thing a different way

e.g.

I should have studied more for the exam. If I had done so, I would have passed and I ……

 

b – use the “really” or “probably” with good intonation to show feeling, and make “have” “ev” and join to “should”

“I REEEEAAAALLLY should-ev studied” with annoyed intonation

“I proooooobably” should-ev studied” with “maybe” intonation

 

c – if the result of the imagined situation is now, then use the “would” half of the conditional in the 2nd conditional form.

e.g.

I would not have failed my exam (before) and I would still be able to drive  my car (now).

 

 

FINALLY, MAKE A VIDEO YOURSELF! If you want, put a link to your video in the comments and I’ll ive you feedback

 

10 Step Exam Speaking: How often (generalizing, contrasting)

Step 1: Listening practice

Listen once, twice or three times to the audio below to get the ideas

 

Step 2: Learn from listening

Listen again, pausing an repeating where necessary to make a note of useful expressions.

 

Step 3 “a” : Focus on structures for saying “how often” (or “not”)  you do something

Looking at the table below, listen again and mark which  “how often” (or “not”) structures are used.

IELTS speaking - How often

 

Note:

Once / Twice a week (NOT “in a week”)

Three / four / ten / 15 times a year / month

fortnight = two weeks – Once a fortnight = once every two weeks

If the number is not “a” month / year, then use every:

3 times every 2 weeks

5 times every 4 months

but

3 times a week

5 times a month

 

Step 3  “b” : Focus on structures for “generalizing” and “contrasting” 

Perhaps you noticed some of these structures in  “Step 2: Learn from listening” . In any case, looking at the tables below, listen again and mark which  “generalizing” and “contrasting” structures are used.

IELTS speaking: generalizing

IELTS Speaking: Contrasting

 

 

Step 4: Improve your pronunciation

Listen again to the structures,  make a note of stress and intonation.

 

Step 5: Moving from passive to active

Listen on repeat for a period of time. As you listen…

a – repeat the structures you hear from the tables, copying the stress and intonation

b – when you feel comfortage (still with the audio on repeat), repeat the structures and “finish”

 

Step 7: Linguistic choice

Think about your ideas to answer one of the questions. Choose the structure(s)  that best match(es) your opinion

 

Step 8: Fluency = 100%, Pronunciation = 100%

Without fully answering the question, practice again and again the structure until you feel that your “active use” of the structure is 100% fluent with 100% suitable intonation / stress.

 

Step 9: Fully active answer

Record yourself answering the question.

 

Step 10: Review and repeat

Listen to your answer, if you feel it needs to be done again, do it again. (Note, although practice makes perfect, it is a good idea to not repeat it too many times. As you move through the different questions you will get better.)

IELTS Writing 2 analysis: Task achievement for “Discuss Both Sides”

Some people say that violence shown in movies and on the news should be restricted since it can increase crime rates, whereas others believe that this is not the case, and such restictions are not necessary to reduce crime.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion

 

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

a) Read the answer, do not worry about language, focus on ideas and answer the questions:

Does the candidate when writing their ideas address (focus on / talk about) all parts of the task above?

When supporting the ideas with reasons and examples, does the candidate focus on the the parts in the task?

Nowadays the violence shown in movies and on the news is an issue of big concern. Many people claim that it should be restricted, for it is the reason of increasing crime rates. However, others believe that in order to reduce crime such measure is not necessary.

Many people claim that showing violence on the Tv has to be curbed, since it has a direct relevance on the increased crime rates in society. From this perspective, anything can be easily promoted when shown on the screen to the masses of people, for instance, in the movies or on the news, and the society is guided by what is presented to them foremost. In addition to that, children spend a lot of time watching TV and they are exposed to a great amount of negative information. Given that child psychology is not fully mature, this sort of propaganda can have a detrimental effect on their development.

However, other people state that such restriction is by far not necessary and will not contribute to decreasing crime rates. From this point of view, when violence, which is already existent, is represented frankly and openly, people see an explicit picture of the actual problems their social environment faces daily. Besides that, having a distant view on the essence and consequences of violence in general and in particular, one has a chance to grow aware of what is unacceptable in the society where he or she belongs as well as in the whole world.

To sum up, the issue of violence openly demonstrated on the television is extensively discussed. In my personal opinion, even though the abundance of such adverse information on the screens may have a negative impact on human psychology, and most significantly, on children’s mentality, placing a tight restrictions on broadcasts would not be an effective solution for crime prevention. I believe, that to a certain extent, such kind of content can bear a value as a distinct image of existent social problems and a demonstrative example of unlawful behavior.

Answer:

Let’s analyse this in detail…………………………………….

In order to see how well the candidate’s writing answers the parts in both sides of the argument, we need to establish what the parts are. The first argument has the following parts:

  1. violence shown in movies and on the news should be restricted

  2. the reason is such violence can increase crime rates

Therefore, in the paragraph connected with this side, the exam candidate should present reasons why people believe the above are true.

b) Read the topic sentence of the candidates’ first body paragraph again. Does it address (talk about) these specific parts of the task (violence / in movies and on the news / should be restricted / violence can increase / crime rates)?

Many people claim that showing violence on the Tv has to be curbed, since it has a direct relevance on the increased crime rates in society.

Answer:

Yes, it focuses on them.

This means that the candidate is directly addressing the parts in the exam task, so can get a 7,8,9 if they continue to address (talk about) these specific points.

c) Below is the first point after the topic sentence. Does it continue to develop the ideas of “such violence should be restricted” or “such violence can increase crime rates”?

From this perspective, anything can be easily promoted when shown on the screen to the masses of people, for instance, in the movies or on the news, and the society is guided by what is presented to them foremost.”

Answer:

To some extent they indirectly continue to address the parts of the exam task, but not directly. It talks about how “anything” can be promoted. “Anything” includes violence, so it is ok, but perhaps the candidate is starting to “lose” the specific topic. Perhaps not…… . The author then talks about how “society” is guided, again this is possible, but for this specific task there needs to be an argument about “how this can increase crime rates”. The candidate, however, does not make a conclusion about whether or not this”guidance” affects crime rates. This is a typical situation, where the connection is clear in the writer’s mind, and the examiner can guess “he / she probably wanted to say ‘and some people believe such guidance can result in people commiting crimes, thereby increasing the crime rate.”

According to the IELTS criteria,

conclusions become unclear” = 6

So make if you make the examiner guess your conclusions in the main body, you will probably get a maximum of 6.

Read the next part of the first body paragraph, again does it talk about ….

    1. violence shown in movies and on the news should be restricted

    2. the reason is such violence can increase crime rates

In addition to that, children spend a lot of time watching TV and they are exposed to a great amount of negative information.”

Answer:

No, it is starting to overgeneralize. It introduces a fact “children spend a lo t of time watching about TV”, it then introduces a second fact that the children see “a lot of negative information”. Is this negative information violence, or bad language, or pessimism, or sexual content? talks about

Perhaps in the next part, the author will clarify that part of this negative information is violence, and that it can increase crime rates. Does it?

Given that child psychology is not fully mature, this sort of propaganda can have a detrimental effect on their development.”

Answer:

No. “negative information” is paraphrased as “propaganda”, but we still have to guess what it means. The reader is given a fact that this propaganda can………negatively effect development. But the reader / examiner has to guess if the author believes thi negative development is connected with crime.

How can we improve this body paragraph?

  1. Make the conclusions clearer

  2. refer to key words more

  3. take out “general” information

For example:

Many people claim that showing violence on the Tv has to be curbed, since it has a direct relevance on the increased crime rates in society. From this perspective, not just violence but anything can be easily promoted when shown on the screen to the masses of people, for instance, in the movies or on the news. If it is violence, then the society may follow suit, possibly lifting the rate of crime. In addition to that, children spend a lot of time watching TV and they are exposed to a great amount of negative information, including violence. Some people believe that children in particular may be led into crime by seeing this violence given that child psychology is not fully mature.”

The second “argument” in the exam task has these specific parts:

  1. it is not true that violence (shown on the news and in movies) can increase crime rates.

  2. restrictions are not necessary to reduce crime

Read the paragraph topic sentence. Does it match the key actor / action / actees of the second side?

However, other people state that such restriction is by far not necessary and will not contribute to decreasing crime rates.”

Answer:

Yes, very clearly connected.

Read the rest of the paragraph. Does it develop the points in bold:

  1. it is not true that violence (shown on the news and in movies) can increase crime rates.

  2. restrictions are not necessary to reduce crime

From this point of view, when violence, which is already existent, is represented frankly and openly, people see an explicit picture of the actual problems their social environment faces daily. Besides that, having a distant view on the essence and consequences of violence in general and in particular, one has a chance to grow aware of what is unacceptable in the society where he or she belongs as well as in the whole world.

Answer:

No. The paragraph overgeneralizes. It addresses (talks about) a different task:

Can you write an exam task that the above paragraph would address (talk about)?

Possible Answer:

Some people believe violence on TV is OK because seeing violence on the news and in movies help people understand society and what is acceptable or not.”

As this paragraph is so over-generalized, it cannot be improved by small adding or changing. IT needs to be re-written with a greater focus on

  1. it is not true that violence (shown on the news and in movies) can increase crime rates.

  2. restrictions are not necessary to reduce crime

Highlight in bold the parts of the conclusion that address the specific task, and underline the parts that overgeneralize.

To sum up, the issue of violence openly demonstrated on the television is extensively discussed*. In my personal opinion, even though the abundance of such adverse information on the screens may have a negative impact on human psychology, and most significantly, on children’s mentality**, placing a tight restrictions on broadcasts would not be an effective solution for crime prevention. I believe, that to a certain extent, such kind of content can bear a value as a distinct image of existent social problems and a demonstrative example of unlawful behavior.

* Although this is relevant, it does not need to be put in the conclusion. Not putting this in the conclusion would make it shorter and fit the expected IELTS balance more.

** this part of the sentence is fine as it supports the second, main part.

We can see that the over-generalized, underlined part, is again connected with the “different” task from before

Some people believe violence on TV is OK because seeing violence on the news and in movies help people understand society and what is acceptable or not.”

a) Last question, for task achievement or “how well does the candidate answer and support the specific parts of the exam task”, which body paragraph was better, the first or the second?

Answer:

The first was better, as the examiner can at least guess the connection between the ideas in the paragraph and the specific parts of the exam task. It is maybe even a bit better than the TA 6 “conclusions are unclear”. We could create criteria and say “conclusions can be guessed” . The second body paragraph is a 5 “addresses the task only partially” (the candidate did talk about the effect of violence, but not in relation to increases in crime / or what it is if not violence on TV that increases crime. The examiner may even believe that it is a 5, in the criteria for a 5 it says “presents some ideas but they are irrelevant”.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Two Questions Essay

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IELTS Writing Task two - Two Questions essay

IELTS Writing Task 2: To what extent do you agree?

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IELTS Writing 2 To what extent do you agree

IELTS Writing Task 2: Conclusion

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IELTS Writing task 2 - Conclusion

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