The dangers of memorised statements in essays.

Be careful of memorised sentences in your writing.

There are some IELTS teachers out there who tell students to write an outline statement after the thesis statement. 

To be honest, this is not a good way to structure the introduction. Outline statements are only for true academic essays that are many pages long, like you would write at university (IELTS essays are short discursive essays)

Another reason why I advise not writing them is that they look like they have been memorised. The examiner is looking out for memorised statements and sentences. 

You could lose points on this in task response and lexical resource. To put it simply, you have to use your own words. The IELTS examiners are looking at how you can use language naturally and coherently.

Examples of memorised or ‘cliche’ phrases:

In an introduction:

  • I will argue both points and present my opinion.
  • This essay would like to explore reasons for this and offer possible solutions.
  • I will illustrate my view in more detail in the following essay.
  • The following essay will outline more reasons why I hold this view.
  • I will give reasons and argue my opinion in the following essay.
  • This essay will endeavour to shed light on these issues.

Cliches to start a conclusion:

  • The above points illustrate my opinion.
  • As stated above these are the reasons for my view.
  • In a nutshell, I think….
  • All things considered….
  • The crux of the matter is…
  • All in all, I think….
  • To reiterate my views….
  • Last but not least..

I think you get the idea, these are not good to put in an IELTS essay. It is easy for a lower Band score candidate to just memorise these phrases and plug them into the essay.  I have seen so many variations of these when I mark writing. It is better to do just 2 things when writing an introduction.

  1. Paraphrase the task question.

  2. Write a thesis statement (include an opinion if asked for)

After analysing the question, finding out what you exactly need to write about, you can plan your ideas and supporting points (take 10 minutes to do this) only after planning should you go into paraphrasing the task question in the introduction, then write a thesis statement (which includes your opinion if it is asked for)

For a lesson on paraphrasing click here ….For a lesson on Thesis statements click here..

An introduction should be under 55 words. Why? because it could just end up looking like a body paragraph, and you just do not have time to write a really long introduction. It is the same with conclusions…keep them to the point. The key is to keep introductions and conclusions short and concise. Use the body paragraphs to go into detail and explain your main points with examples.

Here is a recent example I saw with a memorised outline statement:

Task question:
The impact that the growing demand for more flights has had on the environment is a major concern for many countries. Some people think that one way to limit the number of people travelling by air is to increase tax on flights…. To what extent do you think this could solve the problem?

It is argued that the increased in air traffic has a major impact on the environment. Some hold the view that increasing tax on air travellers can solve this problem. In this essay  I will substantiate my views with relevant examples.

The text in red is the kind of thing that examiners will see as memorised. In my view these types of sentences should be avoided.

This introduction below would be better:

The increasing need for air travel has had a negative effect on the environment, which is a cause for concern worldwide. Some people believe that taxing air travellers is a solution to reducing flights. I completely agree, because aeroplanes create large amounts of C02, and the building of new airports impacts local ecosystems.

The sentence in green is the thesis statement and contains reasons for the opinion.

Any comments? leave them below.