Are you worried about time management?

ielts time managementTiming and preparation in IELTS Writing

One of the biggest concerns for people doing the IELTS exam, particularly the writing section, is timing.

Many candidates who do the exam get to the writing section and start stressing out because their time management becomes an issue. You only have around 40 minutes to write a 250 word essay, so straight away this tends to create anxiety, and then there is writing task 1 which should only take 20 minutes.  That’s 1 hour in total.

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Two easily confused essays (problem / causes solutions essay)

What is the difference between a Causes Solutions and a Problem Solutions essay?

Problem solutions and causes solutions essay are very similar but there is a subtle difference,  one type asks about the problems and the other type asks about the causes.

It is very important to spend a couple of minutes analaysing the task question so that you know what to write about in the essay. I have seen many good essays lose marks in Task Response because the writer did not find the issues in the task question, or did not fully understand what to write about.

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The dangers of memorised statements in essays.

Be careful of memorised sentences.

IELTS dangers

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.

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5 things to do before writing your essay

5 steps you should take when planning your IELTS essay.

Planning is incredibly important before writing an essay in writing task 2. (also for wrting task 1) Most teachers have different advice for this, some say 2 minutes others say 5 minutes and yet others say 7 to 10 minutes of planning time.

I believe that you should take at least 10 minutes to plan. Why? because I have had students before with good English skills who did not take the time to plan, they ended up with a Band 5 even though they were capable of a Band 7. Those students did minimal planning and just went straight into writing, lost track of what to write about, went off topic, didn’t structure the essay well and so on. This is where problems can arise when writing an essay. However, with the right steps in place you can go into the exam feeling confident of writing a good essay.

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Balancing your opinion in an IELTS essay.

ieltsHow to show the other side of the argument in an opinion essay.

In an opinion essay you need to clearly state your opinion, back it up with details and give examples. I usually advise my students to choose one side, either agree or disagree, and stick with that. You do not actually get a higher band score for a balanced approach so it is safer to choose one side and stick with that view throughout the essay. Remember that your opinion must be in the introduction, body paragraph and conclusion.

However,  something that will showcase your language ability is to show the other side of the argument, this helps to balance the essay. This can give the essay good coherence and you can demonstrate your grammar skills if you have strong grammar. However, this should be done carefully, because you still have to maintain your own opinion and not contradict yourself.

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IELTS Discussion essay: Model answer and analysis

Below is an IELTS question for writing task 2 and my model answer. It is on the topic of Education. After analysing the question, I can see that it’s about whether homework is a good idea or not in helping kids in their educational development. It asks me to discuss both views and also asks for my opinion.

In this case you must state your opinion in the introduction, the body and conclusion.

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When Should I Write My Opinion?

IELTS Essays: Knowing when to write an opinion

There is some confusion among IELTS students about when you have to give an opinion in an essay and when not to give an opinion.

If you are asked for an opinion and you don’t write it you could lose a band score, so it is a very important to understand when an opinion needs to be written.



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Personal Pronouns in IELTS Essays

Can you use personal pronouns in IELTS Essays?

This is a question I have been asked a few times and there is some confusion even among IELTS teachers about this. The quick answer is that it is fine to use personal pronouns in IELTS essays. There is nothing in the marking criteria that says you should not use them either. As long as they are kept to a minimum that is ok.

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How to use Cohesive Devices effectively

Guide to Linking and Cohesion in IELTS.

One of the most important skills for getting a good score in the IELTS writing exam, is the way cohesive devices or linking devices are used. In the marking criteria for task 2 essays and Writing task 1 reports, Coherence and Cohesion accounts for 25% of your marks, therefore it is important to have an essay that flows naturally and is easy for the reader to understand. A key component of this is cohesive devices, however, use them correctly and sparingly.

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Before writing anything, analyse the question

ielts analyse the questionSpend a few minutes analysing the question before writing your essay.

One of the most important things to do before planning or writing, is to first analyse the essay question so that you know exactly what to write about. Even students who have a higher level of English often have trouble with this, they think they are wasting time and want to get straight into writing the essay. As a result, they often end up losing a band score. The examiner must know that you have understood the question and that you are on topic.

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