Do The IELTS Essay Questions Repeat? - IELTS University (Singapore)

Do The IELTS Essay Questions Repeat?

Since the writing module accounts for 25% of test-takers overall IELTS score, and it is notoriously tough, many candidates wonder if the essay questions repeat. This is mostly because they wish to prepare their responses to such questions in advance. In this essay, we will take a look at whether the IELTS essay questions repeat or not.

How Previous Questions Are Sourced

In all honesty, no one can really know what the actual bank of IELTS essay questions is, that is because actual past papers are never printed out by the organisations that own the exam. We only get a basic idea about the essay questions from the feedback given by former candidates and that is not always reliable since they probably don’t remember the questions exactly due to exam stress. So the only people who know whether the questions repeat are the employees of the IDP, the British Council and Cambridge.

Most essay questions are derived from a set of common core topics and these have remained the same for many years now. So while the exact essay question might not repeat, the topic might be repeated several times. This information is useful because it allows you to learn vocabulary and phrases related to these common topics. However, when you learn new and unfamiliar words, make sure that you can flexibly use them in different contexts since as I mentioned the essay question might not always be straightforward.

These core topics include;

  • Health
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Development
  • Globalization
  • Public Transport
  • Criminal Justice
  • Youth Crime
  • Technology
  • Government Spending

Why Memorising Repeated Essays Is Not Useful For The IELTS Writing Test

Many students think that since these common topics often repeat it would be much easier to just memorise essays that are related to these topics. However, the essay questions are neer just general or straightforward for discussion about a certain topic. There is always something specific that needs to be argued or discussed and if you provide a general essay on the topic, you will lose out heavily on your task achievement score.

For example, take the following sample essay

Some people think high-end technology can prevent and cut down the rate of committing a crime. Do you agree or disagree?

We know that the general topic is about crime and technology (high-end technology). However, it is important to take the time and analyse exactly which aspect of technology and crime the essay question is asking us to focus on.

We are being asked about our views on whether technology can be used to reduce the rate of crime. If the candidate had written a memorized essay that was about crime or technology in general they would have not scored well at all, even if they used good grammar and uncommon vocabulary.

To add to this the examiners are well trained to determine scripted and memorised answers. Remember they are on the lookout for natural-sounding English, and if your essay does not meet these standards, you will lose out on getting your desired band score.

If you feel that your writing skills are in any way lacking, then I recommend enrolling in a good IELTS course under the supervision of an English language expert. This will drastically cut down the time it takes you to identify your weak areas and improve on them.