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The 4 Things Examiners Love: Grammar

Part 1: Task Response

Part 2: Coherence & Cohesion

Part 3: Lexical Resource (Vocabulary Range)

Part 4: Grammatical Range & Accuracy

Have you read 3 Things Every IELTS Student Needs To Know About The Writing Band Descriptors? If not, go ahead and click here.


In this post, we will discuss what IELTS examiners are looking for when they grade you for “Grammatical Range and Accuracy” in Writing Task 2.

Grammatical Accuracy: The ability to use correct and precise grammar with control. Mistakes that impact communication are considered more severe mistakes.

Grammatical Range: Being able to use a variety of sentence structures, tenses, and other items to convey intended meaning.

Knowing what examiners what helps you to set a clear goal, so that you know WHAT you are working towards - not preparing blindly and taking the exam blindly.

Therefore, it makes complete sense for us to take a look at the IELTS Band Descriptors for Grammatical Range and Accuracy (Band 6 to 9) right now.

NEW (From September 2020 Onwards)

Attend a Free 2-Hr Live IELTS Masterclass on Zoom to get the most comprehensive introduction to the IELTS exam where you can ask questions about IELTS and my IELTS classes. WhatsApp Jonathan at +65 9768 1054 with the words "I'm interested in your IELTS Masterclass" and the Zoom link will be sent to you.

Band 7

If your aim is a band 7, you need:

  • “a variety of complex structures”
  • “frequent error-free sentences”
  • “control of grammar and punctuation” though you may “make a few errors”.

Band 6

For a target score of band 6, you need:

  • “a mix of simple and complex sentence forms”

You are allowed to:

  • make “some errors in grammar and punctuation" but "rarely reduce communication”.

This means that if your errors prevent the examiner from understanding your idea easily, you will not be able to get band 6.

PART ONE: ACCURACY

To illustrate the meaning of accuracy, read the 2 sentences below carefully.

Note: Many students tell me they want to “give” IELTS exam when they truly mean they want to “take” the IELTS exam!

The More Serious Mistake

Both are grammatical errors, but were you absolutely confused when you read the second sentence? How can a person “give” an exam? The examination board “conducts” the exam, but students “take” an examination.

Due to the fact that the second sentence confuses readers, it is a more severe mistake compared to the first sentence.

Grammatical errors are especially difficult to correct because it is like breaking a bad habit you have been formed over many years. It takes a lot of effort and time to overcome these bad habits and start forming good habits.

The Good News

I understand the difficulties students face, so I have come up with a quick and proven method to write accurately and quickly. Under the exam conditions, you only have 40 minutes to complete Writing Task 2. This includes time needed to planning, writing and checking.

Hence, my method is to use writing frameworks that help you to save a lot of time, as well as write more accurately because all you have to do is to follow a template! Read more about it here! 😉

Do You Make these 10 Grammar Mistakes?

Still, you should learn what the common grammar mistakes are because you need to know the basics. 

90% of students make these Top 10 Grammar Mistakes. Make sure you read this article as well if you are serious about improving your English grammar!

PART 2: GRAMMATICAL RANGE

Next, you need to have a wide enough Grammatical Range. There are many ways to demonstrate your grammatical range.

One of the key ways is to use complex sentences. However, that doesn’t mean you should use long, complex sentences throughout your writing. It will affect your “Coherence” score as it may make reading difficult.

The way you control the mix of simple and complex sentences should be natural and fluent.

Let me show you how you can transform a boring, simple paragraph into one that has more structural range:

BEFORE

"There is another way forward. [Simple Sentence] Museums and historical sites can change the approach to presenting information on history. [Simple Sentence] For example, museums could use high-tech methods such as multimedia to make exhibitions more attractive. [Simple Sentence] For historical sites, the context could be told in an engaging way that is relevant to the lives of the locals." [Simple Sentence]

There are 4 separate simple sentences in the previous paragraph. Let’s transform them into 2 sentences. I’ll highlight the key linking words and phrases:

AFTER

"Another way forward is for museums and historical sites to change the approach to presenting information on history. [Simple Sentence] For example, museums could use high-tech methods such as multimedia to make exhibitions more attractive whereas the context of historical sites could be told in an engaging way that is relevant to the lives of the locals." [Complex Sentence]

Do you see how there is a better mix of simple and complex sentences in the transformed paragraph? This is what is meant by grammatical range.

Note: There are others ways to increase your grammatical range, such as playing with modal verbs, comparatives, passive tense and conditionals.

A Smart Way to Improve

I always tell my IELTS students that there are those who work HARD, and there are those who work SMART.

A smart way to use better grammar is to start using templates that are prepared by qualified IELTS teachers. Using the wrong template can cause you to make other errors (e.g. not addressing the task fully, making other grammatical errors, etc.).

If you want to see how I teach my students to use writing templates in my IELTS preparation course, go here and get my template for free.

All my students love these templates because really cut down preparation time a lot!


Summary

Here is a quick summary of what we have covered today:

  1. You can set more meaningful study goals if you know what examiners want (from reading all the exam band descriptors, like the one provided above).
  2. Not all grammatical errors are equal. Those that confuse readers are more serious errors than others.
  3. Increase grammatical range by varying sentence structures.
  4. Using pre-written templates by qualified IELTS trainers can help you to achieve both grammatical range and accuracy in a much shorter time.


No more frustration in your IELTS preparation.

Prepare for your IELTS exam in just 4 weeks with Professional Coaching!

If you happen to be in Singapore (lucky you!), and if you are someone busy yet you need to prepare well for your IELTS exam, check out my IELTS Classes in Singapore.

Many of my students commented that they retook the IELTS exam too many times. When they found me, they got so enlightened that they finally went on to pass their IELTS exam. How they wish they had known me much earlier before, like you do right now. 

So learn from their mistakes. Don't wait until you have retake the IELTS exam again and again before you seek professional help.​

If you can questions, give me a ring (I promise I'm friendly!), or WhatsApp me at 9768 1054 for more information about my classes.

Make the smart choice, wonderful people of the World Wide Web! 

The 4 Things Examiners Love: Lexical Resource

Part 1: Task Response

Part 2: Coherence & Cohesion

​Part 3: Lexical Resource (Vocabulary Range)

​Part 4: Grammatical Range & Accuracy

This blog post series is a continuation of 3 Things Every IELTS Student Needs To Know About The Writing Band Descriptors. Have you read it yet? If not, go ahead and click here.


Lexical Resource: The range of vocabulary which you know for conveying your intended meanings with precision.

What it is NOT: Using extremely difficult (and low frequency words) and even the examiners cannot recognise (e.g. anfractuous or dilatory).

What did the IELTS examination board say about Lexical Resource?

Here is a snapshot of Lexical Resource from bands 4 to 9.

NEW (From September 2020 Onwards)

Attend a Free 2-Hr Live IELTS Masterclass on Zoom to get the most comprehensive introduction to the IELTS exam where you can ask questions about IELTS and my IELTS classes. WhatsApp Jonathan at +65 9768 1054 with the words "I'm interested in your IELTS Masterclass" and the Zoom link will be sent to you.

Band 8 or 9

According to the descriptors, you have to use “a wide range of vocabulary”, “convey precise meanings” and skilfully use “uncommon lexical items”.

Sounds like a tall order!

Tall Order: A task or job that is difficult to carry out.

But if you are aiming for 6 or 7, here are the descriptors for you.

Band 6 or 7

You have to use “a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow for some flexibility and precision” and use “less common lexical items”.

There is slightly more room for mistakes to be made here compared to band 8 or 9, but you really want to MINIMISE that from happening.

So, what do all these band descriptions mean for your writing? 

PART 1: SYNONYMS

In order to show that you have “flexibility and precision”, you will like to use synonyms for words that tend to be used frequently in the essay. These words are often key words in the essay question itself.

Take a look at the essay question below. I have picked out two words that I can paraphrase for a start.

Studies show that overeating is as harmful to people’s health as smoking. Therefore, advertisements of certain food products should be banned, just as cigarette advertising is banned.

To what extent do you agree?

Let’s begin with just two words here - “harmful” and “banned”. The diagrams below show you each of their synonyms (words of similar meaning).

Notice how I have also used the phrase “made illegal” to substitute “banned”? It is perfectly all right to use a phrase to take over a term you want to paraphrase. Don’t be stuck in thinking that you can only use one word to paraphrase the original word.

You should spend one or two minutes thinking of easy paraphrases for key words in the essay question BEFORE you begin writing because you will very likely need to use these key words over and over again throughout your writing. That is something that smart students do yet it is such a simple thing to accomplish.

WARNING!

Just because a word shows you in the dictionary DOESN’T MEAN it is suitable for use in your essay.

For instance, a search on thesaurus.com for the word “banned” returned the result “taboo”. This word is quite different from its original meaning in the context of the essay question!

Taboo: Usually used in the context of social or religious practices where something or an action is considered not appropriate.

This word will definitely NOT be suitable for substituting “banned”.

To make matters worse, thesaurus.com (a popular website students go to) did not even suggest other more appropriate synonyms like “disallowed", “prohibited”, etc.

If only English language is like math and has a strict, reliable formula to it… In reality, there are many nuances to the English language and you need a trained IELTS specialist to help you, especially if you are already weak in English.

You know the struggles you have:

  • You are not confident of using synonyms accurately
  • Just when you think you did a great job in paraphrasing, someone comes around and points out your mistake
  • You wonder if you are doing okay for your practice because you are all alone on your IELTS journey

At the end of the day, you need CONSTRUCTIVE feedback for what you are doing. With good feedback that will point you the right direction, you can make PROGRESS in your preparation. Think about it - isn't it right?

So make sure that you are getting professional help if you know you CANNOT HANDLE this on your own. Ultimately, getting an IELTS specialist to help you may save you a lot more money than trying your luck and retaking the IELTS exam many times over. 

Okay, enough preaching. Let’s get back to business, and move on to Part 2 of Lexical Resource. 

PART 2: TOPIC RELATED VOCABULARY

Another way to achieve a wide range of vocabulary is to use topic related vocabulary.

I highly encourage you to start collecting useful vocabulary phrases and categorise them into common IELTS topics. When you are tackling an essay question related to that topic, pull out your mind map(s), and apply the phrases whenever suitable.

I have already created 12 complete sets of vocabulary mind maps and I am going to show you how I will apply them to this IELTS essay question. 

I do not usually openly share notes that my students have paid for, but I believe this will be helpful to you, so I'm going to reveal parts of how my mind maps look like.​

Here are portions of my “Technology & Media” and “Health” mind maps which I will use for this IELTS question.

There are the phrases I have picked out from the mind maps above:

Technology & Media

  • responsibility to do (something) rests on the government’s shoulders
  • limit the sale of unhealthy consumer products
  • ban misleading advertisements

Health

  • at the mercy of (something)
  • exposed to health risks

Remember that the chunks of language you have acquired can be versatile (adaptable). Here is how I will slightly modify my phrases to fit into a sentence that can be used in the essay.

Sentences Formed from Vocabulary Phrases

  • The mass public can be at the mercy of unscrupulous businesses if the government does not prohibit advertisements that encourage unhealthy eating habits.
  • Citizens can be exposed to health risks because of such irresponsible advertisements.
  • The government would have failed them because of the lack of intervention as the responsibility to safeguard its people’s interests lies on the government’s shoulders.

These are individual sentences that you can use in the introduction, body or conclusion paragraphs. How and where you use them is entirely up to you. I am simply demonstrating how you can create more powerful sentences if you have a list of vocabulary phrases or words ready.

To see how you can write fluently and coherently to link these separate sentences together, read this post on cohesion and coherence.

Remember!

1. The ability to use topic related vocabulary words or phrases whenever appropriate is a great way to demonstrate to the IELTS examiner that you are capable of using “less common lexical items”.

2. This will also help you to achieve “precision” in your writing. That’s killing two birds with one stone! I hope you get started on creating lists of vocabulary which you can use for your IELTS writing.

If you are keen on my vocabulary class, register here to indicate your interest, and I’ll keep you informed when I run a class specially to help students with improving their vocabulary.

PART 3: COLLOCATIONS

Collocations: a word or phrase that is often used with another word or phrase in a way that sounds correct

To meet the Band 7 Writing Task 2 criteria, you have to use “less common lexical items with some awareness of style and COLLOCATION”.

In other words, you have to use less common vocabulary (something we have already covered in the earlier part of this post), and you CANNOT make too many collocation errors.

In the exercises below, you will find many collocations that go with common nouns which you often have to use in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Read each of the questions below and select the right answers. Have fun!

Which words did you find tricky? 

Comment below, and tell me how many points you got from these two short exercises!


Summary

Here is a quick summary of what we have covered today:

  1. Think of synonyms to substitute keywords you find in the essay question. ​They will be very helpful for you when you write your essay later.

    Be careful when you use a dictionary to look for synonyms. Make sure you are very sure that the synonym you have chosen is 100% suitable.
  2. Topic related vocabulary can help you in achieving a higher writing band score. 

    Collect these words and phrases and organise them into common IELTS topics. Use a mind map if possible. Make sure you pull out your lists and use these vocabulary often in your essay practices.
  3. Collocation accuracy is important. Pay attention to what words go with a keyword you want to use, and do not change the pattern of the collocation.


No more frustration in your IELTS preparation.

Prepare for your IELTS exam in just 4 weeks with Professional Coaching!

If you happen to be in Singapore (lucky you!), and if you are someone busy yet you need to prepare well for your IELTS exam, check out my IELTS Classes in Singapore.

Many of my students commented that they retook the IELTS exam too many times. When they found me, they got so enlightened that they finally went on to pass their IELTS exam. How they wish they had known me much earlier before, like you do right now. 

So learn from their mistakes. Don't wait until you have retake the IELTS exam again and again before you seek professional help.​

If you can questions, give me a ring (I promise I'm friendly!), or WhatsApp me at 9768 1054 for more information about my classes.

Make the smart choice, wonderful people of the World Wide Web! 

The 4 Things Examiners Love: Coherence & Cohesion

Part 1: Task Response

Part 2: Coherence & Cohesion

​Part 3: Lexical Resource (Vocabulary Range)

​Part 4: Grammatical Range & Accuracy

This blog post is a continuation of 3 Things Every IELTS Student Needs To Know About The Writing Band Descriptors. Have you read it yet? If not, go ahead and click here.


In this blog post, we are discussing how the Coherence & Cohesion criteria has a profound impact on your writing grade. More importantly, we will learn how to write so that you score well in this aspect!

Together with Task Response, this criteria is another one of the easier areas for you to improve in IF you work on it and remember to apply what I will be teaching you.

Coherence & Cohesion: How well your essay demonstrates a logical organisation of ideas by using a range of cohesive devices (linking phrases). The appropriate use of paragraphs is also a main ingredient in writing a coherent essay.

To write an essay that presents information which flow logically, writers throughout the ages have used linking phrases. The aim is to help readers read your written text with ease, and help them to see how your ideas are related to each other.

One trick to speed up your learning process is to make a list of all the linking phrases and words, and then categorise them into their functions. Place it on your desk and refer to it whenever you practice past IELTS exam essays.

All my students get the complete Linking Phrase table which I have created for them for purpose of the IELTS exam. It is only fair that I do not share everything which they have paid for here. They get the complete set of my resources and teachings, but right here, I’m still going to give you a simplified version of what my students get in my classes.

Let me demonstrate how linking phrases work together to improve the readability of a paragraph.

The first paragraph below is written WITHOUT linking phrases, and the second paragraph is written WITH linking phrases. Can you tell the difference in readability?

BEFORE

There is a tendency for schools to over-emphasise on academic subjects. Students can progress to enrol tertiary courses which will equip them with the necessary skills to become useful in the work place. People who are not academically inclined will fail to perform well, even if they have other outstanding talents not recognised by school. 

AFTER

A further reason for my opinion is that there is a tendency for schools to over-emphasise on academic subjects in the hope that students can progress to enrol tertiary courses which will equip them with the necessary skills to become useful in the work place. When this happens, people who are not academically inclined will fail to perform well, even if they have other outstanding talents not recognised by school. 

Most people would say the second paragraph is much easier to understand, and here how the additional linking phrases come into play:​

"A further reason for my opinion" shows that in the paragraph you are going to read, the writer is going to present a reason to support his view. The word "further" also implies that he has ALREADY presented a reason before this paragraph. It helps your mind's eye to see how this paragraph fits into the entirety of the essay.

"in the hope that" tells you what the DESIRED OUTCOME of a certain action.

"When this happens" gives you the clue that the writer is going to show you the RESULT in the sentence.​

NEW (From September 2020 Onwards)

Attend a Free 2-Hr Live IELTS Masterclass on Zoom to get the most comprehensive introduction to the IELTS exam where you can ask questions about IELTS and my IELTS classes. WhatsApp Jonathan at +65 9768 1054 with the words "I'm interested in your IELTS Masterclass" and the Zoom link will be sent to you.

Another Example

BEFORE

The city transport authority can improve and widen roads in order to raise higher safety standards for cyclists. People will feel safe on the road. They will naturally be more confident of cycling to get to their destinations. They can install bicycle stands outside train stations or major bus stops. People who live far away can then cycle to these train stations and bus stops before continuing their commute to work or school.

AFTER

Various courses of action could be taken in order to address the above. To begin with, the city transport authority can improve and widen roads in order to raise higher safety standards for cyclists. When people feel safe on the road, they will naturally be more confident of cycling to get to their destinations. Another way forward could be to install bicycle stands outside train stations or major bus stops. As a result, people who live far away can then cycle to these train stations and bus stops before continuing their commute to work or school.

Now, to get you more involved, mix and match the following 4 linking phrases used in the paragraph above to each of their 4 different purposes:

Make sure you attempt the short exercise above before looking at the answer below!

A Word of Caution!

Be sure to also pay attention to your GRAMMAR. Just because a linking phrase or word can show the accurate relationship between your ideas does not mean it is the correct one to use. You need to select one that can fit into your sentence with grammatical accuracy. 

You also do not want to overuse these linking phrases. It is a misconception to think that you need linking phrases or words in every sentence. Just remember that linking phrases are there to help you readers understand your ideas more quickly. They are not there to distract your readers!

Try the exercise below and choose the best linking phrase or word for each question.

Check your answer, and read the answer explanation for each question.

Road safety is a topic that is forever on the agenda because of the conflicting interests by, on the one hand, users 1) such as / for example motorists and motorcyclists and, on the other, most vulnerable groups like the cyclists and pedestrians.

The former group of users certainly need to consider their behaviour when pedestrians and cyclists are nearby. 2) Similarly / After all, they have the speed and the power to do damage. 3) Alternatively / However, it is also essential that pedestrians and cyclists be aware of such speed and power and not put themselves in positions where there might be a problem. 4) Apart of / Apart from lessons for young children, adults need regular reminders to behave appropriately. Everyone should be aware that the rules of the road are not inconvenient and irrelevant impositions, 5) but / like guidelines for the safety of everyone. Another party in road safety are, of course, the government, which draws up the rules and provides the road system.

Try the exercise above BEFORE you read the answers below!

Answer 

1) such as
When you use "for example", you need to tag it along with a complete sentence. e.g. "For example, I like to eat ice cream." "I like to eat ice cream" is a complete sentence.

However, in our original sentence, the noun phrases "motorists" and "motorcyclists" come after the blank which you have to fill in. Therefore, using "for example" would be wrong (you will need a complete sentence to use "for example" accurately).

"Such as" or "like" are used to list noun phrases like "motorists" and "motorcyclists". Hence, "such as" is the correct answer in this question.

2) After all
Similarly is used to show a same trait between two groups of people or objects. In this sentence, the “former group of users” refers to motorists and motorcyclists. They are not being compared to any other group at all. Rather, "after all" provides a reason to explain why the writer argues that they need to "consider their behaviour". 

​3) However
No alternate solution is given here, therefore the answer is not “alternatively”.

“However” is the answer because the previous sentences discuss the responsibility of motorists and motorcyclists, but now goes on to state that pedestrians and cyclists also have responsibility to stay safe.

4) Apart from
"Apart of" is just not grammatically correct. The correct preposition to use is “from”. Therefore, you always say “apart from”.

5) but
The “guidelines for the safety of everyone” is not given as a example, so you do not use “like”.

Two contrasting ideas are given here. One is that everyone should not think that rules are a source of inconvenience. Rather, rules are there to be like guidelines to keep everyone safe. Hence, you need to use “but” to show the contrast here.

Are you more enlightened now? Comment below, and tell me how many points you got from this short exercise!

Which question was the most difficult, and why?


IELTS doesn't have to be difficult.

Prepare for your IELTS exam in just 4 weeks with Professional Coaching!

If you happen to be in Singapore (lucky you!), and if you are someone busy yet you need to prepare well for your IELTS exam, check out my IELTS Classes in Singapore.

Many of my students commented that they retook the IELTS exam too many times. When they found me, they got so enlightened that they finally went on to pass their IELTS exam. How they wish they had known me much earlier before, like you do right now. 

So learn from their mistakes. Don't wait until you have retake the IELTS exam again and again before you seek professional help.​

If you can questions, give me a ring (I promise I'm friendly!), or WhatsApp me at 9768 1054 for more information about my classes.

Make the smart choice, wonderful people of the World Wide Web! 

The 4 Things Examiners Love: Task Response

Part 1: Task Response

Part 2: Coherence & Cohesion

​Part 3: Lexical Resource (Vocabulary Range)

​Part 4: Grammatical Range & Accuracy

This blog post is a continuation of 3 Things Every IELTS Student Needs To Know About The Writing Band Descriptors. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend that you read that post.


Good news for you, good IELTS students of the internet! Task Response is the first criteria of the four in the IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Descriptors, and it is also one of the easiest criteria to score really well in.

Task Response: How much your writing answers each part of the essay question. 

Read this post carefully and a few times if you need to. That is because if you understand what is explained here, you will save yourself many unnecessary hard knocks when you take the IELTS exam. 

Band Descriptors

Here is an image of the IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Descriptors. If you do not have a copy of it yet, you can download it.

To help you gain the most out of this post, I have taken a snap shot of the Task Response descriptors for bands 4 to 9. 

NEW (From September 2020 Onwards)

Attend a Free 2-Hr Live IELTS Masterclass on Zoom to get the most comprehensive introduction to the IELTS exam where you can ask questions about IELTS and my IELTS classes. WhatsApp Jonathan at +65 9768 1054 with the words "I'm interested in your IELTS Masterclass" and the Zoom link will be sent to you.

How to Score in Task Response

Now, consider the question below carefully:

In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.

What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them?

Cambridge 5, Test 3

Take a moment and think about this…

Do you think an essay that discusses one reason why people are putting on weight, and how to help people lose weight is an essay that will score well in Task Achievement?

Remember, a high score for Task Response is awarded when the essay:

  1. “addresses all parts of the task” and also
  2. “presents a fully developed position in answer to the question with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas”.

Some of you may think that you do not need band 9 for writing, but it is important to aim for a high score in Task Response because it is one of the easiest criteria to score well in.

"Addresses all parts of the task"

An essay that only discusses one reason why people are putting on weight, and how to help people lose weight will not score well. In fact, looking at the band descriptors image I have provided above, this type of essay will likely get a low band of 5.

Do you know why?

That is because the instructions told candidates to address the “causes of these problems”. The plural terms “causes” and “problems” tell you there are more than one cause and one problem to address.

Hence, from reading the essay question, you should be able to identify the “problems”. I have listed them for you below here:

  1. How the average weight of people is increasing
  2. How their levels of health and fitness are decreasing

Next, you need to think of possible “causes” of these problems:

  1. People are putting on weight because they are bombarded by advertisements that encourage people to eat tasty but unhealthy foods
  2. People are spending more time in front of the computer and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to lower levels of health and fitness

Do you now see how you have to identify the causes (plural, more than one) of these problems, rather than just provide one cause in order to answer the essay question fully?

Good, if you are following so far!

But that's not all! After this, you have to provide “solutions” for these “problems”!

Possible solutions:

  1. Educate people on what types of healthy foods to eat
  2. Build more sports facilities in neighbourhood areas

And that is how you ensure that you have "addressed all parts of the task"!

Not all IELTS questions are complicated or tricky though. Some other questions can be a lot more straightforward than this. The main thing is to practice enough IELTS essay questions, have a trained teacher to give you feedback on your work, and read the essay question very carefully during your examination.

This is exactly what I do in my classes to help my students pass their exams. If you want to have a fully-structured and complete IELTS course that helps you to overcome all the difficult parts of the IELTS exam, and you are tired of looking all over for bits and pieces of information on ​the exam, check out my classes or give me a ring at 9768 1054. 😉 

“A fully developed position”

If you are observant enough, you would notice that there is another part of the Task Response to fulfil. It says, "presents a fully developed position in answer to the question with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas".

In simple terms, you need to give elaboration and even examples to support your arguments.

It is insufficient to only list these causes and problems. You need to elaborate on EACH point, using about one to two sentences.

I’m going to show you how fully developing your ideas will look like.

BEFORE (CAUSES MAIN POINTS)

  1. People are putting on weight because they are bombarded by advertisements that encourage people to eat tasty but unhealthy foods
  2. People are spending more time in front of the computer and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to lower levels of health and fitness

AFTER (CAUSES MAIN POINTS + ELABORATION)

  1. People are putting on weight because they are bombarded by advertisements that encourage people to eat tasty but unhealthy foods.

    [Elaboration] Advertisements are seen everywhere. They are on the streets, on billboards, and even on the websites that we browse on mobile phones. 

    [Elaboration] It is a challenge to resist these ubiquitous advertisements which portray the allure of tasty but unhealthy food. 

  2. People are spending more time in front of the computer and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to lower levels of health and fitness.

    [Elaboration] People used to only spend time working on the computer, but these days, there are many exciting websites and social media platforms which people spend a lot of time on.

    [Result] They used to go outdoors for leisure but now spend time indoors on their mobile phones or tablets, resulting in an inactive lifestyle. 

See the difference after elaboration? For each of the main points I came up with, I provided further explanation and possible further scenarios to illustrate the effectiveness of my ideas.

Let's take a look at what can be done for "solutions". 

BEFORE (SOLUTIONS MAIN POINTS)

  1. Educate people on what types of healthy foods to eat
  2. Build more sports facilities in neighbourhood areas

AFTER (SOLUTIONS MAIN POINTS + ELABORATION)

  1. Educate people on what types of healthy foods to eat

    [Elaboration] The Health Promotion Board of each country should allocated resources to run health campaigns, giving people practical tips for eating more healthily.

    [Explanation] Since people are spending a lot of time online, launching online campaigns that encourage outdoor activities can prove to be effective in reaching this group of people.
  2. Build more sports facilities in neighbourhood areas 

    [Explanation] Accessible basketball courts not only encourage residents to play a game after work, they can also contribute to building a sense of community in the area.

    [Result] This can further inspire people to come together to participate in healthy activities.

Do you know something surprising? The total number of words there are after adding elaboration is about 260 words! That is 10 more words than the minimum word requirement of 250 words, and we have not even written the introduction and body paragraphs yet!

You do not have to write lengthy essays in the IELTS exam, but this demonstrates that good elaboration not only helps you to score better in Task Response, it also helps you to fulfil the word requirement.

I hope you have learned something valuable which you can immediately apply in your essay writing in order to improve on your IELTS Task 2 writing score!


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Many of my students commented that they retook the IELTS exam too many times. When they found me, they got so enlightened that they finally went on to pass their IELTS exam. How they wish they had known me much earlier before, like you do right now. 

So learn from their mistakes. Don't wait until you have retake the IELTS exam again and again before you seek professional help.​

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