IELTS TOP TIPS #3

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Writing: speed copying

Find a piece of text you would like to model your own writing on. It could be an article on a topic of interest, an essay you have written and re-edited or it could be a model essay your teacher has given you. If it is your own writing and your own ideas, make sure it is a polished piece of writing that has been edited and redrafted at least three times with the help of a teacher.

Set your timer for 3 minutes. Copy the text as fast as you can. Stop at 3 minutes. Count how many words you have written. Set the timer again and copy the same text for 3 minutes. How many words did you manage this time? Try a third time. 3 minutes. Count the number of words. Did you write more the third time? Are you beginning to remember common phrases?

This kind of practice can speed up your hand-writing as well as help you to learn new phrasing and formal English expressions.

Written by a Bayside IELTS expert, Melbourne

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IELTS TOP TIPS #2

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Writing: 2 simple ways to dramatically boost your score

An IELTS examiner marks your essay according to 4 criteria; Task Response (TR), Coherence & Cohesion (CC), Lexical Resource (LR) and Grammatical Range & Accuracy (GRA). If you want to score 7+, you need to score well in all 4 criteria.

The good news is, there are some super simple ways to lift your scores.

  1. Answer the question! Obvious, right? But you wouldn’t believe how often we see candidates who miss half the question, write off-topic or fail to give a clear opinion. If you miss part of the question, you can’t score over band 5 in TR. If you are asked for an opinion and you don’t give it, you won’t score more than band 3 in TR. BAND 3!!
  2. Write in paragraphs. Again, so simple. Make sure you always have an introduction, 2-4 body paragraphs and a conclusion. Visually separate your paragraphs by leaving an empty line so the examiner can clearly see the breaks and ensure each body paragraph has a clear central topic. No paragraphs = band 4/5, illogical paragraphs = band 6.
  • See the Task 2 IELTS marking criteria here.
  • See a band 9 essay here. Note the three body paragraphs to deal with each of the three questions.

Written by a Bayside IELTS expert.

 

 

Task 2: Animals

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. Write about the following topic:

With deforestation, urban development and illegal hunting, many animal species are becoming endangered and some are even facing extinction.

Do you think it is important to protect animals? What can be done to deal with this problem?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Write at least 250 words.

*****

Many species are on the verge of extinction as a result of habitat destruction, poaching and population growth. In my view, it is vital to work towards the preservation of all species and there are a number of ways to do this.

Without doubt, animal conservation must be a global priority. Humans are just one part of a delicately balanced ecosystem so when one species is lost, the knock-on effect can be catastrophic. This is true regardless of the size and distribution of a species. Take bees as an example. Although they may be considered simply an annoyance to ordinary people, in fact they play a vital role in pollination and, therefore, food supply. Without them, our entire agricultural system, upon which we rely so heavily, would collapse. Thus, it is vital for government, scientists, conservationists and the general public to work on the prevention of extinction.

There are several ways to protect animals. The most effective one is habitat preservation. Indeed, this is essential for a species’ long-term viability. To protect wilderness areas and habitat, urban sprawl must be curbed and deforestation limited to a smaller, sustainable scale. This may mean increasing the density of urban areas by building up, rather than out. Another option is to crack down on illegal hunters through heavy penalties and greater surveillance. Such initiatives are already having an impact on threatened tiger populations in Sumatra. Lastly, more research and education about breeding up captive populations and sharing such knowledge globally could also be effective.

In conclusion, although the situation for many animals is dire, with cooperation and creative thinking, their future may not be so bleak.

(273 words | Band 9)

Written by a Bayside IELTS expert

Task 1: Process (bricks)

 

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
The diagram illustrates the process that is used to manufacture bricks for the building industry. 
Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.
Write at least 150 words.

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The process diagram shows how bricks are made from clay for the construction industry

Overall, the brick-making process involves 7 steps, beginning with the extraction of raw material from the ground and finishing with the delivery of the finished bricks.

First of all, clay is dug from the ground with a digger and then put through a metal grid which sifts the large chunks from the pure clay. Sand and water is then added and the mixture is either cut into bricks with wire or put into a rectangular mould to achieve the final shape.

Once the bricks have been formed, they are sent to a drying oven for 1 to 2 days before entering the heating stage. Here, they are heated in kilns firstly at moderate temperatures (200-980 degrees Celsius) and then at high temperatures (up to 1300 degrees). The cooked bricks are then moved into a cooling chamber for another 48-72 hours. From here, they are packaged and transported to their final destination by truck.

(167 words | band 9)

(image via http://ieltsmaterial.com/ielts-writing-task-1-process-diagram-tips/)

IELTS TOP TIPS #1

Top Tips 1

Writing and Speaking: Google is your friend!

“I don’t know anything about ….” We hear this all the time from test takers. No need to panic!

Whatever the topic is; GM food, anorexia, factory farming – someone has already thought about it, written about it, spoken about it. If you can’t do an IELTS preparation course, you can use Google to find ideas for essays and to read up on topics you’re unfamiliar with. Remember, you don’t need original ideas in the exam – but you do need ideas.

Tip: Use “The Age” “The Guardian” or “BBC” in your Google search to find relevant, high-quality articles. Choose 1 or 2 articles and read for ideas but also for vocabulary chunks that you could use in your writing and speaking tests.

eg:

Google GM food

 

  • See a list of common IELTS topics here.
  • See a sample band 9 essay and a related article that inspired the writer here.

 

Written by a Bayside IELTS expert

Task 2: Celebrities

Many people believe that media coverage of celebrities is having a negative effect on children. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

 *****

Quick essay plan: 

Introduction: 1. Background: celeb news is everywhere. 2. Reword the question. 3. My opinion: I totally agree.

Body 1: The amount of celebrity news has a negative effect on children + How/Why + examples

Body 2: The content of the celeb news also has a negative effect + How/Why + examples

Conclusion: Celeb news is bad and children need better inspiration

*****

In our modern world, celebrity news is ubiquitous, bombarding us 24/7.  Many feel that this constant stream of star gossip is having a detrimental effect on youngsters. Personally, I completely agree that not only is the quantity of such ‘news’ troubling, but also the content sends the wrong message to children.

There can be no doubt that the overwhelming amount of celebrity news in the media these days sends a powerful and worrying message to young people. When, despite global crises or tragedies, Kim Kardashian’s latest selfie is headline news, it suggests to children that celebrities and their glamorous lives are the most important things in the world. This, in turn, implies that fame ought to be the ultimate goal in everyone’s life. Such a message undermines the importance of education, of striving to achieve, and of pursuing a career in a field other than show business. Rather than being swamped by images of actors and singers, young people should be surrounded by stories of compassion, leadership and inspiration.

In addition to the sheer volume of celeb news, there is also the actual content to consider. Rarely do we see stars celebrated in the media for their humanitarian work or acts of generosity. Instead, the media reports on Britney’s weight gain or loss, Beckham’s new hairstyle, or Angelina’s new shoes. This focus on superficiality reinforces the idea that life is all about looking good and having an expensive wardrobe. For young people, this message can lead to serious body image issues including anorexia and bulimia, as well as an unrealistic view of the world and of success.

In conclusion, the media is saturated with the minutiae of celebrities’ lives and this is having a negative impact on the way young people see themselves and the world. It is therefore incumbent on parents and educators to steer young people away from such nonsense and towards more important stories that may inspire and motivate them to achieve something beyond simply fame.

(329 words | band 9)

Written by a Bayside IELTS expert

 

 

Task 2: Crime (re-offending)

 

You should spend around 40 minutes on this task. Write at least 250 words

Many criminals re-offend after they have been punished. Why do some people continue to commit crimes after they have been punished, and what measures can be taken to tackle this problem?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Write at least 250 words

*****

Before writing this essay, I read this article from The Guardian. It gave me lots of good ideas and some nice vocabulary chunks too.

*****

Crime is a pervasive problem in most countries around the world. Despite penalties such as incarceration and fines, many criminals are likely to re-offend. In this essay, I will outline three main reasons for this and suggest some ways to minimise the problem.

Criminals commit offences after punishment for several reasons. Firstly, their background plays a major role. For instance, if a person comes from a criminal family, or has friends involved in drugs and burglaries, it can be difficult for them to escape this world. In addition to this social factor, substance abuse can also increase the likelihood of returning to crime. Indeed, the majority of crime stems from drug and alcohol addiction. Finally, being an ex-convict often means being stigmatised and excluded from society. This ostracism may thus limit their ability to find work, housing and, essentially, to rebuild their lives. Without any opportunities, the offender may revert to a life of crime.

Despite the seriousness of the recidivism problem, there are a number of possible ways to remedy the situation. The key factor is the treatment of the underlying issues. In many cases, this may mean rehabilitation for drug or alcohol dependence, either in prison or in the community.  In other cases, education programs or training could be useful. These practical skills and qualifications can enhance employability, which would, in turn, dramatically reduce the risk of re-offending. To complement this, work placements or job-hunting assistance would also help to improve former criminals’ prospects.

In conclusion, although re-offending can be a vicious cycle, driven by background and social problems, it can be reduced by effective intervention initiatives and greater support in the community.

(275 words | band 9)

written by a Bayside IELTS expert