IELTS Speaking IELTS Writing Study Tips Uncategorized

How We Crushed IELTS! Secrets of an 8.5 Score

More than two million IELTS tests are taken each year and the average candidate’s score is around 6.0. The score needed to enter a university course is typically 6.5 to 7.5.

But some candidates went beyond the call of duty and achieved IELTS 8.0 or 8.5. How did they do it? We asked, and here’s what they said.

Kanako from Japan, IELTS 8.0

I took the test five times and my highest overall score was 8.0 (9 9 7 7). The reason why I took the test so many times is because I got 6.0 or 6.5 for Writing at the first four attempts but I needed to get 7.0. In the end it almost drove me crazy but I did it. I probably did more than twenty Writing practice tests but it was worth it. I asked for feedback from different people including some friends who are native speakers and professional writing coaches such as this website. The range of feedback was surprising! Sometimes it was: Well done this looks fine to me! But I tried to listen more carefully for the criticism. The most important thing I learned was how to organise the essay into four clear paragraphs because I believe that structure is the first thing the examiner notices. I’m sure that was the key to getting 7.0.

Anna from Russia, IELTS 8.5

My overall score was 8.5 with 9 for Reading and Listening, 8.5 for Speaking and 7.5 for Writing. For Speaking: just keep talking! Whatever! As long as it is grammatically correct, the examiner doesn’t really want to know the details of your biography or what you truly think of the topic. They want to hear you speak. I was asked about public buildings. Yeah, right, I can’t sleep without thinking about public buildings. I recite poems about public buildings every day and sometimes at night. NOT! So I just launched an endless speech inventing things but trying to stick to the subject and connect all the ideas that came to mind to the public buildings, bless them 🙂 It worked. Dont try to use texts you learned by heart. You must sound as natural as possible. For this, read out loud, talk to yourself (yes, ignore haters:)), watch movies and don’t be afraid! And under no circumstances say “I don’t know” and then stop. Say instead: Hmm, I have never given it a thought, but this is an interesting idea. I would say… and blah-blah-blah!

Pie from Thailand, IELTS 8.5

I took the test a few years back and the score was 8.5 with a 9 in both Reading and Listening. I personally relied on neither tricks nor techniques at the time. With that said, I realized later that I should have, especially for the speaking and writing sections. I believe the key for those two parts is to make sure you don’t steer away from the given topic and the best way to do so is to answer positively if and when you can. By that I mean if asked whether you agree or disagree, try not to go with the latter and when asked to describe something, for example your favorite toy, don’t say that you don’t/didn’t have one.

Liz from Romania, IELTS 8.5

I finally scored 9 9 8 8 for my IELTS exam and now I’m waiting for my visa to be processed. The help I got from IELTS Academic with my Writing tasks and Speaking practice was great. What was the secret? Practice practice practice! I took many full tests at home, I timed myself, sat down and did Listening, Reading and Writing without moving, just like at the real exam. I also learnt special language requested in different topics in the Speaking exam. The Writing practice tests I took with IELTS Academic helped me to realise what I was doing wrong, and made a big difference for my overall score. I remember reading my first essays, then comparing them to my latest. Huge improvement. I also created the best conditions for myself before the exam, I slept as good as I could one week before, tried to keep calm and don’t exhaust myself, and really, the last time I took it I KNEW that I had done my very best and that it was hard to go any higher. A newcomer should take into consideration EVERY variable he/she can and not leave anything to chance.

So there’s your answer: there’s no single way to crush IELTS and achieve a Band 8 score. The candidates above all put in different amounts of effort, for sure.

Interestingly, all four candidates achieved the highest possible score of Band 9 in Listening and Reading, which suggests they already had an excellent understanding of English before taking the test. But they all found Writing and Speaking a bit trickier, as these sections are based on a more subjective assessment of skills.

For Writing and Speaking, the basic guide to success appears to be: (1) Get expert feedback on your Writing tasks and analyse what factors help to improve your score. (2) Maintain a positive outlook in Speaking and say as much as you can.

IELTS Writing

Write IELTS! Your Guide to Academic Writing

Academic writing is the style of English that we must produce in the IELTS Writing Academic module in order to get a score of Band 6 or above. It’s no use writing in an eighth-grade homework style when the purpose of IELTS Academic is to gain entry to a university or profession. So what is academic writing and how can we reproduce that writing style under severe time pressure in IELTS?

Academic writing is linear

Academic writing in English is usually a way for a writer to establish and defend a position. That means the writer’s position should be clear from the beginning, and the points that follow should support that position. When opposing ideas are introduced, they should be refuted. The conclusion follows logically from the body of the essay.

This essay will give two reasons for the lack of progress.

The first reason for the lack of progress is the lack of a political consensus.

The second reason for the lack of progress is the poor state of the economy.

For these two reasons, almost no progress has been made in strengthening workers’ rights.

Academic writing is complex

The assessment criteria of IELTS Writing reward candidates who write in both simple and complex sentences. As a rule, try to make at least 50% of your sentences complex. Use participles (V+ing, V+ed) or relative pronouns (‘which’, ‘that’) to add subordinate clauses, or include special punctuation like the colon (:) or semi-colon (;).

Global temperatures are expected to rise further, threatening the livelihood of millions of people worldwide.

The rise in global temperatures, which began at the start of the industrial revolution, shows no signs of slowing down.

Many reasons have been cited for the rise in global temperatures; however, most climate scientists agree that human activity is the main cause.

Academic writing is clear

Wait a minute: didn’t I just say that academic writing is complex? Now it should be clear? Well, here’s the difference: make your grammar complex but your points clear. State your opinion clearly using recognisable phrases such as ‘I am against’ or ‘It is my view that’. Then link your ideas with discourse markers such as ‘on the other hand’ and ‘furthermore’.

At first glance, the data reveals a clear pattern.

This essay will give three reasons for the long-term decline in violent crime.

In conclusion, I am in favour of stricter punishments for hate speech.

Academic writing gives evidence

Task 1 in IELTS Academic Writing requires you to describe a set of data or a diagram. For every claim you make in your answer, be sure to support it with evidence from the question. The evidence may be in the form of precise numbers, or you could use ‘round numbers’ to make it easier for your reader to understand. Both are fine in IELTS.

According to the diagram, there were fewer than 100 murders committed nationwide last year.

From the data we can also see that the overall rate of crime has almost doubled.

The chart shows that violent crime has decreased significantly as a proportion of all crimes committed, from 18% in 1980 to just 7% in 2015.

Academic writing uses ‘hedging’ where it can’t give evidence

Task 2 in IELTS Academic Writing requires you to state an opinion or discuss an issue, but there is no opportunity to conduct research or gather evidence. Some statements like ‘English is spoken in the United Kingdom’ require no evidence. But when you make claims that others might dispute, use hedging strategies like the ones below.

The majority of the world’s people would like to speak a second language.

English is highly likely to remain the world’s global language.

Chinese could be described as a much more difficult language to learn.

Academic writing is impersonal

While it’s not a mistake to use ‘I’ in academic writing, try not to overuse this precious little word. Your writing should contain some objective arguments and not be simply a description of your personal beliefs. Try using the ‘This Essay’ method to add a more impersonal style to your academic writing.

This essay will examine the issue of identity theft and propose solutions.

The issue of censorship is too broad to be covered in this essay.

The purpose of this essay is to examine both sides of the argument.

Academic writing is formal

Formal writing means that we avoid contractions (‘can’t’), phrasal verbs (‘put up with’), casual words (‘kids’, ‘cops’), exclamation marks (‘!’), question tags (‘isn’t it?’, ‘don’t you think?’), and vague expressions (‘sort of’, ‘a lot of’).

Teachers have to put up with lots of bad kids.

Teachers have to endure many cases of bad behaviour.

Cops can’t catch all robbers!

Police cannot solve all the crimes that are committed.

So racists should be punished more, shouldn’t they?

In conclusion, I am in favour of stricter punishments for hate speech.

Read more about formal and informal vocabulary here.

IELTS Writing Scoring

IELTS Writing Scores: What Are TA/TR, CC, LR & GRA?

If you’ve taken IELTS before, you probably noticed a secret language at the bottom of the IELTS Writing answer sheet. What do those mysterious acronyms TA/TR, CC, LR, & GRA mean?

As you might have guessed, they refer to the assessment criteria which decide your IELTS Writing score. This is where the examiner writes in a number for each of the four assessment criteria, which is then divided by four to give your overall score for that task.

Let’s take a look at the four criteria and how they should influence your writing.

IELTS Writing Scores

TA/TR = Task Achievement/Task Response

Task Achievement is measured in Task 1, while Task Response is measured in Task 2. In both cases, they refer to how well you answer the question, including:

  • Do you write enough words?
  • Do you stick to the topic in the question?
  • Do you cover all parts of the question?

CC = Coherence and Cohesion

This refers to how well your essay is organised, including:

  • Do you write in paragraphs?
  • Do you connect sentences and paragraphs with logical links?
  • Do you use reference links (‘they’) to connect ideas and avoid repetition?

LR = Lexical Resource

This refers to your use of vocabulary, including:

  • Do you use appropriate academic words and collocations? (Academic Writing module only)
  • Do you paraphrase to avoid repetition?
  • Do you spell words correctly?

GRA = Grammatical Range and Accuracy

This refers to your use of grammar, including:

  • Do you use a variety of grammatical forms?
  • Do you write in a mixture of short and complex sentences?
  • Do you avoid too many grammatical mistakes?

The fastest way to improve your IELTS Writing score is to learn techniques for paragraphing, paraphrasing, and linking, as these skills are less likely to be taught in regular English lessons.

How IELTS Writing scores are calculated

The four individual scores are added together and then divided by four to give an average, which is your overall score for that task. For example: (6+6+7+7) ÷ 4 = 6.5. Numbers are rounded up, which means that (6+7+7+7) ÷ 4 = 6.75, which is rounded up to 7.0.

As there are two tasks of unequal length, your final score in IELTS Writing is not an average of both tasks but is weighted towards Task 2. For example: Task 1: 6.5 + Task 2: 7.0 = Overall 7.0. This is why you should always spend more time writing Task 2.

IELTS Writing Teacher Tips

How to Teach IELTS Writing

cropped-IELTS-Academic-Logo.jpgThis article is part of the Teach IELTS series at IELTS Academic, an online provider of skills training for IELTS and English as a foreign language.

These ten IELTS Writing teaching tips should help both new and experienced IELTS teachers get the best out of their students.

Writing lessons can be challenging as they rely on a great deal of theory: fascinating for language geeks but not for everyone!

Cultural differences may also come into play which affect how students were taught to organise their ideas in writing. Remember that by teaching IELTS Writing, you are helping your students not only pass a test but also organise their thoughts in writing in ways that are most likely to cross cultural boundaries.

So, what exactly does IELTS Writing involve? As you’re probably already aware, it’s a one-hour paper test comprising two tasks:

  • Task 1: Write a 150-word report on a diagram or set of data (Academic module)
  • Task 1: Write a 150-word letter (General Training module)
  • Task 2: Write a 250-word discursive essay (both modules)

Assessment is based on four criteria:

  • Task Achievement or Response: How well the candidate fulfills the requirements of the task
  • Coherence and Cohesion: How well the candidate organises and connects their ideas
  • Lexical Resource: The candidate’s use of appropriate vocabulary
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy: The candidate’s use of appropriate grammatical forms

To teach IELTS Writing effectively, connect your feedback to the four assessment criteria, guiding students towards improving their English in ways most likely to be recognised by the IELTS examiner. The ten IELTS Writing teaching tips below are by no means a comprehensive list, but should function as a useful starter or refresher course on how to teach IELTS Writing.

Looking for a basic guide to IELTS Writing? Read this first: IELTS Writing: Introduction

Completely new to teaching IELTS? Read this first: How to Teach IELTS: The Basics

1. Cover all the question types

Students have a tendency to panic when they encounter the unfamiliar, and IELTS Writing Task 1 in particular throws up some bizarre tasks. While Task 1 in the General Training module sticks to the letter-writing genre, in the Academic module it can be anything from a set of pie charts to a flow diagram, a country comparison chart to an architectural drawing. For Task 2, all students should be familiar with the difference between an opinion essay and an argument essay, as well as appropriate structures for describing problems and their solutions. It’s your job as a teacher to prep your students for all eventualities.

2. Teach paragraphing

The first thing an IELTS examiner will pay attention to is whether an answer is conventionally paragraphed. That means an introduction and several body paragraphs followed by a conclusion. The body paragraphs should be approximately equal in length, with the introduction and conclusion slightly shorter. Different languages use different conventions for paragraphing, so make sure that English paragraphing norms are well and truly drilled into your students.

3. Introduce academic writing conventions

Many IELTS candidates are recent high school graduates with limited knowledge of academic writing style. Not only are they still learning English, they must now start to incorporate features like hedging strategies, passive voice, and logical links into their writing. It’s all too easy to start drowning in theory, so show some examples and get students to notice for themselves how academic writing differs from writing a letter to a friend.

4. Teach logical links

This cannot be stressed enough. One of the most basic influences on a candidate’s score is how well they connect ideas. It sounds simple enough, but some cultures are much more ‘high context’ than English, which means that readers are expected to infer connections between ideas. In English, it’s the writer’s job to make these connections clear, so make sure your students are liberally spraying their essays with ‘furthermores’ and ‘on the other hands’.

5. Practice joining sentences

One interesting thing about the IELTS Writing assessment criteria is that they reward risk or complexity. That is, your students can get a higher score if they write in longer, more complex sentences, even if that results in more mistakes overall. So get your students linking simple sentences to form complex ones using conjunctions, relative pronouns, and subordinate clauses.

6. Make sure your students write enough words

In IELTS Writing, students are penalised if they fail to write 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2. Students are most likely to fall short in Task 2 after spending too much time on Task 1. Make sure they understand that Task 2 is twice as important and that they need to start writing Task 2 after 20 minutes even if they have yet to write a conclusion for Task 1. For five ways to help your students meet the word requirement, see our article IELTS Writing Tips: How to Write 150 or 250 Words.

7. Use a modified answer sheet for writing practice

Making use of the official IELTS Writing answer sheet is a good way to familiarise students with the test, but there some flaws in the document from a teaching perspective. One problem is the narrow line spacing which leaves little room for corrections. Another is the acronym-heavy marking section which can leave students confused about where they have performed well and poorly. Of course, this document was never intended to be used for feedback purposes. As a teacher-friendly alternative, use this modified practice version instead.

8. Encourage self-correction

There’s nothing more demotivating as a teacher than seeing students fail to learn from their mistakes. One reason for this is shallow processing. Make sure students are involved in fixing their errors by highlighting mistakes for their own self-correction. Expert writing teachers usually develop a system of writing correction symbols. Here’s a good example to get you started.

9. Create an action list for each student

As well as guiding students towards correcting their own mistakes, you also need to provide a framework for their further study. Create an action list of no more than five error types that are most frequent and easiest to spot and correct. Your students can’t possibly avoid all mistakes, so an action list gives them something to look for while proofreading as well adding more focus to their study of grammar.

10. Teach to the test

It may surprise you to know that many IELTS textbooks make no direct reference to the IELTS Writing assessment criteria, even though it is publically available. Textbooks are therefore of limited use, especially when you have a small group of students who would benefit more from your feedback on their writing with direct reference to the scoring criteria. Avoid overdependence on lengthy courses of study and make your students’ own IELTS Writing answers the basis for your next lesson.

No time to write model answers for your students? See our full list of IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2 answers with band scores and analysis.

cropped-IELTS-Academic-Logo.jpgThis article is part of the Teach IELTS series at IELTS Academic, an online provider of skills training for IELTS and English as a foreign language.

IELTS Writing Sample answers Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Agree or Disagree Question with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

One of the most common question types in Task 2 asks you to agree or disagree with a statement. Read this statement about cars and decide if you agree or disagree.

The car is a disastrous 20th Century invention that has made the world’s cities more dangerous and polluted, as well as being responsible for the deaths of millions of people in accidents.

Do you agree or disagree?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

The car has certainly had some negative publicity in recent decades. Automobiles have been blamed for many of the problems that affect our cities, such as air pollution, traffic accidents, and the disappearance of traditional communities. Although the statement is a controversial one, I have to agree that the automobile has been a disastrous invention.

First, there is no doubt that cities have been transformed by cars, with mostly negative consequences. The streets of most European cities, for example, were built long before the invention of the automobile and were never designed for heavy traffic. As a result, we see narrow roads crowded with vehicles, while pedestrians are restricted to pavements for their own safety. The fact that some cities have banned cars and pedestrianised their urban centres is a clear indicator that automobiles pose a danger to our cities.

Furthermore, in both urban and rural areas, cars have proved deadly to human beings. Not only are thousands of people killed each year in road accidents, but there are also long-term health problems caused by vehicle emissions. The automobile industry has tried to respond to both problems with the development of car safety features and cleaner engines, but even these gains are offset by the increasing number of people worldwide who want to drive. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the cult of vehicle ownership has become a monster beyond our control.

In conclusion, despite widespread advertising that tries to persuade us that cars bestow status and freedom, the truth is actually that cars have been detrimental to our lifestyles and communities for many decades. Historians in the future may look back on our time and wonder why we allowed such a dangerous and inefficient form of transportation to persist unchecked. I look forward to the day when viable alternatives replace automobiles once and for all.

(308 words, IELTS 9.0)

Why does this IELTS Writing Task 2 answer get a Band 9 score?

Task response: The writer states clearly if they agree or disagree with the question (bold). The body paragraphs support the writer’s opinion with fully developed reasons. The model answer is at least 250 words.

Coherence and cohesion: The model answer is logically divided into paragraphs. Each paragraph is related to the writer’s opinion. Sentences are linked by connectives (underlined) which make the argument easy for the reader to follow.

Lexical resource: The model answer uses a wide range of relevant vocabulary including several synonyms for ‘car’ (automobile, vehicle). Less-common adjectives such as ‘detrimental’ and ‘controversial’ are used to frame the topic. There are many examples of good collocation such as ‘pose a danger’ and ‘viable alternatives’.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The model answer includes many examples of complex sentences with no grammatical errors.

Teacher’s Notes

IELTS TeacherYou may be surprised at the strong opinions expressed in this essay. However, I recommend that you also try to write in this way. IELTS examiners usually prefer it when a candidate has a strong opinion, rather than tries to write a well-balanced essay. This is because well-balanced essays are more difficult to interpret. Whether you agree or disagree, try to make your position very clear.

IELTS Writing Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Positive or Negative Question with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

Positive or negative questions are becoming more common in IELTS Writing Task 2, Try this question about the rising elderly population. A sample answer is provided below.

In many developed countries, life expectancy is rising while birthrates are falling. As a result, the elderly will make up a much larger proportion of the population in future.

Is this a positive or negative development?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

How long do you expect to live? Until the age of 80? 100? If you had asked your parents the same question, they would surely have felt that a life expectancy of 70 was around average. Your grandparents, meanwhile, might have felt fortunate to live for 60 years. It is clear that people are living longer than ever before, but is this a positive or negative development?

On the one hand, increased life expectancy brings many opportunities later in life to try things that you could not do in your youth. Going on a world cruise, taking up a new hobby, even going back to university to get a degree: all of these opportunities are available to retired people nowadays. What is more, while many parents find raising children to be a stressful experience, spending time with grandchildren brings far more pleasure. Therefore, a more elderly population generally means a happier population with more time to enjoy life.

On the other hand, since elderly people often rely on the government or their children to support them, there are real concerns about the financial consequences of an aging society. Countries such as Japan are already being forced to raise both taxes and the age of retirement in order to offset the problem. Without a doubt, many other countries will need to take similar actions in the coming decades.

Overall, I would say that the benefits to individuals of living longer far outweigh the cost to society of supporting an elderly population. Of course, various countries need to take steps to ensure that the process is carefully managed.

(266 words, IELTS 8.5)

Why Does This Task 2 Answer Get an IELTS Band 8 score?

Task response: The sample answer is at least 250 words in length and describes both a positive and negative development. In some places the tone is informal and not entirely suited to an academic essay.

Coherence and cohesion: The sample answer is logically paragraphed, with each body paragraph detailing a positive or negative trend. The paragraphs and sentences are logically connected by phrases such as ‘On the one/other hand’.

Lexical resource: The sample answer includes many examples of good collocation such as ‘stressful experience’ and ‘financial consequences’. There is little repetition of vocabulary and no spelling errors.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The sample answer includes a range of simple and complex sentences. An incomplete sentence ‘Until the age of 80?’ is used, which might be penalised in an academic essay.

Teacher’s Note

IELTS TeacherThis IELTS Writing Task 2 sample answer is a great example of how to use an ‘unconventional opening’ to set your response apart from those of other candidates. Instead of the usual form of introduction, this sample answer takes a more direct conversational approach. This creates an immediate impression and the examiner may see it as evidence of strong writing skills. However, you need to show that you can also write in a more formal academic style, so don’t use a conversational tone throughout the whole essay.

IELTS Writing Task 1

IELTS Writing Task 1: Table with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 1: Question

A table of data is a familiar sight in IELTS Writing Task 1. Try this example which looks at student funding in the US. A sample answer follows below. 

The table below shows the primary funding sources of international students in the US during the years 2003/04 and 2013/14. Write a 150-word report for a university lecturer describing the data and make comparisons where relevant.

IELTS Writing Table

IELTS Writing Task 1: Sample Answer

The table shows how international students in the US funded their studies in the years 2003/04 and 2013/14. Overall, there was a noticeable trend towards sponsorship by foreign governments, foreign universities, and current employers over the ten-year period.

First of all, the period 2003/04 to 2013/14 witnessed a significant rise in the number of international students in the US, from 572,509 to 886,052, a rise of more than 50%. Given the large increase, were there any changes in how foreign students paid for their studies?

The table shows that the two main funding sources were ‘Personal and Family’ and ‘US College or University’, which together accounted for 90% of funding in 2003/2004. However, taken together, these two sources had dropped to 84% by 2013/14.

At the same time, there was substantial growth in the numbers of students funded by ‘Foreign Government or University’ and ‘Current Employer’, which saw increases of 383% and 390% respectively. Even though they still accounted for only a small minority of funding, both sources became more important to foreign students during the period.

(177 words, IELTS 9.0)

Why Does This Task 1 Answer Get IELTS 9.0?

Task achievement: The sample answer identifies a major point of interest in the data and supports this with relevant figures from the table.

Coherence and cohesion: The sample answer is organised into paragraphs which are connected logically. There is an overall description at the beginning and end of the answer.

Lexical resource: The sample answer uses vocabulary appropriate to comparing data such as ‘accounted for’ and ‘witnessed a significant rise’. Native-like collocation is used throughout the model answer.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The sample answer includes many examples of complex sentences that combine a main point with supporting evidence in two clauses.

Teacher’s Note

IELTS TeacherThis IELTS Writing Task 1 answer is a great example of how a focus on one particular trend can result in a high impact and high score. The writer identifies a growth in two funding sources and uses this as the whole basis of the report. Notice how it’s repeated in the introduction, body and conclusion. When describing a table in Task 1, it’s easy to become ‘lost in data’. Highlight the one trend that sticks out and make it the basis of your answer.


IELTS Writing Sample answers Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Discuss Both Views Essay with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

Try this IELTS Writing question which requires you to discuss both views of an issue. It’s basically the same as an argument essay that we studied previously. The wording of the question is different, that’s all.

The free movement of goods across national borders has long been a controversial issue. Some people argue that it is necessary for economic growth, while others claim that it damages local industries.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion. You should write at least 250 words.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

One of the most debatable issues of the last century has been the extent to which international trade benefits or harms national economies. Many arguments have been made for and against free trade between nations. In this essay, I will discuss both views and state my own position.

Those who support the expansion of global free trade claim that economies grow faster when they can specialise in just a few industries in which they have a strong advantage. As a result, each region or country produces something of value to the world economy. For example, East Asia manufactures electronic goods, the Middle East exports energy, and the EU produces luxury items. Free trade proponents claim that dependence on global trade helps to strengthen international cooperation and prevent wars.

Meanwhile, opponents of free trade—sometimes called ‘protectionists’—claim that the unrestricted movement of goods and services causes damage to local communities. This is because jobs are lost when it becomes cheaper to import a product than to produce it domestically. They also argue that the vast distances travelled by food, oil, and consumer goods is harming the environment and making our lives unsustainable. Protectionists are in favour of tighter controls on the movement of goods and services in order to protect jobs and livelihoods.

In conclusion, while there are convincing arguments on both sides of the debate, a return to protectionist policies would surely be a mistake. I believe that global trade is inevitable and should not be restricted. It is no longer realistic for nations to source all of their energy, food, and manufactured goods within their own borders.

(267 words; IELTS 9.0)

Why does this Task 2 answer get a Band 9 score?

Task response: The model answer discusses both sides of the argument in equal measure and ends with a clear opinion. The writer includes background information and examples. The essay meets the word requirement.

Coherence and cohesion: The model answer is clearly structured, with each body paragraph discussing a different side of the argument. The relationship between paragraphs is clearly signalled by words like Meanwhile and In conclusion. Ideas are developed further with logical links such as For example, because and also.

Lexical resource: The writer uses higher-level vocabulary relevant to the topic such as opponents, domestically, unsustainable, and interdependence. The core concept of ‘free movement of goods across national borders’ is repeatedly paraphrased. Spelling is correct throughout the model answer.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The writer uses a wide variety of grammatical features including concessive clauses (while…), relative clauses (in which…), and other complex forms (It is no longer realistic for nations to…). There are no grammatical errors in the model essay.

Teacher’s Note

IELTS Teacher‘Discuss both views’ is a common type of IELTS essay question in which the examiner will pay particular attention to paragraphing. Make your essay structure very clear by writing two body paragraphs that each discuss a different view. Try to make these two paragraphs similar in length—three sentences is enough—and save your own opinion for the conclusion. You can score highly on a ‘discuss both views’ question by following these simple rules.


IELTS Writing Sample Answers Task 1

IELTS Writing Task 1: Natural Process Diagram with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 1: Question

A natural process diagram is another common question type in IELTS Writing Task 1. Here’s an example of one with nine stages that really challenges you to describe the whole process in just 150 words.

The diagram shows the growth cycle of a volcanic island. Write a 150-word report for a university lecturer describing the main features of the cycle.

IELTS Natural Process

IELTS Writing Task 1: Model Answer

The diagram illustrates a natural process in which a volcanic island grows from beneath the sea, explodes, and then eventually sinks to become an underwater reef. The process is divided into nine stages.

In the first two stages, called the ‘preshield’ and ‘protoshield’ stages, a mountain gradually builds under the surface of the sea. In the third or ‘explosive’ phase, hydro-explosions occur which deposit a cone of ash. A large number of cinder cones then pile up to form a ‘shield’ on top of the volcano.

This shield gradually erodes and subsides to form reefs below the surface of the sea. However, there may be ongoing volcanic activity including lava flows. By the time of the ‘coral atoll’ stage, the original form of the volcano has disappeared, and the whole structure sinks further under the sea during the ‘guyot’ stage.

In summary, huge volcanoes rise and fall under the sea in a natural process known as the volcanic island growth cycle.

(194 words, IELTS 9.0)

Why does this Task 1 answer get an IELTS band 9 score?

Task achievement: The candidate describes a complex nine-part natural process in fewer than 200 words by grouping some stages together and leaving out small details where possible. The introduction includes an overall description that clearly signals what the body of the report will contain.

Coherence and cohesion: The body of the report groups the natural process into two paragraphs rather than attempt to describe each of the nine stages separately. Events are clearly sequenced and summarised.

Lexical resource: The candidate uses vocabulary from the diagram but transforms it where necessary to fit a sentence: erosion > erodes; subsidence > subsides. The model answer also introduces other relevant vocabulary not in the diagram such as deposits, surface and structure.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The candidate writes in complex sentences using conjunctions and relative pronouns. Most of the sentences have multiple clauses. There are no grammatical mistakes. In addition to the present simple tense, the present perfect tense is used to show how events are related in time: the original form of the volcano has disappeared.

Teacher’s Notes

IELTS TeacherThis natural process diagram includes nine stages, which are difficult to describe in detail in so few words. Therefore, you should take this opportunity to practice grouping stages together and summarising where possible. It’s not a good idea to write nine sentences to describe each of the nine stages. You will simply not have the time. Writing skills like grouping and summarising will come in very handy in the real test.


IELTS Writing Sample answers Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Two-part Question with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

Try this two-part question about the United Nations. Though they may sound complicated, two-part questions are actually quite easy because they give you two points to discuss, rather than the usual single point.

The United Nations recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. What benefits has it brought during this time? Do you think the UN will last another 70 years?

You should write at least 250 words.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

The United Nations was established at the end of the Second World War in order to provide a peaceful way to resolve national differences. Since its formation 70 years ago, there has not been a Third World War. Furthermore, the UN has expanded its global role to include many more activities besides peacekeeping. This essay will look at some of the UN’s achievements and predict what the future might hold for the organisation.

It is difficult to imagine a world without the United Nations. The organisation plays a leading role in everything from conflict resolution and peacekeeping to emergency food aid and global public health. Many people trust the UN because it is a democratic organisation that reflects the interests of all its member states and not just one particular country. In this way, it can be argued that the UN has restricted the influence of powerful countries like the USA, Russia and China, while allowing smaller nations a say in global affairs. It is also effective at collecting funds from richer member states and redistributing it as economic aid or emergency assistance to parts of the world which need it most.

Yet the world is a very different place from how it looked in 1945, which has led some people to question the need for a powerful organisation like the UN. In particular, there are some proponents of free trade who argue that competition and not cooperation between nations is the fastest way to pursue economic development. However, I would argue that the more nations become interdependent, the more they will require a global forum to resolve their differences. While there are other global organisations that can play a similar role, such as the World Bank and International Criminal Court, none has the scope of the UN. For that reason, the UN is sure to exist for decades to come, and possibly for another 70 years.

In conclusion, the UN remains the most viable organisation for dealing with the world’s problems, and this is unlikely to change very soon.

(340 words, IELTS 9.0)

Why does this Task 2 answer get an IELTS Band 9 score?

Task response: The candidate answers both parts of the question. The candidate states clear opinions and supports them with examples. The argument is well-written and persuasive.

Coherence and cohesion: There are two body paragraphs which each deal with one part of the question. Both parts of the two-part question are addressed in both the introduction and conclusion. There are clear links between sentences and between paragraphs.

Lexical resource: The candidate introduces topic-specific vocabulary with natural collocation: global affairs, conflict resolution, emergency assistance, etc.

Grammatical range and accuracy: Conjunctions and relative pronouns are used throughout the essay to combine two or more ideas into complex sentences. There are no errors in the candidate’s grammar or punctuation.

Teacher’s Notes

IELTS TeacherDid you find some parts of the model answer difficult to understand? If so, you needn’t worry too much. Only a native speaker could have written this. An IELTS Band 6 or 7 answer would not be as sophisticated. An IELTS Band 8 answer would resemble this one but contain a few mistakes. So, even when the subject is a lofty one like the United Nations, try to be realistic in your objectives. It’s only a quick writing exercise, not a master’s thesis!