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Essay Writing For Ielts Test

How to Write an IELTS Essay

In this introductory lesson you will find some guidance on how you should write an IELTS essay.

There are then more lessons on the following pages for different types of essay and different questions, with lots of tips and strategies for achieving a high score. 

It is important to learn about IELTS essays because there are different essay types, and these will require different ways to answer them.

However, as you will see from the guidance on this page, they can all follow the same basic structure.

These are some of the types of IELTS essays you can get in the test: 

  • Agree / disagree
  • Discuss two opinions
  • Advantages & disadvantages
  • Causes (reasons) & solutions
  • Causes (reasons) & effects
  • Problems & solutions

Not every essay will fit one of these patterns, but many do.

You may get some of these tasks mixed up. For example, you could be asked to give your opinion on an issue, and then discuss the advantages or disadvantages of it.

The golden rule is to ALWAYS read the question very carefully to see exactly what you are being asked to do.

The second lesson explains more about analysing essay questions. 




How do I Write an IELTS Essay?

In order to answer this, lets first look at a sample question:

An IELTS essay is structured like any other essay; you just need to make it shorter. There are three key elements:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Conclusion

We will look at each of these in turn, using the essay question above as an example.

1) Introduction

You should keep your introduction for the IELTS essay short. Remember you only have 40 minutes to write the essay, and some of this time needs to be spent planning. Therefore, you need to be able to write your introduction fairly quickly so you can start writing your body paragraphs.

You should do just two things:

  • State the topic of the essay, using some basic facts (that you may be able to take from the question)
  • Say what you are going to write about

Here is an example introduction for the above essay question about IT:

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in the way people's lives are affected by IT, with many advances in this field. However, while these technological advances have brought many benefits to the world, it can be argued that these developments in IT will result in more negative impacts than positive.

As you can see, the first sentence makes sure it refers to the topic (IT) and uses facts about IT taken from the question. Note that these are paraphrased - you must not copy from the rubric!

The second part then clearly sets out the what the essay will be about and confirms the writers opinion (some questions may not ask for your opinion, but this one does).

View this lesson for more advice on writing IELTS essay introductions.

2) Body Paragraphs

For an IELTS essay, you should have 2 or 3 body paragraphs - no more, and no less.

For your body paragraph, each paragraph should contain one controlling idea, and have sentences to support this.

Lets look at the first paragraph for the essay about IT. The essay is about the benefits and drawbacks of IT, so these will need to be discussed in separate paragraphs.

Here is the first body paragraph:

To begin, email has made communication, especially abroad, much simpler and faster, resulting in numerous benefits for commerce and business. Furthermore, the World Wide Web means that information on every conceivable subject is now available to us. For example, people can access news, medical advice, online education courses and much more via the internet.  It is evident that these improvements have made life far easier and more convenient for large numbers of people and will continue to do so for decades to come.

The controlling idea in this first paragraph is the 'benefits of IT', and there are two supporting ideas, which are underlined. No drawbacks are discussed as the paragraph would then lose coherence.

Most of the essay will focus on the negative aspects of IT, as the writer says there are more negative effects in the introduction. So the next two paragraphs are about these.

The topic sentence in the next paragraph therefore tells us we are changing the focus to the negative points:

Nevertheless, the effects of this new technology have not all been beneficial. For example, many people feel that the widespread use of email is destroying traditional forms of communication such as letter writing, telephone and face-to-face conversation. This could result in a decline in people's basic ability to socialize and interact with each other on a day-to-day basis.

The final body paragraph gives the last negative effect:

In addition, the large size of the Web has meant that it is nearly impossible to regulate and control. This has led to many concerns regarding children accessing unsuitable websites and viruses. Unfortunately, this kind of problem might even get worse in the future at least until more regulated systems are set up.



3) Conclusion

The conclusion only needs to be one or two sentences, and you can do the following:

  • Re-state what the essay is about (re-write the last sentence of your introduction in different words)
  • Give some thoughts about the future

Here is an example:

In conclusion, developments in IT have brought many benefits, yet I believe developments relating to new technology are likely to produce many negative effects in the future that must be addressed if we are to avoid damaging impacts on individuals and society.

The full IELTS Essay:

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in the way people's lives are affected by IT, with many advances in this field. However, while these technological advances have brought many benefits to the world, it can be argued that these developments in IT will result in more negative impacts than positive.

To begin, email has made communication, especially abroad, much simpler and faster, resulting in numerous benefits for commerce and business. Furthermore, the World Wide Web means that information on every conceivable subject is now available to us. For example, people can access news, medical advice, online education courses and much more via the internet. It is evident that these improvements have made life far easier and more convenient for large numbers of people and will continue to do so for decades to come.

Nevertheless, the effects of this new technology have not all been beneficial. For example, many people feel that the widespread use of email is destroying traditional forms of communication such as letter writing, telephone and face-to-face conversation. This could result in a decline in people's basic ability to socialize and interact with each other on a day-to-day basis.

In addition, the large size of the Web has meant that it is nearly impossible to regulate and control. This has led to many concerns regarding children accessing unsuitable websites and viruses. Unfortunately, this kind of problem might even get worse in the future at least until more regulated systems are set up.

In conclusion, developments in IT have brought many benefits, yet I believe developments relating to new technology are likely to produce many negative effects in the future that must be addressed if we are to avoid damaging impacts on individuals and society.

(287 words)



Improve your Information Technology Vocabulary




Comments

The IELTS essay introduction talks in general about the increasing use of IT, thus introducing the topic well. The thesis then clearly sets out the writers opinion.

The following paragraph mentions the present benefits of these developments, but the opening sentence in the third paragraph is a qualifying statement (Nevertheless, not all the effects...), so the writer can now focus on the negative elements.

The fourth paragraph provides two other negative examples (lack of regulation, viruses). Both paragraphs suggest that these problems will continue in the future.

The essay concludes with a clear opinion that agrees with the statement.

Overall, it is a well-balanced text that mentions the present situation (...this has made life...) but importantly, also refers to the future of IT (...likely to increase..., might get worse...).

Have you found this page useful?

Then you may be interested in IELTS buddy's Task 2 eBook, full of tips and strategies for quickly achieving a high score in the IELTS test.

View the book

Now you know the basics of writing an IELTS Essay, you can go on and look at further sample essays or if you prefer, check out the next lessons for Writing Task 2.

Next IELTS Writing Task 2 Lesson >>>

More IELTS Sample Essays >>>



 

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In the last 20 years there have been significant developments in the field of information technology (IT), for example the World Wide Web and communication by email. However, these developments in IT are likely to have more negative effects than positive in the future.

To what extent do you agree with this view?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

Write at least 250 words.

Writing Task 2: Essay

Introduction


  • Task 2 always asks you to write an essay.
  • You are given a written prompt in the form of an opinion, a question or an instruction.
  • You should spend about 40 minutes on Task 2.
  • You should write at least 250 words.
  • Exactly what you have to do depends on the information you are given, but you might have to:
    • present and justify an opinion
    • evaluate and challenge an argument or idea
    • compare and contrast evidence
    • present the solution to a problem

Language


  • This is a formal piece of writing.
  • Avoid using contractions (e.g. write There has always been not There's always been).
  • Avoid using very informal vocabulary (e.g. write Young children need clear guidance not Parents should tell kids what to do).
  • Avoid using very informal punctuation, such as exclamation marks.
  • Use linking devices, such as In contrast, However, Moreover, Similarly, to make your logical argument easier to follow.

Planning


  • Before you start writing, it is very important to spend a few minutes on planning.
  • Step 1 is to read the question carefully, and make sure you understand what topic you have been given, and what you have to do.
  • Step 2 is to decide what approach you are going to take to the topic. You may decide that you completely agree with a statement, or partly agree. You may decide that there are three key solutions to a problem presented. Think about the topic and decide what view or views you are going to build your essay around.
  • Step 3 is to make a paragraph plan. Your plan will depend on what you are going to write about. You will also often have a choice: there is usually more than one way to structure a successful piece of writing. However, you should follow these basic rules:
    • Write in paragraphs. It doesn't matter if you write three, four or even five paragraphs, but if you put everything into one paragraph, it will be difficult to read, and you will lose marks.
    • Paragraphs are there to make a piece of writing easier to read. Each main point you want to make should have a new paragraph. Paragraphs usually start with a topic sentence, which states the main point of the paragraph. The remaining sentences in the paragraph then provide supporting details and examples.
    • Your first paragraph should be an introduction to the topic. It should restate the situation in general, using different language from the written prompts. You may also briefly outline the argument you are going to make in your essay.
    • In Task 2, you are expected to express your opinion, or reach a conclusion. For this reason, your final paragraph will often be a conclusion or a summary of your opinion.

Look at the examples to find out more about doing Writing Task 2.

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