Monthly Archives: January 2016

If I agree with the opinion in the Task 2 question, should I only mention that?

On my Facebook page, many people ask questions like this about writing task 2:

‘Shouldn’t we paraphrase the topic sentence first then just answer the question?’

‘My teacher says I should write a background statement then the thesis statement, so if I don’t agree with the topic sentence there is no need to paraphrase it? For example: ‘Violence in the media promotes violence in society, to what extent do you agree?’ If I don’t agree I don’t have to write something like ‘aggression in the media could encourage violent actions in the society?’

‘Could you please tell me, for agree/disagree questions, what is the best approach to achieve a higher score? In my previous IELTS exam, I completely disagreed with the question and mentioned all points related to that whereas my friend wrote about both sides (advantages and disadvantages) and he scored 7.5. Can that be the reason for my low score?’

I receive these questions whenever I talk about discussing both sides of the question in your answer.  The people who question this view, tend to be people who have studied a set formula to use in each essay question.  In my experience, people who try to follow a set formula:

  • do not fully cover all parts of the task
  • do not present a clear position throughout
  • produce conclusions are unclear or repetitive

If you look at this extract from the IELTS band descriptors that the examiner uses to assess your writing, you can see that these are problems for Band 6 candidates, but not Band 7 candidates:  

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So, using a set formula can mean that you are stuck at Band 6 or 6.5.  Don’t think about a set formula for answering a type of question.  Instead, think clearly about the meaning of what you are writing.

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Watch my video to learn more about how to achieve Band 7: go to video

You might also find my new app useful:

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See the app on iTunes  

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