Where can you plan your essay for IELTS writing?

Hi guys,

A lot of students have asked me if they can get extra paper to write a plan for their IELTS writing task 1 and writing task 2. They want to know what paper they can use for planning.

Planning is an essential part of your writing. 50% of your marks is based on choosing information, deciding how to present it and planning organisation. This means all ideas need to be planned in full before you start writing. See this page about Tips for IELTS Essay Planning.  You can find the marking criteria for writing task 2 on this page: IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Score

Where can you plan your essay?

The answer is that you use your question paper to write your plan.

At the end of your test, you will hand in your question paper. BUT the examiner will not see it and it will not be marked. So, you need to use the question paper to plan your writing for task 1 and task 2.

Please share any of your tips or experience for essay planning in the comments box below:

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Answers to IELTS Writing Task 1 Synonyms Exercise

Hi guys,

Here are the answers to yesterday’s exercise about using synonyms in IELTS writing task 1. I think it was a good exercise because I see many students have different answers and are unclear about collocations. Mistakes in vocabulary will lower your score.

Let me know if the lesson was useful 🙂

Questions

Are the verbs correct in the sentences below? Are they Right or Wrong?

  1. More boys than girls enjoyed sport.
  2. Fewer girls participated in tennis than boys.
  3. Almost twice the number of boys played cycling.
  4. More girls took part in swimming compared to boys.
  5. The majority of boys engaged in football.
  6. More girls competed in badminton than boys.

Answers

  1. W = Wrong. The chart is about playing sport but about enjoying it. The chart does not give information about how boys or girls felt. This would be marked as a mistake.
  2. R = Right. The verb “participate in” works well as a synonyms for “play” when referring to sport.
  3. W = Wrong. The verb “play” is not possible with the noun “cycling”. This is a mistake with vocabulary – an incorrect collocation. When writing or talking about cycling, we can use the verb “do”.
  4. R = Right. The verb “take part in” works well as a paraphrase for “play” in this context.
  5. W = Wrong. The verb “engage” is incorrect when writing about sport.
  6. W = Wrong. The verb “compete” is about competitions. This chart is about playing sports, not competing in sports. This would be marked as a vocabulary mistake.

Comment

You can see that paraphrasing is about deciding if nouns and verbs match. It is about understanding the context. It is about choosing correctly.  Some words will be repeated – this is normal in English.

Paraphrasing Video

Watch this video to learn more about being careful with paraphrases.

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IELTS Writing Task 1 Syonyms Practice Exercise

It is important to use synonyms in IELTS writing task 1. Paraphrasing will help you get a higher band score for writing task 1. However, you need to be careful not to make mistakes.

Look at the chart below and then answer the questions.

IELTS Bar Chart Synonyms

Synonyms Practice Exercise

The bar chart above is about “playing sport”. The list of sports are: tennis, badminton, cycling, swimming, football and hockey.  The verbs below are in past tense as the date is 2012.

Decide if the following synonyms are Right (R) or Wrong (W).

  1. More boys than girls enjoyed sport.   (enjoyed sport = Right or Wrong?)
  2. Fewer girls participated in tennis than boys. (participated in tennis = R or W?)
  3. Almost twice the number of boys played cycling. (played cycling = R or W?)
  4. More girls took part in swimming compared to boys. (took part in swimming – R or W?)
  5. The majority of boys engaged in football. (engaged in football- R or W?)
  6. More girls competed in badminton than boys. (competed in badminton = R or W?)

Answers

See the answers: Click here: Answers to this Exercise

To see model answers and tips for IELTS writing task 1, click: IELTS Writing Task 1 Page

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Opening Line for IELTS GT Letter WT1

The opening line in IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Letter. You need to change the opening line for your letter depending on whether you are writing formally, to a company or another organisation, or if you are writing informally, for example to a friend.

Below are some sample opening lines for an IELTS GT writing task 1 letter: both formal and informal. You can also read how the opening statement sets the tone of your IELTS letter.

Formal Letter Opening Statement

In a formal letter, the opening sentence should indicate the aim of your letter. The first line of a formal letter will show if you are writing a complaint letter, requesting information, answering an invitation, applying for a position, making a formal apology or making arrangements. You will also see that the letter might start “Dear Sir” or Dear Mr …”. IELTS will give you instructions on your test paper about how to start your letter.

Below is are examples of how to begin your letter:

Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing to complain about … / to request information about … / to apply for … / to enquiry after ….  / to inform you … /  to thank you …

Full Opening Statement: I am writing to apply for the position of manager in your company which you recently advertised in the Times newspaper on June 4th.

Dear Mr Brown,

I am writing to you regarding my recent stay at your hotel … / regarding an article you wrote …. / 

Full Opening Statement: I am writing to you regarding the road works that are being carried out in Church Street, where I currently reside.

Dear Mrs Jones,

I am writing in reply to … 

Full Opening Statement: I am writing in reply to your invitation to the seminar which you will be holding on “Historical Artefacts in the Ancient World” on Saturday, June 26th.

Comments: You can see, above, that the first line of your IELTS formal letter is very structured. There is little variety. This is normal. Formal letters are not creative or descriptive, they are informative and without personal reference.

Informal Letter Opening Line

In an IELTS informal letter, your first line will often start with a friendly remark or comment. The beginning of the letter doesn’t always show the aim, it shows your relationship with the person. This means there is a variety you can choose from.

See some examples below for the beginning of an informal IELTS letter:

Hi Dave,

How are you and your family? It feels like forever since we last got together for a catch up … / How are things going? It’s been ages since we were last in touch.

Hi Sophie,

How are you? It was great seeing you again this summer.

Hi Frank,

It was so good seeing you last weekend. I just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for such a great time.

Comments: You can see that most of the opening lines are offering greetings or just small talk. It’s a chance to for you reestablish your friendship before getting into the aims of the letter.

Signing Off IELTS Letters

To learn about signing off, for example Your faithfully or Your sincerely, please see my essential tips page: IELTS Letter Essential Tips. You can also learn about types of IELTS letters and much more useful information.

More IELTS General Training Lessons

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What Tense to Use in IELTS Writing Task 1

It is essential to use the right tense in IELTS writing task 1, both academic and GT. This page will explain which tenses to use. The academic test will be explained first and lower down the page you will find grammar tips for GT letters.

Also find writing task 1 tips further down the page.

Academic Writing Task 1 Tenses to Use

For IELTS writing task 1, you may be given a map, a diagram, a bar chart, a line graph, a table or a pie chart in the academic test. The IELTS examiner will mark you on the following (each worth 25% of task 1)

  • Task Achievement: information, overview, accurate of data
  • Coherence & Cohesion: Paragraphing, Linking Words
  • Vocabulary: Collocations, Spelling and Accuracy
  • Grammar: Sentence structure, tenses, punctuation, grammar range and accuracy

So, you can see that using the right tense is important in IELTS writing task 1 because it falls into the marking criterion of Grammar.

Dates and Tenses

On your IELTS graph, chart, map, diagram or table, you might find dates. These will tell you what tense to use. See the list below:

  • No Dates = present tense
  • Dates in the Past = Past Tense
  • Dates in the Future = Future Forms
  • Dates spanning both Past and Future = both Past Tense and Future Forms

Using Passive Voice in IELTS Writing Task 1

There are students who seem to think they will get a high score if they use passive voice. This is not true. You can only use passive voice when it is appropriate and correct to do so. Most writing task 1 will not give you this opportunity. However, if you get a diagram, they are usually a combination of passive and active voice.

Mixing both Past Tense and Future Forms

Here is a sample sentence using both tenses:

In 2010, the number of sales stood at 2 million and is forecast to rise to a peak of 10 million by 2050.

You can see past simple “stood” and future forms of prediction “is forecast to”

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Tenses

The examiner will mark you using the same criteria as the AC test, but with one difference in Task Achievement. The IELTS examiner will mark you on the following (each worth 25% of task 1). See below:

    • Task Achievement: Purpose, tone and expanding points
    • Coherence & Cohesion: Paragraphing, Linking Words
    • Vocabulary: Collocations, Spelling and Accuracy
    • Grammar: Sentence structure, tenses, punctuation, grammar range and accuracy

For students taking the General Training test. You will use a range of tenses in your letter depending on the aims and purpose. Below are some sample sentences:

  • I am writing to …. (present continuous)
  • I visited your store … (past simple)
  • …the poor service I have received (present perfect)
  • I hope the problem will be resolved … (future form and future passive)
  • I had hoped that … (past perfect)

Tips for IELTS Writing Task 1

Academic writing task 1 tips, click below:

All Tips, Model Answers, Free Video Lessons & Practice for IELTS writing task 1

GT writing task 1 tips, click below:

Essential 10 tips

Differences between GT and Academic Writing Task 1

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more. Click below to find the main pages for IELTS on my website:

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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS listening and reading test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? Capital letters in IELTS 2017.

Using Capital Letters for Answers: IELTS Rules

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want or not.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can write in all capital letters.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • HOSPITAL = correct / hospital = correct / 9am = correct / 9AM = correct /

Which is best? Capital letters or lower case?

I recommend writing your listening and reading answers in capital letters. It is easier to read and this means it is better for the person marking. Of course, it is your choice. But I advice is to use all capital letters.

Transferring Answers

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. Check your answers and check your spelling – then write your answers on the answer sheet.  If your handwriting is poor, write using all capital letters so it is easy to read.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is not clear writing. Use all capital letters if your handwriting isn’t clear.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I wouldn’t recommend it because:

  1. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters
  2. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words NEVER start with a capital letter because they should NEVER be used to start a sentence. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:

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IELTS Writing Task 1 Answer 2017

Below is an IELTS writing task 1 answer for 2017. The bar charts were reported by a student in February 2017 and recreated as accurately as possible. Please remember that IELTS do not release question or answers for each test. So, all reported tasks and questions are from students who have recently taken the test and have recreated their questions.

You can find links to more model answers for writing task 1 on this page: IELTS Writing Task 1, model answers & tips

IELTS Writing Task 1 Bar charts 2017

Download the above writing task 1 as pdf: IELTS 2017 Writing Task 1

IELTS Writing Task 1 Answer 2017

The two bar charts illustrate the population growth as well as the birth and death rates in England and Wales between 1700 and 2000. The population is given in millions, while the birth and death rates are per 1000 people.

Overall, there was a dramatic increase in the population of England and Wales over the 400 years. The birth and death rates initially witnessed a growth but then steadily declined over the period given. The birth rate was constantly higher than the death rate over the period given.

The population of England and Wales stood at under 10 million in 1700 which then doubled to around 15 million in 1800. By 2000, the figure had reached a high of almost 50 million, almost 5 times that of the population in 1700.

The birth rate was just under 10 per 1000 in 1700 and rose dramatically to peak at over 20 per 1000 in 1800 before dropping to slightly over 10 in the final century. The death rate showed a similar trend but was between 5 and 10 per 1000 less than the birth rate at all times.

187 words (I have put the word count for you. You shouldn’t do this in the test.)

Would you like to see more model answers for writing task 1? See the main pages below and click on IELTS Writing Task 1

Main IELTS Pages

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Dec 2016 IELTS Writing Task 1 Sample Answer

Below is a sample answer for December 2016 writing task 1. The task  consists of one vertical bar chart and two pie charts. The sample answer is estimated at about band score 8.  The sample answer contains some grammar errors – can you find them? Answers below.

You can download a PDF copy of it at the bottom of the page. You can also find links to the main pages of IELTS tips at the bottom of this page.

December 2016, IELTS Writing Task 1

ielts-writing-task-1-reported-dec-2016

December 2016, Sample Answer

Estimated at band score 8

The bar chart and pie charts illustrate the percentage of people in Glasgow having three levels of education (university, school and those with no qualifications) in 2010. Information is divided into five age groups in the bar chart and by gender in the pie charts.

Overall, the majority of people with university education were in younger age groups, while in the oldest age group most people did not have any qualifications. The proportions of men and women were similar and showed little different between the levels of education.

The percentage of people with university education was up to 76% in the younger three age groups compared to only 50% in those ages 50 to 75 and just 25% in those over 75. This trend was reversed in those with no qualifications (9% in younger people rising to 75% in the oldest age group). The figure for those with school education was relatively constant at around 20% but was as low as 3% in the over 75’s.

The proportion of men and women in each level of education was around one third with only a slightly difference of 3% in university graduates as well as those who didn’t have educational qualifications.

Words = 198

There are a few grammar mistakes in this writing. Can you find them? Answers provided below

Download PDF Copies & Answers

IELTS Writing Task 1: ielts-writing-task-1-december-2016

December 2016 Sample Answer: model-task-1-dec-2016

Answers to Grammar Mistakes – click below to open:

Answers

Paragraph 2: in younger age groups = in the younger age groups

Paragraph 2: little different = little difference

Paragraph 3: in those ages 50 to 75 = in those aged 50 to 75

Paragraph 4: a slightly difference = a slight difference

Paragraph 4: didn’t = did not

 

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

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