IELTS Writing Tips: 10 Sentences to Avoid

Below are some common sentences and phrases to avoid in IELTS writing task 2. These sentences have been overused in IELTS essay writing or are considered to be learned expressions which are not accepted by the examiner.

IELTS writing task 2 is an academic essay but it is also a test of your English language. You can’t cheat by learning sentences and writing them in your essay. The examiner is trained to spot sentences which are not typical of your level of English.

Phrases to Avoid in your IELTS Essay

1.

This essay will discuss both sides and give an opinion at the end.

This sentence is poor because it is used for the thesis statement but contains no main points. It is a memorised sentence of 15 words. It only repeats the instructions but adds no information to the essay. Try to avoid using such sentences and just present your answer clearly. Another similar sentence is “I shall put forth my arguments to support my views in the following paragraphs” which should also be avoided. Don’t forget that while these sentences might be fine for a usual academic essay, they are not appropriate for an English language test.

2.

With the development of science and modern technology…

Many students use this expression to start their essay. It is only suitable to use if the essay is about science and technology. It is overused and confusing for the reader if the topic is not science or technology. You don’t need any expression to start your introduction, just paragraph the essay question directly. Learn how to write an introduction for writing task 2.

3.

In the modern era, … / Since the dawn of time ….

This is overused in introductions. Most essay questions are about current issues so you don’t need to put in a time frame unless it is about an issue in the past compared to the present. “Since the dawn of time…” is not a relevant statement for most IELTS issues and should be avoided. Some students also use “Nowadays” to start their essay. Again this is overused. Try to avoid these phrases and just paraphrase the information given by IELTS.

4.

This is a highly controversial issue. 

Most essay questions in IELTS are not controvesial. Controversial means that it is deeply debated and causes strong feeling, for example “the death penalty” which results in a person’s death is controversial but “watching sport on TV or playing it” is not controversial. 99% of all essay questions in IELTS will not be controversial so don’t use this phrase. Also be careful writing “highly debatable” as this is also overused.

5.

The crux of the discussion is …

This is a sentence which is used too often. It would be better to write “The most important aspect…” or “One of the key issues is…” as they are more natural to use in writing.

6.

For example, a recent study from the IMF showed that… / Research indicates that…

The examples you give in IELTS writing task 2 do not need to come from published sources or known research. They can just be an example of a situation: “For instance, the majority of working people do not …” Avoid learning opening phrases to common sentences.

7.

It can broaden a person’s horizons. 

I have seen this written in so many essays and so have examiners. It would be better to write about “learning more”, “opening their mind to something” or “developing deeper understanding of something”. Don’t learn sentences, just write naturally.

8.

There are good grounds to argue in favour of… / It cannot be denied that…

This is another example of a learned phrase to avoid. It would be better to write more naturally “One reason that X is important / crucial …”. Using more natural language avoids the examiner thinking you are memorising phrases. Also the phrase “it cannot be denied” is very much overused and mostly used incorrectly. “It cannot be denied” means it is 100% fact but most essay contain opinions which are not fact. Therefore, avoid this phrase.

9.

In a nutshell, …

Many students use this idiom to start their conclusion. It is informal and not appriopriate to use in IELTS essay writing. To learn how you can start your conclusion, follow the link.

10.

… the aforementioned arguments offer insights into vindications for the impression that…

This is a typical sentence that should be avoided in a conclusion. You only need to restate the main points clearly without using learned phrases.

To see some more phrases that should be avoided, see Chris Green’s IELTS website.

If you would like to add any sentences to the list above, please post them in the comments box below.

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Comments

  1. hello Liz, i am preparing for the ielts test in september.i have a doubt regarding conclusion linking word can we use-“That being said”

  2. Hi Liz
    Can you tell me how many paragraphs should be there in WT2.
    Thanks
    KD

  3. Hi
    Dear Liz
    Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful post, does this rule applies to the General writing as well? Thanks for your valuable advice.

  4. Hi Liz,
    my compliments for your site!
    I wold like to have your advice if words like “having in consideration… or bringing up children… ”
    to start an introduction can be effective?
    Thank you very much!

  5. hi liz,(from the dawn of civilization the issue matter of…….)i can start introduction use this sentence
    agree and disagree essay

  6. Does this mean that IELTS examiners are, to some extent, giving different marks on how often they see particular expressions/vocabularies rather than purely considering 4 criteria (Cohesion/Task Response/Grammar/Vocabulary)?

    To me, it is more straight forward and fair, that no matter how often they see a particular expression, this does not affect the score negatively as long as the essay satisfy above 4 aspects….
    but I am bit confused if this is the case that examiner marks in a manner that changes upon just how frequently he/she sees the expression on even other examinees’ essays….just my thought.

    Thank you for your helpful materials!

    • The reason for this problem is because people memorise particular phrases to use to increase their score. You are marked on your ability to adapt sentences and phrases to the particular task and issue, not memorise generalised phrases to get a higher score. One phrase suits all issues isn’t going to work in a language test. Another problem is that students think if they learn a particular phrase this will give them a chance for a higher score. The aim of this lesson and advice is not to rely on learned phrases to boost your score.

  7. Hi Liz,
    Can I still use the word ‘nowaday’ when paraphrasing the essay question, says ‘in recent years’?
    Thanks

    • The word is “nowadays” with an “s” and it is one of the most overused words to start an introduction, particularly for Vietnamese students. Try to avoid it.

  8. Hong Nghia says:

    Good afternoon teacher ! Please teach me how to paraphrase the Question from Ietls topics , i try to learn from many websites but it doesnt work at all. When i got the new topic from my tutor , i can not write even 1 word. I have nothing in my mind.

    • Part of your IELTS preparation is developing ideas for topics. This is something you do for yourself. You can google ideas and visit debate websites as well as read model essays online to use their ideas (not their sentences, just the ideas). See this page about writing an introduction: http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-writing-task-2/

  9. Richa Bhardwaj says:

    Hi liz,

    I am really confused about using contraction in writing test in ielts or not.Its clear from your videos that we got high band if we use contractions in speaking, but waht about writing ?
    For example, should we use I’m, I ‘d, can’t , don’t, i’ll or these are not expected while writing for ielts test.

    Best Regards

    • Contractions are informal so you can’t use them in writing. Unless you are doing GT test and you get an informal letter for task 1.

      • Loreto Kröyer says:

        Hi Liz,

        Is it possible to use contractions in the Speaking test?

        Regards

        • Yes, of course. IELTS speaking is informal and contracts are a great pronunciation features that will help your score.

  10. Rabia Fazal says:

    Hi Liz, your website is great. I have my IELTS exam on 25th Feb(day after tomorrow). I feel like I am not well prepared, but I am still hoping for the best!
    I have been following your website for about a week now and it has really helped me a lot to understand the tricks and techniques for IELTS. However, I feel sometimesit is really diffcult to find an information. It would be great if the links were more organized and categorized. Hope you don’t mind. This is just a constructive criticisim.
    Regards.

  11. Hello Liz,
    I wanted to ask about the idioms. In 1 of your lessons, u say that idioms are not suitable to use in writing. why is that? what if i use an idiom (a common 1) to increase the word count. Will i be penalized for that?
    Thank You
    Harsh

    • Idioms are informal and not suitable for writing task 2. So, yes, it would lower your score to use inappropriate language. However, you can use some idiomatic language such as “key to …”

  12. Hello Liz! First of all, I’d like to thank you for everything you do! Your site is real treasure for everyone who prepares for IELTS. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    I wanted to ask you, in order to get high score on writing, what kind of sentences should i use in Writing Task 2. You said complex sentences, passive voice…and what else? Should i use conditionals? Thanks in advance. Look forward

  13. How can i improve my grammer?I m really really struggling with it. Pleaseguide me. I have checked my essay with some tutors. I am cosulting different website. But still problem

    • Problems with grammar relate to English, not to IELTS. You need to find an English language teacher who can help you improve your English.

  14. Hi Liza
    your teaching in this website is very useful.
    Thank you very much
    I am struggling to get 7 in Writing, so I thought and planed to use a prepared structure.
    my spellings are the worst.
    Can you please give your thoughts on that?

    thanks very much again

    Tharaka

  15. Santosh Wasti says:

    Hi Mam,
    My concern to you is while writing conclusion in Academic writing Task 2,is it useful to say,”From aforementioned cases and argument,we come to know that…..” in this way is it the right way to express?

  16. i have some problem about writing task 2 ,

  17. Lee Yipoeng says:

    Dear Ms. Liz,

    Thanks for your great help in our study.

    I have a question : Is it possible if we use imperative sentence in IELTS Writing essay task 2?

    Thanks for your support.

  18. HI Liz I just wanna ask you if I want you to mark for me an essay is that possible or not?

  19. Manjot Gill says:

    Should I be formal in WT2? Like should I not use “sort of” or anything like that?

  20. Just came back to thank you for helping me pass ielts. God bless you. Thank you so much

  21. Nigel Houghton says:

    Earlier today I paid to view your video lesson on Writing Task 2. I have a receipt number from Pay Pal, but have received no email to inform me how to access the video. Help!

    PS what I have seen of your site looks excellent.

  22. I also agree that we should use natural and easy-to-understand language. But maybe some examiner thinks some big words in the essay can demonstrate the variety of vocabulary. Actually that’s a superficial habit.

  23. Thank you for your numerous guidance. Please, may I ask for other alternative phrases for academic writing task 1 in providing an overview. I only know “OVERALL”. Please are there others as overall seems to be used most often by candidates?

    • “Overall” is the best to us. This is not creative writing. It is a report and these are generally quite formulaic.
      Liz

  24. Avi grewal says:

    What should i write to start intro and body paragraphs except these 10 points

  25. Hi Miss Liz,

    I’m Nand,

    i do want to purchase an access for your video, but i don’t have a credit card. Is there a way for me to pay it bank to bank or at least in western union?

    thanks and regards

  26. HI LIZ .
    1-Can I write in the second paragraph (no one can deny that _something general but related to the essay topic- )??
    2-can I write : everything has to sides and the ….. is not an exemption
    3- can I write :initially, there is an urgent need to shed the spotlight on this topic which is ……

  27. hello,
    Do i need to put a title to my essay ?

  28. Dear Liz :
    I had essays correction before , the teacher insisted to add academic examples in my essays by writing ( a recent study or research ) because other types of examples will not get high score , now I am a bit confused what to do . Please advise me .
    Thanks

  29. Uttam Shrestha says:

    Hello Mam,

    On the 2nd point of your lesson on ‘Phrases to Avoid in your IELTS Essay’, you have written ” just paragraph the essay question directly…”. Shouldn’t it have been ” just paraphrase the …” instead?

  30. Masha from Russia says:

    Another question)) Is it possible to use conditionals in WT2? Is it rather a good or bad idea? I ofthen use it for making examples…

    • It is a good idea to use a range of tenses in IELTS writing task 2. Using conditionals is common. Go through my model essays and see the range of tenses I use. (Don’t worry about typos – I make plenty myself).
      Liz

  31. You said that candidates should not use learnt phrases. What do you think about phrases and chunks like ‘One of the big disadvantages of smth, another advantage is’ Can we use them or not? And what do you mean by learnt phrases? Thank you in advance

  32. Mam
    Can we use some phrases in conclusion,like: after hashing out both side,in compendium,in the eleventh hour
    Thnx!

  33. Shailendra says:

    Dear Madam,

    It is very common to write a phrase “Looking forward to hearing from you” in IELTS GT writing task 1 (letter writing). Is it OK to use this sentence or if not, what would be the better way to rephrase the same ?

    Thanks

    • You use this for formal letters not for personal letters. Use it when you need a response, for example you are hoping to get a refund for something.
      Liz

  34. Deeply thanks for your priceless lesson Pro. Liz. And can you give us another lessons of Writing Task 2(Body Paragraph and Conclusion).

    Best,
    Mengtong

  35. I have my test on 19september what should I do now for preparation

    • Start learning. Read all tips and information pages, watch the preparation video on my home page and then start doing the practice lessons.
      Liz

  36. Md. Rashidul Hassan says:

    Dear Madam,It’s really interesting to take up the tips and guidance from you which are significantly applicable for my appearing at i.e.l.t.s.examination with much more confidence as well as integration. It would be highly enjoyable for me if i could take class directly by you.However,i will get myself concentrated to your tips and advice so that i can become successful for achieving my targeted band score.Wish you sound health and all the best.Good night.Sincerely yours,Hassan.

  37. Thanks for your help.
    Urooj

  38. Regarding the first phrase to avoid, I need to know whether the following format is correct. I started my essay with a general statement and wrote that some people believe that ….and stated the first opinion and wrote that others feel that … and mentioned the second opinion and then for the thesis statement I wrote” in this essay I will discuss both opinions and give mine at the conclusion”. Is my thesis statement correct?
    Thanks

    • No, your thesis statement is a learned phrase. You should have written your opinion in the introduction as the thesis statement.
      Liz

    • I would like to thank you for your valuable and quick reply. I appreciate your effort as I thought that you would not be able to reply due to the huge amount of comments you receive daily.
      Thanks again
      Mohamed

  39. Sarita Manela says:

    Dear Liz, thanks for providing such useful tips and tricks ………
    I only wanted to ask you.. in writing task two, are we obliged to write a refutation paragraph … if yes in which case …..
    thanks in advance ☺

    • If you are asked to give your opinion, the your whole essay focuses on only that – nothing more. If you are asked to discuss both sides, you must do that. Just follow the instructions.
      Liz

  40. Hi Liz

    How does it affect your score when you do not mention any examples in task 2 in writing test?

    TIA

  41. Hi Liz

    You are an angel – thank you so much for helping us to avoid hackneyed phrases!
    Will you please advice what will be alternative sentences/phrases can be use instead these mentioned above?

    Regards

    • The idea is not to learn sentences so I won’t give alternatives to memorise. Each sentence should be unique to the essay question and topic.
      All the best
      Liz

  42. Kinley Rinchen says:

    Thanks for the clarifications

  43. Hi Liz I got 6,5 several times in writing my problem is that I need 7 to pass ,What is the magic recipe?
    many thanks for your useful website.

  44. Dear Liz, thank you for all your advices here in your page, it was very helpful for me to do my IELTS test last month and successfully I got the score I needed.

    Thank you so much

  45. Hello,will they give me some white paper to plan my essay and my report?

  46. Hi.Liz mam
    I am from India. Want to know which method is more better, using a paraphrase either in introduction or conclusion. or we should write in our own ideas and thoughts.

    • You paraphrase both the introduction and conclusion. But successful paraphrasing does not mean changing all words – just reformulate them.
      Liz

  47. Nowadays in the world, it cannot be denied

  48. wow Liz thank you so much for this tips, it came in the exact moment cause I´m taking my test in the next few weeks.

    GodBless you

  49. Hi ms Liz,
    Some learned sen. ( since the dawn of time…., through out history )

    Thank you for your remider, because I thought I can write some examples and giving figures! This is especially about health and WHO related ..

    I hope to do well this time !
    Thank you

  50. You are a wonderful teacher . Thank you so much for sharing your amazing video,and useful comment.
    God bless you.

  51. Sharnjeet Singh says:

    Nowadays, In toadays modernized era.
    To commence with, To start, Firtly.
    On the other hand, On the flip Side.
    To conclude, In Conclusion .

    • You should use “In conclusion” or “On the other hand”, these are 100% correct to use in an formal essay for IELTS. They are clear linking words, please see here for the full list: http://ieltsliz.com/linking-words-for-writing/. However, you should try to avoid the others, particularly “on the flip side” which is informal and inappropriate for essay writing.
      All the best
      Liz

  52. Dear Liz, thank you so much for your guidance n ielts essay writing, that is really helpful for a beginner like me….I also need to know how to write an introduction in writing part 1…if you please give tutorial on that it will also beneficial for me….😊

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