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Planning your IELTS essay

IELTS essay planning tips and suggestions. Learn how to plan your IELTS essay successfully. Learn how to structure your ideas and paragraphs.

 

 Some people believe that the fast pace and stress of modern life is having a negative effect on families.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?


1. Underline key 
vocabulary in the topic and write words with the same or related meaning.

Some people believe that the fast pace and stress of modern life is having a

                                     high-speed         pressure      contemporary lifestyles      

negative effect on families.

harmful influence  family life

 

2. Decide what kind of response is needed.

To what extent do you agree or disagree? = say how much you agree or disagree

 

3. Brainstorm key points for the answer.

Agree with  negative effect on families Disagree with negative effect on families
Fast pace leads to less time for families to be together Due to the increased time pressure and stress families are forced to cooperate more, which brings them closer together
Stress leads to arguments among family members

 

4. Decide on your position (totally agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, totally disagree)

You do not need to give arguments for both sides of the topic. It is up to you, as it is your opinion. Rather than thinking about your real opinion, I suggest you look at the points you have brainstormed for each side of the argument, and then choose a side that you think will be the easiest to explain, and for which you have the better language to use. Remember this is a language test and not a test of your knowledge. The key point is to focus on language and structuring your whole task well.

5. Decide on the structure of the essay

Based on your position (extent you agree or disagree) put numbers next to each of the points you have brainstormed above in the order you will cover them. You should always cover the side you support more strongly first in the body of the essay. Also, you should always organise your points from strongest and weakest.

Steps in writing your essay

Once you have written a solid plan for your essay, you can begin the task of actually writing the essay. Having a good plan will speed up this process and ensure that you are consistent with your opinion throughout the essay. What I mean here is that the opinion you give in the introduction will fit the body of the essay, and the conclusion will restate the same opinion you gave in the introduction and summarise the body of the essay. If you achieve this high level of fit, you are likely to score well for task response and cohesion and coherence.

 

WRITING THE INTRODUCTION

1. Paraphrase the topic

Given that you have already rephrased the keywords of the topic, in the planning stage, this step should be relatively easy. When you do write this sentence, in addition to rephrasing words also try to rearrange the order of words in the sentence. This may necessitate changing some of the word forms. For instance, you might have to change nouns into verbs. This shows the examiner your ability to use language flexibly and can increase your score for vocabulary and grammar.

 

Some people believe that the fast pace and stress of modern life is having a negative

                            high-speed  pressure contemporary lifestyles                   harmful

effect on families.

influence family life

 

Many people feel that family life is being harmed by the high-speed and pressure of contemporary lifestyles.

2. State your position [totally/strongly/somewhat + agree/disagree]

it is important to state your position in the introduction of the essay because it makes it clearer for the examiner what your position is and also when the examiner reads the body of your essay they already have an overall idea of what your essay is about. Then, in the likely event that you have errors with vocabulary and grammar, they may be less serious because the examiner will have more of a context in order to guess the meaning of what you are trying to express.  You can simply state your opinion, and this may be best if you only need a score of around six or seven and you struggle to finish your essay on time. However, you can state your opinion and also the reasons. If you are trying to get to 8 I believe it is better to state both your opinion and the reasons. Although this will slightly increase the word length, this adds to the quality of your introduction, and also assists your task response as the introduction and conclusion of your essay are considered as important in establishing a clear task response.

I somewhat agree with this opinion because the fast pace leads to less time for families to be together, stress leads to arguments among family members; however, due to the increased time pressure and stress families are forced to cooperate more, which brings them closer together.

[I realise this is quite long and it may be beyond some writers. This is why a sentence of this quality can enable a candidate to get to level eight or nine]

BODY

After you have written the introduction, you will need two or three body paragraphs. For this type of essay, I suggest putting only one reason in each paragraph. A good paragraph should only have one main idea. You may write only two paragraphs if you are a person who likes to explain things in detail and use illustrative examples. If you prefer, you can write three shorter paragraphs. Whether you write two or three paragraphs may depend on the question and also the quality of points you have brainstormed. Personally, I would use three paragraphs if I were writing about both sides of the argument. This is because it is safest to have two paragraphs for the side you support more strongly and only one paragraph for the side you support less. This structure ensures your opinion is supported well, and prevents the risk of the body of the essay not matching your opinion. What I mean here is that sometimes someone says they somewhat agree, but then go on to argue more strongly about why they disagree. This sends both your task response and coherence and cohesion tumbling down!

 

1. Write topic sentences for each body paragraph

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence. For this type of essay, the topic sentence consists of three parts, which are the sequencing word, topic, and reason to support the opinion.

Sequencing word + topic + reason

The main reason why I believe family life is being compromised is because families have less time to be with each other.

 

2. Write supporting sentences for the topic sentences

You can think of the topic sentence you have just written as being the introduction for the paragraph. It introduces the reason for your opinion, which forms the key point for the paragraph. Having a clear key point for the paragraph makes it easy for the examiner to understand what you are saying in the paragraph. In addition, if the key point of the paragraph is clear any errors with vocabulary or grammar will be less likely to prevent communication. This is because the examiner will have more of a context to guess any parts that are unclear. After you have written the topic sentence, you should support it by developing the key point. There are three ways to develop your key point: Explanation, example, adding details

Explanation: As individual family members are busier at work and with their social lives they have less time to spend with their family.

Adding details: As well as this, people have many things they have to do these days such as checking e-mail, updating their online social status and so less time is left for family life.

Example: To illustrate, I spend about two hours online every night attending to daily correspondence before chatting with my family members, whereas ten years ago I would spend time with my family from the moment I walked in the door.

[The example above could just consist of the first sentence. However, to fully make the point the second sentence is needed. This is the difference between a level 6 writer and a more competent writer.]

 

CONCLUSION

In order to write an excellent conclusion, you should start by using a phrase that signals you are concluding your essay. Then, you should restate the position to reinforce it in the mind of the examiner. After this, you should summarise the main points you made in the body of the essay because this is a standard feature of a concluding paragraph and also it will remind the examiner of your key points and make your opinion more persuasive. Finally, if you want to write a truly outstanding conclusion, and you have enough time, you could give a final comment based on your summary. If you are short of time just try to complete as many of the steps below that time permits. Note that if you are aware you are running out of time when writing the body of the essay, try to finish the body quickly and at least write something for this paragraph. If you do not have some sort of concluding paragraph the essay will be incomplete and the examiner may penalise you for cohesion and coherence. It will also make it difficult to get a high score for task response because the concluding paragraph is an important factor in assessing the task response.

1.Send a signal you are concluding your essay

I like in conclusion. This is a universally accepted way to finish an academic essay. There are other choices but this works well and can be used for all three types of essays. Some students think it is boring to use this phrase. However, keep in mind there are no marks for creativity and flair. You are not doing creative writing; instead you are taking a language exam. Every time I read phrases like in a nutshell, I am not impressed; in fact, the word yuck comes to mind! You can use phrases like to summarise; the reason why I’m against these is because they do not fit my structure for a both sides and opinion essay (for that essay the final paragraph will be your opinion and not a summary). I believe it is better to have a standard phrase that you can use for all three essays to avoid the need to remember different ones and to correctly applied them under pressure in the exam.

2. Restate your position

You should restate your opinion along with the extent. This is good essay writing. This is the way it’s done. Many students don’t want to do this and feel they have already said it, so they don’t want to say it again. Up to you! I believe you should restate your opinion.

I somewhat believe that the rapid pace and stressful nature of contemporary lifestyles are having negative consequences on family relationships.

3.Summarise the main points

If you have time it is very helpful for your task response to summarise the reasons for your opinion. Note that you should ideally use different words and phrases than in the body of your essay. If you do this well it can increase your score for vocabulary because it shows the examiner your range of vocabulary.

This is because family members have less time, and when they are together they feel less relaxed. However, I admit that sometimes adversity can bring people closer together.

 

Give your final opinion or recommendation/ restate your position

If you have time, based on a summary, give your final opinion or make a recommendation. This is a way to really show the examiner your talent and reach a score of 8 or 9 for task response. This will really impress the examiner as it will show your understanding of what you’ve written and your ability to make further comment on it. This is a high-level language function.

Given this situation it seems that family members should try to be more supportive to one another and also parents need to set aside regular times for families to relax together.

 

Model essay version 1: somewhat agree

Some people believe that the fast pace and stress of modern life is having a negative effect on families.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

 

Many people feel that family life is being harmed by the high-speed and pressure of contemporary lifestyles. I somewhat agree with this opinion because the fast pace leads to less time for families to be together, and stress leads to arguments among family members; however, due to the increased time pressure and stress families are forced to cooperate more, which brings them closer together.

The main reason why I believe family life is being compromised is because families have less time to be with each other. As individual family members are busier at work and with their social lives, they have less time to spend with their family. As well as this, people have many things they have to do these days such as checking e-mail, updating their online social status and so less time is left for family life. To illustrate, I spend about two hours online every night attending to daily correspondence before chatting with my family members, whereas ten years ago I would spend time with my family from the moment I walked in the door.

In addition, the pressure of life these days means that even when families do get together arguments are more likely. This is because everyone feels tired and they are more likely to get irritated and to react to their heightened emotional levels.

However, it does seem reasonable that this pressure may also lead to positive outcomes. One such possibility is that family members will cooperate more in order to overcome time limitations. For instance, they may share household chores, so that everybody has time to relax afterwards.

In conclusion, I somewhat believe that the rapid pace and stressful nature of contemporary lifestyles are having negative consequences on family relationships. This is because family members have less time, and when they are together they feel less relaxed. However, I admit that sometimes adversity can bring people closer together. Given this situation, it seems that family members should try to be more supportive to one another and also parents need to set aside regular times for families to relax together.

 

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IELTS essay planning tips and suggestions. Learn how to plan your IELTS essay successfully. Learn how to structure your ideas and paragraphs.

 

From the ebook: Essay Writing Task 2   By Mike Wattie

Available here: http://www.ieltsanswers.com/ielts-books-task2-essays.html

ielts test answers amazon-2-front-web

 

 

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