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April 24, 2010


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Hi Basheer

Many students are confused by this issue. They focus too much on 'organisational phrases' and forget about the real content of their essays.

thanks a lot simon

Hi,Simon. How are you today? I am not familar with the writing task 2 pattern for "advantages outwigh disadvantages". I am not sure whether I could write as the same structure as "discuss both views" you mentioned before. Thanks.

No problem Ali.

Hi Sunny.

The "do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?" question asks you to discuss both sides then decide which argument is better. In other words, it's really the same as "Discuss both views and give your opinion".

Hope this helps

Hi simon is it correct to just state "first" instead of "firstly"?
because some people state that the usage of "ly" for ordinal numbers is inaccurate. What is IELST position on this?


Hi Liy,

It's fine to use both, so I found the advice on that link very strange. All dictionaries contain the word "firstly" and the definition is "an adverb used to introduce the first point or reason". I use this word all the time, and so do all the other IELTS teachers, examiners, books and websites that I know.

Hi Simon!
your "firstly, secondly..." structure is really useful, but I'm a little bit confused that:
if the second paragraph you use this structure and in the third para you also use it again, I think this will make our essay a litte boring (less exciting) because of repeating!
Thanks a million!

Hi Dung,

No, don't use it twice. In the next paragraph, you could change it to something like:

"The main disadvantage of...is..."
"Another drawback is..."

thanks Simon, comletly clear ^_^

Hi Simon,
For opinion essay,
1) is it OK if I choose to write "completely agree or disagree" of the essay question?
2) If take the balanced approach, is the format similar to discussion essay?
Thx ^O^

Hi DT,

'Yes' to both questions.

Hi Simon,

One of my good friends recommended me to browse your website to learn IELTS. I need 7 each, so I am preparing to study now.
Many thanks.

Hi Simon,

It is definitely best tips i found here. I think it can be used in different paragraphs in main body where arguments exists,not in the intro or conclusion para.
I am practicing with these....

Thanks a million!

What about "first of all"? And you know most of books instruct telling that it will be better to use uncommoly forms of words, to be unique and to write a different essay from others

Uncommon, pardon! Hope to receive ur answer๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Because now im a little bit confused, you know, u are telling that writing with simple forms of words we can get high scores. Im taking the exam soon, and want to study by ur site. So could u please help with that?๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ


"First of all" isn't uncommon or unique, and I think it's a phrase that is more suited to spoken English than an academic style essay.

You should focus on "less common" topic vocabulary (words and phrases related to the question topic), not "less common" linking words.

oh, yes, thank you!

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