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January 04, 2012


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Thank you so much for your advice.
With all the best,

Thanks Simon,
can I use some pronouns,such as "you" "they" "it" "them" in the task 2 of IELTS exam

Thanks to guide

Hi Anh,

Yes, you can use those pronouns too.

Hi, Simon

If I get 5 in Writing Task1, ant 6 in Writing Task2, then what score will I get for Writing Part?

Then how about 6 in Writing Task1, and 5 in Writing Task2?

Hi Simon,

I took IELTS on 17 December,2011 and I have been very disappointed with my writing score at 5.5. I don't know what was my mistake.However,I try to revise my mistake and I would like to get the light from you to be lesson in the next test.
In case of task 2, the question was around this : it is becoming popular to find out about the history of family. Why do people do this? Is this a negative or positive development?
I organized the paragraph following,
a) paragraph 1 (Introduction) ,I paraphrase the statement of question and show my standing point that it was more positive (I think that it would be easier to organise idea in the next paragraph if it was positive)
b) paragraph 2 , I gave about 2 reasons why people like to find out about family history
c) paragraph 3 ,I gave reasons supporting why it was more positive and gave 2 examples : reason of illness from genetic heritage and knowing of blood group of membership in order to transfer in case that they had an car accident.
d) paragraph 4, I emphasized I agreed that it was positive from all above reasons.

I am not sure that I should write reasons about negative
whether or not to get higher score. Could you please clarify me? (In my opinion, I think that we show the standing point in paragraph 1 ,so the next paragraph should be comprising of idea supporting one of our side)

Dear Simon;
What is your opinion about always writing a paragraph in a concession pattern.
For example(While some people argue....,I tend to think that...)
Thank you

Writing Part 2 always carries more marks, so if Task 1 is 6 and Task 2 is 5, you will get a 5 as Overall.
your mistakes probably were grammatical or vocabulary, not organizational, try to be more accurate when you write, for example -
I don't know what was my mistake - incorrect word order (indirect question)
to be lesson in the next test -meaning not clear
I organized the paragraph following - 'paragraphs' should be plural, and then also an adverbial is needed here - 'in the following way"
Be careful not to mix present and past tensses in your writing. And also, besides you own point of view, you have to include an opposite opinion and then refute it. Probably you forgot about it, too.

Hi Oscar,

I think you'd get 5.5 in both cases. Task 1 is worth one third, and task 2 is worth two thirds of the score.


Hi Patty,

You did exactly the right thing in terms of essay structure and answering the question. I can only think that you got 5.5 because of grammar/vocabulary mistakes, or maybe you wrote less than 250 words, or maybe your task 1 was the problem.

One thing is for sure: you should keep organising your essays in the same way in future. Keep practising, I'm sure you'll do better next time.


Hi Ghyath,

Yes, you can do that. I often use that kind of sentence in my introductions for "Discuss both views and give your opinion" questions.


Hi Stas,

My calculations are a bit different to yours. Based on task 1 being worth one third of the score, I get 5.3 for Oscar (rounded up to 5.5). However, examiners themselves don't do the calculations, so I can't profess to be an expert in that area!

I agree with your assessment of Patty's problems, except for the idea that she MUST include the opposite point of view. Remember that the question is 'king': it asks us whether it's a negative or positive development - there is no implication that candidates must discuss both sides (although they are free to do so).

I appreciate your help Stas. Thanks again!

Hi again Simon,
I assumed Patty should have included the opposite point of view because she was supposed to write a balanced argument essay (judging by the title) rather than an opinion essay. Anyway, even in an opinion essay you have to at least briefly mention somebode else's point of view, then refute it and only after that return to your original point of view.
Thanks a lot again)

Hi, Stas and Simon

Stas, thanks a lot for your beneficial comment.I will keep it to aware in the next test ,especially grammar.

Simon,thank you very much for your value evaluation to possibility for my mistakes and nice morale.I will care and improve it in all aspects. However, as Stas showed the
idea about writing in both views.Could you tell me and Stas about this aspect for writing style to answer this kind of question? On my view,I am not sure how we will organize if we write on both side of positive and negative.As your old post,you suggested that we should decide to tell about our decision on one side of selection.
However,If we will write on both views,it may be possible that we don't show our standing point to choose side in the first paragraph.For the next second paragraph,we answer question why people like to find out about family history and we write positive for this additionally in the same paragraph.The third paragraph,we write about the negative side and the last paragraph,we tell our idea which side we think that it is. All of this,Is it possible for organising if we will show both sides of view.However, Which style is the best between one side of view and both sides.


Hi Simon
I,d like to ask you what compelling reasons I can give to prove that Im in the side of becoming English as a global language in this essay

The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Many thanks ,

Hi Stas,

I still disagree with you on the point that you "have to" mention the other point of view and then refute it. That's a good way to write an essay, but it's not the only way. If the question asks for your opinion, the examiner can still give you a band 9 if you express a strong view and support it (without mentioning any opposing arguments). This is how we were trained to mark exams when I took the IELTS examiner course.

Of course, in 'real life' outside the world of IELTS, it's a good idea to explain and refute opposing views!


Hi Patty,

You only need to write one paragraph about "Is this a negative or positive development?" Either decide on one view and support it (without mentioning the other view), or mention a couple of positives and negatives in the same paragraph.


Hi Mh,

Have a look at these 2 lessons:



Hi again Simon,

Thank you very much for crystal clear answer!!
I will hold on it if this kind of question is given in the test.

No problem Patty.

Hi Simon,

First thanks for your prompt response. Now Im wondering if in those essays which ask " To what extent do you agree or disagree " and we are going to be in one side only like agree and then if we want to give our reasons feel that our reasons are not enough to reach 250 words .Then shall we present some opposite opinions in our essay in order to expand our essay? for example
in one paragraph we point out "some people argue that" and write opposite views?
or we will lose mark?
I would be grateful if you help me

Hi Mh,

That's fine. You won't lose marks if you do that, but just make sure that it's clear that you disagree with what those other people say.

hi simon.

is it possible to get higher score if I write
"it is believe" instead of "I believe or my opinion" in academic writing task 2.because i guess its sounds more academic..

thank you

how are you.
what can i do to improve this score i attained last December.
writing 6.5 speaking 7 listening 6.5 reading 6

Hi Anita,

No, that kind of thing does not get you a higher score. Also, if the question asks for YOUR view, "it is believed" does not answer the question because it means "people believe". My advice is to write "I believe" if the question asks for YOUR opinion.


Hi Pro,

It's difficult for me to help you because I don't know what your individual problems are. It would be a good idea to take a few lessons with a private teacher who can analyse what you are doing wrong.

In general, my advice is to keep practising!

In opinion essay, what is your opinion on agree completely with the idea and write have following structure?

first paragraph:introduction, I agree with the idea

second pragrpah: reasons for the opinion and supporting.

third pragraph: on the other hand many people believe....about topic... OTHER SIDE WITHOUT REFUTING.

Fourth paragraph. conclusion, Although many people feel differently, i still agree...

I read a model essay with this structure, which wound a bit confusing for me.
Thanks in advance.

Hi Kai,

I don't like that structure because the third paragraph makes it more like a 'discussion' essay than an 'argument/opinion' essay.

I prefer to either refute the opposite argument as a way of supporting my own view, or ignore the opposite argument and simply give another reason for my own view.

Good question!

Hi Simon,

Does that mean in an agree/ disagree essay that only asks "Do you agree or disagree?" , we don't have to be 100% agree or disagree to a statement? for instance, can we say "I agree to a large extent" and then spend 2 paragraphs why I agree and 1 paragraph why I disagree? or "I agree to a certain extent" - then explain in one paragraph why I agree and then in the next paragraph why I don't completely agree (ie the opposing side)
Thank you so much! your advice is very much appreciated

Thanks Simon for the clarification

Hi Sylvia,

Yes, that's right - you can partly agree if you want. For example, in one main paragraph you can write "On the one hand, I accept/agree/understand that..." and in the other main paragraph you can write "On the other hand, I also believe that..."

Thanks Simon!
I've got few more questions:
1. I was practicing a task 2 essay qn: Many young people today are worried about the way they look and this causes them problems. Do you agree or disagree? What is the situation in your country ?
In this case, if I agree completely, can I use 2 paragraphs on why I agree (ie no dedicated paragraph to explain the situation in my country)but to answer the second question (what is the situation in your country), I start BOTH paragraphs with sentences somewhere along the line of "In my country..."

2. When we're asked to support one side of two views (or when we decide to completely agree on a statement), can i write 1 paragraph on explaining why we agree to one view, and then another paragraph on explaining why we disagree to the OPPOSING view (ie is it save to argue againts a view to show that we agree to the opposing view?or is it better to have both paragraph supporting a view?)

Thank you very much! Your blog has been immensely helpful I would have no idea what to do without all these lessons on your blog!


Hi Sylvia,

1. Yes, that would be fine because you mention your country in both paragraphs.

2. Yes, a paragraph explaining why you disagree with the opposite view is a good way to do it. It's no better or worse than writing 2 paragraphs to support the same view. Both ways are good.

I'm glad you like the blog!

Hi Simon;
First of all, I should thank you for your fascinating book, which I am really enjoying it.
I would appreciate it if you answer my question:
It is not surprising that we need to look at different viewpoints of a subject when we encounter with this well known question 'Do you think the benefits of X outweigh the disadvantages?'. Would it be acceptable if we utilize some phrases like 'Some people are of the opinion that…' and 'It is a commonly held belief that…' in order to mention different viewpoints in main body paragraphs? Or we must mention the different aspects in some ways like these 'I think there are several drawbacks of X . … . Also, I should mention some of the advantages of X . … .' ?
Thanks a lot;

Hi Shayan,

Both ways of introducing different views are fine. Just try to do the introducing phrase/sentence quickly, and move on to the 'real content' of the paragraph (the advantages or disadvantages) - this is what your score really depends on.

Hi Simon, i was just going through the online material for IELTS and i found this. i've just got a quick question, i've IELTS three times, i need a 7 each, in the first attempt i scored Listening 8, reading 6.5 writing 7 and speaking 7.5, second time it was 7.5, 7.5, 6 and 7.5 respectively, third time when i thought i probably need to add a bit more vocab to my writing, i scored 7, 6.5, 6 and 8.5 respectively, i just dont understand how this is so inconsistent, i was just wondering if you had any advice on it. thanks heaps

Attempted IELTS*

Hi Simon,
I am a new comer
I am studying for IELTS. Would you mind repeating the ways we start, I mean how to write an introduction for each typer of essay on writing task 2. I just remembered that I saw it somewhere in this site, but now I can nor find it anywhere.
thanks a lot

Hi simon,
I have written my Iielts exam on may 17th.
In writing test-task 2 i have written only 220 words, but what ever i have written i explained it very well with good examples, with good introduction and good conclussion.
Task 1 i have written very well with more than 150 words.
How much can i expect?

Hi, I appeared in an IELTS exam, today.
There was a graph in writing task 1 and the question said, "the graph shows the number of three different crimes in England and Whales from 1975 to 2005"

I Paraphrased, " the line graph illustrates the number of felonies (car theft, street robbery, house burglary) in the 'UK and WHALES' over a period of 35 years"

Now my question is, will I lose marks for stating UK and Whales separately?? Because the countries mentioned are both the part of UK itself, but I mentioned UK and Whales separately.

Hi Simon,

Are questions such as "to what extent do you agree or disagree" and "do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages" the same? Same in a sense that the 1st body paragraph contains 2 or more reasons or benefits than the 2nd body paragraph which includes only 1 reason or advantage. Am I doing it right?
Thank you and hoping for your respose.

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