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September 17, 2014


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Wow, it is truly amazing!
Simon, I was wondering can I use "to achieve" rather than "to achieving"???

"There do seem to be"
Can someone explain this to me?

Hi Simon,
Your essay is brilliant. I just wonder how you can have many excellent ideas. I am struggling to answer these questions for long time. Even the model answer in Cambridge IELTS book is weak. It did not really answer the second question in this essay.

One IELTS examiner whom I had a one to one lesson with said that using 'you' and 'we' is informal. However I have noticed that 'you' and 'we' are used in many model answers of essays in Cambridge IELTs books. Is it true that the styles of writing really depend on each individual examiner's taste?

Thank you

Anyone who needs some tips can send me a message. We can do some practice.

[email protected]

Hannah! we're supposed to use 'to achieving' because it goes with 'with regard to'

what should i do to improve ideas and show off all of my thoughts? helpsss

I believe that 'seem' is just a verb. People tend to use it to soft their tone of voice. This means the phenomena described are not absolute or definite. There are many similar words often used in academic writing. For example, 'there could be' or 'there is a tendency'.

Hope this will help

Hi Simon,

I have a question. Why you give your opinion in the conclusion? In the topic they do not ask you about your opinion. Is it really so important to give your opinion?


Hi Simon,
I was wondering if we need complicated language in the Writing task 2. My teacher said that I should use sentences like "Money is to the people what blood is to the body" in my essay in order to get high score. But I've read many band 9 examples on your website and I've never seen you use these sentences. So what should I do?

Hi simon.

I am always greatly grateful for your essay.
Currently, I am studying IELTS alone with the aid of your website.
And of course, I purchase your e-book.
Many essays provided on your website and E-book help me to improve the level of my written skill.

Thank you ;)

Anyone please can tell me what do you think about my writing and what grade should I have:
Happiness is considered as an aim for every humain on earth. It is indeed a shared goal, yet still defficult to define because it means different things to different people and there are many contributers in achieving a sense of it.

Happiness has a relative meaning to each one of us. Some people relate it to being wealthy, so they spend their entire lives stuck in careers which provide a lot of money but very less means of rest and recreation. while others relate it to a deeper meaning like being healthy and having a supporting family with successful children. others may draw a sense of happiness from having a feeling of excitement when practicing their favorite hobby like: exploring the world by traveling, learning new languages, reading novels or going out with friends. these are different forms of happiness which makes it a very wide concept of life.

while it is hard for people to come to a same conclusion on the issue of happiness, a range of common needs are considered to be important in achieving happiness. First one needs to see the joy even in small things in life in order to be satisfied. For instance: we need to have money which is affordable for a living and for our needs, to have a loving surroundings, we also need to think wisely about the way we care about our health and to practice what we love most in our free time. another important factor should be dedicating a small portion of our lives to the sake of helping others and drwing a smile in desperate faces.

In conclusion, even though it is hard to define happiness in one simple way, one can still consider a balanced combination of ideas which can make their lives happier.

Actually your essay is almost perfect.but im not really convinced with two expressions :
It is no doubt true (do u mean there is not a shadow of doubt or what?)
The second is there do seem to be
Soo much thanks

@Bia: Your essay is really good, just re-read again and double check some minor mistake in spelling,comma, full stop etc...other wise it almost as good a Simon's :))

@Hannah, I m really really grateful for your encouraging words, May God bless you.
Acctually I m preaparing to take the IELTS test next November which is 2 months for now, I feel a little frustrated and need to do more preparation.
I will be glad if Hannah or anyone else can practice with me the speaking part via skype.
Thanks again.

Hey Simon
I am following your post from last month and it helps me alot for my test prepration.
I am also planning to apear in ielts in november, we can practice together if you like.as speaking part is giving me tough time .

Hi Simon,

a friend of mine recommend your site..and i was so thankful because i found it very helpful.

im going to take exam on nov 1st.. but im worried about my writing...hopefully i could get 7 thats my target band score...


"there are some basic preconditions to achieving it" should be " there are some basic preconditions for achieving it"? Is it right?

I found some brilliant ideas in your essay sample. Many thanks to you, Simon

Hi Simon,Hi Everybody
I have learnt a new sentence structure from my teacher (non-native speaker) like that:
It is of importance for children to learn English as early as possible.
Could you tell me whether It is right or wrong?
Thank you very much in advance!

hi simon
i had my speaking test yesterday and i am worrying why it was so short. I think it lasted just 7-8 minutes. i think i answered all the questions correctly but i was the last candidate for speaking test and my turn came at exactly 5 pm. may be examiner was tired so he didn't even bother to ask me any more questions. is this gonna affect my result? plzzzzz tell me i m so worried about it.

Thanks for sharing your views. Great blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you. I would like to thank for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming days as well. A web designer must be very knowledgeable.

wow, the way you present your ideas. It looks clear and simple but actually very thoughtful w.r.t to this abstract concept. The variety of vocabulary is brilliant. Wish I could do something similar.

Dear Simon:

I think describe and define should be used as passive forms in Introduction and First body: difficult to be described, defined.


I love this part of your sentence: "While the personal nature of happiness makes it difficult to describe..."
It's so romantic. I understand why you decorate your website by violet color now. ^^!

Hi everyone. I have an exam on Sep 27th in Iran.
for speaking practices,If anyone's interested in please add my skype id seyedloghmansanjary.
My target is 6.5~7

it will be great pleasure to practice for the speaking part via skype, my skype is: bialight1. please add me and we ll start.
thanks a lot

@leah i m taking it on the same day. good luck, lol


I'm glad you like the essay guys!

In the comments above, students have expressed confusion about the phrases below:

- to achieving
- there do seem to be
- it is no doubt true that
- difficult to describe (the student suggests using the passive 'difficult to be described')

These are not mistakes. Can anyone explain why?

Hi Simon,

I think the top three phrases are easy to explain:

1. 'With regard to' is always followed by a noun e.g. achieving
2. 'There do seem to be' is a normal sentence: noun+verb
3. 'It is no doubt true that ' is again a normal sentence : noun + is + adverb (no doubt) + adjective (true) + that

I always get confused with the fourth sentence, such as: it is difficult to describe...; Banks are to blame...; Things need to be done...

When do you use past tense? Is it possible to have a daily lesson related this grammar problem, please?

Thank you

Let me try to explain in terms of grammar.

- with regards to achieving: "to" here is a preposition.
- there do seem to be: emphasis structure with "do" added.
- it is no doubt true that: "no doubt" is an adverb
- difficult to describe (the student suggests using the passive 'difficult to be described'): a kind of emphasis when "difficult" comes first, rather than "to describe...is difficult".

Mr Simon
Your simply awesome.Thank you for sharing this essay.I think i will make it this time for my writing.

@Bia- good idea, we can practise together. Im planning to take exam again in this Oct, i need 8 individual and I am close to give up:(

Hi guys, is there anyone who can give me an advice
about an essay below that i wrote ? I know this essay is inappropriate on this page... but i have know idea where i need to put this.

Thank you in advance :)

Throughout history, people have dreamed of living in a perfect society. However, there is still no agreement about what a perfect society would be like. What, in your opinion, would be the most important element of a perfect society? What can people do to help create an ideal society?

It is no doubt true that living in a perfect society has been dreamt by all people throughout our whole history, but the truth is that the prodigious agreement to defining a perfect society does not even clarify. I believe that safety is the paramount element of a perfect society, and people can take step to make such a desirable society.

The supreme factor creating a perfect society is safety, represented in various ways. The commonly mentioned component of safety is no crime, derived from the trust toward our neighbors. This, for example, allows us to leave doors unlocked. Another component entailing safety is the reliability of the governmental institution and public service so that we can feel protected against any kind of offensive environment which spoil safety of a society. In short, safety is the most basic of a zero flaw society.

There are three different steps that we can take so as to create safety which is basis of a perfect society. First, we need to vote our leader and politicians who are trustworthy, and trust and value the governmental institution so that they can work properly. Second, we could get involved in our community to make sure that we can trust each other within the community. Lastly, the environment need to be looked after so that the safety of our planet can be guaranteed by which we ensure that we recycle waste and reduce the demand of natural resource.

In conclusion, although it is censorious to define what creates a perfect society, I believe the worthy of safety which is the most important base making an ideal society. In order to achieving a society with no defect that we have envisaged throughout our entire society, we need to value safety at first.

Dear Simon,
Thank you so much for the essay.
Quote: "Although it seems almost impossible to give a precise definition of happiness, most people would agree that there are some basic preconditions to achieving it."

Can you please explain the differences between "condition" and "precondition"?

Thank you

Please somebody score and correct my essay.I have been struggling with IELTS for several years.I need 7 in each

There is no doubt that being happy is the main purpose of life.Though everybody wants to be happy, it is different to each other.

Some get pleasure by having a brand new car,while others may be satisfied through achieving higher degree.To some people,specially older one regard happiness as living a healthy life.There are more people who spend whole life ,even sacrifice their jobs for example, some mothers find their great happiness by bringing their children up properly.Therefore,arrange of definitions could be applied for 'happiness' and it differs from person to person as well.Probably,because of these varieties it is hard to describe 'Happiness' in a sentence or two.

However,even though there are no fixed factors to be happy in life,people should find what makes him or she happy.Once it is realised,he or she could focus on achieving the goal following the calculation of how to reach there.For example,for having a new car,one should save money on regular basis and at the same time he might need to sacrifice buying unnecessary staffs or over shopping.On the other hand,if someone dreamt of being a highly qualified doctor,he might need to study hard and to dedicate his life for serving people.

In conclusion ,it is difficult to difficult to define happiness as choices differs to each other.But once it is recognised by a person that what makes him happy,he should figured out what to do .Then he should proceed according to needs and this ,in my opinion ,is the main key to be happy in life.

i am studying ielts at the moment and our instructors kept on telling us not to use personal pronouns like "I", "you", and "we". only "they" and "them" are allowed.I have browsed through your model essays and you have actually been using the "we". Is it really not allowed, or our lecturers are just being strict?

Hi Farhana,
I think you writing is good and should be between 6.5 and 7.0. I need to declare this is just my own opinion and may not reflects the truth.
There are some small errors. For instance, in the second paragraph, do you mean 'a range of definitions ' instead of 'arrange' ? I would change 'sacrifice their jobs' into ' sacrifice their careers' and 'apply for' into 'apply to'.
In the third paragraph, maybe you can change 'following the calculation ' into 'following the path that lead to it ' and change 'sacrifice ' into ' be satisfied by'.
Nonetheless, you have good ideas and good vocabulary. You can ask Pete (who is Simon' s colleague) to mark your writing. He is very good and gives you lots of feedback very quickly. I gained many good suggestions from him and increase my score from 6.0 to 7.0 in six months as he recommended.

Hope this will help

1=Happiness is difficult to define because it means something different to each individual person.

2=There are different factors to achieving happiness include health, family, safe place for live, enough food to eat and feeling of peacefulness.


I have a question regarding indentation at the beginning of a paragraph.
My research showed that both leaving an indentation or one blank line between paragraphs are okay. Some sources however said that an indentation is a must.

Can you please clarify this?
Thank you so much!!

Either way is fine Stella. I tell my students to leave a line, and many of them have achieved high scores (which proves that indentation is not a must).

Thanks very much jing...thanks for reading my essay.by the way how can I contact with Pete and what's the price?
Pls let me know

You need to ask Simon for Pete's contact. I have my essays marked by Pete two years ago when I just started to prepare IELTS test. The price for marking each essay is £10, but you need to give three essays (one task1 and two task 2). Unfortunately, just when I reach band 7 on each component, the required score go up to 7.5, so I am still combatting with IELTS.
Good luck with your IELTS study

someone can help me to answer this question ?tks
"the greatest joy in life is usually found in shared experiences with family and friend" why it's "shared" but not "sharing " i'm so confused


I think both ways of writing are correct. It depends on what you want to emphasize. If you want to focus on the experiences are shared with your family, then it should be 'in shared experiences'. If you want to focus on the action of you sharing experiences with your family, then it should be 'in sharing experiences with somebody'.

Please anyone adds your opinions if I am wrong because I get confused sometimes too.

Thanks jing...what a co incident! I also got 7 but now I need 7.5.
R u trying for GMC registration?

Yes, we are on the same path. I had three attempts of ielts test within three months once I knew the required score was going to rise. Unfortunately I failed all. We can keep in touch if you like.
My email is [email protected]

im going to take an exam on 11th October in uk any one take the exam and ther is atime diffrence will help , istill waiting your felp to the last minute,

Farhana and jing would you mind practising speaking on skype? Im a dentist ..what is the date of yr upcoming exam?

Hi simon and to all readers! Thanks for all the great tips in IELTS. A friend of mine took th exam today and the writing task 2 topic was: State universities must shoulder the expenses of (scholars)highly qualified/intelligent students only. While, for other students(not qualified for scholarship), private organizations and the student himself/herself should share in the school expenses. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

tks so much jing and good luck for your next test :)

Hi Simon,
Your essay is great. I admire it's simplicity.there is just something about the way you put your points across. It is so relaxing and stress free. Seriously , I can't explain it, but you are good .Thumbs up. I wish I could come up with something like this.

I like that description of my essay flosk! Thanks.

Hello Simon,

"Although it seems almost impossible to give a precise definition of happiness, most people would agree that there are some basic preconditions to achieving it. "

----> Would you please explain to me how it is "achieving" in this sentence. I am really confused. I read all comments but there do seem no answer yet. Thank you so much.

Hi San,

Here's a lesson I wrote about that:


Hi Simons:

I sense that there might be something wrong with the expression "a variety of different way". Do you think the meaning of "variety" is overlapping with "different" in this sentence?

Hi Ray,

"a variety of different" is a very common phrase in English (try Googling it).

You are right that we don't really need the words 'variety' and 'different' together (when two words give the same meaning it is called redundancy). However, it isn't grammatically wrong to do this, and it is often done for emphasis.

In short, "a variety of different" isn't wrong, but I understand why you wondered about this phrase.

It's no doubt true that happiness plays a very important role in life; however, it is not only difficult to define and but also not easy to achieve happiness.

From my point of view, feeling and mood are the key factors of why it is difficult to define happiness. Different people have different feeling of happiness, and that's why there are different answers and viewpoints when they are asking about the question of what is happiness. For example, some people feel happy in Beijing city because the public transportations like the buses and sub-ways are very cheap. however, some others do not agree as they feel crowed on the buses or sub-ways. Mood is another factor that has great impact on happiness; people often feel happy when he or she is in a good mood; on the contrary, they feel unhappy when he or she is upset and anxious.

People often are eager to having happiness and they put many efforts to try to achieve it. There are a variety of factors that could help people to achieve happiness. Firstly, a positive mindset allows people to face difficulties positively and have confidences to overcome the difficulties; as a result, this kind of mindset often help people get desired outcomes with their continuous efforts, which in turn make them feel happy. Secondly, people should not compare with others too much; they often feel sad or disappointed when they see other people's successes. On the contrary, people are much easier to feel happy when they get some progresses or improvements. Finally, people are much more likely to achieve happiness when they could better adapt the environment and have good relationships with family members and colleagues; In addition, having some good friends are also very important and helpful to help people achieve happiness.

In conclusion, happiness is hard to define, but it is not difficult to achieve it with the helps of various factors.

Dear Simon,

Thanks for sharing this lovely essay.
Simon, so far I' ve learned from your lessons that we need to address all the statements, in a question, in order to fullfil the criterion for the task response. In my understanding, in this question, there is one background statement: " happiness is considered very important in life," and two direct questions : 1. why is it difficult to define , 2. Factors involved in achieving happiness.
Your essays seems to discussing (as is evident from the topic sentences), the 2nd para describes " why it is difficult to define happiness," and the 3rd para highlights the preconditions to achieving happiness.
If I were to write this essay, I'd have written the 2nd para disussing about why happiness is important , as well as, why it's difficult to define it.

I'm afraid , I'm getting more and more and more... Confused about the task response.

I'll be thankful to you if you could help to eliminate that confusion.( sorry to bother you again)

really brilliant job.

thank you so much

It is true that majority of people are keen on finding out their own happy life because of its importance. While the personal nature of happiness makes it difficult to define, but I believe there are certain measurements in realizing happiness.

Happiness is more difficult to define due to a rich variety of reasons. People understand and perceive it completely different in comparison with each other. For example, it can be described as a feeling of pleasure or enjoyment for some people, who are able to make more and more contribution to our society, whereas for others, it means something different such as a sense of job satisfaction. Some people are more likely strict in workplace and this might makes them to get a sense of achievement when they are able to do their duty more accurately. Apart from this, earning enough money can also be a source of happiness.

There are also several factors which is important in defining happiness. We all are aware of importance of our basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothes, and other things. In order to feel happy and having comfortable life we firstly should be able to cover our intrinsic needs. In addition to this, people need to feel they are spending much of their time with relatives, friends, convincing themselves they experience better life than ever before. Sometimes people are becoming more happy when seeing that their children are useful members of society as a results of high quality of upbringing.

In conclusion, it seems to me that although it is difficult to define happiness, I believe that after answering main needs of us, happiness can be turn into reality.

Hi Simon,

I have been following your blogs since the time i registered for my IELTS. I really admire the way you have explained the approach we should all keep in mind while taking the test(especially the writing section). This is the 3rd time i am taking ielts and every time i flunk it by .5 marks, just in writing section. (need 7). Going through your blogs and videos has made me realize where i exactly went wrong in the writing section. I have access to all the video lessons you shared(even the paid ones) and now i feel much more confident and hope getting 7 in writing is going to be a cakewalk. :)

Thank you very much for sharing your own work. I have once again be convinced of the effectiveness of concise writing. This is essential to me, as I will need to retake a test very soon, for a 0.5 improvement on my writing - the first time I got a satisfied overall score of 7.5, with writing receiving a band score of just 6. :(

I'll follow the updates so please do keep going! :)

Happiness is something that's given by god to every being:-) so we should learn to take the maximum from it.

It is no doubt true that a considerable number of people would like to be happy in their lives. Although describing a happiness is considered to hard to explain, there are certain steps to take before lead to happiness for human beings.

Happiness is dificult to define because of its complex and difference meaning for every person. Some might find achieving success or earning money as a form of happiness while others might consider to being healthy or have a family as a definite meaning of happiness. There is a famous Indian idiom which says every finger of the hand are different, means every person has different feelings and special passions for themselves. Moreover, nobody can fully understand to anothers feelings or desires and this leads to avoid of giving spesific defines of happiness or what situation couldnt define as happiness.

Although telling a certain define of happiness is quite hard, there are some preconditions to take before fulfill to happiness. First of all, any person need to be in secure of find a safe place to live or enough food to eat. Our basic survival needs must surely be met before we can lead to pleasant. Secondly it is important to share experience with family or friends, therefore this cause the biggest joy in our life. Moreover, other key factors could be individual freedom or having a purpose in life.

In conclusion, even defining a happiness would be a hard exam to achive, we can surely say that there are some basic factors to experience happines in our lifes.



Dear Simon, thank you for helping to improve our writing skills for task 2. I would be grateful if you could give my response a Band score (if you have time of course)!

Many people agree that happiness is an essential part of human life. I believe that there are many diverse aspects that underlie happiness, making it difficult to define. I also feel that a sense of long-lasting satisfaction is a vital factor when achieving happiness, as long as it does not result in harm.

One reason why it may be difficult to characterise happiness objectively is because there are many ways to attain happiness. For one person, happiness might mean achieving calm or bliss through spiritual practices; whereas for another, leading a life of materialism and fame may constitute happiness. Therefore, the meaning of happiness is a subjective matter that depends on the preferences held among different individuals.

In my opinion, a number of factors are essential in achieving happiness. The first is that measures to attain happiness should be relatively easy to undertake; or at least be worthwhile. For the average person, there is little sense in trying to become the most wealthy individual in the world, since this is an unrealistic aim. Secondly, happiness should result in a sense of long-lasting satisfaction. Finally, achieving happiness should ideally not be a harmful venture. For instance, several people derive great pleasure, or bliss, from consuming illicit drugs, alcohol or cigars; with detrimental consequences to their health. In the long run this constitutes the opposite to happiness: suffering and misery.

In conclusion, my viewpoint is that happiness cannot be defined easily as there are many ways of attaining this state. The most essential factors in obtaining happiness include: a sense of satisfaction, being relatively easy to achieve and not being harmful.

splendid written with hrart very deeply
i think it is very much true which i heard from my mom that line is
eyes are not ment for tears
heart is not met for fers
smile and always cheers
because your smile can make people smile for years

Can some one tell me the meaning of desperate faces?

I want to practice(grpup study) with any person who is taking IELTS preparation now.My skype id is masakurcox81 and fb id is [email protected]..

There are several reasons why it is not easy to define happiness. Firstly, happiness is an internal feeling and people have different definitions for it based on their own situations. For instance, for some people, money brings happiness, while for some others, having a decent job or a high salary is only a way of meeting some basic requirements that every human has. Secondly, in different societies, people define it differently. This can be associated with the cultural views that individuals in various countries have. For example, in my country, depending on the region one lives, the definition differs. If somebody lives in major cities, high education is very prestigious and those who are highly-educated are quiet happy. However, in small towns or villages, building a family and having kids or having a property like a big house is an enormous achievement and bring happiness to people’s life for people.
Many factors including wealth, a high-income career, physical and mental health, beauty, a romantic relationship and a high university degree play important roles in obtaining happiness. But it is worth mentioning that the most important element is satisfaction. If a person has all of these factors and not yet contented with his or her valueslife, he or she will not be able to experience the feeling of pleasurehappiness. There are some people that are always complaining even if they have everything. In other words, in order to have a happy life, what really matters is the way that we see life. In fact, the sense of gratification can make us happy.
In conclusion, it is true that happiness is a difficult conceptterm to be clearly defined, since people have different points of views about it. However, I believe that if we are satisfied with what we have, we can experience it.

Thanks for it

the second question:
In order to attain happiness, once the deficiency needs have been fulfilled then it will lead to a pleasure life. What really matter the most are no other than physiological needs: sufficient food, water and a permanent shelter in a safe environment with security since most dwellers hardly function optimally without these. Moreover, a life with an intimate bond, plenty of love and acceptance is also essential to motivate behavior through family and friends. Another important ones are independence, cognition and self-fulfillment to reach life expectations for a spectacular sense of satisfaction.

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