« IELTS Reading: 'keyword technique' steps | Main | IELTS Writing Task 2: 'local vs foreign' introduction »

September 04, 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.




follow order immediately = do it straightaway
to do overtime = your feet all day long

follow order immediately = do it straightaway
physically demanding = lifting and carrying

A=do it straightaway
E=on your feet all day long


Dear Simon,

I saw that you don't normally mention your ideas in your topic sentences. But, some teachers say in order to get 7+, you have to mention them directly in the topic sentence. I'm still happy with your method of writing. I'm just a bit worried if there're examiners who don't recognise the indirect way of writing.

A and E?

A = follow orders -someone tells to do // Immediately = do it straight away

E = on your feet all day long - lifting and carrying

A and E

A=do it straightaway =follow orders immediately
E= physically demanding =you are on your feet all day lol

@ Syd

Band 7 states:

a)logically organizes information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout:

b) presents a clear central topic within each paragraph.

This is from the public marking criteria; there must be more detailed criteria for examiners, but they are private and confidential. My guess is that there is nothing so specific as you suggest. If there were, some other perfectly good paragraph openings would be downgraded. Also there is no requirement for Task 2 essay to meet academic writing standards: it is far too short, and there is no opportunity to provide references.

See here for some terminology and approaches:

IELTS is a very short writing sample, and not everything that applies to academic writing applies. For example, if we begin a paragraph with a 'signposting' sentence (such as: "There are two main approaches") then, in a longer essay, I would suggest two separate paragraphs in order to "present a clear central topic within each paragraph".

[Did I use a thesis statement, a topic sentence or what in the last paragraph? Does it matter if all is clear and there is a logical progression?]

So yes, practice good topic sentences, but also focus more on meeting the IELTS marking criteria through organization and logical progression, which may be more important.

Mr Simon:

I found the following comments, and wondered whether they were true:

a) "Use a calculator for Task 1. You will get a higher score if you do more than just report the numbers that you see."


b) "It is true that (Those words add nothing to your essay. They detract from it. Would you write something that is false?) ":


c) " It is more important correctly describe the figures than to try to be sophisticated. It is better not to use synonyms in Task 1. The task is to be precise, and synonyms seldom have exactly the same meaning."


A =, immediately , do straightaway,
E= physical demanding, on your feet on day long

E-on your feet all day long

@ Syd

The following comments regarding Task Achievment for Task 1 were made by sjm:

"The difference between a 7 and 8 is sometimes seen in the 'amount' of information. An 8 level Task Achievement might include more comparisons, for example, or might be able to show a greater interpretation of the data. A 7 would probably state more numbers directly (eg: 73) whereas an 8 would be more descriptive (eg: almost three quarters). The difference between an 8 and 9 is usually more language based - a 9 has no vocabulary or grammar errors, so they are able to be more precise with the data because they have a stronger ability with vocabulary. (eg: the figure rose more modestly).

From an examiner's point of view, you only award a 9 for TA to people whose vocabulary and grammatical accuracy is in the 8 to 9 range. This is because people at the 6 or 7 level are making errors in these areas and that makes their description of the data less clear.

So my answer to your question is to improve your vocabulary and grammar scores to the 8/9 level first."

@ Syd

c) sjm's comments above point up the idea that there is a knock-on effect if your vocabulary and grammar are defective, as that would undermine coherence and thus task response. It is like dominoes. Defective grammar -> defective coherence -> defective task response.

There is very little redundant grammar in English: frequently mistakes with articles change the picture. For instance, "there is chicken on the table" vs "there is a chicken on the table", or "students are struggling to pass IELTS" vs "the students are struggling to pass IELTS". If you are unsure of the difference in meaning here, it may drag your grammar score down, and everything else too.

d) Task Response for Band 7 mentions 'a tendency to overgeneralize and/or supporting ideas may lack focus'. The implication is that, in order to attain Band 8 or 9 (TR), you must not overgeneralize, and your supporting ideas must be focused. Your position must be clear throughout, and not only must you address all parts of the task, but every part must be sufficiently addressed. Perhaps that means giving due attention to both points of view where relevant.

To me, that means that the focus is on task completion, rather than any detailed hurdles or protocol about what a topic sentence should, or should not, contain.

Mr Simon

Perhaps at some stage we could have a lesson on avoid over-generalizations, and how to keep our supporting ideas focused.


To follow orders immediately ; you need to do it, when someone tells you to do something.
Work is physically demanding ; you’re on your feet all day long, lifting and carrying

A = need to do it straightaway
E = you're on your feet all day long, lifting and carrying




follow orders immediately = when someone tells you to do something, you need to do it straightaway


The work is physically demanding = your feet all day long, lifting and carrying, so if you're not fit now you soon will be



A topic sentence should contain the "central idea" of the paragraph. I don't understand why a teacher would tell you to put supporting ideas in the topic sentence too (if that is what you mean). It's normal to put supporting ideas in the sentences that come after the topic sentence.

It seems to me that some teachers are inventing their own strange rules!

Thank you De Nang. Much appreciated!

Dear Simon,

Unfortunately, many websites and teachers are trying to attract more viewers and students by just making up stories and dramas about the proper 7+ essay!
I've seen the same strategy in thesis statements (in introductions) - you've thaught us to put our focus on paragraphs 2 and 3, instead of writing a complex intro.

SIMON STYLE: There could be SEVERAL REASONS for this, and I consider it to be a very positive trend.

Some other essays:
These interpretations can provide us with insights into others’ PERSONALITY and CULTURAL BACKGROUND. Personally, I disagree.......

makes everything clear in the introduction and then writes one paragraph for personality and one for the cultural background. But the problem is that it is not as flexible as yours, sometimes it is difficult to develop a paragraph based on what you mentioned earlier in the introduction.
God bless you for making everything easy or at least doable for test takers!

No problem Syd!

Which TWO things can make the job of kitchen assistant stressful?

A KEYWORD:follow orders immediately
C KEYWORD:no break
D KEYWORD:have to overtime
E KEYWORD:physically demanding



Da Nang,

I've just noticed your questions, and you should be wary about what you read on a forum.

a) Use a calculator in task 1? I've never heard that advice before - very strange! I doubt you'll be allowed to take a calculator into your test, but it would be a bad idea anyway.

b) "It is true that" is a very normal essay phrase - it just does a simple job, and it won't add to your score or reduce it.

c) The first part of this tip goes against the first tip that you mentioned in point 'a'. I agree that accurate description of the information is better than showing off. However, I disagree with the idea that you shouldn't try to paraphrase. What's wrong with changing "percentage" to "proportion" or "every day" to "daily"?



The comments to this entry are closed.