Do you want to find specific information about different IELTS lessons?

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

I’ve had a lot of emailed questions and comments from students  who want to find out more about a specific lesson that they have read. If  you  want to find out more about a specific topic, please use Search by Tags . You can do this 2 ways:

  1. At the bottom of each post, there is a section that says Posted in: followed by a  list of tags (topics) that you can click on. This will bring you to all the posts that have been tagged for that topic. For example, if you want to know more about how to write introductions, click on the introductions tag.
  2. On the right side of the page of each post, you’ll see a box that says “Search by Tags” under a box that says “Check my essay”. This Search by Tags box is filled with tags (topics) of different sizes – the bigger the size of the word, the more posts there are under this tag. Click on a tag to see all the posts related to that topic.

If there are topics not covered, feel free to email me or comment and I’ll try my best to write a post on it.

Good luck everyone!

(If you see at the bottom of this post, I’ve tagged everything.)

How to get a 7 or over on the Task 1 Essay

:: Lucky number seven  ::

» Zitona « via Compfight

I have a student who has taken the IELTS test several times because she needs a 7 in all modules in order to get her RN (Registered Nurse) license accepted in New Zealand. Although she has gotten 7 and over on the Listening and Speaking modules, she now needs to focus on  turning her steady results of 6.5 on the writing to a 7 or over. How to get that 7?

Here’s the main thing for Task 1:

You need to write a clear overview of the main features or trends of the graph/chart. In your overview paragraph (the 2nd paragraph – see my post on the 4-paragraph structure), identify 2 main patterns, features or trends that stand out. Do not simply describe what you see on the graph. That will not get you a 7.

Compare the following overview paragraphs for an essay about a survey at a new shopping mall:

 

Here is version A:

The top table shows four different categories of very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied and no comment about people’s opinion on shops and was divided between male and female shoppers. The second table shows the same four categories divided by males and females about the restaurants in the new mall. The pie chart also shows the same categories for both male and female shoppers with the design of the mall.

Here is version B:

Overall, the majority of shoppers were satisfied or very satisfied with the shops, restaurants and design of the new mall. In general,   men and women felt similarly about the shops and design, while more males were satisfied with the restaurants compared to women.

Which one is better and why? Version B is better because:

  1. Although Version A has grammatically correct sentences and is accurate in its meaning, it only describes what the tables and pie chart show. It doesn’t give any meaningful information about the actual data. As an overview paragraph, it doesn’t identify any important trends or patterns.
  2. Version B, on the other hand, identifies the overall feature that the majority of shoppers (which implies both men and women) were satisfied/very satisfied in all 3 graphs regarding shops, restaurants and design. It also shows another important feature – and that is men and women had similar opinions about the shops, but there was a difference about how they felt with the restaurants – more men were satisfied compared to women. This is meaningful information that the reader can easily understand and gain a clear understanding of the data.
  3. Version A consists of 3 long sentences in this paragraph, without adding any new insight. Version B is shorter – only 2 sentences – but gives a lot of  insight and useful ideas.
  4. The 2 paragraphs that follow this overview paragraph should give the details supporting these 2 main trends of how males and females had similar opinions and when they had differing opinions.

When organized this way:

  1. introduction paragraph
  2. overview paragraph
  3. detail paragraph
  4. detail paragraph,

it makes it very easy for the reader to understand  the graphs and charts.

Please note, these are not the only features that you can focus on, but these are the ones that I chose straight away because they stood out to me. Part of your strategy is to choose two features that stand out to you straight away that you can identify and explain to your reader. You should only spend 20 minutes on this full essay.

So remember, don’t just describe what you see on the table or graph. Make the data meaningful for your reader and easy to understand.

Here is my full sample essay for this Task.

Common Errors – Answers for Agreement

I previously wrote about a common error that many students make in writing, especially when rushing to finish an IELTS essay in time. This is agreement between different parts of speech.  See the post here.

Here are the answers for the sample sentences I gave (changes in bold). How did you do?

Make any corrections if necessary:

 1) I think both strict governmental regulations and parental supervision needs to be in place.
  • Subject is plural (BOTH a and b), therefore + plural verb

2) Furthermore, upon retiring, they will have no new income, so their care and costs of living will be shouldered by public funds. correct

3) The other three nations spent nearly the same amount in this regard.

  • number + noun (if there is more than one, the noun must be plural)

4) If students don’t want to do this kind of jobs in the future, there aren’t many options.

  • after phrases such as ” kind of “ (+ singular)

5) One of the problems with this measure is that it is hard to enforce.

  • “one of “ (+ plural noun + singular verb)

6) The number of applications for this particular job has dropped in recent years.

  • ” the/a number of” ( + plural noun + singular verb)

7) There are many things that should be considered when suggesting solutions.

  • after ” many “ ( + plural )

8) Each of the subcommittees have a specific goal to achieve.

  • after “every” and “each” ( + singular )

9) Every conceivable type of problem arises in the first few weeks.

  • after “every” and “each” ( + singular , so verb must agree)

10) Does Do the client and project manager agree to the terms of the contract?

  • The subject is plural (client AND project manager), so question verb (auxiliary verb) is plural

11) Three hundred dollars isn’t too much to pay. correct

  • number + noun (if there is more than one, the noun must be plural) BUT
  • phrases of time, money and weight when regarded as one unit (+ singular verb)

 

Common Errors in Grammar – Agreement

Even if you’re upper-intermediate to advanced, when you’re writing fast in a timed situation, you sometimes forget to check basic grammar elements, such as agreement (singular/plural) between different parts of speech.

When you practice your writing, check your agreement with:

  • subject + verb (check both are singular or plural)
  • pronoun + noun (check both are singular or plural)
  • number + noun (if there is more than one, the noun must be plural)
  • after phrases such as ” kind of “ (+ singular), “one of “ (+ plural noun + singular verb), ” the/a number of” ( + plural noun + singular verb), etc.
  • after ” many “ ( + plural )
  • after “every” and “each” ( + singular )
  • phrases of time, money and weight when regarded as one unit (+ singular verb)

Make any corrections if necessary:

1) I think both strict governmental regulations and parental supervision needs to be in place.

2) Furthermore, upon retiring, they will have no new income, so their care and costs of living will be shouldered by public funds.

3) The other three nation spent nearly the same amount in this regard.

4) If students don’t want to do this kind of jobs in the future, there aren’t many options.

5) One of the problem with this measure is that it is hard to enforce.

6) The number of application for this particular job has dropped in recent years.

7) There are many thing that should considered when suggesting solutions.

8) Each of the subcommittees have a specific goal to achieve.

9) Every conceivable type of problem arise in the first few weeks.

10) Does the client and project manager agree to the terms of the contract?

11) Three hundred dollars isn’t too much to pay.

—–

I’ll give the answers shortly in the comments below. In the meantime, give it a go!

**Answer posted here **

 

Common errors – When do you use ‘most’ or ‘most of’?

I’ve seen this error often even in intermediate to advance students’ writing. Here’s the difference between ‘most x’ and ‘most of x’

Most, as in:

“Most university students prefer classes that start after 10 a.m.”

Here, the noun “university students” is plural and is used as a general group. No determiner (such as ‘the’) is used after ‘most’.

Most of, as in:

“Most of the students in our dormitory have their first class after 10 a.m.”

Here, the noun “the students” is a specific group – those in our dormitory. So it’s a large portion within a specific group of students. You need to use a determiner (the/my/his/her/your/our/their/) followed by the noun if you use ‘most of…’.  For example, “Most of my students have studied English since primary school.”

More examples (you can see the slight difference in meaning):

  •  According to a nation-wide survey, most employees feel they shouldn’t have to work more than 40 hours per week.
  • Most of the employees (at my company) feel they shouldn’t have to work more than 40 hours per week.