Not many people who have to write are able to do this automatically and without much thought – even professional writers. I am talking here about native speaker writers. So for those who have English as a second language think how much more difficult it will be to just sit and write.
How easy it will be to go off the topic, how hard it will be to see an overall pattern to the writing, how easy it will be to make many mistakes and how easy it will be to forget the time and not have enough spare minutes to check at the end of the test.
All of these things will work against you getting your band, especially if that band is a band 7 or 8.
To make sure you keep on topic, manage your cohesion and coherence well, provide excellent language and vocabulary, avoid repeating things, include enough complex sentences and a good range of linking words and all this within 280 words and in 40 minutes is no easy task. So if you start with a plan – an outline of your ideas and the information to support them, the example you can include to illustrate these points, a list of linking words and vocabulary that you want to use in the task and a list of the grammar, spelling and punctuation errors that you know you make and that you want to avoid – how much easier will it be to construct your task!
A good plan is a skeleton and your job is to add the flesh – vocabulary, sentence structure etc. (and much if this can be decided way before you go into the IELTS exam room).
Five Steps to Great Planning
- Analyse the question
What is it asking you to do (discuss, give an opinion, argue etc.) also what are the component parts of the question?
- What does the question ask you to do
- What are the points or points of view you need to mention in each body paragraph
- What are the 2 or 3 parts of the task you are expected to comment on
- How many words
- How long should you spend
All this is contained in the question and rubric.
- What are your ideas about the topic?
Now you can brainstorm any ideas you have about the subject. As you brainstorm make some short notes and also write down any vocabulary you know about this topic.
This is not your plan – this will not help you to create a good task, this is just your collecting of ideas.
- Which ideas will you choose?
You will probably have more ideas than you need. You don’t actually need very many – the important thing in Task 2 is how to support your ideas with evidence and examples.
Choose ideas that will go together (then you can link them with moreover or furthermore) then, depending on the type of question, you can choose two ‘sets’ of these to be in each paragraph.
- Now organise your plan
Write an outline of your essay. You don’t need to make this too detailed – just say the main point, how you’ll support it and the example you will give. Then your ‘sub’ point how to support etc.
Include your introduction and conclusion in this outline, the body paragraphs should flow from the introduction and the conclusion should be a logical ending to your ideas.
A good outline plan might look something like this:
- The number of plants and animals is declining. Explain this problem and suggest some solutions.
- plants and animals declining because of human activity
- important to protect diversity
- many solutions available
- Body part
- 1 paragraph
- Negative influence of people activity on environment and habitats
- g. cars, gas emission, factories, rubbish,
- People not as careful towards our planet as must be – use too much energy, throw away food, use resources badly, concrete gardens
- Need to think about our children and children’s children
- 2 paragraph
- Not only government responsibility – each person should save our planet – personal responsibility e.g. recycling, consuming less, creating good environments for animals and plants
- Government – social education programmes – laws for industry – policies for environment – protection of wild habitats
- Using environment friendly technologies in industry and also in the home
The stewardship of our planet is the responsibility of everyone
Need policies, education and example from governments – but with this each individual must play a part
- Choose some vocabulary
It’s a good idea now to write down any special vocabulary you want to use as well as some of the linking words you might use. If you have some specific phrases you like to use in your task (make sure that these are ones you can use without errors) then write them now against the paragraph you will use them in – this makes sure that you won’t forget to use them.
Now you are ready to put flesh on the bones and write your task. Take each line one by one and write a full sentence and make sure you relate all your sentences to one another using appropriate linking words and other connecting devices.