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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 2: Writing Task Response


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Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

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Today we'll look at the Writing Task in the essay section of both the general and academic

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IELTS tests.

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IELTS essay topics are of general interest and relate to current issues in society.

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You can expect to be asked about:

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The media, education, environment,

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health, communication, technology

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and society.

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Being familiar with issues in these general areas is important.

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Listening to English language media will help you develop a bank of ideas on topics like

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this.

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An issue in health could be about children eating too much and not exercising enough.

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You could be asked to discuss a statement such as:

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Children's eating habits and lifestyles today are more likely to be harmful than beneficial.

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You should know the essay instructions. These tell you how much time you have and how much

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you need to write.

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You are instructed to spend about 40 minutes writing the essay, which has to be at least

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250 words.

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With practice you'll know without counting what your 250 words look like.

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You will also be asked to give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples

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from your knowledge or experience.

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This is one of the instructions, so you need to follow it.

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Reasons are saying why you think something is true or not. You could write:

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An increasing number of children are becoming obese because they are eating too much junk

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food.

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Reasons are supported by examples, like this:

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For example, aggressive marketing of such foods towards children is one of the contributing

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factors.

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Relevant examples are examples like this that are clearly connected to the question.

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Now let's look at an essay question, and how to analyse it before you write your answer.

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How well you do this will help with your task response, which is one of the criteria used

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to assess the essay.

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Let's look at a question topic. Here's a typical statement:

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The ageing populations of more developed countries are going to cause social and economic problems

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for society in the future, especially for the younger generation.

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With this is something called the question task:

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To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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The essay question is always presented in this way as a statement followed by the question

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task.

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First, let's look at the statement. Read it carefully.

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The ageing populations of more developed countries are going to cause social and economic problems

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for society in the future, especially for the younger generation.

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You should ask yourself 'who or what must I write about?' Here, you have to say something

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about ageing populations, developed countries, society in the future and the younger generation.

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Highlight these and any other key phrases, such as 'cause social and economic problems'.

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Think about what these phrases mean. Thinking of synonyms or words that mean something similar

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can help you do this. And you will need these synonyms later in your essay.

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Synonyms for ageing populations are: the elderly, retired people, the aged and pensioners. They're

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the people living longer or ageing.

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Developed countries - refers to modern industrial societies that have to financially support

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retired people. Synonyms are: western countries, first world countries and advanced economies.

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Social and economic problems are two kinds of problems. Social problems are problems

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that affect people, perhaps in areas such as health and education.

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Economic problems are problems to do with the economy of a country and its ability to

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pay for the services it provides.

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Society in the future means the country or nation or state in the future.

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And the younger generation are younger people or people who work. They're the people who

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are not yet part of the ageing population. So you can rephrase or paraphrase the question

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like this:

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The younger generation will experience social and economic difficulties because people are

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living longer.

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The next thing to look at is the question task:

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To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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'To what extent' means by how much.

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Here you're being asked to give your opinion about the statement. You might agree with

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it or you might think it is wrong.

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It's a good idea to reword this type of question into a 'yes/no' question like this:

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Do you agree that the younger generation will experience social and economic difficulties

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because people are living longer?

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Yes or no?

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You could think, yes, I agree completely or perhaps yes, I agree with some of this, but

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disagree with other parts of it.

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But keep in mind that asking how much you agree or disagree tests your ability to look

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at 2 sides of an issue and present a balanced argument. Even if you say yes and agree completely,

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you still have to look at the other side of the argument and think about why someone would

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disagree.

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You would need to write two body paragraphs in an essay of this type, one saying what

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you agree with and one saying what you disagree with.

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In the conclusion of your essay you would state your position on the topic.

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Let's look at another question.

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Internet access should be under government control to avoid any potential harm to children.

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Who or what must you write about? The internet, government and children. Now highlight other

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key phrases - under government control, avoid any potential harm.

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Let's think of synonyms.

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We know what the internet is, but what other words can we use? - the net, the web, online,

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cyberspace.

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Under government control means controlled by the government. Other words for government

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are the state or the administration.

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Potential harm means bad things that might happen. Synonyms for potential are possible

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or likely. And other words for harm are: damage and hurt.

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So we could paraphrase this statement as:

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The state should control access to the web to avoid possible damage to children.

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The same question task we looked at earlier can be used:

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To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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You are being asked for your opinion. What you need to do here is say what you think.

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The state should control access to the web to avoid possible damage to children. Yes

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or no?

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Now you should think about reasons for your point of view and why you don't agree with

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the opposite view.

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So, to recap.

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The way you respond to the question and the instructions is part of what you are being

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marked on. The examiners call it task response.

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Make sure you follow the instructions and write the correct number of words.

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That's all for now.

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Don't forget to visit our website at: australianetwork.com/studyenglish for more.

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I'll see you next time on Study English.

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