How to Write a Band 9 IELTS Essay – IELTS Writing Lesson

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hi I’m oli welcome to Oxford online English in this lesson you can learn how to write a band 9 IELTS essay now this video is a little bit different obviously you can’t see me I’m recording my screen I don’t have a script I’m going to write an essay and show you what I’m thinking about I’m going to do this in one take so you’re going to see all the problems I have and everything that goes wrong I’m going to leave that all in there and I’m going to do it like a real IELTS question with a time limit so you can see how I do it in real time okay so let’s start we’ve got a question here which I wrote maybe five minutes ago so I haven’t thought about it haven’t planned anything yet and let’s read digital communication technology such as email instant messaging and social media has improved communication and connections between people to what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion then give reasons and all this stuff this is in every IELTS question so the first thing you need to do is analyze the question there are two things to think about here one is to make sure that you understand everything precisely you understand exactly what the task is asking you to do the second point is to identify how many things you need to do to answer this question so digital communication technology what does that mean well luckily the question gives examples for us email instant messaging social media now of course you can talk about other things you’re not limited to these examples but since the question gives us examples we don’t need to think about that more right now okay has improved communication what does that mean exactly how can communication be better or worse so digital communication technology has improved connections between people again questions you should be thinking about now what does this mean exactly and very importantly is this the same as communication or is it something different then okay to what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion there’s one opinion here one idea although it’s quite a complex idea but it’s still one idea that means we need to do one thing in this essay explain to what extent we agree or disagree let’s make a plan I’m going to start my plan from the conclusion this is important in an IELTS essay and I recommend you do this because everything in your essay should be leading towards your conclusion and that means you need to know what your conclusion is going to be before you start writing now my conclusion is going to be that technology has undoubtedly improved communication but not connections so I’m going to split these two ideas and I’m going to make it clear that there’s a difference between communication and connections now I’m going to plan backwards from there so the next question is how many body paragraphs are we going to have now I think because we’re talking about two different ideas these two I think it makes sense to have two body paragraphs now not every IELTS essay needs two body paragraphs you can write essays with different numbers of paragraphs but in this case it makes sense to have two so in the second body paragraph I’m going to talk about how I’m going to talk about connection and in the first body paragraph I’m going to talk about communicate now obviously that’s that gives me my main ideas but I need to develop these a little bit so so I’m going to say this in body paragraph one technology has improved communication and I’ll use examples like for example let’s see things like instant messaging email I’ll talk about things like Skype and these are all fast free or almost free and convenient so that gives me some examples and some supporting ideas in body paragraph number two I’m going to say that better communication doesn’t equal better connection and I’m going to talk about I’m going to talk about how digital communication can’t replace face-to-face communication I’m going to talk about nonverbal communication like body language facial expressions and things like that and I’m going to say that human connection depends on face-to-face communication okay so at this point we should check that we should check that all of our points are relevant and connected so in the first paragraph you get rid of this I’m talking about improved communication that’s pretty directly relevant that’s good then in the second paragraph I’m talking about better connection connections between people so again that’s directly connected to the question then here in this sentence I’m connecting those two ideas okay it’s not really a sentence but you know in this idea I’m connecting communication and connection and that brings me to my conclusion where again and bringing the two ideas together again I’m still talking about technology and I’m connecting these ideas together to answer the question now this is really important and it’s something that many IELTS students really struggle with your everything in your essay needs to be connected to everything else if you want to get a high score and by high score I mean seven or more so that starts when you plan you need to make sure that you know what your conclusion is you know that your conclusion is relevant to the question and then you need to plan your body paragraphs with your conclusion in mind everything needs to be connected everything in your body paragraphs needs to be leading towards your conclusion so let’s start writing so I might go quiet here because I find it difficult to talk and think and write all at the same time let’s write an introduction okay can I change that I didn’t like that I felt thought it was going to be repetitive I need to make sure that I think distract myself talking and make mistakes um okay that’s good it’s a good first sentence okay I’m going to change that I don’t really like it okay I’m sort of struggling to finish this sentence a little bit I’m gonna say this oh yeah one thing I meant to say if you don’t want to watch me kind of jumping around in the document you can watch this video on our website oxfordonlineenglish.com if you’re on youtube you can find a link underneath the video and on the webpage you can see the full essay so you can read it as I’m talking and you don’t have to watch me you know jumping around if you don’t want to okay so that’s a decent introduction I think something to notice I’m gonna get rid of these highlights so okay the first sentence I’m signaling what I’m going to talk about in my first body paragraph yeah then in my sir in my second sentence I mean kind of reframing the question and I’m drawing this line between communication and connections and I’m showing that I think these are two different things and then I make a very clear statement which connects directly to my conclusion you can see this in my plan my conclusion is that technology has improved communication but it hasn’t improved connections between people and I’m signaling this very clearly in my introduction that means the examiner or whoever’s reading my essay knows exactly where I’m going to go and that’s also very important for your IELTS essay somebody who reads your introduction should know where you want to go and what you’re trying to do with this essay okay so body paragraph number one let me give myself some space right all right so that’s my topic sentence that’s introducing the main point of my paragraph and now I need to add supporting ideas and examples so okay so I’m not sure I’m going to leave it like this I’m just going to do a quick time check okay 25 minutes left I might change this but I think that’s pretty pretty good so things to check first of all is to check that your paragraph fits your plan so my plan says technology has improved communication and I’m saying that communication is easier cheaper and more convenient so that’s that’s good that works mmm I give examples like instant messaging email or VoIP like Skype then I give an example by comparing the present to the past I talk about how in the past it was difficult and expensive but now I can reach anybody all over the world through using my phone so I think I think that covers what we what we need it to cover right so now I need to move to the second body paragraph obviously the second body paragraph is going in a different direction I need to draw this line between communication and connection and show that communication and connection are different things so I need to signal that clearly let’s think how I can do that now I did that in my introduction I was going to ask a question starting with however but I already did that here so I need to make sure that I don’t repeat myself okay and so that’s my topic sentence then now I need to support that and I go back to my plan actually I’m going to copy my plan and I’m going to bring it down here so you can see that right so okay so I need to finish this I need that kind of finishing sentence here okay and I think I think that’s okay so let’s have a look first we’ve got this which is linking this paragraph to the first paragraph I’m referring back to the ideas I talked about in the first body paragraph and with the word while I’m signaling that I’m going to go in a different direction while is used to show contrasts or yeah contrasts so that makes it clear that which direction I’m going to go in this paragraph then this is really my topic sentence here this is the main point of my paragraph it’s not now I think I should change this word because in the task it says uses the word improved and here I say changed and that’s a slightly different meaning and you need to be careful of things like this because you might use a word and you think okay that’s that’s fine that’s very similar in meaning but words which are similar in meaning are not the same and to get a high score in your Al’s essay you need to be very precise I it’s not significantly now can I use improved mmm let me think now you see I think like that because I used it used it already here and I think I used it already before so let’s keep it simple meaning meaning go anything alright okay I think that’s better so that’s my topic sentence that’s now closer to my meaning in my plan and it’s closer to the idea that I’m working towards a made conclusion then I’m giving a reason digital communication can never replace face-to-face communication so this explains why technology has not improved connections and relationships then I explained this idea I say why can why can digital communication not replace face-to-face communication because communication is nonverbal then I give examples of nonverbal communication and I go on to explain how that nonverbal communication is lost in if you’re using some kind of digital technology to communicate then the final sentence is kind of leading to my conclusion I’m again I’m bringing back the I’m connecting the two ideas of communication and connection which sets up my conclusion I think so now I need to write the conclusion then I get rid of this let’s do a time check fifteen minutes okay that’s looking good let’s do a word count check I have 223 words so far so again that’s looking pretty good you you want to aim to write maybe around 270 280 that’s a good length so if my conclusion is 50 or 60 words I’ll be around I’ll be in that area so my conclusion let’s see no it’s the thing with your conclusion is you have to be very careful not to just repeat yourself obviously your conclusion is connected to all the ideas which you’ve talked about in your essay but it should not just be a repetition and that’s easy to say but it can be hard to do so I’m gonna go quiet again while I focus on this okay I’m just referring back to my plan also I need to check back to my introduction and just make sure that I’m you know I’m explaining my conclusion clearly but I’m not repeating myself so that’s what I’m doing here [Music] okay so I think that should be good but I’m going to check now it’s always good to keep checking back it is so easy to go off-topic and in an IELTS essay your else I say although you might think it’s a lot to write in 40 minutes it’s it’s quite short you don’t have very many words you don’t have very many sentences and that means you need to make sure every sentence counts every sentence needs to be relevant and focused and it’s so easy to just get a little bit distracted or to go a little bit off topic or maybe you generalize a little bit too much and your point becomes less relevant or less focus so I’m just going to check this here so here I’m looking at key ideas from the tasks we’ve got digital technology we’re talking about communication talking about it’s a positive thing which that’s what we know that’s relevant because the question is asking about improving communications that also we also hit that here being able to keep in touch that’s relevant that’s about communication it’s a great advantage that shows that something positive it’s something improved then we’re talking about connecting forming relationships again that relates back directly to the task okay has not changed does not change so the task is asking about whether technology has improved connections between people I’m saying it has it hasn’t changed connections and how people form relationships and yeah that is relevant because if if it hasn’t changed then it hasn’t improved so that’s also answering the question pretty directly then here okay we’ve got we need face to face contact to form meaningful connections with others and current technology is no substitute for that now this is quite important it’s probably the most important sentence in the whole essay let’s see why that is first of all this is answering the question your last sentence should be your your final answer and it should be something clear to get high scores for your IELTS essay you need to present a clear conclusion it’s very difficult to do that if you write something like well it depends on the situation or there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides if you write something like that it’s not a clear conclusion and it’s very difficult then to get higher scores now here we have a very firm conclusion I’m not in the middle on this topic I’m coming down on one side I’m saying yeah okay technology has improved communication but it definitely has an improved connection it’s a firm conclusion and that makes it possible to get higher scores especially in your task achievement a quick time check eight minutes okay well alright should hurry up a little bit but basically finished but I’m still I still have time to check and maybe make some improvements let’s do a quick word count check 291 words that’s just about perfect it’s a good length so alright that’s good now I’m going to look through I’m going to look for vocabulary at this point if you have time at this point in your IELTS exam you want to look through look for vocabulary errors look for things like repetition of words look for anywhere where you can perhaps improve your use of vocabulary replace by replacing a maybe a more generic word with something more specific and more interesting you could also look for grammar errors now I hope I haven’t made any grammar errors I’m going to defend myself preemptively if I have if I have made any grammar errors it’s almost certainly because I got distracted by talking while I was typing but okay let’s have a look um all right so I’m gonna highlight vocabulary which the examiner would notice and think okay this person is you know is a strong candidate for vocabulary and often the IELTS students focus a little bit too much on just words but actually getting a higher score in vocabulary is much more about combinations of words and collocations and phrases it’s not necessarily about using very very difficult vocabulary it’s about taking the vocabulary you have and using it with precision and with versatility so things like advances in technology for meaningful relationships no substitute for face-to-face communication let’s have a look at a few more voit that’s a good one at the push of a button non all communication is nonverbal it’s a good phrase subtle cues or even something like facial expressions change substantively now these are yeah these are phrases that if I were marking your essay I would notice and I would say okay well these this person is should be considered for a higher vocabulary score these are the things that can the kind of things that can push you into band eight or bands nine for vocabulary and there are a few more but I just highlighted a few examples now the last thing I’m going to do is just check that I haven’t overused any words so I’m going to look for keywords from the topic things like technology communication interaction let’s just check I’m just going to highlight all of these obviously if you were in your exam you could maybe underline words or maybe put a little star or a little mark next to them with your pen and mark them in that way and it’s just an easy way to way to see if you’re overusing any particular words now this isn’t looking too bad so far I say that but then seems like there’s a lot of communication in this paragraph yeah that’s that’s looking a little bit repetitive so I should do something about that and oh there’s another one I missed one then I’m gonna keep going next again okay so I think it’s not too bad now again I’ll student so fines tend to worry a little bit too much about repetition and often I see essays which are full of incorrect synonym usage because the student is trying to avoid repeating themselves and I mean repetition can be a problem but it’s much more important to use a word precisely and accurately and sometimes some repetition is inevitable like in this topic we’re talking about communication so although I do need to do something about this paragraph it’s natural that you’re going to use the word communicate or communication you’re going to use those words several times because that’s what you’re talking about and sometimes that’s the only word that fits all right let’s see so I’m gonna change a few of these to try and minimize this repetition okay so instead of using the word communiques digital communication I’m just going to list all the things which are included in digital communication that solves that problem face to face now I know I’ve used the word contact a few other times but I think I don’t think I’ve used it that much so I’m going to change that to contact and that fits there now the others I think I need to leave because here communication is nonverbal I need the word communication to go with the word nonverbal those have to go together in the topic sentence I want to use the word communicate because it’s a key word it’s a key idea in the topic so I want to address that directly and here again this is kind of a conclusion to the paragraph and again I want to use the word communication so I think that’s ok let’s see the other word I was just thinking about is the word meaningful highlight is purple I just want to make sure I haven’t overused this because I felt like maybe I was using it a little bit too much but no I think that’s I care can only see two that looks ok alright so at this point I think I’ve got what how much time 30 seconds so I’m more or less done now I think that would be this would be a strong essay it would yeah would get would get the top score undoubtedly and let’s just review the key points so the most important thing I would say and the number one thing you need to do if you’re aiming for a higher IELTS score is you need to up there ago amount of time no more changes you need to plan and you need to plan your conclusion first you need to know where your compare your essay is going and then you need to plan your essay so that everything is connected it’s not enough if you’re aiming for high schools it’s not enough for your ideas just to be relevant they also need to be connected to each other everything needs to be connected I know yeah I’m meeting myself there but that’s the most important point another thing and something I’ve I kind of noticed while I was doing this is that it’s really important to just check back as you’re writing keep checking back to the task keep checking back to your plan do things like okay in this video I’ve been highlighting words to show you which of course you can’t do in your in your IELTS exam but you know what you can you can underline things you can underline things on your in your essay and in your plan and in the question and in that way that’s already underlined okay in that way you can just check that you’re staying on topic and just you know make sure that you don’t start going in a different direction that’s one thing I noticed then yeah I mean also I guess the last point is just to lust really important point is make sure you reach a strong conclusion again this is essential for higher IELTS scores you can’t get high IELTS scores with uh well it depends there’s good and bad here kind of answer it it doesn’t work you need a strong conclusion you need to have an opinion and the examiner needs to understand what that opinion is and yeah you can see this as we talked about at the end here okay so let’s finish there like I said you can see the full essay and you can read it on our website oxfordonlineenglish.com there’s a link underneath the video that’s all thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time

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