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December, 2010:

Spot your own mistakes

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the number of IELTS students (and other learners of English) that produce a piece of writing and then fail to find any errors in it. When my students hand in their written work, I always ask them if they have checked it for errors. It’s incredible how many times my students say something like this: (more…)

Start and end well

All formal pieces of writing, whether they are for the IELTS examination or not, should be broken down into three very clear parts. These parts should be identified when you are at the “planning stage” before you start your writing. I questioned ten IELTS students who were just beginning a course of study and over half of them were unaware of the basic writing structure required to produce a complete written answer. These students could not identify the individual parts of a piece of writing. All pieces of writing must have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

It may seem obvious but a piece of writing that does not contain each of these three parts will seem incomplete and badly-structured. Also, if you plan with these structural parts in mind, it will help your planning. You can quickly learn fixed expressions that you can easily use in most introductions. The same applies to the language used in the main body and the conclusion.

Here’s a typical IELTS writing task 2 question (more…)