A hand holds a pair of scales to signify the importance of adding balance in an IELTS agree/disagree essay

How can I add balance to my IELTS agree/disagree essay? When you open your exam paper and see the instruction Discuss both views and give your own opinion, it’s obvious that you HAVE TO give equal space to both opinions in your essay to fully address all parts of the task. But, what happens when the instruction asks you To what extent do you agree or disagree? Is it still important to discuss both “sides” of an argument, or are you free to have a “strong” position? And, if you do consider the other position, how and where can you do this in your essay so that your position remains clear? I mean, how can you show “balance” when arguing your own opinion? Well,[…]

A skull and crossbones inside a dark grey circle sit on a pink background. The images symbolises the dangers of paraphrasing when writing an IELTS essay

The dangers of paraphrasing in IELTS essays So, if I was allowed to give one ONE tip to an IELTS test-taker before they sat their writing exam, it wouldn’t be to learn how to organise all of the different types of essay, it wouldn’t be make sure they included lots of complex sentences in their work, it wouldn’t even be to make sure they directly answer the question! No, it would be BE CAREFUL OF PARAPHRASING!

A beautifully half-sketched horse is completed with a rough outline of a head. The picture is used to symbolise what to do if you run out of time in the IELTS writing exam.

Imagine this – there’s five minutes left in the exam and you are only halfway through your second body paragraph! What do you do?!   WRITE A CONCLUSION!

An image of a tuxedo and a pair of jeans sit side-by-side on a red background to symbolise formal and informal letters

OK, you are a IELTS General Training student sitting in the writing exam. The invigilator tells you that you can open your test paper and begin. You look at the prompt for the letter. What are you hoping to see? An informal letter, a formal letter, or a semi-formal letter? In my experience, most test-takers would say informal. I mean, writing a letter to a friend is easy, right? WRONG! 🙅‍♀️ And that’s because 99% of the informal letters that I mark are MIXED TONE.💀

A lone black sheep looks back at a flock of what sheep. The picture symbolises over-generalising, which is a problem for many IELTS students when they write.

In the writing exam, it can be easy to make claims that are generally true, but NOT always true. This can limit your score for Task Achievement to a 7.0 (which I know for most people won’t be a problem, but for some test-takers an 8.0 in TA can be the difference between a 6.5 and a 7.0!) So, how can you avoid over-generalising?!  HEDGING!!!