Lots of students only require a Band 6 or 6.5 in their IELTS test and I get lots of questions every week about what a Band 6 essay looks like and what is required to get a 6. I recently marked a Band 6 essay for one of our essay correction service students and you can read it below.
I have included the picture of the original essay below so you can see the original corrections and I have included the examiner’s report and sample answer. This student was able to get the Band 7 they required after following the advice below.
Task Response- Band 6
You address all parts of the task and cover both arguments. However, the question asked you to discuss both views and you spend much more time saying why children were happy and not adults.
You presented a clear position throughout the response. It was very good to see that you gave a clear thesis statement in your introduction and then used the rest of the essay to support this view.
You present, extend and support main ideas, but there was a tendency to over-generalise at times.
For discussion (discuss both views) it is important that you give equal time to both views. Even if you disagree with one view, you should write one paragraph saying why you disagree. If you did this, you would have got a higher band.
One thing that you could do better is provide specific examples. The more specific you can be with your examples, the more authority your points have. You can make your examples more specific by adding dates, statistics, peoples’ names or place names. See my article below.
Be careful not to have too many ideas. Your ideas are relevant, but it is better to have fewer ideas and support these with explanations and examples, than simply list lots of ideas that are not fully developed. Examiners are looking for fully developed ideas, not lists of ideas.
Coherence and Cohesion- Band 7
You logically organise information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout. The structure that you have used really helps in this area and makes everything easy to follow and flows very nicely. However, it can be improved even more.
You use a range of cohesive devices (linking words) appropriately although there is some over-use. All linking words are used accurately and effectively, but there tends to be a reliance on them through overuse. This is not a huge problem, but the higher band scores use cohesive devices much less than you currently do.
Each paragraph presents a clear central topic and this is really helped by a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.
Try using this paragraph structure for discussion questions:
• Paraphrase Question
• Thesis Statement
• Outline Statement (outline what you will discuss in the rest of the essay)
Discussion of first side
• Main point
• Explanation of main point (linked to your opinion)
Discussion of second side
• Main point
• Explanation of main point (linked to your opinion)
• Summary of main ideas and opinion
Your use of cohesive devices is very good, but you do have a tendency to overuse them. You don’t get more marks for every cohesive device you use and in fact, you will be penalised for overusing them. Only use them when necessary. If you look at my example essays I might only use them once or twice per paragraph.
Vocabulary- Band 6
You use an adequate range of vocabulary for the task such as ‘financial responsibilities’, ‘academic environment’ and ‘scientific competitions’.
You attempt to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy and you make some errors in word formation, but they do not impede communication. Please see corrections above for examples of this.
You do try to use advanced vocabulary but this often leads to small mistakes. Follow the 100% rule- don’t try to use any words you are not 100% sure about. It is better to use simple words and make no mistakes than use advanced words, but in error. By 100% I mean that you should be sure about spelling, grammar, collocations, synonyms, antonyms etc.
In the long term you should think about starting a vocabulary book. This is a place where you record new vocabulary with spelling, grammar, collocations, synonyms, antonyms and example sentences to make sure you know it 100%. You can then review these new words regularly so that they become a natural part of your vocabulary.
You should also give yourself a few minutes at the end to evaluate your vocabulary and make sure you have not made any mistakes.
Finally, synonyms are important and you should try to use them, but only use them if you know that they mean exactly the same as the word you are replacing. They should also be grammatically correct. If you are not sure, just repeat the word.
Grammar- Band 5
You attempt complex sentences but these tend to be less accurate than simple sentences.
You make frequent grammatical errors and some errors can cause some difficulty for the reader.
Please see above for grammatical errors.
Establish your common grammar errors and then review this grammar. There are lots of online activities you can do to practice and perfect each area you are weak in.
Also, follow the 100% rule for grammar. You should only write sentences that you know are 100% correct. If there is any doubt then you need to think about how you can express your point in a simpler way, that has no mistakes.
It is better to write in a simple way and make no mistakes, than use complex grammar and structures with frequent errors.
Overall- Band 6
Overall this was a good essay but there are some things you can do to improve in the future.
The main things you can do is to answer the question by doing what it asks you to do. In this question you have been asked to ‘Discuss both views and give your own opinion.’ You have really only discussed one of the views. You need to make it really clear to the examiner that you have discussed both views by having a separate paragraph for each.
Your coherence will also improve if you use the structure I suggested above and you should also check out the structures for the other types of essay. I have included a link for this below.
Your cohesion is very good, but remember that you don’t need to start every sentence with a linking word, one or two per paragraph is enough.
Your vocabulary and grammar are your two biggest challenges. The quick way to fixing these is to follow the 100% rule I suggest above and if you want to fix these long term I would suggest the following:
1. Read books/blogs/magazines about the common IELTS Task 2 topics, such as Education, Health and Technology. Note down any new words in a vocabulary notebook as I suggested above and then review this regularly. It will take you a little while, but soon your vocabulary will really expand.
2. Find out what your common grammar mistakes are. Most people make the same grammar mistakes over and over again. When you know what these are, you can review the grammar rules, practice online and fix them.
If you can improve the things above, I am confident that you can increase your band score.
Band 9 Sample Answer
Some people think that the teenage years are the happiest time of most people’s lives. Others think that adult life brings more happiness, in spite of greater responsibility.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion
It is often argued that the most fulfilling stage of a person’s life is during adolescence, while others believe that adulthood, despite things like a job, family and money concerns, is better. This essay agrees with the former, rather than the latter view. It will first discuss how grown-ups are much less fulfilled than teenagers because of the pressures they are under and then discuss how contented most teenagers are, before coming to the conclusion that the ages of thirteen to eighteen really are the best years of our lives.
Upon reaching maturity people are expected to fend for themselves and this often leads to unhappiness. This is because most adults have rent and bills to pay, as well as a partner and dependents to look after, which more often than not, leads to them doing a job they don’t enjoy in exchange for money. A recent study by Queen’s University, Belfast found that 79% of people would leave their jobs if they didn’t have a mortgage and 64% of people stated that their job made them depressed at some point.
On the other hand, young people are free from these worries because they are often supported financially and free from any real troubles. Most live with their parents who pay for all their needs and the only thing they have to focus on is studying. Research carried out by Cambridge University found that only 29% of 15-16 year old students said they were ‘happy’, but when questioned 10 years later 84% said that they were ‘much happier’ when they were 16.
In conclusion, youth really is wasted on the young because older people are under much more strain when it comes to money and people relying on them.
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