Wrapping Up the July Workshop

Hi everyone.

Today is the final day of the July Writing Workshop.

To everyone who has participated in the Workshop please let me extend my congratulations.  The improvement that I have seen in your writing over the last 30 days has been quite remarkable.  All of you have begun to write 7-score essays, and in some cases essays that are close to an 8.

The purpose of this Workshop was to demonstrate what I believe to be the simplest approach to scoring 7+.  As you have seen from some of the discussions on the IELTS For All page, there are other approaches that are equally valid.  For example, in the Band 9 course we also teach an Outline C, which can be used when you want to strongly agree or disagree or when you really only have one idea that you want to build your essay around.  This was too complex to include in a 30-day course, but is another very useful approach to consider.

For those of you who want to continue to develop your writing skills, our Band 9 program will allow you continued access to the video library, the Workshop materials, as well as personalised guidance from Ben and I.

If you have an IELTS exam due soon, please remember that the key to successful writing is time management.  I did not suggest time limitations when writing the twelve essays as I felt it was more important to work on structure and technique, but once you have mastered these elements it is important to practice completing your essays in 40 minutes.

I will continue to review and score your essays, and you can continue to submit your essays up to 7 August.

Finally, I take this opportunity to wish each one of you every possible success.

Mike

August Writing Workshop Registration

Hi everyone.

We are now only seven days away from the commencement of our August Writing Workshop.

For those of you who have already registered your interest, there are two steps that you need to complete:

  1. Join the IELTS For All Facebook group here  We use this group to post messages and updates during the workshop.
  2. Complete your registration and arrange payment for the Workshop here.

While we are no longer offering a seven-day trial, the cost for the August Workshop has been maintained at $50.  For those who join the Workshop after 1 August, and for future Workshops, this cost will increase to $100.

When you register you will also see that you gain access to our Band 9 Basic program for free, which provides access to a video library covering strategies for all four IELTS skills.

If you have any questions please feel free to post them on the IELTS For All page.

The July Workshop is showing some great results already, and we look forward to sharing insights on how you can achieve a 7+ score for Writing.

Mike

A 7+ score essay grom the Writing Workshop

On Day 18 of the Workshop we move to writing full Task 2 essays, implementing the skills covered over the previous 17 days.  The very first essay prompt is one of the most challenging:

Over the last few decades, the media has promoted the image of young thin women as being ideal. What problems has this caused? What solutions can you suggest to this issue?

Here is a 7+ score response submitted by one of our participants.

People have long been influenced by the media and its perspective about anything and everything. Of late, the media has been focusing on projecting the image of an ideal women being slim and young which has led to multiple issues. In this essay, I will discuss the problems associated with this and suggest couple of solutions to fight the condition.

The problems associated with media portraying lean young women as ideal, are many. To begin, women who are not so thin and young suffer damage to their self-esteem and confidence. A not so ideal women, as per the media metrics, will not feel comfortable interacting with others or even making a public appearance, let alone appearing for an interview or forging a successful career.  Moreover, in order to achieve or maintain an ideal image, they may fall prey to risky diets and harmful chemical treatments resulting into poor health conditions. Some diets, like the GM diet and other quick fixes do more harm than good.

There are two effective solutions to the problems stated above. One way to deal with the situation is by ensuring the media focuses on and brings into THE limelight the healthy old women as much as they have the thin young women. By doing this, the general public will have a change in their perspective and respect every woman equally. Another way to tackle the condition is through the Government taking action against the media, restricting them from instilling biases in the society. This will keep the media under control from broadcasting information which leads to partiality like the unnecessary importance given to thin young women.

In conclusion, the media’s attempt to portray slim and young women as ideal has led to issues in women like low self-esteem and higher health risks due to improper diets and chemical treatments followed to achieve or maintain an ideal image. If the media and the government take above stated corrective measures like promoting women of any shape and age equally this will definitely solve the issues. 

Early Results from the Writing Workshop

Hi everyone.

We are at Day 17 of the Writing Workshop, and the participants are well on their way to achieving 7+ scores.  Here is one sample of two body paragraphs written in response to this prompt:

Many processed foods and ready-made meals contain preservatives and chemicals. What are the advantages to this? Do you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

(The student believes that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages)


Some people argue that it is advantageous to add preservatives to processed food They are convinced that the chemical preservation of food will increase its shelf life. As a result of extended life, food will be readily available off season; people will not have to wait for so long to eat their favourite food products at any particular time of the year. Moreover, as additives in food will hinder the growth of microscopic organisms, such as fungus, bacteria, and viruses responsible for the degradation of food items, it may be exported to numerous countries which will boost the overall growth of economy as well as create employment in chemical and food industries which will surge the production level.

I believe, however, that the disadvantages associated with using chemicals and preservatives in food outweigh any advantages. Firstly, adding supplements and foreign chemicals to food may result in unforeseeable health problems. Although they extend the life duration of food commodities, these substances may reduce nutritional value which will have detrimental effects on health. Secondly, fresh food contains a range of vitamins and other vital minerals which are necessary for the mental and physical growth of the body. Usage of various additives may degrade their values and some even destroy the original properties of those minerals by treating them with bleaching agents such as sodium. Henceforth, it leads to some health issues and the loss of nutrients in food items.


This essay is well on-track for a 7+ score.

Our August Workshop will be commencing in two weeks.  We already have 57 registrations, so if you would like to join please drop me a line soon.

Mike

Scoring 7+ for CC

Hi everyone.

The July Writing Workshop has reached its half-way point.  Here’s a sneak look at what we covered yesterday – how to create cohesion and coherence in your essays:


Today is a really important lesson.  In the workshop exercises to date, quite a few students have drifted away from the outlines and guidance we have provided, perhaps lapsing into long-established writing habits.  While that is understandable, it is also likely that these habits will prevent you from achieving your 7+ score.  Today, we will illustrate why it is very important that you should closely follow the approach we are developing.

There is nothing more frustrating for an IELTS student than to be told that “you need to improve your cohesion and coherence”.  How exactly is an improvement in these elements achieved?

The answer is that cohesion and coherence cannot really be studied as separate elements of writing.  They are developed as part of the structure of your essay, its paragraphs and sentences.

The good news for you is that this workshop has been teaching you cohesion and coherence since Day 1 – you just didn’t realise it.  The essay outlines, topic sentences, paragraph structures and sentence counts we have shown you are all designed to ensure that your essays are both cohesive and coherent.

To illustrate, let’s look at one of the essays that I have built up over the last few days in response to this prompt:

Many processed foods and ready-made meals contain preservatives and chemicals. What are the advantages to this? Do you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

I haven’t actually done an introduction for this prompt yet, so I need to add that.  This is an advantages/disadvantages prompt so I will use Outline B, with a context/paraphrase/thesis introduction, as follows:

Food safety is an increasing concern in many countries.  Many processed and convenience foods today contain additives and preservatives.  In this essay I will argue that the advantages of adding chemicals to such foods outweigh the disadvantages.

Some people argue that there are significant problems associated with adding chemicals and preservatives to food.  They are convinced that adding foreign substances to foods can have unanticipated effects on our health.  Some chemicals used as food preservatives, such as MSG,  have only been developed in recent years and so the long-term effects of consumption are unknown.  Moreover, the long shelf life that preservatives and chemicals provide has an impact on local economies.  Chemically-preserved foods can be transported over long distances and stored for lengthy periods, meaning they are widely-available at all times of years.  For the producers of fresh, organic produce it is extremely difficult to compete with the convenience of processed foods, and so the livelihoods of such people is placed at risk.

I believe, however, that the advantages associated with using chemicals and preservatives in food outweigh the disadvantages.  Firstly, by extending the shelf life of many foods, preservatives permit suppliers to sell foods at a significantly reduced cost.  Perishable foods must be sold quickly, or they will spoil, and suppliers allow for this in their pricing models.  By extending the period before foods must be withdrawn from sale, food preservatives place many foods within the reach of more people.  Secondly, chemical additives in foods often protect us from potentially harmful bacteria.  Treating food with chemicals is often intended to prevent the growth of dangerous fungi that pose a health risk.  In the case of bacteria such as E Coli, the risk is not only of illness but even of death.  Treating foods in order to protect consumers from the risks of food poisoning is an essential aspect of food safety.

In conclusion, the economic and health advantages of using chemicals and preservatives in food easily outweigh any disadvantages.  Low-cost, non-perishable food may well hold the key to eliminating hunger in those countries unable to produce sufficient food to feed their own people.

OK, now here is the official IELTS scoring rubric for a 7 score in cohesion and coherence:

  • logically organises information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout
  • uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use
  • presents a clear central topic within each paragraph

The Outline B structure gives a logical overall organization, while the approach of starting from the general and moving to the specific via short, clear topic sentences that do not attempt to answer the question in one sentence gives us organization within paragraphs

The simple and clear language of our introduction gives us a base for progression.  We then use BP1 language to make it clear we are not presenting our own view, followed by BP2 with our own view.  This is a logical progression, and you can see at every point where the essay is heading.

I have underlined the cohesive devices.  Notice that I have used a couple of different ones – I have not repeated firstly/secondly or any of the other devices in both paragraphs.  I have also not used too many cohesive devices – it is easy to overuse such devices and end up with the “mechanical” cohesion that scores a 6 for CC.

A couple of subtleties here:

  • My use of “they” in BP1 is an advanced cohesive device, linking to the reference to “some people” in the previous sentence. This can work for you too, but ONLY if you follow the guidance around writing a clear and simple topic sentence.  If the topic sentence is complex, it is much harder to correctly refer to it in the next sentence.
  • I moved “however” away from the start of the sentence in BP2. This small change means that my cohesive device is more advanced, moving toward the level where cohesion is managed so well that it is not noticeable (a 9 score CC requirement).

Here is a video by Ben McBride giving further details on how to create cohesion and coherence……………………………………

Our August workshop will be starting soon.  For more information, message me at http://www.facebook.com/ieltsguy.

 

There are no exercises today.  Rest assured that you are already learning how to write in a manner that will score you a 7+ for CC!

Tomorrow we will explain strategies for maximizing your

A tip from the July Writing Workshop

Hi everyone.

One of the topics we have covered in the Writing Workshop so far is how to write 7+ score introductions.

One key point is that for certain types of essays, you can leave your opinion out of the introduction provided you have made it clear that your opinion will be presented later on.  This is achieved by using an outline statement.

“In this essay I will discuss both sides of this issue, and offer my own opinion.”

One of our students presented the following outline statement:

“This essay will discuss both of these views before drawing a conclusion.”

Can everyone see the problem here?

Drawing a conclusion is NOT the same as giving an opinion.  It almost suggests that the writer is not yet sure of what his or her position is.  This outline statement places the essay at risk of being scored low for TA, because it is not clearly stating that an opinion will be presented.

When it comes to presenting your views or your intentions, do not be tempted to show off fancy vocabulary.  These are critical points in your essay – use clear, simple English to make sure that you cannot be misunderstood.

Mike

 

Extending the July Workshop

Hi everyone.

Yesterday was officially the end of our free trial period for the July Writing Workshop.  However, a number of people have contacted me and pointed out that I gave rather short notice of this, particularly given differing time zones and the fact that not everyone logs in to the Workshop at the same time every day.

These are reasonable points, and so we have decided to extend the free trial period until Day 9.  For those of you who have not yet arranged payment, don’t worry, you will have access for two more days!

Just as a reminder, continuing the Workshop will mean:

  • 23 more Workshop lessons, covering body paragraphs for Outlines A and B, plus lessons on conclusions, grammar strategies, and cohesion/coherence.
  • 12 essay corrections
  • Access to the full Band 9 teaching program. You have seen some of the videos from the Writing Course – Band 9 covers this plus Reading’ Listening and Speaking.
  • Access to our private Band 7, Band 8,Band 9 Facebook group

I have also received a number of requests to expand the workshop to include Task 1 essays.  Ben McBride and I are looking into this, and will give a further update soon.

Mike