IELTS Guy Blog

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.



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.


A Tip from the July Writing Workshop

Hi everyone.

On Day 3 of our Writing Workshop we reviewed a specific essay outline designed to ensure a 7+ score.  Our Workshop members were then asked to prepare essay plans in response to a number of prompts, including this one:

In many countries women no longer feel the need to get married. Some people believe that this is because women are able to earn their own income and therefore do not require the financial security that marriage can bring. To what extent do you agree?

When they posted their plans for feedback, a number of members had outlined arguments supporting the idea that women still felt the need for marriage.

Can you see the problem?

This prompt gives us a statement, followed by an argument.  The statement is that in some countries women no longer feel the need to get married.  The argument is that this is happening because women no longer require the financial security of marriage.

We are asked if we agree?  However, we are being asked if we agree with the view.  The prompt does NOT invite us to agree or disagree with the statement itself – we have to accept it as accurate.  If we take the position that we disagree with the argument, that means we believe there are different reasons why women in some countries no longer feel the need to get married.  Such reasons might include decline in the influence of religion, laws that recognise de facto relationships etc.

So when you are asked if you agree or disagree, make sure that you separate the statement from the argument!


Writing Workshop – Day 2 Feedback

Hi everyone.


Some really good responses to the Day 2 exercises from our Writing Workshop.  We asked you to prepare essay plans using our ESSAY Outline A strategy.  Here is a sample, with my feedback in italics.

 With the development of modern society is the loss of traditional ways of life. Is it important to keep our traditional ways of life? How can this be achieved? 


Bp1 covering importance of traditional ways. firstly, by telling strong impact of real face to face conversations secondly, healthy lifestyles significance 

 MIKE – Make sure that you BP1 covers the point of WHY it is important to keep it.  You must emphasise that face to face conversations and healthy lifestyles are important – and therefore we must keep them!  You will probably also need to explain why you consider face to face conversations important – the health one is fairly obvious.

Bp2 covering methods to attain this life style. firstly, promoting social meetups to avoid loneliness n phone addiction secondly avoiding sedentary life styles to avoid ailments 

MIKE – In BP2 I like the idea of promoting social meetups.  However, it is not enough to say “avoiding sedentary lifestyles”.  That is the goal – but here you need to explain HOW you will achieve that


 Our July Workshop is full, but we are taking early registrations for August.  If you are keen to participate please message me.



July Writing Workshop – Day 1

Today is Day 1 of our Writing Workshop!  Here’s some of the content, to give you an idea  of what our participants will receive.

So, welcome everyone to our July Writing Workshop.  Over the next 30 days we will be answering the most common question in IELTS study:

What do I have to do to move my Writing score to 7+?

Along the way we will also be answering a few more of the “big questions”:

  • How do I think of ideas for my essays?
  • How many paragraphs should I write?
  • How do I structure my paragraphs?
  • Do I need to give my opinion in the introduction?
  • Do I need to discuss both sides?
  • How do I create good cohesion?
  • How do I write complex sentences, and where should I use them?
  • What sort of examples should I use?
  • How do I write a strong conclusion?

Some of you may be thinking that this too much to cover in just 30 days.  The good news is that the answers to many of these questions are interlinked.  For instance, if you learn when to give your opinion in the introduction and how to structure your paragraphs then your coherence score will automatically rise.  So don’t worry, it’s actually easier than you might imagine!

So now it’s time to introduce you to the twelve essays prompts that will form the focus of this Workshop.  We have chosen authentic IELTS prompts that have been used in exams in the last six months.  Many of them will be familiar to you, and you might even have written responses to a number of them.  If so, you will be at a slight advantage, as you will soon see.

We have chosen at least two prompts from each of the broad categories used in IELTS exams.  Please review them below:


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?  


Many criminals commit further crimes as soon as they released from prison.  What do you think are the causes of this?  What possible solutions can you suggest?


Two-Part Questions

Some people think that being able to communicate with others online is breaking down geographical barriers and enabling people, who would normally never have the chance to meet, to communicate.  What are the advantages of international communication online?  Are there any disadvantages to this?


Some companies have uniforms for their staff which must be worn at all times. What are the advantages for a company of having a uniform? Are there any benefits of having a uniform for the staff?


Discuss Both Sides

Some people think that the role of parents is to discipline their children and teach them about right and wrong. Other people consider that the main responsibility of parents is to nurture their children and provide them with a safe environment to grow up in. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.


Some people think that public health is the responsibility of the government while others think that people should be responsible for their own health.   Discuss both sides and give your opinion.


In some countries, a few people earn extremely high salaries. Some people think that this is good for a country, while others believe that the government should control salaries and limit the amount people can earn. Discuss both views and give your opinion.



Some people think that you can never become fluent in a language unless you have spent time living or working in that country. To what extent do you agree?


In many countries women no longer feel the need to get married. Some people believe that this is because women are able to earn their own income and therefore do not require the financial security that marriage can bring. To what extent do you agree?


The crime rate nowadays is decreasing compared to the past due to advance technology which can prevent and solve crime.  Do you agree or disagree?



Some people think that it should be compulsory for people to retake their driving test every 5 years. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this?


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?


Workshop Tasks – Day 1

For today, our objective is to set a benchmark that you can measure your improvement against at the end of the Workshop.  Your task for today is therefore to choose one the twelve essay prompts, write a full Task 2 response, and submit it here.  (Now you can see why those of you who have already written an essay on one of these prompts have a slight advantage).

We will review and score the essay, and at the end of the Workshop will return it to you.  You can then compare the score you received today with the score you will receive when you write that same essay again later this month.

To submit your essay………………

If you have any questions, please post them on our IELTS For All Facebook page

Tomorrow we will look at the first of the two essay structures that you will use to respond to any type of IELTS essay prompt.  We call it Outline A.

Good luck with your essay writing, and see you tomorrow.

Writing Workshop Update 3

Only 7 more days until our July Writing Workshop begins!

We registered 100 people for the Workshop within 48 hours this week, at which point I opened applications for the August workshop.  Since then I have had requests from a number of people who are sitting IELTS exams at the end of July and so cannot wait until August.  I  have accommodated as many of these people as I can, which means we will start next week with 123 participants!

During the Workshop I will welcome any questions or comments you may have.  In order that everyone in the Workshop may benefit from these discussions I will ask you to post your questions on IELTS For All, a private Facebook Group established by Ben McBride and I.  To post a question, or review those posted by others, you will first need to apply to join the Group so please do so as soon as possible.  You can find the IELTS For All page here.

By the way, Ben McBride is my IELTS teaching colleague, and you will see and hear a lot more of him during the Workshop.  Ben is American, and works as Professor of English at a Korean university.

I will have further updates for you next week.