Useful Writing Tips

Can we use contractions in IELTS Writing?

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, we talk about 3 important mistakes that you should avoid in your academic writings, especially IELTS writing task 2 essays.
 
Let’s start our today’s lesson with a very simple but important tip on how to improve your writing. As you know, when you want to form a negative verb in English, you simply add NOT to it.
 
For example:
can/ can not do/ do not is/ is not
 
1)NO CONTRACTIONS
However, the point is that you should always use the full form of the verbs in academic writings and not the contraction or short form.
Once again, I’m talking about formal or academic writing and this includes task 2 of IELTS writing (essay), task 1 general module (formal letter), task 1 academic module (charts).
So, do not use these contractions and write out the word in full.
Don’t/ do not
Doesn’t/ does not
Shouldn’t/ should not
Can’t/ cannot
Couldn’t/ could not
Wouldn’t/ would not
Isn’t/ is not
Aren’t/ are not
Wasn’t/ was not
Weren’t/ were not
Haven’t/ have not
Hasn’t/ has not
 
2) No REALLY, A LOT, VERY, SO
These are some very common words you read or hear a lot and that’s exactly why you should avoid and replace them with better alternatives. You need some better options to write a strong writing.
For example, instead of saying:
She was really sorry about the trouble she made.
You can say: She was terribly sorry about the trouble she made.
Instead of saying: A lot of people gain a reputation for complete honesty in their business dealings.
You can say: Many/ a number of people gain a reputation for complete honesty in their business dealings.
Instead of saying: The water of the ocean is very choppy when there are high winds.
You can say: The water of the ocean is extremely choppy when there are high winds.
Instead of saying: The earth has become so polluted due to the burning of fossil fuels.
You can say: The earth has become awfully polluted due to the burning of fossil fuels.
3) No THERE IS/ THERE ARE
You should avoid “There is/there are” in academic writing. Let me tell you why! As you know, you always have to be clear in your writing. The reader or the examiner should find all your ideas easy to follow and there shouldn’t be a need to re-read or analyze them.
Being clear, concise and cohesive will mark you up in Task Response and Coherence and Cohesion criteria. Therefore, you should avoid redundancy and instead directly express your ideas.
For example:
Instead of saying: There is a band that she is a life-long fan of.
You can say: She is a life-long fan of this band.
Instead of saying: There are many decisions that young people should make.
You can say: Young people should make many decisions.

 

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, you will get familiar with the different question types you may encounter in academic IELTS writing task 1.

After you watch this video, you will be ready to focus on each of these question types in more detail. Therefore, watch this video very carefully and take notes.

4 simple but amazing tips to get band 9 in IELTS Writing

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, we learn together 4 amazing tips that help you to boost your writing score.

You should avoid the following mistakes to increase your possibility to get band 9 in Writing:

Mistake 1: not organizing your essay logically, having an unclear progression and not using linking phrases. Ideas must be expressed and ordered.

Do:

Use a range of linking words and phrases, but don’t overuse them

Use referencing and substitution to avoid repetition (this/them/the issue/the problem)

Use punctuation to make your writing coherent

Make sure your ideas are sequenced correctly

Make sure your ideas are logical and easy to follow

Use a separate paragraph for the introduction and the conclusion 

Use one paragraph for each idea or topic area.

Don't:

Overuse basic linking words like firstly (instead, try using ‘The first reason for/ The primary reason for this’)

Start every sentence with a linker (Try to put it in the middle of a sentence. Eg. “Some people believe, however, that individuals must also take responsibility for the environment” or “I believe, on the other hand, that individuals do have a responsibility to…”)

Use numbers, symbols or abbreviations (1, 2, etc, &, +)

Use headings or subheadings

Underline words or phrases

Start every sentence with a linking device.

Mistake 2: Using uncommon vocabulary and spelling it incorrectly  When we learn a language, we use common and uncommon terms.  Common terms are words and phrases we use every day to refer to personal experience and daily habits. Uncommon terms are used when we discuss specific topics. Words that are old-fashioned and not used in everyday speech should not be used. If you choose a synonym, the meaning must be the same.

For example, adolescent/teenager have close meaning and can be used interchangeably, however, toddler/baby have quite different meanings. Collocation is the words that go together, and are suitable to use for different topics. For example: To go on a diet/ to make an investment  If you are discussing child crime, you could use the term ‘minor’ as this is a legal term used to describe children under the age of 18.  If you use phrasal verbs, make sure that you are using the correct preposition as it can change the meaning:   throw out/away = discard  throw up = vomit/get sick   Idioms (cultural language) should only be used if you understand them completely and if they fit the topic you are discussing.  

Do:

Use precise word choices

Use language that we use in everyday speech

Use words that you understand

Use words and phrases that are related to the topic

Use collocation and phrasal verbs (words that go together naturally – environmental pollution | major issue | promising future)

Don't:

Make spelling mistakes

Make typos

Mix up American and British spelling (You should use one or the other)

Use a word if you don’t understand it or cannot spell it.

Use imprecise words like ‘stuff/thing’ 

Use slang like ‘gonna’

Use old-fashioned language

Overuse synonyms, one is enough

Mistake 3: Using surveys and research to support your opinion.

Use real examples and evidence from your own life experience to support your opinion. Examiners cannot check if your research and survey examples are real.  

Mistake 4: Using only simple sentence structures.

Show the examiner that you can use a wide range of structures and make sure your sentences are error-free. It is important to use a mix of complex and simple sentences. But remember, your complex sentences should not be long and complicated. Your punctuation needs to be accurate, using capitalization, commas and full stops correctly.

 

4 alternatives for "Because"

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, you will learn how to use 4 easy alternatives for "Because" and boost your score in Fluency and Coherence in both IELTS Speaking and Writing.

Note: Linking words are very important to increase your score in speaking and writing.

Using a wide range of them can easily boost your score from 6 to 7 and above. In this video you learn how to replace "because" with:

Due to

Owing to

Since As

How many paragraphs in IELTS Writing Task1 and 2?

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, you will learn 3 band 9 tips when it comes to the paragraphing and the correct structure in the IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2.

We have mentioned three common mistakes that you must avoid to get the nice high band score in the IELTS Writing.

Mistake 1: Not having enough paragraphs

As you know, IELTS writing is comprised of 2 tasks. In academic module, task one is a factual report on a chart and task 2 is an essay. In general module, task 1 is a formal or informal letter and task 2 an essay.

The most important thing in writing each is to use the correct paragraph structure to organize your writing into clear parts. Make sure each paragraph contains a clear and developed topic and has a minimum of two sentences. This will show that you can organize and present your thoughts and ideas logically.

Do:

 Use paragraphs

 Leave a space between each paragraph (a line)

 Use a paragraph for each topic Don't

 Use single-sentence paragraphs

 Use very long paragraphs that cover a whole page (paper test)

Mistake 2: Incorrect format  

As I just mentioned, writing task 2 in both modules must be written in an essay format using paragraphs to break up your ideas. Academic writing task 1 should be written in a report format and General Writing task 1 should be a formal or an informal letter. Therefore, you should know what paragraph structure is required for each, how many sentences you need in each paragraph and what language you should use to cover your ideas and elaborate on your answer to satisfy the marking criteria, especially the task achievement or task response.

Make sure your response includes the following in task 2 essay:

 Introduction

 Body paragraphs 

 Conclusion

Make sure your response includes the following in task 1 academic report:

 Introduction

 Overview

 Details paragraph 1

 Details paragraph 2

But avoid using the following to structure your letter in general module: 

 Bullet points 

 Headings 

 Sub-headings 

Mistake 3 – Partially addressing the question   

As you know one of the criteria based on which you will be evaluated is task response which means that you should cover everything that you are asked in the question. So, take time to read the question carefully and decide how many parts are in the question.

Do:

 Read the question carefully and decide what the main parts of it are.

 In task 2, present your opinion and support it throughout the whole essay. In task 1 academic, identify the main features in the chart and in task 2, pay attention to see if you are asked to write a formal or an informal letter.

 Watch for ‘and’. You may need to comment on more than one element

 Write at least 250 words in task 2 and 150 words in task 1 (academic or general).

Don’t:

 Ignore parts of the question

 Assume that your opinion is clear, use the correct language and phrases to ensure the examiner knows it’s your opinion: ‘I think, …’

 Tell the examiner what you are going to say and what you have said.

 

IELTS Writing: When to use a Comma?

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, we want to talk about a punctuation mark that most candidates have major problems with: the comma.

As you know, applying the correct punctuation will mark you up in IELTS writing GRAMMAR criteria, so Make sure you understand them perfectly.

Applying commas can be tricky because so many candidates fail to understand what exact usages they have.

For example, some candidates use commas instead of a period only to make their sentences longer or more complex and this is wrong due to a simple reason: Commas are not the same as periods. Or some other candidates assume that comma is not a complex punctuation mark and while they are trying to make complex grammatical structures, they don’t use them. This is also a mistake in IELTS writing that you should avoid.

Now, let’s see how we can use commas appropriately:

1) Use commas between a list of items
First of all, you can use commas to separate a list of things that you are writing about.

For example:
1) I bought a coat, a hat, and a shirt when I was in the shopping center.
2) You can drive a truck, a car, or a taxi in this area.

As you can see here, after each of the first two items you had a comma. The important point is that before the words “and” or “or” or their alternatives which are followed by the last item, we should use a comma, as well.

2) Use a comma after adverbs at the beginning of a sentence, like:
in contrast/ plus/ in addition/ furthermore/ besides/ consequently/ as a consequence/generally/ in general/ to some extent/ in conclusion/ to sum up/ to summarize, etc.

For example:
The seminar was a fantastic experience. In addition, we learned a lot from the instructors in the university.
To some extent, they were thrilled that the semester was about to end.
To summarize, a high salary is the most important thing when you choose a job.

If you start a sentence with the words “however”, “in addition”, “besides”, “furthermore”, “nevertheless”, “nonetheless”, “therefore”, “thus”, “at the same time”, etc. you will need to follow them by a comma. However, if you use them in the middle of the sentence and you don’t start a new sentence, you will need a semicolon before these words and a comma after them.
. However,
; however,
. In addition,

; in addition,

For example:
Many people live below the poverty line in some countries. However, many governments have created welfare programs to improve the situation.
Many people live below the poverty line in some countries; however, many governments have created welfare programs to improve the situation.

3)Use a comma after an introductory adverb, like:
Unfortunately, the world population has increased in the past few years.
Accordingly, the governments are looking for ways to tackle this problem.
Basically, some measures should be taken to prevent further environmental issues.

4) Use a comma before the conjunctions like: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet to link up two independent clauses.
What I mean is that sometimes, you intend to link up two sentences and make a longer and complex sentence but the thing is that you cannot do that using a comma in between, only.

For example, it is incorrect to say:
We felt tired (independent clause), we went to bed earlier (independent clause).

Instead, after the comma, you can use one of the mentioned conjunctions, like:

We felt tired (independent clause), so we went to bed earlier (independent clause).
There was a heavy traffic (independent clause), and the weather was getting hot (independent clause).
You can quit smoking (independent clause), or this will cause an irreparable harm to your body (independent clause).
It was early (independent clause), yet we were exhausted after 10 hours of hiking (independent clause).

After a comma don’t use the time word “then”. You should say “and then” because this word is not a conjunction.

For example:
We took a taxi, then we went to the party.
We took a taxi, and then we went to a party.

5) Use commas before the extra information in the sentence:

When you have a sentence in which you are giving extra information that is not necessary in the sentence or you have a non-defining relative clause, you can use a comma before that information or put it between 2 commas.

For example:
While I was shopping (a dependent clause), I bought a raincoat, a type of coat. (extra information).
The new bag, which I bought yesterday, is extremely expensive in this city.

It means that if you omit this information from the sentence, it won’t harm the meaning and the sentence will still be complete.

6) Use a comma after a dependent clause when they start a sentence
When you have a 2 clause sentence and you start it with an independent clause, to start the second clause, you should have a comma. An independent clause is a clause that is incomplete by itself and you will need to complete it by using another clause following that.

For example:

Although I was in the shopping center, I didn’t buy the coat.
I didn’t buy the coat although I was in the shopping Centre.

As you can see here, the first clause is “Although I was in the shopping center”.

When you here this clause you are waiting for the rest of the information and it doesn’t satisfy you by itself. Therefore, this is an independent clause and you complete it by saying “I didn’t buy the coat” as an independent clause which is complete by itself. Thus, if you change the place of these 2 clauses and start your sentence with the independent clause, you do not need a coma.
So:
If the dependent clause comes first, you need a comma.
If the independent clause comes first, no comma is needed.

Let’s look at other examples:

If/when you study well, you will pass the exam.
You will pass the exam if/when you study well.
While I was walking on the street, my phone rang.
My phone rang while I was on the street.

7) Use a comma between 2 adjectives that describe the same noun:
Sometimes you can have several adjectives that describe one noun. You can follow this order for that and between each of these adjectives, you will need a comma:
 quantity, opinion, size, age, color, shape, origin, material, and purpose.


I bought a tight, black coat when I was in the shopping center.
I bought a tight, black, wool coat.

8) Use a comma for the quotes that somebody directly said
When you want to talk about something that somebody directly said, you should put a comma before the quote which is in quotation mark.

For example:
The salesperson said, “We don’t have your size in red”.
According to the recent survey carried out in Toronto, a scientist claimed, “Many animal species have gone extinct in the African countries”.

IELTS Writing Punctuations

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, we learn about the correct punctuation in IELTS writing.
Applying the right punctuation and capitalization can create flow of the writing, allows for connection of your ideas and will boost your score in GRAMMAR criteria.
There are so many punctuation marks you can use like:
Full stop (UK)/ Period (US) . Comma , Question mark ? Exclamation mark ! Colon : Semicolon ; Apostrophe ‘ Quotation Mark “ “ Parentheses ( ) And etc.

 

Let’s get started with Full stop or Period:

This is quite a simple one while a full stop or period goes at the end of a sentence and you have to follow it with a capital letter.
For example:
I went to a shopping center to buy a coat yesterday. After that, I ate lunch in a restaurant nearby.

Colons:
You can use colons in your writing,
1) to introduce examples, explanations or details. For example:
There are many colors on the wall: red, blue, and green.


2) To mention something in general and then explain about it after the colon.

For example:
They live in the best country of the entire world: Canada.
This is something you cannot find anywhere: the last version of your favorite book.

Semicolon;

You can use it to show that your ideas before and after that are connected.

For example:
It’s better to buy the new house; It can bring us luck.
However, if you are not certain if you should use it, don’t use it and use a period
instead.

Apostrophes’

1) You can use it to replace a missing letter. For example:
She doesn’t wake up early.

2) You can use it to show possessions.

For example:
This is my father’s accommodation.

3) You can use it to make a letter plural.

For example:
How many r’s are in the word “correct”?

Question mark?
This goes at the end of a question.

For example:
What is the solution?

Exclamation mark!
This is informal. So, it should only be used in informal letter general IELTS
writing task 1. Otherwise, it is not appropriate.

Hyphen

1)You can use it to make compound words or adjectives.

For example:
a six-hour class

2)You can use it to make compound words with numbers.

For example:
a three-year-old-daughter

3) You can use it with some prefixes. For example:
Ex-wife
Non-alcoholic
Self-driving

4) You can use it in compound numbers and fractions.

For example:
one-third
fifty-six

However, if you are not sure about the correct usage of hyphens, just leave it
out and don’t use it.

 
 

Complex Structures for IELTS

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, you will learn what are complex sentences and why you need them in your IELTS Writing and Speaking. If you want to get 7 and above in your watch this video to the end.

In IELTS writing, you are expected to use complex sentences other than simple structures. A complex structure does not necessarily mean a complicated long sentence. This is a big mistake that leads the candidates to write grammatically incorrect sentences that are hard to understand. Therefore, to make a complex sentence, you should only be able to put two or more simple sentences together to make your essay more coherent and understandable.

You can use a complex structure to expand your ideas and explain the main point you had mentioned earlier. The importance of using complex sentences in IELTS writing is in a way that:

- if you use “a mix of simple and complex sentence forms” you will get a 6 in your grammar

- if you manage to “use a variety of complex structures”, you will boost your score to 7 in grammar criteria.

You can use Subordinate clauses, Relative Clauses, Conditional sentences, and compound sentences using conjunctions and linkers to make complex sentences.

 

 

All you need to know about IELTS Writing Task2

In IELTS Writing Task 2,  you should write an article based on the given topic in at least 250 words.

The important point is that, in both Academic and General modules, the considered time for task 2 is 40 minutes. This timing shows us the fact that task 2 will bring candidates a higher score.

Your writing will be checked based on 4 criteria which are: Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. 

In this video, you will get familiar with all of them in detail.

 

IELTS Academic Writing Introduction

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, we learn together how to write an effective introduction paragraph sample band 9 in the Academic Module of the IELTS Writing, task 1. We, also, learn what paraphrasing means and how to do it properly.

IELTS Academic Writing Overview

In this video, you learn how to write an effective overview for band 9 in the IELTS exam. You might wonder if you have to write the overview paragraph in the second one or at the end of your report, or you might even ask if the overview is the same as the conclusion. We also write a sample of an amazing overview together so that you learn it completely. So watch the video to the end and find your answers related to the academic writing task 1 structure.

IELTS Academic Writing Detail Paragraphs

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, you learn how to write effective "detail paragraphs" for band 9 in the IELTS exam.

We also write a sample of a perfect detail paragraph together so that you learn it completely. So watch the video to the end and find your answers related to the academic writing task 1 structure.

IELTS Writing Brainstorming

In this video recorded by Ross IELTS Academy, you will learn one of the most important techniques that you must know when writing an essay, a report, or a letter in the IELTS exam, it means, how to brainstorm and follow the correct paragraph structure to get band 7 and above.