Exam Tips

english exams

Thinking about learning English in London? There are many types of courses you can study but many people chose to take an exam class to obtain an official qualification. One of the most popular exam courses you can choose is the International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS) is an essential qualification needed by anybody whose first language is not English. It is a course for someone who aspires to study at a university or training college where programmes are taught, or who would like to add this well known qualification to their CV.

The IELTS is an exam that consists of 4 papers, Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Writing is notoriously tricky to master so we asked one of our amazing teachers, Freddy, to give his most valuable advice to ace the writing part! So take pen and paper and write down those tips to become a better IELTS writer!

Building body paragraphs is about substance. And details are key to that. The problem is that details are hard to come up with… unless you’ve preplanned the content of those details. There are several details to choose from, but the easiest, from my experience and my students’ experiences, are these four:

Anecdote– a short 1 sentence example or case study. This can be written as third person by beginning the sentence as ‘Many publications/ reports/articles described how (a person/place or thing)…’. Alternatively, using passive voice to describe the event takes the first person ‘agent’ away from the action.

Explanation– it’s so annoying when an IELTS teacher says ‘add some explanations’, or when you’re in an exam and you need another sentence. Well, by asking yourself ‘How…?’, ‘Why…?’ Or ‘In what way…?’ You’ll be able to find the explanation to anything and everything. On a personal note, I’ve just used these to elicit conversation on awkward first dates or with shy students to get them to talk! In that sense, it can help you out in your private life too.

The next is simply an added detail. These details could be an extra piece of information to ‘tag’ onto the main sentence. For example, ‘Seatbelts are important because they save lives. Every car produced nowadays comes with seat belts that are part of the basic package.’ As you can see, the first sentence is the main point. The second is a detail which I added. By the way, it is good to practice this in speaking as it comes in handy during the speaking part of the test when you have to do a longer talk. So start getting used to adding details to your answers, even the closed (yes/no) answers.

Description– This can’t always be used, but is available for you, especially if your main sentence is something which warrants describing.

Here’s and example when you DON’T need it to extend or add details:

“Sleep is important to all living creatures. Sleep occurs when you lie in your bed and close your eyes and drift into the unconscious.” It’s somewhat unnecessary to describe sleep as everyone knows what it is.

Here’s a situation when a description is put to good use. “The Mediterranean diet is considered the healthiest diet in the world. It is a low carbohydrate diet which places emphasis on using a wide variety of fresh herbs and vegetables in every meal.”

By getting used to adding these details to your speaking on a day to day basis, you’ll be able to execute it in a fast and natural way during the writing part of the exam.

Here’s how to build up a four sentence body paragraph with details:

Sentence one contains the main sentence. This is your main point of the paragraph.

Sentence two can be a detail or description added to that main paragraph.

Sentence three is an explanation to the cause of or reason for the main paragraph.

Sentence four is your anecdote or case study.

Believe me, once you get used to doing this in speaking, your writing will subsequently improve. Also, you won’t need to place an emphasis on writing too many notes as adding details will come naturally to you! In addition, that’ll give you more time to edit and correct your essay!

There are other techniques on building body paragraphs, but this one is pretty good, and my previous students have consistently developed structured body paragraphs in very little time using this method.

Excited about learning English in London? Now you can come and study in an IELTS course. Perhaps it is not the right time to start learning English in London but you need to start studying for an IELTS exam? Here at Top Up Learning you can offer a variety of exam preparation classes, including IELTS and IELTS Premium. Check our website and good luck on your journey to succeed at an exam and become a better writer!

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