How to get Good ideas for IELTS Essays
How to get Good ideas for IELTS Essays is a BIG questions to every IELTS candidate. Here I’m giving you some tips to be get that:
- DIRECTLY ADDRESS THE EXAM QUESTION. The more focused your idea is on the topic of the exam, the better. Therefore, it’s essential that you check each of your ideas against the task to make sure the they are relevant and on point. The last thing you want to do is write an essay that is off-topic.
- CAN BE EXPANDED. This is really important! We will only need between 2 – 4 ideas for our essay. But the ideas themselves are not really what get us the points – it’s how we expand them. You will need to be able to write between 2 and 5 sentences for each idea. If you look at your idea and can’t think if a way to describe it in more detail – you can’t use it. One sentence arguments are actually damaging for you TR score, so if an idea can’t be developed, it can’t be used.
- ARE RELATIVELY SIMPLE. Here’s the thing, you are writing an essay in ENGLISH, not your native language. For most test-takers, this means that the arguments they give will NOT be as sophisticated as the ones they could offer in their own tongue. That’s OK, but you need to remember this and be realistic about what you can write. Complex arguments that require subtlety in meaning often end badly in the IELTS exam because most students simply don’t have the grammar or vocabulary to argue them clearly. I find that a simple idea that is argued using complex sentences is the best combination. IELTS examiners don’t expect you to solve a difficult social problem in 40 minutes in 250 words! All they want to see are clear arguments that are connected to the question and expanded well!
- ARE PERSUASIVE. There is a persistent myth about the IELTS exam that says “your ideas don’t matter” – THIS IS NOT TRUE. Your opinion doesn’t matter (you are free to agree, disagree, or even partly agree and disagree – there is no “correct” answer”), but the quality of your arguments DO. You want the examiner to be nodding as they read your essay. You want the examiner to be thinking “YES! These ideas support the test-taker’s position well”. One of my students told me recently in an essay that living in another country when you don’t speak the language is difficult because you can’t choose the flavour of donuts you want very easily!!!! Is this idea connected to the question? Yes! Is it persuasive? No!!! (Trust me, I have lived abroad for many years, and donuts are the least of my problems). If you want a 6.0 or 6.5, an argument like this might be OK, but if you want a 7.0 or 7.5, you will have to think of ideas that are more convincing than donuts! Remember, the Band 8 Descriptors say: presents a well-deveoped response to the question with relevant, extended and supported ideas. Relevant!
So, now we know what good ideas are – how do we find them?! Well, I want to show you three techniques that I find useful (Yes! Even I find it hard to come up with ideas sometimes!): The Bottom-Up Approach, The Top-Down Approach, and The Simplify the Question Approach. Let’s go through each of them together.