This week in my IELTS Writing Feedback session, one of my students sent me a ‘Band 9 model essay’ which they had found online.
When I checked out the essay, it clearly was NOT Band 9, and they asked me to explain why.
Here are my 9 reasons with 9 quick changes you can make to your own Task 2 essays.
Watch the video or listen to the podcast below for the full explanation.
Also see my previous blog: ‘How to write a Band 9 IELTS Task 2 Essay’.
Some people believe that charities should help people in need no matter where those people are in the world. Others feel that these organizations should only serve the people living in the country where they are based.
Discuss both sides and give your own view.
The 9 things you can do to get Band 9 in IELTS Writing
Problem 1: Rewriting the question
Original: Many personages express their opinion that charitable groups should help underprivileged people beyond national boundaries, whereas others put forward the view that they ought to help only those who live in their base country.
Better option: make your general statement specific to the question
- The distribution of charity is often a matter of controversy.
- How the funds of non-profits are allocated has recently become a much-discussed topic.
- The ultimate goal of charities and how their resources are used has always been a matter for debate.
Also ok (simple paraphrasing): Some individuals think that charities should help only their own nations, but there is another school of thought that believes that they should provide help globally.
Problem 2: Unclear use of fact vs opinion
Original (repeated from introduction): For a start, charitable organizations should extend their activities to any nation and people in need.
Better option: introduce each paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE –
There are many reasons why charitable organizations should extend their activities to any nation. Firstly, it COULD help build better relations and help remove obstacles in the way of world peace.
Problem 3: Too many generalisations
Original: This is because it will help in building harmonious relations between nations, and thereby removing obstacles in the way of world peace. (No evidence? No examples?)
By helping them, donor groups can serve humanity in a better way.
Better option: FOCUS ON SPECIFIC OUTCOMES –
- More people could be helped.
- The aid will go to where it is most needed.
- Those in urgent need can be better targeted.
Problem 4: No evidence for claims
Original: What is more, domestic charities eradicate abject poverty, which will, in turn, ultimately drop the crime rate in their neighbourhood.
Better option: Evidence has shown that investing in deprived communities can significantly improve their quality of life, which might also have an impact on crime rates.
Problem 5: Mechanical linking
Original: Moreover, by providing aid, these organizations can expand their wings towards the most needed ones.
Using words like ‘Moreover’, ‘What is more’, ‘Furthermore’ and ‘Besides’ (see the video Model 2 above – watch from this point 13:00) at the start of sentences is a sign of mechanical linking.
Better options: use internal links to add variety.
Problem 6: idiomatic language
*spread your wings: extend one’s activities and interests or start new ones.
*line your pocket: to earn money using dishonest or illegal methods:
Better option: use clear and precise language –
Aid should be carefully managed to ensure that it reaches the people who need it and does not get wasted or find its way into the pockets of corrupt politicians.
Problem 7: No outcomes
Original: Furthermore, charitable organizations should assist developing nations at the time of natural calamity or disaster. For instance, after the devastating earthquake, many international aid agencies scrambled to deliver financial assistance and supplies to Nepal, which was much needed by those people (fact)
Better: Focus on specific outcomes
- …which meant that more people survived.
- …which resulted in more lives being saved.
- If it had not been for them, more people would have died.
Problem 8: Unrealistic outcomes/lack of hedging
Original: What is more, domestic charities eradicate abject poverty, which will, in turn, ultimately drop the crime rate in their neighborhood.
Better option: Another positive outcome of allocating funds to help those living below the poverty line in one’s own country is that crime rates might fall, leading to a better living environment for the people who have donated to local charities.
Problem 9: Being judgemental
Original: Secondly, vested interest groups of recipient countries are highly likely to pour money into their pocket.
Better option: Aid should be carefully managed to ensure that it reaches the people who need it and is not wasted.
What makes this a Band 9 essay?
- The first line (General Statement) assesses the situation and gives the background to the issue
- The first line (General Statement) does NOT paraphrase the question.
- There are clear TOPIC sentences to guide the reader (BLUE)
- The introduction presents both sides but gives a clear opinion here and throughout (Orange Text)
- The paragraphs follow the PEEL structure (Purple Text: Point, Example/Explanation/Evidence, Link or So what?)
- The writer shows what other people think throughout
- The writer uses hedging (Green Text) in order to avoid generalisation
- The writer uses linking and referencing
- The writer constantly refers to the ‘So what?’ – the impact/results/consequences (Red Text)
- The writer uses complex language (e.g. conditionals)
- The writer uses a variety of collocations.
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Get more help with writing
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Take a closer look at what IELTS Writing Band Descriptors mean (IDP Website).
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