IELTS Band 9 model essay samples are everywhere on the internet. But are they really Band 9?
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 and 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 other 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 features of an IELTS Band 9 model essay
Problem 1: Rewriting the question
Many IELTS teachers say that you should ‘just rewrite the question in your own words’. This causes a number of problems. Look at the example below. Can you see what’s wrong with it?
“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.”
The problem is that it uses a lot of unnatural vocabulary and phrases in order to paraphrase the question e.g. “personages”.
Better option: make your general statement specific to the question.
You can still use memorised fixed expression is you want to [in brackets].
- 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 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.
IELTS Band 9 Model Answer
The distribution of charity is often a matter of controversy. Many argue in favour of cutting overseas aid budgets, claiming that the money is required to cover expenditure at home. However, opponents of such a policy think it is immoral to deprive poor and needy people of necessary financial support. This essay will consider both opinions and conclude that charity should be shared among all deserving causes.
There are several arguments in favour of keeping charitable donations inside one’s own country. [Point 1] First of all, each nation reserves the right to determine its contribution in the light of changing circumstances. [Example] The UK government for example has decided to cut its overseas aid budget this year, mainly due to the economic impact of Covid 19. [So what?] If this action had not been taken, they may not have had enough resources to tackle domestic problems. [Point 2] Secondly, individual nations have responsibilities to their own citizens. [Explanation] When national economies are badly affected by disasters such as the Covid pandemic, governments often have little choice but to give priority to their own people, [So what?] otherwise they would face harsh criticism.
On the other hand there is a strong argument in favour of sending funds to other countries. [Point 1] There will always be countries whose needs are far greater than our own, [Example] for instance countries like Syria who are at war, or those suffering from natural calamities such as earthquakes or tsunamis. [So?] Provided that all aid is carefully managed to ensure that it reaches the people who need it, the long-term benefits of supporting poorer countries will be felt across the world. [Point 2] Richer countries can easily afford to donate money to international causes without suffering significantly, and if countries can be helped out of poverty, [Explanation] there is less chance of them being vulnerable to disease and war. [So?] Eradicating these destructive elements means a safer and happier world for all.
In conclusion, I would argue that aid should be given whenever it can be afforded, because the global beneficiaries of well-managed, targeted aid has positive repercussions for the whole of humanity.
What makes this a Band 9 model 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 and addresses the question specifically.
- There are clear TOPIC sentences to guide the reader, so that the essay shows clear progression.
- The introduction presents both sides but gives a clear opinion.
- The paragraphs follow the PEEL structure (Point, Example/ Explanation/ Evidence, Link) so that it develops each point clearly.
- The writer shows what other people think throughout, so there is balance and critical thinking.
- The writer uses hedging in order to avoid generalisation.
- The writer uses linking and referencing.
- The writer constantly refers to the ‘So what?’ – the impact/ results/ consequences.
- The writer uses complex language (e.g. conditionals).
- The writer uses a variety of formal collocations.
- The content of the essay reflects the position laid out in the introduction.
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