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IELTS Writing Task 2 - How to make a good essay better

I was recently sent an essay from a student who is a pretty good writer. However, there are still some ways to improve on her essay and to ensure a high score.

In this blog:

I will first show the essay by the student

and then go through some key steps to improve it.

I will show you how to turn a GOOD essay

into a BETTER essay

in 5 simple STEPS

ESSAY QUESTION:

Some people say that in all levels of education, from primary schools to universities, too much time is spent on learning facts and not enough on learning practical skills.

Do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words

ORIGINAL ESSAY BY STUDENT

According to some views from primary schools to universities, a large amount of time is spent on learning facts and theory, instead of developing practical skills. In this essay i will explain why i completely agree with this statement.

Going back to primary school, I remember that a considerable part of time was dedicated to learning theoretical aspects of different topics such as History or Geography. However, little or no time was spent on practical skills like for example how to use a map correctly . As a consequence, students are able to remember political and historical aspects of a country, but they tend to get lost while walking in the districts of a new city. In the same way, I remember that going back to my academic years as a medical student, I was faced with an enormous amount of theoretical aspects concerning anatomy, physiology and pathology. However, the time spent next to the patient was considerably less. As a result, I knew everything about the anatomy and pathology of the knee, but when challenged by a patient with a knee problem i did not know what to do. The same concept applies to all universities in my country. In other words, I spoke about my experience as a medical student, nevertheless most of my friends who followed different academic paths experienced the same problems i had. For instance, one of my dearest friends, who is now a distinguished lawyer, told me that during his studies at the university he had to learn all the theory behind every single law, without paying attention to the application of the same laws in a real context.

In my opinion, the facts that we learn during our education must be related to their practical application, because only the notions that we put into practice in our everyday life become part of our most authentic knowledge and allow us to improve as professionals.

So, the above essay is pretty well written, but:

Let's see how to turn a good essay into a better essay

STEP 1 - Structure and organization: To get a 7 or 8 for Coherence and Cohesion, (organization), EACH PARAGRAPH NEEDS TO HAVE A MAIN IDEA.


In the essay above, the long paragraph has a main idea, but it is not easy to see. There are two reasons for this:


  • the length

  • the lack of clear topic sentences.


Solution:


  • divide the paragraph into 2 smaller paragraphs

  • make sure that each paragraph has a TOPIC sentence


This version below addresses these issues:


According to some views from primary schools to universities, an excessive amount of time is spent on learning facts and theory, while insufficient time is spent developing practical skills. In this essay, i will explain why i completely agree with this statement.


First of all, practical skills are important for youngsters in primary or secondary schools. Going back to primary school I remember that a considerable part of time was dedicated to learning theoretical aspects of different topics such as History or Geography. However, little or no time was spent on practical aspects like for example how to use correctly a map. As a consequence, students were able to remember political and historical aspects of a country, but they tend to get lost while walking in the districts of a new city.


The ability to master a practical skill is even more crucial when considering university studies. In the same way, I remember that going back to my academic years as a medical student, I was faced with an enormous amount of theoretical aspects concerning anatomy, physiology and pathology. However, the time spent next to the patient was considerably less. As a result, I knew everything about the anatomy and pathology of the knee, but when challenged by a patient with a knee problem i did not know what to do. The same concept applies to all universities in my country. In other words, I spoke about my experience as a medical student, nevertheless most of my friends who followed different academic paths experienced the same problems i had. For instance, one of my dearest friends, who is now a distinguished lawyer, told me that during his studies at the university he had to learn all the theory behind every single law, without paying attention to the application of the same laws in a real context.


In my opinion, the facts that we learn during our education must be related to their practical application, because only the notions that we put into practice in our everyday life become part of our most authentic knowledge and allow us to improve as professionals.


Now, there are two body paragraphs each with a MAIN IDEA or focus.

STEP 2: - STYLE: Use an objective style. Notice that the writer, uses "I" a lot (see above) and also uses a lot of personal examples. Although there is nothing ‘wrong’ with using personal examples, it is better to use a more objective approach because your writing will seem more academic and professional. Below, you can see the second paragraph done in a more ‘objective’ manner. (I also added and deleted some of the information in green to make in more coherent given the changes i made. I also kept one of the personal examples).


The ability to master a practical skill is even more crucial when considering university studies. Although medical students, for example, are taught an enormous amount of theoretical aspects concerning anatomy, physiology and pathology, they do not get much practical experience with actual patients. As a young doctor myself, I knew everything about the anatomy and pathology of the knee from my university course, but when challenged by a real patient with a knee problem, i did not know what to do. The same concept applies to all universities and courses in my country. Lawyers, for example, have to learn all the theory behind every single law, but are not required to pay attention to the application of the same laws in a real context. This could lead to misunderstandings and serious problems for the lawyers' clients, such as financial losses or even wrongful incarceration. These two examples make a strong argument that that lack of practical ability can seriously hamper young professionals’ abilities to deal with real world problems in a large spectrum of fields.


STEP 3: Organization: Note that I added a final sentence in BLUE to the last paragraph. This adds a lot of coherence to the above paragraph by summing up the main idea.


STEP 4: Content: Notice that I also added a sentence in ORANGE in which I explained the RESULT of the lack of experience. This makes the argument more convincing and more developed. This can help to raise the task achievement score from 7 to 8.


5) Notice how you can add some information to the conclusion (below) in order to expand on your idea. I added a recommendation in PURPLE and an evaluation in GREEN. This helps to make the essay more complete and again can add to the score in task achievement.


In my opinion, the facts that we learn during our education must be related to their practical application, because only the notions that we put into practice in our everyday life become part of our most authentic knowledge and allow us to improve as professionals. I would therefore recommend that institutions in all levels of education place a higher priority on integrating practical skills into their curricula. This would be beneficial not only to the students but to also to society as a whole.

NEW VERSION

(note: there are still areas which could be improved in grammar or vocabulary)


According to some views from primary schools to universities, an excessive amount of time is spent on learning facts and theory, while insufficient time is spent developing practical skills. In this essay, i will explain why i completely agree with this statement.


First of all, practical skills are important for youngsters in primary or secondary schools. Going back to primary school I remember that a considerable part of time was dedicated to learning theoretical aspects of different topics such as History or Geography. However, little or no time was spent on practical aspects like for example how to use correctly a map. As a consequence, students are able to remember political and historical aspects of a country, but they tend to get lost while walking in the districts of a new city.


The ability to master a practical skill is even more crucial when considering university studies. Although medical students, for example, are taught an enormous amount of theoretical aspects concerning anatomy, physiology and pathology, they do not get much practical experience with actual patients. As a young doctor myself, I knew everything about the anatomy and pathology of the knee from my university course, but when challenged by a real patient with a knee problem, i did not know what to do. The same concept applies to all universities and courses in my country. Lawyers, for example, have to learn all the theory behind every single law, but are not required to pay attention to the application of the same laws in a real context. This could lead to misunderstandings and serious problems for the lawyers' clients, such as financial losses or even wrongful incarceration. These two examples make a strong argument that that lack of practical ability can seriously hamper young professionals’ abilities to deal with real world problems in a large spectrum of fields.

In my opinion, the facts that we learn during our education must be related to their practical application, because only the notions that we put into practice in our everyday life become part of our most authentic knowledge and allow us to improve as professionals. I would therefore recommend that institutions in all levels of education place a higher priority on integrating practical skills into their curricula. This would be beneficial not only to the students but to also to society as a whole.

Therefore, I hope you can see that good writing can always be made better. In this case, the key was to add some structure, organization, style and content.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like your writing evaluated,

please feel free to ask below,

or by email to:

larry@ielts-pro.com

I can also be reached on skype.

Skype name: ieltslarry

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