Category Archives: IELTS Writing Academic (all)

‘In contrast’ and ‘On the other hand’

‘In contrast’ and ‘On the other hand’

Two linking phrases that are often confused are ‘In contrast’ and ‘On the other hand’. Compare examples A and B.

'In contrast' and 'On the other hand'A. Tourism often has a positive impact on less wealthy countries. On the other hand, this can damage local culture.

B. New Zealand has a good reputation for environmental safety. In contrast, many countries in Europe have high levels of pollution.

If you are contrasting ideas about the same general subject, use ‘On the other hand’. In Example A above, the focus is on balancing on the impact of tourism in less wealthy countries.

If you are contrasting the subjects and the idea (the object), use ‘In contrast’. In Example B above, the first sentence refers to New Zealand’s reputation and the second second sentence compares this to Europe and higher rates of pollution.

This is a simple guide to using these two linking phrases correctly. You may find exceptions to this rule, but if in doubt it is a useful rule to follow.

Now test your skills!

Select the correct linking phrase to complete the sentences. When you have finished, click ‘Finish quiz’. After you have submitted the quiz, click ‘View questions’ to see which answers were correct.

Linking words

Sometimes it is difficult to identify whether longer paragraphs actually share the same subject. Complete the paragraphs below with either ‘On the other hand’ or ‘In contrast’.

Education is good not only for the individual, but also for society. A society without scientists, researchers and intellectuals has little ability to further itself in a number of fields, specifically medicine, literature and technology. (a) ______, the cost to the taxpayer has to be considered, as most countries offer either free or heavily subsidised schemes for further education.

Education should be made available to all. State-funded education systems offer a solid level of schooling with dedicated and qualified teachers. (b)______, private schools are advantageous only to those that can afford to pay to go to them, and this runs the risk of encouraging teachers only interested in the better wages and conditions offered in such establishments.

Show the answers The first paragraph needs ‘on the other hand’ because the same general subject is being discussed (education). However, in the second paragraph, ‘In contrast’ should be used as the subject in the first part is state funded education and the subject in the second part is private education.
Previous comments:

    Um. What do reading exercises do here? Also, there must be smth mixed up in there exercises. For instance, there is the text about exploring New Zeland and no even a word about nannies or a children healthcare company which is asked in the exercise.

Linking words for IELTS writing

Linking words for IELTS writing

Linking words for IELTS writingSo, yet and because are three basic examples of linking words –
words which allow you to put together ideas either through contrast,
comparison, example, cause, effect or sequence. Good use of
linking words makes your writing flow better and sound more

Here are some more examples of linking words

  1. Illegal immigrants continue to arrive in the country in spite of stricter government measures.
  2. In addition to having a lot of money, he is very good-looking.
  3. The level of English continues to be a problem amongst migrant workers. As a result, many
    companies have begun insisting on an IELTS result of at least 6.0.
  4. Building a road here will destroy an area of great natural beauty. Furthermore, nobody is really insupport of it.
  5. Not only is the tourist situation deteriorating, it is also spreading to other industries.

The linking words and phrases below are grouped in different categories.

Time in the meantime / meanwhile / while
(talking about similarities)
likewise / in the same way / equally
(talking about differences)
whereas / in contrast / on the other hand / nevertheless
Examples for example / for instance / to illustrate
Cause and effect consequently / hence / thus / as a result
(admitting another point of view)
although it may be true / granted / admittedly
(describing the order of something)
following which / subsequently / afterwards
(giving more information)
moreover / furthermore / in addition / not only … (but) also

Tips and hints for using linking words in IELTS writing

Some linking words are used at the beginning of a sentence, some in the middle. Some linking words need a comma after them, while others don’t. Some linking words are considered in IELTS to be ‘academic’ and others are too common. Using linking words accurately is essential to getting a good result.

Now practice!

Click here to try Exercise 1

Click here to try Exercise 2

Getting ideas for IELTS Task 2

Getting ideas for IELTS Task 2

With only 40 minutes to read the question, get ideas, plan your essay, write the essay and then proofread your work, you need to be quick getting ideas.

Here are some useful methods of getting ideas:


Getting ideas for IELTS Task 2

This simply means thinking about anything that is connected to the topic. It doesn’t matter whether or not the idea seems good at the time; the aim is to get your brain thinking about the topic and writing notes on the question paper. When you have finished brainstorming, you will find that some of your ideas don’t relate to the topic so need to be rejected, but at least you have a place to start.

If your Task II title was ‘Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘ you might think of the following ideas:

  • underage crime
  • bad parenting
  • crime rates in developed countries
  • young / busy parents
  • society
  • the child’s friends
  • TV and video games

Then when you look again through the list, you need to reject the ideas that are not directly relevant to the questions. In the example above, you would reject the idea about ‘crime rates in developed countries’, as this does not directly relate to parents or children. Then look again and see which ideas would be difficult to support or argue in 250 words / 40 minutes, and would probably reject ‘society’ as it is a very wide area.

Who’s involved?

Another method of getting ideas is to think about who is affected by the topic raised in the question. If you are thinking about ‘Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘, then the people involved would be:

  • parents
  • children
  • the police
  • the victims of crime
  • other criminals

Then you need to think about how each of the affected groups of people may react. Victims of crime, for instance, might want to see the parents punished as the child is arguably too young for prison. The police might also want parents to be responsible for the same reason.

Applying the questions words

A third useful method of getting ideas is to use the question words – who, what, where, when, how etc. In the example we have used so far (Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘), you could think about the following questions:

  • How could parents be punished?
  • What actions should the parents take responsibility for?
  • When is a child old enough to take responsibility themselves?

Here’s another example of applying question words:

TITLE: Everyone should be made to learn English. Do you agree or disagree?

You could consider aspects such as:

  • why should everyone have to learn?
  • what would happen to non-English people’s native language?
  • where would people study?
  • how would this be controlled/regulated?
  • who should pay for it?
  • when would many people find a use for English?


Always keep in mind that the ideas you support or argue against do not have to reflect your true opinion – if you find it easier to argue something that you don’t actually agree with, then do it!

General Writing #1

About IELTS writing

About IELTS writing

It is very important to note that there are significant differences between the Academic Module and the General Training IELTS writing test.

Parts of the test

writingThere are two parts to the IELTS writing test – Task I and Task II. Task I should take approximately 20 minutes and requires you to write at least 150 words, and Task II should take about 40 minutes and you need to write at least 250 words. Note, however, that time management within the IELTS test is your responsibility – you have a total of one hour to write at least 400 words in total, so you can decide how much time to spend on each Task.

Academic and General Training IELTS writing

Task II for the Academic Module and the General Training Module focus on the same skills. However, Task I is significantly different. In the General Training Module, you are required to write 150 words or more in a letter format – this could be a formal, semi formal or informal, depending on the context, and you may be writing to complain, apologise, request or give thanks. In the Academic Module, you are required to write 150 words or more as a report on a graphic – this could be a chart, graph, table, diagram or process.

What is the IELTS writing test assessing?

The IELTS writing test is assessing your ability to write clearly and coherently, using a range of grammar and vocabulary and addressing the task you are given. Your writing is marked by a trained examiner who will evaluate your work based on a set of criteria given by the IELTS organisation.

In Task I, the examiner is marking you on the following:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In Task II, the examiner is marking you on the following:

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

For specifics of what you need to achieve in each band, there are publicly available descriptions. Links to the PDF documents keep changing, so here is a Google search result that will show you their current location!

Topics you can expect in Task II

There are a wide range of possible topics that you may be asked to write about in Task II, but generally it related to one of the following:

  • education
  • health
  • society
  • transport
  • the environment
  • culture
  • technology
Previous comments:

    i need to improve the writing and reading skills

    Dear Ieltsforfree, the following links are not working: Task I public descriptors Task II public descriptors Thanks for repairing.

    How can one end an informal letter, a semi-formal and a formal letter? I dont know if I used the right words but wat I meant is…. E.g. Sincerely, or Yours Sincerely, or Yours faithfuly, etc. I think those are the Formal ways. How about an Informal way?

    Ieltsforfree says:

    Hi Emmanuel, The ending of informal letters often depends on the topic of the letter. For example, if you were writing to a friend who is coming to visit you soon, you could say this: Anyway, looking forward to seeing you! John or if the letter was about thanking a friend for something they did for you, you could say Well, thanks again for your help, John Hope that helps! The team at

IELTS Task 2 avoiding emotional language

IELTS Task 2 avoiding emotional language

A common error in the IELTS test is not writing in a formal, academic manner for Task 2. In this post, we will look at writing too emotionally.

IELTS Task 2 avoiding emotional languageCompare these two sentences  -which is better?

A: People who spend extended periods in front of a television could be exposed to the great risks of pain and suffering from health issues, as well as missing opportunities to spend time outdoors in the arms of mother nature.

B: People who spend extended periods in front of a television could potentially face related health issues, as well as missing opportunities to spend some time outdoors

The best sentence is B – although it is shorter, it is academic and formal. Referring to ‘pain and suffering’ and ‘the arms of mother nature’ are more suited to books or poetry, but not for an academic essay. Make sure your work is not excessive – remember you are writing at a level intended for a university lecturer, not a book club!

Here are some other ’emotional’ phrases that we have seen written in student essays that are definitely best avoided in Task 2:

  • It is with great joy and happiness
  • For it is the beauty of our world
  • Friendship in the heart is more valuable
  • We must be full of peace and love
  • The mind must be able to float like the wind
  • How can it be so if we love our brothers and sisters?
  • Living in sin can mean our souls are burdened

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 001

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 1

All of the model answers on this site are guaranteed band 9

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In many countries, people do not recycle their rubbish as much as they could.

Why do you think this is? What can be done to change this?

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

Write at least 250 words.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 1With an increasing world population and subsequent environmental concerns, it is important to dispose of trash in an eco-friendly manner, yet there are a significant number of places around the world that fail to do so.

There are a number of reasons that mean that recycling is not done as effectively as it could, the primary problem being the attitude of the general public. Lethargy or lack of knowledge leads people to throw all of their rubbish into one place, meaning that material that could have been sorted and reused is buried in landfills. In the UK, for example, over 20 million tonnes of waste is buried whilst less than 1 per cent of that amount is actively recycled. There is also the matter of availability, as there are situations in which recycling facilities are either extremely limited or nonexistent.

In order to combat these issues, the first step would be educating the general public about the facts of waste disposal and recycling, perhaps even enforcing participation by levying a fine against those who do not separate their rubbish into different types. Hand in hand with this, making recycling centres more available would also help, or perhaps adopting a system used in some Asian countries where households are given a number of different containers into which to sort their rubbish for collection.

Overall, it seems that a change of attitude is needed as well as more resources to manage different recyclable materials. This can be achieved through a combination of education and penalties, as well as ensuring better access to facilities.

(261 words)

IELTS Task 2 Writing more academically

IELTS Task 2 Writing more academically

To write a good Task 2 essay for IELTS, you need to know how to
write more formally and to present yourself in an academic manner. This post will show you some of the common errors in the IELTS writing test
and how to avoid them.

Using personal pronouns (I / we / you / us etc)IELTS Task 2 Writing more academically

Compare these two sentences:

  1. I think that the government should support us by providing better healthcare.
  2. It can be argued that the government should support the population by providing better healthcare.

It should be clear that the second sentence is better as it avoid
using ‘I’ and ‘us’. One of the best ways of writing more formally and
avoiding personal pronouns is by using the passive tense.

Using emotional expressions

Compare these two sentences:

  1. People who spend extended periods in front of a
    television could be exposed to the great risks of suffering from health
  2. People who spend extended periods in front of a television could potentially face related health issues.

As you can see, the first sentence is too dramatic and is not
suited for academic writing. You need to remain objective, not

Using personal examples

Compare these two sentences:

  1. A friend of mine has been unable to find work recently as he does not have the right qualifications.
  2. It is common for people to be be unable to find work without the right qualifications

As you can see, the second sentence does not make the example
‘personal’ – this is a key point for getting a better result in the
IELTS writing test.

Using abbreviations

Compare these two sentences:

  1. These days, many companies don’t employ people who can’t use a computer.
  2. These days, many companies do not employ people who cannot use a computer.

Always write the full word, not abbreviations!

Using phrasal verbs

Compare these two sentences:

  1. Despite the health concerns, many people have difficulty in giving up smoking.
  2. Despite the health concerns, many people have difficulty in quitting smoking.

Phrasal verbs like ‘give up’, ‘take off’, ‘break down’ or ‘call
into’ are not considered formal and will reduce your score. There is
always a more formal equivalent for a phrasal verb.

Asking questions

Compare these two sentences:

  1. Could the government do more to support poor people?
  2. Many people wonder if there is anything more the government could do to support poor people.

Avoid writing direct questions (also called ‘rhetorical questions’) – they are not academic and will reduce your writing result.

Informal linking words

Compare these two sentences:

  1. First, the government should support people who are actively looking for work.
  2. Primarily, the government should support people who are actively looking for work.

Using more ‘academic’ linking words to connect your ideas will give you a better result.

Previous comments:

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 005

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 5

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:

In schools, most courses finish with a final exam to assess a students ability. However, some people do not do well in exams. Therefore academic success should not be measured by exam performance but by an overall grade based on the whole period of study.
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.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 5Formal testing has often relied on an end of year assessment of a candidate’s knowledge, but in many respects this is perhaps unfair, as will now be explained.

The principle argument against using exams is that some students, although competent, simply do not respond well to formal testing. Exam nerves are common, and in extreme cases can cause a form of mental paralysis in which the student is unable perform at all. In an average class of 20 or so students, there is statistically at least one or two students who do not manage the pressure of exams well, and fail to produce results that are a reflection of their true abilities.
Another strong argument is that some areas of study do not lend themselves to traditional exams. A clear example of this can be seen in certain trade based courses, where a long written examination is not an accurate method of assessment, and a more practical approach would be preferred. Carpentry, for example, would be best assessed by what the trainee has made over the course of study, not what they can write about in a two or three hour exam at the end of the year.

Granted, there are some fields of study that are perhaps best tested in the traditional style. For example, science or medicine based courses require a level of academic knowledge that can be evaluated through a formal assessment.

In conclusion, although certain subjects may be assessed in the traditional manner, it would perhaps be more balanced to assess a student’s ability based on work they have completed over the whole period of study rather than a single written exam.

(276 words)

IELTS Writing practice test (Academic Module) #1

IELTS Writing practice test (Academic Module) #1

This section of the site is for you to try writing a complete IELTS writing test. For the best practice, we strongly recommend that you keep to the requirements laid out in the IELTS test. NOTE: model answers to both tasks can be found at the bottom of the page.

  • Timing – 1 hour in total, 20 minutes for Task I and 40 minutes for Task II
  • Handwriting – many test centres only allow writing in pencil, so practice using a pencil and paper. You’ll be surprised how much your hand can ache after writing for an hour when most peope are used to typing!
  • No resources – don’t use a dictionary or any other aid, even if you don’t understand the question. You need to develop the ability to write without any external support
  • No breaks – it’s essential to practice writing Task I and Task II within 60 minutes without taking a break, as this will best simulate the IELTS test

IELTS Writing practice test (Academic Module) #1

Task I

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

report1The charts show the distribution of money spent on music in three different years in Northern Ireland.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.


Task II

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In many countries, schoolchildren are required to wear school uniforms.

Do you think this should be enforced in all schools?

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

Write at least 250 words.

Click here to read a model answer to both writing tasks.

Note: The model answers below would be awarded the highest band for any marking criteria. However, they are not the only way the question could have been answered.

Task 1 IELTS Writing model answer:

The pie charts illustrate the changes in spending patterns in Northern Ireland with regards to music.

The first set of data is for 2003, where it can be seen that the majority of expenditure was for CDs, accounting for well over half. Just under one third of the money was spent attending concerts, standing at 31%. Downloaded music was only 6%, and the smallest category was that labeled ‘other’.

Three years later, the order of the four categories was the same, but there was a marked increase in the sale of digital music and an inverse correlation to the sale of CDs, which fell by 20% to 41%.

By 2011, digital purchases had overtaken both concerts and CDs and accounted for nearly half of all sales. The difference between CDs and concert sales narrowed to only 2%, and the ‘other’ category rose slightly to 3%.

Overall, it is clear that while concert sales remained relatively stable at around one third, digital music sales became more common than CD sales.

(170 words)


Task 2 IELTS Writing model answer:

In many countries, pupils are required to wear uniforms when attending school, and this is something that should be enforced for the following reasons.

Primarily, students, especially those in their teenagers years, are under pressure both academically and socially; insisting on a standardised uniform within the school alleviates some of this as it means that the student does not have to worry about whether their peers think that they are dressed well or in the latest fashions. This has the added advantage for those from lower income families who may simply not be able to afford the clothes worn by those from more affluent families.

Not only does it remove the social pressure, but wearing a school uniform also has a psychological advantage, as the student is dressed in the mode of attire used for study. Much like wearing a suit and tie may signal going to work for many people, wearing a school uniform prepares the child for the day of learning.

However, this perhaps works best for younger students. By age 16 or 17, it may be appropriate for the student to wear more casual clothing when they reach their later teens, as the idea of ‘conforming’ by wearing a uniform could discourage the student from pursuing further education and this is often the time in which young adults are looking to establish their own clear identity. It is at this point that it may be more productive to allow more relaxed clothing such as jeans.

In conclusion, although a school uniform does have advantages at certain stages of a student’s academic career, there is also a time when the enforcement of a standardised set of clothing may be counterproductive.

(282 words)

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 046

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 46

All of the model answers on this site are guaranteed band 9

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Nowadays we are producing more and more rubbish.

Why do you think this is happening? What can the government do to help reduce the amount of rubbish produced?

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

Write at least 250 words.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 46There is no doubt that modern society creates more refuse per person than previously. This essay will first consider some of the influences that have caused this, then suggest some ways that the authorities can promote a reduction in this increase.

The main cause for the increased amount of waste produced is largely the result of excess packaging that is common in society today. A simple fast food meal has bags, wrappers and containers that are in use for just a few minutes before being discarded. There is also a rising trend towards disposable items which are designed to have a short life before being consigned to the dustbin. Common examples include razors, bottles and plastic bags.

Another major cause for the rise in refuse can also be linked to technology. Computers, tablet devices, mobile phones and more are considered old and obsolete, often within only a few years of use. These devices are often not recycled but are simply abandoned to lie in landfills.

It is perhaps with this second point that the government can be the most proactive. By encouraging recycling, either by better programmes of education or more available facilities, more of the material that would otherwise be dumped could be recycled and put back into use. There is also the possibility for local councils to charge more for refuse collection services, thus making adding a financial incentive for people to recycle more assiduously. Admittedly, this could lead to more illegal dumping as people attempt to avoid paying additional costs.

In summary, there are varied reasons as to why the amount of waste produced is increasing, but there are also avenues the government could consider in order to reduce this.


(283 words)