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  • Hi, I'm Oli.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • Do you need band seven in IELTS?

  • Are you maybe stuck at band six or 6.5?

  • If you've taken the IELTS exam many times, and you can't seem to get higher than six

  • in the writing exam, this video is for you.

  • If you're stuck at band six, then it's likely that you have some bad habits and ineffective

  • approaches to the writing exam.

  • These are things that might work well at band six, but they won't help you to get band

  • seven.

  • I'll show you what these ineffective habits are, and how you can change them.

  • One point: I'll be focusing on the academic IELTS exam in this video, because most of

  • the students I meet need academic IELTS.

  • If you're taking general IELTS, most of the advice in this video is still very relevant

  • for you.

  • Also, one more thing: there's nothing wrong with getting band six!

  • I'm not trying to be rude or discouraging to anyone.

  • When I say that something is a bad habit, or that you need to change something, I mean

  • if you want to get band 7.0 in the IELTS writing exam.

  • But first

  • Do you know how IELTS scoring works?

  • You should.

  • Here's why:

  • The IELTS scoring system is very specific.

  • The examiners don't just look at your writing and say, “Hmmm, this feels like a… six!”

  • If you get band six in the IELTS writing exam, there are specific reasons why.

  • There are specific things which you did or didn't do which explain your score.

  • Similarly, to get band seven, there are specific things you need to do, and not do!

  • Most importantly: these things are very different between bands six and seven.

  • If you keep taking IELTS, and you keep getting band six in the writing, then you can't

  • keep doing the same things and expect to get a different score.

  • You need to change what you do.

  • The things you need to do to get band seven in your IELTS writing aren't magic or some

  • kind of dark secret.

  • They're publicly available.

  • You can read what they are.

  • You can do it right now!

  • There's a link underneath the video.

  • I highly recommend you read the scoring criteria and think about what band seven means.

  • At the very least, you need to understand that your IELTS writing score is made up of

  • four different parts: task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource (which means

  • vocabulary) and grammar.

  • Think now: where are you weakest?

  • What do you need to work on from these four areas?

  • In the rest of this lesson, we'll talk about each of these four areas.

  • You'll see common examples of 'band six thinking', and you'll see how you can

  • improve your approach to get a higher IELTS writing score.

  • Let's start with task achievement.

  • Here are the some ideas that are great for getting band six:

  • In task one, I need to include every statistic and piece of data.”

  • In task two, I just need to write something about the general topic in the question.”

  • By the way, to save myself saying 'task achievement' again and again, I'm going

  • to call it 'TA'.

  • Getting band 7 for TA is both easy and hard.

  • Here's why it's easy: you just need to do everything which the question asks you

  • to do, and nothing else.

  • Here's why it's hard: most people can't do that without a lot of practice.

  • TA is also slightly different for task one and task two, so we'll talk about those

  • separately.

  • Let's start with task one.

  • Here's a sample question:

  • The graph below shows the sales of five different food products in the UK between 1980 and 2010.

  • Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons

  • where relevant.

  • If you want some time to look at the question, pause the video.

  • If you're watching on YouTube, you can see the question on the full version of this lesson

  • on our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

  • Getting a good TA score depends a lot on what you do before you start writing.

  • You need to analyse the task and make a clear plan.

  • If you start writing without a clear plan, it's very hard to get a good TA score.

  • In task one, it's important to find connections or trends in the information you're given.

  • For example, in this question, how could you connect the data?

  • Here's one idea: you could group the five products into, first, products whose sales

  • fell over the period (ice cream and frozen burgers), secondly, products whose sales rose

  • (tofu and chili sauce) and finally, products whose sales stayed the same (salted peanuts).

  • Here's another suggestion: group the five products into big sellers (ice cream, frozen

  • burgers, and also chili sauce at the end of the period), and small sellers (tofu, salted

  • peanuts, chili sauce at the beginning of the period).

  • Which way do you think is better?

  • Actually, there isn't one correct way to do this, but you need to do something.

  • You can't just write about each product, one after another.

  • Well, you can, but you'll probably get band six for TA!

  • Whatever data you're given, you need to find connections and put the information into

  • groups which you create.

  • These groups will be separate paragraphs in your answer.

  • This is how your answer will have structure, which is also important for your coherence

  • and cohesion score.

  • What about task two?

  • Let's look at a sample question:

  • The most common problem in task two is leaving something out or not covering something fully.

  • To get band 7 for TA, you need to do all of the things the question is asking you to do,

  • and only the things the question is asking you to do.

  • What does that mean here?

  • The task says, 'discuss both of these viewpoints.'

  • First, you need to discuss the idea 'that young people benefit from working while studying

  • at school or university.'

  • One word here is particularly important.

  • Do you know which one?

  • 'Benefit' is a key word here.

  • What does 'benefit' mean?

  • How do you understand it in this question?

  • Next, you need to discuss the idea, 'young people will achieve more by focusing on their

  • studies.'

  • Again, there's a key phrase here: 'achieve more'.

  • What does this mean?

  • You need to have answers to these questions.

  • IELTS tasks often contain abstract, general words like advantages, benefits, problems,

  • success, etc.

  • To write a good answer, you need to analyse and interpret these words yourself.

  • Here, think about 'achieve more'.

  • How do you understand this term in this question?

  • Does it mean getting good exam results, learning more knowledge, learning practical skills,

  • getting a better job, living a full, satisfying life, or something else?

  • Again, there isn't one right answer here, but you need to have your own ideas about

  • this.

  • Next, the task says, 'give your own opinion'.

  • So, you need to explain which side you agree with.

  • Finally, the task tells you to give reasons and include examples.

  • This means that you need to support your ideas.

  • You can't just say something like:

  • Young people who focus on their studies will achieve more.

  • If you make a point like this, you need to support it somehow.

  • How will they achieve more?

  • What examples can you give to show that this is true?

  • Let's review: for this question, you need to do four things to get a good TA score:

  • 1.

  • Discuss the idea 'that young people benefit from working while studying at school or university,'

  • and analyse what 'benefit' means.

  • Discuss the idea that, 'young people will achieve more by focusing on their studies,'

  • and analyse what 'achieve more' means.

  • Give your own opinion and reach a clear conclusion.

  • Support your ideas with reasons or examples.

  • If you can do these four things, you can get band 7 for TA in your IELTS writing exam.

  • Remember though, it's not as simple as it looks.

  • You will probably need to practise to get this right.

  • Next, let's look at your coherence and cohesion score.

  • I'm going to refer to coherence and cohesion as C&C, to keep things simple.

  • Here are the habits which can limit your C&C score to six:

  • “I need to use more linking words to get a higher score.”

  • My essay should have an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion.”

  • Let's look at each point separately.

  • Oh, hey, Oli!

  • How was your IELTS exam?

  • Amazing!

  • I totally nailed it.

  • I used nevertheless, furthermore, however, in spite of the fact that, AND in addition.

  • My band 7 score is GUARANTEED!

  • No, it doesn't work like that.

  • First of all, linking isn't just about linking words.

  • It's about the logic and flow of your ideas.

  • Look at a sentence:

  • Air pollution is a serious problem.

  • However, food prices are higher than ten years ago.

  • Using however here doesn't magically make these ideas connected.

  • These two ideas aren't connected, and you can't create a connection by using a word

  • like however.

  • Next, there's nothing in the IELTS scoring system which says you get a higher score for

  • using more linking words.

  • It's more important to make sure you use linking words accurately.

  • Using more linking words won't get you band seven.

  • However, using linking words incorrectly will get you band six.

  • So, don't use linking words just to use linking words.

  • Use them because they fit your ideas.

  • Don't think, “I have to use nonetheless to get a high score!”

  • You don't.

  • Next, let's look at our second point: paragraphing.

  • Many IELTS candidates use the same structure for everything they write.

  • For example, for task two, most people write an introduction, two body paragraphs, and

  • a conclusion.

  • That might be fine.

  • However, to get band 7 for C&C, you need topresent a clear central topic within each

  • paragraph.”

  • Those aren't my words.

  • That's straight from the IELTS scoring scheme.

  • Many students, especially in task two, write paragraphs like this:

  • There are many advantages toFirstly, … Secondly, … Thirdly, …

  • This kind of writing is likely to get a score of 6 for C&C.

  • Why?

  • Because, if you do this, you're trying to put too much in one paragraph.

  • That means your paragraph won't have a clear central topic.

  • So, what's the solution?

  • First, plan your essay carefully.

  • Make sure you know exactly what you're putting in each paragraph before you start writing.

  • Secondly, make sure your paragraph starts with a clear topic sentence.

  • Your topic sentence should be relatively short and simple.

  • If your topic sentence is very long and complicated, then your topic probably isn't clear.

  • Then, after your topic sentence, spend the rest of the paragraph developing and extending

  • your main idea.

  • This means that you aren't adding any new ideas or changing the topic in the middle

  • of your paragraph.

  • Also, this means you might need different numbers of paragraphs depending on how many

  • main ideas you have.

  • Do you have two body paragraphs in your essay?

  • That means you have two main ideas.

  • Do you have three main ideas?

  • Then you need three paragraphs!

  • Another point: paragraphs don't have a minimum length.

  • There's no such thing as a paragraph which is too short.

  • Paragraphs can be any length.

  • So, let's review this section.

  • To get band seven C&C in your IELTS writing exam, you need to focus on using linking words

  • accurately and appropriately.

  • You also need to make sure every paragraph has a clear central topic, which means you

  • shouldn't try to put many different ideas in one paragraph.

  • Next, let's look at vocabulary and how you can get to band seven.

  • Here's a band six idea that students often have:

  • “I need to learn lots of synonyms and uncommon vocabulary.

  • If my vocabulary is bigger, I'll get a higher score.”

  • There's one important difference between band six and seven for vocabulary.

  • At band six, you need two things: range and clarity.

  • That means, if you at least try to use some more advanced or uncommon vocabulary, you can get six if

  • your meaning is clear, even if you make mistakes, even if you make lots of mistakes.

  • However, for band seven, you need three things: range, clarity and accuracy.

  • It's no longer enough just to try.

  • You need to use vocabularywith flexibility and precision”—again, this is a quote

  • from the official scoring scheme.

  • You can't make many mistakes for band seven.

  • You can produce 'occasional errors' and still get band seven.

  • What does this mean for you?

  • It means that your priority should be avoiding mistakes.

  • I see many IELTS students trying to learn lots of idioms, phrases, academic vocabulary

  • and so on.

  • But then, they often don't know how to use this vocabulary well.

  • They use it in their writing, because they think it sounds nice, and their meaning might

  • be clear, but it's not correct.

  • That's fine for band six, but not for band seven.

  • So, what should you do?

  • Look, first of all, vocabulary learning is hard work and it's slow.

  • There aren't any magic solutions here.

  • But I'll give you one tip:

  • When you're learning vocabulary, focus on quality and depth, not quantity.

  • Don't try to learn 50 words or phrases.

  • Learn five words or phrases, but really learn them.

  • Spend an hour learning and practising five new words and phrases.

  • Find example sentences.

  • Write your own example sentences.

  • Ask a teacher or whoever you can find to give you feedback.

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