Navigating the complexities of the Writing section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is often the most daunting for aspiring candidates around the world. This is often most noticeable when it comes to writing an ‘Advantages & Disadvantages’ essay. This form of essay is a crucial part of the IELTS exam, and mastering it is often considered challenging due to issues such as straying off-topic, improper structuring, and inefficient time management.
This article, penned by experienced IELTS coach, Andy Turner, who has over two decades of practice, aims to offer essential tips and strategies to craft an effective ‘Advantages & Disadvantages’ essay. It sheds light on the common difficulties encountered by students and provides pragmatic solutions to overcome them.
Through getting a better understanding of these challenges and applying consistent practice, students can improve their writing skills in a way that elevates their performance in the IELTS exam, and get over the final stumbling block at which many candidates fall when aiming for a band 8.0 or above.
Understanding The Challenges Students Have With An Advantages & Disadvantages IELTS Essay
To the average native speaker of English, writing an ‘Advantages & Disadvantages’ essay might seem straightforward. However, for people that do not speak English fluently it’s essential to understand the challenges often encountered in the process to avoid common mistakes. Three significant issues typically faced by IELTS candidates are:
Deviation from the Topic: While discussing advantages and disadvantages, students sometimes stray from the central theme. This deviation can confuse readers and negatively impact the coherence and cohesion of the essay, which are critical scoring points in the IELTS exam.
Poor Structure: An improperly structured essay can lead to unclear communication, making it hard for examiners to follow the argument or understand the points being made. An essay that is well-structured helps the reader to understand and follow the writer’s train of thought smoothly.
Poor Time Management: The IELTS exam demands efficient use of time. Some students struggle with this, spending too much time on one section of the essay and rushing through others, resulting in an unbalanced essay.
How IELTS Candidates Can Overcome These Challenges
Naturally, for those candidates who need a score of band 7.0 and above on the IELTS exam, overcoming these challenges is crucial. Not only to finally get over that finishing line, but also from a financial perspective. The IELTS exam is not exactly cheap, and having to sit it 4-5 times before passing will wind up costing you far more than simply paying for the support of a tutor. After all, you wouldn’t expect to pass a driving test without having first worked with an instructor.
One of the common pitfalls that students often fall into is deviation from the topic. When writing an ‘Advantages & Disadvantages’ essay, it’s easy to get carried away with individual points and stray from the core subject matter. To avoid this, it is advisable to spend some time thoroughly understanding the topic before beginning to write. A good understanding of the topic ensures that the points made in the essay are always relevant and directly answering the given question.
Next we have the structuring of the essay, a well-structured essay has a clearly defined introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should provide a brief overview of the topic and indicate what the essay will discuss. The body of the essay should then elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages of the given topic, with each point clearly separated and discussed in detail. Lastly, the conclusion should summarise the points made in the essay body and restate the overall view of the topic. Following this structure ensures the essay is coherent and easy to understand.
The third most common thing that a lot of aspiring IELTS candidates struggle with is effective time management. The IELTS exam is pressure intensive and The IELTS exam demands efficient use of time with many students struggling to balance the time needed for understanding the question, brainstorming ideas, writing, and proofreading their essays. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and the key to effective time management lies in practice. By consistently practising essay writing under timed conditions, students can get a realistic sense of what can be achieved in the allocated time and can plan their writing process accordingly.
Implementing what we’ve listed above are going to be the best first steps to begin your preparation for writing and Advantages & Disadvantages IELTS essay, but naturally I will always recommend that by taking IELTS lessons with an expert tutor is going to be the most effective pathway in reaching a band 7.0 or above.
What Makes A Good IELTS Advantages & Disadvantages Essay?
Whilst ‘Advantages and Disadvantages’ is itself a specific type of essay, the format in which one should be written does not differ substantially from any other kind of essay. Namely, it will always include the basic wireframe of any text, which is; an introduction, a body of text explaining your points, and a conclusion summarising the body and linking back to the introduction.
The Introduction: As with any essay, this section sets the stage for the rest of the essay. It begins with a general statement about the topic, followed by a brief explanation of the advantages and disadvantages to be discussed. Importantly, it should clearly state the purpose of the essay, giving readers an idea of what to expect.
The Body: This constitutes the main part of the essay and is where the advantages and disadvantages are discussed. The body should ideally be divided into two sections. The first section should discuss the advantages, each elaborated with supporting details or examples. The second section should similarly discuss the disadvantages. Keeping these sections separate contributes to the coherence and clarity of the essay
The Conclusion: Here’s where we effectively round-off and draw together the essay so far, providing a summary of the main points discussed in the body. It’s essential to keep the conclusion concise and avoid introducing any new information. The conclusion should reiterate the main points of the essay and offer a balanced view of the topic based on the advantages and disadvantages discussed.
What Should You Include Within Your IELTS Advantages & Disadvantages Essay?
So, we’ve looked at where the common mistakes lie, we’ve looked at how to overcome them, and we’ve looked at a good structure to follow to make sure we write a good ‘Advantages and Disadvantages’ IELTS essay. But, what can we include and take into account that is going to help us access those higher band scores when it comes to IELTS Writing?
Well, of course the first place to start is with one of the most crucial parts of essay writing, building a robust vocabulary. This can be achieved by reading a wide variety of materials, such as newspapers, books, and scholarly articles. Particularly useful are resources written by IELTS experts, as they provide insights into the types of vocabulary and sentence structures that are appropriate for an ‘Advantages & Disadvantages’ essay.
But, just improving your range of vocabulary is just one piece of the puzzle. Learning to use the words accurately and effectively in context is equally important. This is where practice comes in. Students should consistently write practice essays, making a conscious effort to incorporate the new vocabulary they have learned.
While practising, students should not shy away from receiving feedback. Constructive feedback from experienced tutors can shed light on common mistakes, provide personalised tips for improvement, and help enhance writing skills. Students should try to write, review, and correct as many essays as possible before the exam.
The journey towards mastering the ‘Advantages & Disadvantages’ essay in the IELTS exam is unique for each student. However, the fundamental principles remain the same: understanding the challenges, learning the proper structure, and effectively managing your time.
Practising these skills in combination with expanding vocabulary, receiving constructive feedback, and familiarising oneself with the exam’s requirements are pivotal steps towards improvement. It may seem like a daunting task initially, but remember, every successful IELTS candidate started where you are now.
As you embark on your IELTS preparation journey, remember that improving your writing skills is not a race but a marathon. It takes time, patience, and consistent effort. But with dedication, the right strategies, and the proper guidance, you too can overcome the challenges and achieve your desired score. Keep going, and never stop believing in your potential to succeed.