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ielts academic writing module > lesson 4
LESSON 4 continued


Activity 7 >  Getting started - using a ‘mind map’  > 15 minutes

Getting started with your composition can be the worst part.  Sometimes it can be difficult to think of ideas, but there are things you can do to help. One technique is to draw a mind map.

A mind map is simply a way of generating ideas about a topic by looking at it from different  angles.  Each ‘angle’ is a heading in the mind map. You should keep the headings as general as possible because this will help generate more ideas. For example, you can look at almost any question from one of these angles:

personal, economic, political, educational, scientific, psychological  etc.

Let’s look at an example. Here’s a typical IELTS Task 2 writing task:

Present a written argument or case to an educated reader with no special knowledge of the following topic.

Levels of depression and anti-social behaviour in children have increased dramatically in modern societies. This situation has led many people to believe that childhood itself is in crisis. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?

You should use your own ideas, knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.

Below is a mind map for the question you’ve just read. There are four very general headings, each one representing a different way to look at the question of childhood in crisis.

Mind map, childhood in crisis

a) Try to think of two ideas of your own to note down under each heading.

b) Here are some ideas we thought of. Click here to complete the mind map by putting each of these ideas under the best heading.

Activity 8 > Stating and supporting your point of view (1)  > 5 minutes

The IELTS writing task 2 question often ends with the words ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?’   You don’t have to agree with the statement, but it is important that you express an opinion of your own. Whether you disagree or agree, you should give good reasons why. Examiners want you to:

  • state your opinion
  • clarify what you mean
  • give reasons for your views
  • give examples when appropriate
  • emphasise important points

a) Here are some useful words and phrases for doing these things.  Click here to put them under the correct headings.

A typical example is,  Clearly,  For example,  For instance,  From my point of view,  I am convinced that,  In fact,  In my opinion,  In other words,  Indeed,  It is my belief that,  Needless to say,  Obviously,  such as,  That is to say that…,  The reasons for this are,  This is because,  This is due to ,  This is on account of, What I mean by this is

Activity 9 > Stating and supporting your point of view (2) > 5 minutes

Every time you state an opinion, it’s important that you follow this up with your reasons or examples. Here are opinions which could be expressed in answer to the question about childhood - click here to match the opinions with the supporting sentences.

Activity 10 > Writing Task (1) > 10 minutes

Now it’s your turn to write.

a) Make a plan for your own answer to the question you read in Activity 7. You can use the ideas in the mind map from earlier, or your own ideas. Remember that you don’t need to use all the ideas.

b) Write your answer. You need to write at least 250 words.  Try to use some of the expressions from Activity 8 and remember to follow up all your opinions with reasons or examples.

Activity 11 >  Topic sentences > 10 minutes

A good writer makes things easy for the reader and you need to make things easy for the examiner. One way you can do this is to use topic sentences. Topic sentences introduce the theme of a paragraph. They are like sign posts in your composition and they tell the reader that you are moving on to a new theme.

a) Here is a sample answer.  Click here to match the topic sentences with the correct paragraphs (A-C).

Crisis is a strong word to describe a situation. Although I would not go so far as to say that childhood is in crisis, I would certainly agree that modern children are under more pressure from more directions than ever before. But what are these pressures and what problems do they cause? [1….] there are three main areas of concern.[

A……..] [2….], children are under pressure to be like each other and to be like the role models that they see in the media. ‘Pop’ and ‘rock’ culture has become so much a part of children’s lives that it is now the defining characteristic of the 10-18 year old age group. [3….] are purely economic. The pop music and fashion industries are worth a fortune, and they benefit from the most easily persuaded consumers: children. The result, however, is that children as young as ten feel like outcasts among their peers unless they buy the latest CDs and clothes.  [4….], not being able to conform with the group can lead to conflict with parents and even depression.

[B……..] [5….] is that school children are being tested on their learning much more frequently. Furthermore, most children these days are expected to take exams for university entrance.  Constant testing makes children anxious about school. Likewise, children who are not suited to academic study feel inadequate when they take exams and then fail. [6….], instead of helping children’s minds grow, the education system has become the cause of many mental health problems in the young today.

[C……..] [7….] many modern children are being forced to behave like adults before they are ready. [8….], many children now have to look after themselves at home because their parents are staying ever longer hours at work. More worrying, though, is the effect of unsupervised television viewing and internet surfing. Children are expected to have the judgement to decide what is suitable for them. [9….], they do not have such judgement. As a result, young children are often exposed to material that can frighten, worry and confuse.

To sum up, although [10….] childhood is in crisis, there have recently been worrying changes in the way children grow up. If these trends continue, there may indeed be a crisis.

b) Now look back at the mind map for this question from Activity 7. Tick the ideas that were used in the final composition.

c)  Now use the words and expressions below to complete the sample answer.

Lesson Review

In this lesson you have:

practised reading and getting information from dynamic charts.
learned structures and expressions for describing increase and decrease.
practised using prepositions when describing numbers and dates.
learned how to use a mind map to generate ideas for Task 2.
practised supporting your opinions with reasons and examples.
learned useful words and expressions for supporting your opinions.
learned how topic sentences help to organise your writing.

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