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One of the key things to do in your IELTS Speaking or IELTS Writing tests is to justify your opinion and ideas.  This is important because it shows that you are able to develop and extend your ideas, helping you achieve a higher band score. 

Let’s look at some ways to do this, along with some examples.

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Causes of a trend or an issue

Sometimes you may be asked your view on why a particular trend or issue occurs, whether it is a positive or negative phenomenon. Here is a sample response that is a little lacking:

Examiner: Why are cities becoming so overcrowded these days?

Candidate: It’s normally because the people in the countryside look for more opportunities for work or study.

While the candidate has actually answered the question, it could do with more support, particularly if they wish to reach a higher band like 7 or 8.

Here is another response which provides more justification:

Examiner: Why are cities becoming so overcrowded these days?

Candidate: It’s normally because the people in the countryside look for more opportunities for work or study.  This is due to the fact that it is so hard to make a living in agriculture where they often have to battle weather issues and the small financial return they receive from all their hard work. On top of that, the educational facilities are not as supported like they are in the main urban centres. Parents seriously consider this given that they see the best chance for their child’s future is via further studies.

One thing to avoid is to repeat the wording from the question at both the beginning and the end of your response. Here is a sample of what not to do:

Examiner: Why are cities becoming so overcrowded these days?

Candidate: Cities are becoming so overcrowded these days because the people in the countryside look for more opportunities for work or study.  This can help them in their future life, so that is why cities are becoming so overcrowded these days.

The actual amount of rateable language here is quite small.  By using repetition like this, it shows that you are unable to develop and extend topics.

Using examples

Examples are a great way to extend and support your views in either the IELTS Speaking or IELTS Writing tests.  However, make sure you use the right type of example depending on the type of question.  In Part 1 and Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test, it is fine to provide personal examples to questions. However, in Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test and Task 2 of the IELTS Writing test, it is more useful to provide non-personal examples. 

Let’s look at another question, which is similar to a Part 3 Speaking test question:

Examiner: Should public transport be free?

Candidate: My take on the matter is that it really depends on the person’s working status.  If someone is employed full-time, then they should cover the cost of their fare as they have the means to do so. In my case, I’m a full-time student at university and it would really help me out as my parents have trouble supporting me enough and getting a part-time job would take time away from my coursework.

If you use non-personal examples, you are more likely to use a wider range of language.  Also, in Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test, the examiner may ask you to avoid speaking about personal situations and to speak more generally.  An alternative approach would be to use your personal example, but arrange it in a way that sounds non-personal. For instance:

Examiner: Should public transport be free?

Candidate: My take on the matter is that it really depends on the person’s working status.  If someone is employed full-time, then they should cover the cost of their fare as they have the means to do so. In the case of full-time university students, it would really help many of them out as potentially, their parents could have trouble supporting them enough. Besides that, getting a part-time job to cover such expenses would take time away from their coursework.

As for examples in your Task 2 essay, it is also a good idea to make sure it is not personal.  Additionally, stay away from fabricated statistics from imaginary reports. It is important to show your range of language with a general example rather than something that is obviously invented.  Let’s look at the same topic as above:

Question: Should public transport be free?

Response: Whether public transport should be free for the public really depends on the person’s working status.  If someone is employed full-time, then they should cover the cost of their fare as they have the means to do so. In the case of full-time university students, it would really help many of them out as potentially, their parents could have trouble supporting them enough. According to a report by the New York Times, 84% of university students claimed that they did a part-time job so they could pay for their public transport and to be less of a burden on their family. Therefore, …

It is obvious that this example has been invented by the writer. The examiner may interpret this as being a memorised response or not your own ideas, so you could potentially lose marks.

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