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Writing

In the IELTS Writing test, it is important to be able to identify the keywords in the question to make sure your answer is completely on-topic.  The danger of making an error here can mean you lose marks for not answering the question properly.

Let’s look at the following sample question:

It is quite common these days to find more technology integrated into education programs, where both teachers and students have access to various gadgets and the Internet.  Some people think this trend has had a negative effect on the relationship between the teacher and the student.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

When analysing the question, you may find that some of the detail is for background information, while there are other parts to this prompt that include the main idea of what you should be discussing.

If you had to choose the two most important keywords from the prompt, which of the following would they be?

  1. technology

  2. education

  3. teachers

  4. students

  5. negative

  6. relationship

Before answering this question, let’s look at the following sentences and decide which one is that is on topic the most:

  • Technology has been very useful in education because it makes the teaching and learning process easier.

  • The use of social media devices means that the teacher is more contactable, so students are able to resolve their issues more easily.

  • Because of the use of technological gadgets to communicate directly with students individually, the teacher is able to form a more personal connection with the learners.

First of all, the keyword for the prompt would be in the sentence that contains the opinion rather than the one with background information.

This sentence provides background information:

It is quite common these days to find more technology integrated into education programmes, where both teachers and students have access to various gadgets and the Internet. 

And this one contains an opinion:

Some people think this trend has had a negative effect on the relationship between the teacher and the student.

Therefore, you need to discuss whether the trend of technology in education has a positive OR a negative effect on the relationship between the two groups of people (teachers and students).

So, to answer the questions from above:

If you had to choose the two most important keywords from the prompt, which of the following would they be?

  1. technology

  2. education

  3. teachers

  4. students

  5. negative

  6. relationship

Before answering this question, let’s look at the following sentences and decide which one is that is on topic the most:

  • Technology has been very useful in education because it makes the teaching and learning process easier. (This is off-topic as it does not mention any positive or negative effect on the relationship.)

  • The use of social media devices means that the teacher is more contactable, so students are able to resolve their issues more easily. (This does not directly answer the question and could potentially be off-topic.  However, you could relate it to the question by adding:  “Because of this added interaction, it has the potential to build a rapport between them.”)

  • Because of the use of technological gadgets to communicate directly with students individually, the teacher is able to form a more personal connection with the learners. (This is on-topic as “personal connection” is related to the main idea in the question).

Access IELTS Writing practice tests

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In part 2 of this series, we'll be discussing how to look out for keywords in the IELTS Reading test. Stay tuned!