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Friday, March 22, 2019


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Dear Simon,

How it's possible to get a good writing score without writing a complete thesis statement. I noticed that you never mention your main ideas in the introduction.

Main Body #1: if you have multiple ideas, you just mention them, without explaining them. But, some teachers write give a hint in the introduction and then:
Main Body #1: TOPIC SENTENCE (first reason).
explain. explain. explain. example.
Main body #2: TOPIC SENTENCE (second reason)
explain. explain.explain. Example

Dear Simon,
Dear Sjm,

The following question comes from Cambridge IELTS 13, Test 4. I've extracted introduction from the essay that has been written by the local IELTS instructor in my country, who claims that its band score 8.5. Such instructors think that using a lot of inappropriate, forced academic words, conjunctions and explanations make their writings high-band scored. Your comments would be beneficial.

In spite of the advances made in agriculture, many people around the world still go hungry.
Why is this the case?
What can be done about this problem?

With considerably improvements in agricultural practices, such as genetically modified foods, a significant increase has been achieved in agricultural output. Yet there seem to be no visible results in the fight against poverty, meaning that a worrying percentage of the global population is still suffering from hunger. In this essay, I will shed light on what might have given rise to this unpleasant situation and suggest steps that can be taken to reverse it.

Fateh Agha

Compare the British Council model answer on the link below. They at least should know how to achieve Band 9.


Band 9 requires "a wide range of vocabulary". How can an examiner assess this? One approach is to ignore the set phrases (such as "In this essay, I will shed light on ..." ) and look in the main body paragraphs for much less easily learned topic vocabulary and phrases.


An IELTS essay is a very short piece of writing completed in 40 minutes with no research. No examiner considers an introduction 'a thesis statement'. An essay is read in around 1 to 2 minutes by an examiner, so outlining your ideas in the introduction is not necessary. It 'repeats' elements instead of saving time and words for new information.


It is impossible to give a score to 75 words, especially an introduction that offers no arguments or details. However the first thing an examiner notices is errors and this introduction is basically very accurate. Some of the language is a bit 'overdone' ('shed light on' is inappropriate) but it is generally relevant. Overall, this is a very well written introduction and would indicate a high level user of English.

There is however an issue with using an introduction like this as a 'model', and that is its length. I would never advise anyone to write a 75 word introduction because it takes time away from the important parts of the essay: the body paragraphs. There is a reason why most good introductions are around half this length.

I have seen many IELTS writers produce introductions of even up to 100 words, and this almost always leads to a low score because they are not providing what the test asks for: ideas and development.


According to the writing lessons I have taken from Simon's blog, I think that the introduction has several problems. Firstly, it is written with a forced way. For example, it could start with IT IS TRUE THAT..., the first sentence paraphrase the question or can give general overview. Secondly, the next sentence doesn't need to give also the meaning of the poverty here. Thirdly, answers to the questions would be THERE ARE SEVERAL REASONS WHY THIS A CASE AND I BELIEVE THAT... . So the last given sentence' IN THIS ESSAY, I WILL...' isn't good and I have never seen in Simon's essays. Finally, as you said the introduction contains a lot of words and exceeds the word count.

Hi many ielts instructors claim they have band 9 in writing not once but many times which is not true as they never show us their TRF.Some have not tried sitting for exam even once but they are teaching in language institutes and they teach writing skill.I opine that Simon s methods for writing section is the best,but we really need to put all his tips and techniques into practice. I m rest-assured by writing about 40+ essays with his style and method everyone can get band 7+.


I'm not defending that introduction but from an examiner's point of view, it is well written. There are no obvious grammar errors, and the writer does accurately present the question. There is no 'word count' to an examiner in an introduction.

You have to understand that Simon's essays are only one way of writing an essay. I have seen thousands of essays and there are an enormous amount of styles used. It is not an examiner's job to penalise people who choose a different style of essay. Examiners mark to the criteria and only check that the style is consistent.


The number one reason people don't achieve a 7 or higher is too many grammar errors (verbs, articles, prepositions etc). Practicing essays is only good if you are receiving regular grammatical accuracy feedback and reducing your error rate.

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