How do you come up with ideas to write about in your IELTS, TOEFL or TOEIC test?

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,030 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited June 2016 in Writing
On the day of your IELTS, TOEFL or TOEIC test, you may be asked to write about a variety of topics.  Here are some examples:

  • Consulting with a number of people is the best way to make an important decision.  Do you agree or disagree?
  • Advertising has made a huge impact on our society.  Is the impact good or bad?
  • The most important ingredient in any relationship is to tell the truth.  Do you agree or disagree?
  • If you could change one major thing about your hometown, what would it be?  Give reasons for your answer.

How would you answer the above questions?  Could you write 300 words in 30 minutes (TOEFL/TOEIC) or 250 words in 40 minutes (IELTS)?

If you are having problems coming up with ideas, here's what to do:


✔ Locate some well-written essays and study them carefully.  Take careful note of how the essay is organised (words-sentences-paragraphs).  Try to copy the structures used in your own answers.

✔ Do lots of broad, deep reading for 2-3 hours/day.  Make sure you read academic publications (eg: New Scientist, Time Magazine, New Prospect Magazine, The Australian Newspaper).

✔ As you read, identify relationships between ideas.  Take note of how paragraphs are organised (eg: compare/contrast, advantage/disadvantage, cause/effect)

✔ Locate hundreds of Writing topics used in IELTS/TOEFL/TOEIC tests.  Go through the list, one by one, and do the following:

  1. identify the main topic (30 seconds)
  2. create a list of ideas that you could use in supporting your opinion in relation to the main topic (advantages/disadvantages, problem/solutions, etc) (3-4 minutes)
  3. write your essay
  4. re-read your essay, making sure your ideas are clear, your vocabulary is appropriate and you have done this in a suitable time frame (carefully compare your essay with the well-written ones you have been reading).
  5. if possible, give your essay to someone who is better than you at English and ask for feedback.

Warning
: If you do these suggestions your essay writing ability will improve :) .  If you don't do them, your writing ability will remain the same  :'( .

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