IELTS, TOEFL & TOEIC writing - should you use personal pronouns?

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,296 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited May 2018 in Writing
In IELTS Writing Task 2, you are asked to:
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Since this is asking for YOUR OWN knowledge or experience, is it okay to use words such as 'I', 'me', 'my', 'we', 'you'?

The answer to this question is yes and no B).  

Have a look at the following sample extract from a student's IELTS Task 2 answer:

Secondly, asthma is a disease that is partially caused by air pollution due to old technology that we use today. Russia is sending to air space rockets which were build in the mid nineties of last century. You can imagine how huge the fuel consumption and air pollution is.

We have highlighted two personal pronouns.  The reason they are highlighted is because it is wrong to use them in this context.  So what do we do?  We should write such sentences in the passive voice because this is more academic (which IELTS likes!). Here's how we would write the paragraph extract above:

Secondly, asthma is a disease that partially caused by air pollution due to old technology that is often used today. Russia is sending space rockets into the air which were built in the mid-1990s. These rockets consumed a huge amount of fuel and contributed significantly to air pollution.

The main point: use sparingly (if at all) personal pronouns in IELTS formal writing!

On the TOEIC test, you are asked to write an email and an essay as two of the writing sections. The TOEIC is a test of business English, not formal essay writing, so you may use an informal writing style to answer the questions, as you would in a business situation.

The TOEFL exam requires candidates to use university-level English. The second writing section on this exam is a 300 word essay (or more words). Because the essay questions often ask for you to agree or disagree, you may write using the first person pronoun (I) or first person plural (we see that, we find). It is also possible to use the second person for examples (you see, if you do). However, the vocabulary and structures must reflect university level grammar and word choice.

For information about personal pronouns in IELTS Academic Task 1, go here.

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