One of the most common ways to prepare for IELTS is to use the Cambridge IELTS book series. These include real IELTS test questions, and this helps you to get a better sense of the real exam and also to gauge your current level. As of now (early 2022), the latest book in the series is Cambridge IELTS 16.
Today, I want to show you two sample answers from the academic portion of this book. You can find other sample answers from Cambridge IELTS 16 here (about building history) and here (about driverless cars).
Let’s start with IELTS writing task 1. In Cambridge IELTS 16, there are four task 1 tests, but let’s just look at one of them today. It is a line graph:
First of all, before we look at the sample answer, let’s take a moment to analyse the question. It is actually pretty straightforward. You have two line graphs. The first shows how ownership of three electrical appliances changed over a one-hundred-year period and the second shows how the amount of time spent on household chores changed.
Analysing the data is quite simple. You can see that the ownership of each item increased and the amount of time spent on housework decreased. Thus, the only problem you have is picking the right language to accurately convey that.
Sample Band 9 Answer
The first line graph shows the percentage of households that own three different types of electrical appliance over a period of one hundred years and the second shows the number of hours spent per week on household chores during that same period. Overall, ownership of those three appliances increased and the amount of time spent on chores decreased.
In 1920, which was the first year recorded, almost no one owned a refrigerator, whilst a third of people had a vacuum cleaner and four out of ten had a washing machine. This changed drastically over the next decades, with almost every household possessing a fridge by 1980. Indeed, by 1960 it had already surpassed the other two appliances to become the most commonly owned of the three. In the final year, 2019, every household had both a fridge and vacuum, but washing machines, which had been the most common in 1920, were now the least common with just three quarters of households owning one.
During this time frame, the number of hours spent on chores dropped from fifty hours per week to about ten, with a steep decline in the first few decades, followed by a slower fall from 1980 onwards.
Importantly, I did not include pointless information, such as the name of each appliance, in my introduction. That is a common IELTS error.
Next, I avoided the overuse of numbers by using fractions and other methods of conveying data:
- a third
- four out of ten
- almost every household
- the most commonly owned
- the least common
- three quarters
This is important because many people just write long lists of numbers. Remember: IELTS is an English test! You are not going to impress the examiner by copying numbers from a chart.
In terms of structure, I focused mostly on the first graph because it contained more information. I devoted one long paragraph to that, then a short paragraph to the second graph, which was much simpler.
There are also four task 2 questions in this book (at least in the academic section) and today we will look at this one:
In some countries, more people are becoming interested in finding out about the history of the house or building they live in.
What are the reasons for this?
How can people research this question?
This is a two-part question, which you can learn about here. Some people worry about these but actually they can be easier to answer than other question types.
To understand this, simply read the first sentence, then directly answer the two questions. Note that “this” refers back to the first part. Thus, you must write about:
- The reasons why people want to find out the history of their home.
- Ideas about how they can research the history of their home.
Simple! As for structure, you can just devote one body paragraph to each question.
Sample Band 9 Answer
In some parts of the world, people are becoming interested in learning about the history of their home. There are various reasons for this, including curiosity, and as with many things in life nowadays, the internet is probably the best resource.
In the developed world, a lot of people live in houses that are quite old and this inspires in them some degree of curiosity. Their house might be one hundred or several hundred years old, and so they might want to know what sort of people used to live there or what events happened in that house. This could be prompted by pure curiosity or perhaps it was triggered by seeing an old photo or painting that suggested something interesting. In any case, once people begin to wonder about the history of their property, they could well be inclined to find out about that. Other reasons include wanting to know about the property’s value or safety concerns, which might be linked to past events.
In order to sate this curiosity, people can go online to do some research. This can be achieved in various ways, though the results are not always guaranteed. One is to find local registry details, which could list the names of former owners. Another is looking up old newspapers to find records or even photographs. There are many specialised websites nowadays that can assist in doing this. Beyond that, people can of course visit their local council or library to acquire documentation that may help them reach some answers.
In conclusion, people mostly want to know about the history of their home for the sake of curiosity but also for issues relating to valuation and safety. They can use the internet or visit a library to find answers.
I began with a straightforward introduction (which you can learn about here). I introduced the idea of the essay, then explained what I was going to write – ie answering both questions.
My ideas were focused and realistic. I did not use vague language but instead gave specific details and concrete examples. I also avoided repetitive language partially by using omission. That means not saying the same thing again and again. When I did use synonyms, I switched between “house,” “home,” and “property.”
In terms of topic-specific vocabulary, I said things like:
- sate this curiosity
- local registry details
- former owners
- find records
- acquire documentation
I did not try to show off with any rare and weird words, but instead used words that were specific and appropriate. This is the best way to approach Lexical Resource. If you want to learn more vocabulary related to buildings, you can read this article.