Band 9 Speaking Pt.3 – Endangered Animals

endangered-animals-group

1. Do you think governments are doing enough to protect endangered animals?

“No, I definitely don’t. At least not in my country. There are some laws to protect endangered species, but it’s very rare that someone is prosecuted. In fact, many senior members of the government are the people who are responsible for the deaths of these animals because they have the money to buy their body parts, like rhino horn, to use as traditional medicine. Of course, the “medicine” does nothing, but they believe in stupid superstitions rather than science, and then they are the ones who decide the best plan for the future of the country…

endangered-animals-black-rhino

2. Why do we have to protect them?

“It’s extremely important to protect them (and the environment in general). Many endangered species play an essential role in the ecosystems they live in, so if they go extinct, there will be some disastrous consequences that we can’t predict. Also, these animals are so strange and varied that they can remind us of the wonder of life and our own delicate place on this planet.”

endangered-animals-monkey

3. Is it good to keep them in a zoo?

“I think zoos have good sides and bad. On the positive side, they can used to protect some animals that cannot survive in the wild because of human activities, like hunting and habitat destruction. Zoos can be a place where these species can be bred and studied. However, many zoos keep animals in appalling conditions with little room to move about. These animals often suffer from something like depression and would probably be better off dead.”

endangered-animals-pangolin

4. Is their natural habitat affected by people?

“Of course. Humans destroy the natural habitat of animals through deforestation and pollution. Humans need space to live and grow food, but normally these goals are accomplished by leveling forests and jungle with little thought for how it will affect the animals that live there or how it will affect people in the future. Economic development seems to take precedence over environmental protection even though the sustainability of economic progress is dependent on a healthy environment.

COMMENTS –

  1. Part 3 is normally the most difficult part for IELTS candidates. The questions are more academic and require the use of some advanced vocabulary to be able to answer them well.
  2. Many of the questions are similar to Task 2 essay questions, so it is a good idea to organize your answers like an essay body paragraph.
  3. Try to have a clear main idea in your opening sentence, then develop this idea by answering any questions the listener might have about it. In the above examples, main ideas include “Of course”, “I definitely don’t”, “There are good sides and bad”, and “It’s extremely important”.
  4. Try to include some synonyms for commonly used or repeated words. In the above examples, “positive sides” has been used after “good sides” and “appalling conditions” has been used instead of simply saying “bad conditions”.
  5. Try to include some topic-specific vocabulary. Unfortunately, the only way to develop advanced vocabulary is to read a lot about a range of different subjects. In this post, the topic is “endangered animals” and also “the environment”, so words and phrases like “deforestation”, “critically endangered”, “ecosystems”, and “sustainability” have been used.

 

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Band 9 Essays – Consumerism

Nowadays people buy a lot of unnecessary manufactured products. Is this a positive or negative development? What is the effect of this on the individual and on society?

consumerism

For a significant number of people in the modern world, the purpose of existence seems to be to make money in order to buy things that will supposedly make their lives better. While some manufactured goods certainly make life easier, unchecked consumerism has many negative effects on the lives of individuals and the health of society.

It is undeniable that some products have made human life dramatically better. The fact that clothes can now be washed and dried at the press of a button rather than being a hard physical process that took many hours is a good example of this.

However, the problem with many products is that they can make life more complicated. People are always checking their smartphones or looking for the next thing that they can buy to make them happy. For example, someone might upgrade to the next version of a smartphone even though there old one is still perfectly okay. After a few days they barely even notice that they have something new and exciting.

Therefore, it is clear that manufactured items can have a negative effect on individuals. Instead of people finding satisfaction in creating things or helping others, they merely get brief pleasure from buying something then buying something else over and over again, like a drug addict, without noticing all the amazing things in the world around them.

Moreover, rampant consumerism has harmful effects on society. The production of goods often has extremely negative environmental effects as many high-tech products require the mining of precious minerals or the use of toxic chemicals that are often dumped into waterways at the end of the manufacturing process.

Overall, the ability to buy mass-produced goods has made many aspects of our lives more convenient. Nevertheless, everyone must pay attention to the consequences of buying things that are not really necessary and may be dangerous. (294 words)

COMMENTS –

  1. This essay has four parts (i) positive developments (ii) negative developments (iii) effects on people (iv) effects on society. Make sure you write about each part. You only need ONE idea for each paragraph. In this example, the ideas for each paragraph are (i) make life easier (ii) make life more complicated (iii) can’t buy happiness (iv) environmental damage
  2. Always try to include some synonyms. In this example, “products” has been changed to “goods” and “many” has been changed to “a significant number”.
  3. Try to include some topic-specific vocabulary. Correctly using words like “consumerism” will boost your overall score.
  4. Try to include general advanced vocabulary. In this example, words like “unchecked” and “rampant” and terms like “precious minerals” and “toxic chemicals” will make your writing more academic-sounding and boost your score.
  5. Try to include some SPECIFIC examples to make your ideas clearer and deeper. In this example, the washing machine is used to show the benefits of manufactured products, while smartphones have been used to show some of the negative effects.
  6. The conclusion can just be two sentences that summarize the good and bad points of the topic.

 

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Band 9 Essays: Problem and Solutions Pt.1 – Traffic Congestion

TOPIC – Traffic congestion is a serious problem in many countries around the world. Describe the situation in your home country and suggest some solutions.

traffic-congestion

As cities continue to grow, especially in developing countries, their streets are becoming increasingly congested. While in many cases the situation is so severe that traffic often grinds to a halt, there are some measures that can be taken to try to address this issue.

One of the major causes of traffic congestion is simply a lack of space. Cities in developing countries are expanding so rapidly and contain so many people that room for new roads to handle this new growth is not available. Narrow streets that used to contain mainly bicycles, motorbikes, and just a few cars are now clogged with the latter.

Another factor is the growing wealth of city dwellers. Purchasing a car is one – if not the most common – way to show off this new prosperity. As the number of people who are able to afford a car rises dramatically, cars have begun to swallow the space that used to be able to accommodate many more smaller forms of transportation.

In order to solve this problem, there needs to be strict financial disincentives for deciding to drive a car. If someone wants to take up so much extra space every day, they should be forced to pay an extra tax that can be used to improve transport infrastructure and develop public transportation.

It should be clear that more and better public transportation is the best option. Once a city reaches a certain size, extra roads are not a solution. Admittedly, some people dislike being forced to use public transport, but it must be seen as the price for living in a city and being able to enjoy the opportunities that urban centres provide.

Overall, while economic and population growth have led to massive problems with traffic, there are some practical steps that can be taken to improve the situation. More roads is only a temporary solution. What is needed is a huge investment in modern public transport systems and a strong penalty for those who wish to drive their own cars so that traffic can flow and life can be better for everyone. (349 words)

COMMENTS –

  1. Make sure you answer the WHOLE question. First you must explain the situation/problem, then offer some solutions. Try to aim for two causes/reasons for the problem, then offer to related solutions.
  2. Try to use some synonyms for the words “problem” and “solution”. In this example, “issue”, “measures” and “steps” have been used.
  3. Try to think of some synonyms for the keywords in this topic. If you can’t, try to change the structure. In this example, “congestion” has been changed to “congested”.
  4. Try to include some topic-specific vocabulary. In this example, the topic is “traffic/transport”, so words and phrases like “transport infrastructure” and “forms of transportation” have been used.
  5. Try to include some general academic vocabulary. In this example, terms such as “financial disincentives” and “urban centres” (instead of “cities”) have been used.
  6. Make sure to introduce each paragraph with a clear linking word or phrase. In this example, the phrases “One of the major causes of…”, “Another factor is…”, “In order to solve this problem…”, and “…is the best option” have been used.
  7. The conclusion should admit there is a problem, then state that it can be solved. You can also mention how things would be better if the problem was dealt with!

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Band 9 Reports: Pie Charts Pt.1 – Different Diets

The pie charts show the different foods included in diets in China, India, and the average around the world. Write a report of at least 150 words summarizing the main details.

pie-chart-diet-make-up

The pie charts provide a comparison of what makes up the diets of people in China, India, and the world in general. The diets included in the charts are made up of processed food, vegetables and fruits, animal sources, and nuts and seeds.

A brief assessment of the charts reveals some similarities and differences between the diets of Chinese, Indians, and the world as a whole.

One standout point is that about a quarter of the Indian and global diet consists of animal products, while in the Chinese diet this figure is only around one-sixth. Similarly, about 40 percent of the diets of India and the world altogether come from processed foods, whereas in China this figure is slightly lower at around one-third.

In contrast, Chinese people eat almost twice the amount (19%) of nuts and seeds that Indians do (11%). Strikingly, the global population’s diet only contains a minimal 4% of nuts and seeds. Moreover, 32 percent of a typical Chinese diet is comprised of vegetables and fruits, which is 3 percent higher than the world average and 9 percent greater than in a normal Indian diet.

Overall, it seems that Chinese tend to eat a more plant-based diet, while Indians and the world in general tend to eat more meat and manufactured foods. (208 words)

COMMENTS –

  1. In your introduction, try to include some synonyms. For pie charts, you need to compare the different charts, so a phrase like “provide a comparison” is a good substitute for “show”. Also try to include the different categories if you can so the reader knows what your are comparing. In this example, the categories are “processed foods”, “vegetables and fruits”, “animal foods”, and “nuts and seeds”.
  2. Be careful when using synonyms for the different categories. It may make your answer unclear. For example, you do NOT need to use synonyms for things like “nuts and seeds” or “vegetables and fruits”. However, in this example, “animal foods” has been changed to “animal sources” and “animal products”. Remember that your first priority is to be CLEAR.
  3. Give an overview of what the charts show. With pie charts, it is often difficult to give a brief overview as there is lots of information to compare (instead of in something like a line graph where the overall trends are normally quite clear). Therefore, you can just give a general overview that there are “some similarities and differences between the charts”.
  4. Normally the pie charts will have some SIMILARITIES and DIFFERENCES to compare. Use these to organise your answer. In this example, one body paragraph is for the similarities and one is for the differences.
  5. Link you paragraphs with appropriate transition words or phrases. In this example, the first paragraph is about similarities and the second one is about differences, so the phrase “In contrast” has been used.
  6. Pie charts are all about COMPARING, so it is VERY important that your details involve comparisons. Use phrases like “two times higher than”, “about the same as” “slightly lower than”, “greater than”, “similar to”, “about the same as”, etc. to make your answer more interesting, easier to read, and also boost your vocabulary and grammar score.
  7. In your conclusion, try to think of ONE overall point to make. In this example, it seems that Chinese people eat a more vegetarian diet, while the others eat more meat. “Vegetables and fruits” and “nuts and seeds” have been combined into the term “plant-based”.

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Band 9 Essays: Discuss Both Sides – Getting a University Degree (or NOT)

TOPIC – Some people think that to lead a successful life a university degree is important. Others believe that this is no longer true. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

 

university-degree

SAMPLE ANSWER –

Since the end of the Second World War, the general trend has been to pursue a university degree after completing secondary education. This has been seen as the best way to attain a desirable job and a prosperous life. However, for many people a university-level qualification is simply not necessary to find success.

It is true that certain careers require a university degree. If one wishes to find a specialized job, such as a lawyer or a doctor, then a relevant degree is necessary to demonstrate that a person has the necessary skills and knowledge to perform in that field.

Moreover, statistics show that people with degrees tend to earn more on average than those with only a high-school diploma or no qualifications at all. University is a place for people to not only acquire advanced knowledge of a subject, but also to form relationships with others in their chosen area, which helps them to succeed in the real world.

However, it is also undeniable that many job do not need a degree and training can be provided via apprenticeships of other on-the-job training. For example, someone who wishes to become a mechanic or a carpenter will probably not gain much benefit from spending several years sitting in lectures.

In addition, many degrees nowadays hold little value because there are too many people holding them. Popular subjects like business management and marketing are over-saturated with students who are finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs after they graduate.

Overall, whether a person should attend university depends on their career goals. While a degree-holder may earn more money than someone who has never been to university, it is undeniable that for many people using a degree to get a job in an office or corporate environment does not equate to a “successful” life. (304 words)

COMMENTS –

  1. In the “Discuss” essay type, it is ESSENTIAL that you discuss BOTH sides of the topic. Normally, for an essay of 250 words, it is best to aim for two ideas for each side.
  2. Try to only have on main idea per paragraph to keep your essay clear and easy to follow. In this example, there are two ideas for each side, so there are four body paragraphs in total.
  3. Make sure your introduction makes it clear that there are two sides to be discussed. You DON’T need to write “I am going to discuss both sides”, but make it clear there are two sides with simple words and phrases like “However” or “On the other hand”.
  4. Make sure you link your paragraphs with suitable transition words or phrases. In this example, the words and phrases used are, “It is true that…”, “Moreover…”, “However…”, and “In addition…”
  5. Make sure your general statements are supported by clear examples or further explanation. In this example, the statement “…certain careers require a university degree” is supported by the examples of a doctor and a lawyer. Remember your job in any essay is to try to ANSWER the reader’s question(s). The reader might ask “What do you mean by ‘certain careers’?”, and it’s your job to answer!
  6. Try to add some synonyms from the topic to boost your vocabulary score. In this example, “successful” has been changed to “prosperous” and “qualification” is used instead of “degree”.
  7. Try to use some relevant collocations and topic-related words to boost your vocabulary score even further. For example, in English, someone who “has” a university degree is said to “hold” it, so in this example “hold” and “holder” have been used. Other examples of advanced and/or topic-specific vocabulary in this essay are “apprenticeship”,  “on-the-job training”, “over-saturated”, and “corporate environment.”
  8. Use the conclusion to summarize both sides and give your opinion. Normally, it is best to have an opinion that states that both sides have some good points!

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Band 9 Reports: Maps – Island Resort

task-1-map-island

SAMPLE ANSWER –

The maps provide an illustration of the changes that took place on a small island when a resort was built on it.

Before construction of the resort began, the island was deserted with only a few palm trees and a small beach at the western end.

However, after the resort had been built the island was totally transformed.

In the centre and west of the island, several small bungalows were built to be used as accommodation for the resort’s guests. Between these buildings, in the centre of the resort, there is a reception area, while above this, there is a restaurant. In addition, on the south side of the island, a pier was built in order for boats to have a place to dock. A road for vehicles was built to connect the pier to the reception and restaurant. Similarly, walking tracks join the accommodation areas to each other, the central area, and also lead to the beach at the western end, which is now used for swimming.

Overall, a comparison of the two maps show that the island has changed dramatically from an empty piece of land into a medium-sized resort. (192 words)

COMMENTS –

  1. When writing about maps, try to mention all the important details, especially the ones indicated in the key (if there is one).
  2. Begin with an introduction that clearly shows what is being compared (normally changes to an area)
  3. Give a brief summary of the first map (the earlier one). You don’t need to write about every little detail, but make sure you include everything that you will compare in the second map.
  4. Take one sentence to show the reader that changes took place. In this example, the phrase used is “totally transformed”.
  5. Report the changes that took place, using a range of vocabulary and linking phrases to show WHERE things are and to LINK different parts of your report. In this example, words and phrases like “above”, “between”, “In addition”, and “Similarly” have been used to make the report clear for the reader. REMEMBER that your job is to ‘paint’ a clear picture for the reader. This means that is you had never seen the maps, you could still imagine what they show.
  6. Finish with a one sentence conclusion that reports the overall changes. In this example, the change is from “empty piece of land” to “medium-sized resort”, so the island changed “dramatically”.

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Band 9 Essays: Agree or Disagree – Extreme Sports

TOPIC – Some people believe that extreme sports should be banned. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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SAMPLE ANSWER –

Extreme sports, by their nature, can lead to serious injury or even death. However, despite the risks that they contain, people should certainly not be prohibited from participating in them.

The main problem with banning extreme sports is that all sports possess a level of risk. Anyone who has participated in a sport has probably experienced or seen some kind of injury. Even in ‘safe’ sports, like tennis or badminton, players can experience serious injuries that require surgery and may lead to life long problems. Of course, no one seriously talks about banning these sports. If a person knows the dangers and takes suitable precautions, they should be free to enjoy whatever sport they like.

This leads to the next point, which is how do we decide what sports should be banned? If a skydiver’s parachute fails to open then they will almost certainly die, but fewer skydiving has fewer deaths than American football, so should we ban that sport? Again the main point is that safety should come first, and it is problematic to try and work out which sports are ‘dangerous’ and which are ‘safe’, or safe enough.

Of course, sports that lead to almost certain death or that endanger the lives of people who are not taking part should not be tolerated, but this is a general rule for all of life and society. The fact is that no extreme sports are that dangerous and people who take part in them are aware of the risks and are prepared to accept them in order to experience the excitement of living life on the edge. If these people did not have a way to express this desire, they would find another way whether it was legal or not.

Generally speaking, something should only be banned if there is a compelling reason. In the case of extreme sports, it is too difficult to say what is extreme and what is safe, so it is much better to allow people to make informed decisions about what activities they wish to take part in. (343 words)

COMMENTS –

  1. Aim for 4-5 paragraphs. Introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, a conclusion.
  2. Your introduction should introduce the topic. In this example, the topic is “extreme sports”)
  3. Clearly show your view. In this example, the view is “certainly not [be banned]”.
  4. Try to include some synonyms from the topic. In this example, the word “banned” has been changed to “prohibited”. You can also changed the grammatical structure from “banned” to “banning” or “ban” (noun).
  5. Each body paragraph should have ONE clear main idea. In this example, the first body paragraph is about “all sports are risky”, while the second one is “how do we decide what sports to ban?”
  6. If you have time, try to include a counter-argument paragraph. This is a way to show you have though about the opposing view. You don’t have to agree with this view. In fact, you can explain it, then explain why you don’t agree with it. In this example, the counter-argument is about banning some sports that are so dangerous there is a very high chance of dying or hurting someone who is not involved.
  7. In your conclusion, try to clearly restate your view and maybe summarize the reasons you have given. Remember to use synonyms so you don’t repeat yourself!

 

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Band 9 Reports: Line Graph Basics

line-graph-red-meat

SAMPLE ANSWER:

The line graph shows the changes in red meat consumption, measured in grams eaten per week, over the period from 2002 to 2010. Over the period as a whole, the amount of red meat that was consumed fell considerably.

In 2002, people at 1500 grams per week on average, and this figure remained stable until 2004. After that, consumption dropped dramatically to only 300 grams per week by 2008. Finally, for the last two years of the period, the amount of red meat eaten was unchanged.

Overall, by 2010, the amount of red meat consumed was only one-fifth of the level it had been in 2004.

COMMENTS:

The topic of the line graph will always be different (this one is about red meat consumption), but the structure can always be the same.Note: this line graph example is simpler than one in the real IELTS test, but it shows the general points you need to remember.

You MUST –

1. Have a clear introduction that tells the reader what the graph is about, how the data is measured, and what period is covered. In this example, the topic is “red meat consumption”, the data is measured in “grams per week”, and the period is “from 2002 to 2010”. After the reader has read your introduction, this basic information should be clear.

2. Give a summary of the overall trends or key points after the introductory sentence. For a line graph, this is normally “up/upward trend” or “down/downward trend”. In this example, the trend is obviously “down”. Don’t forget to say “how” it went down. Was it a small decrease or a big one? In this example, there is a big decrease, so I have written “fell considerably“.

3. Give some details from the graph to support the overall trends or key points. This should make the graph clear to the reader. They should be able to picture the graph in their mind.

4. Include a brief conclusion (one sentence is enough) that summarizes the main changes in the graph. This may be similar to your summary, so make sure you use some synonyms.

You should TRY to –

  1. Use a range of vocabulary for describing data. In this example, I have used “fell considerably” and “dropped dramatically”, which mean the same thing. You don’t want to repeat vocabulary if you can.
  2. Link your report with a range of linking words and phrases. I’ve used, “Over the period as a whole”, “In 2002”, “After that”, “Finally”, and “Overall” to make the report easy to follow and understand.

Introducing IELTS Unlocked

IELTS Unlocked is a quick and easy place to find help to improve your IELTS Writing and Speaking scores. Access a range of Band 9 essays, reports, and speaking samples with explanation to help you know what to do and what NOT to do in the writing and speaking sections of the test. Discover new vocabulary and pronunciation tips to make your speaking fluent and natural.

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