Preparing To Write
Once you have decided what question type you have and therefore what the structure of your essay will be, you are ready to prepare to write your essay.
Do not skip this stage! This stage actually saves you time overall and prevents you from going 'off topic' and losing marks.
Here is what you need to do:
1.Underline key theme words and instruction words.
2.Identify the question type.
3.Note down any synonyms and paraphrases.
4.Note down your main points and ideas.
Let's take a look at an example of this in action, here is an example question
As you can see, the question has been clearly annotated with synonyms and paraphrases. This will help you show the examiner a range of vocabulary which is important for your lexical resource (vocabulary) band score.
The main key topic words of the question have also been underlined. This should help draw your attention back to what you should be discussing and prevent your ideas from going off topic.
Instruction words have also been underlined, again this ensures that you do fulfill the requirements of the task.
Next, you need to think of your main points for your essay body paragraphs. You should then make a very brief paragraph plan to follow. For the above question it might look like this:
As you can see above, the paragraph plan is a brief outline of what will go in each paragraph. You don't even need to write out paragraph 1 and 4 if you do not want to. Obviously, they will be the introduction and conclusion which you should know how to write very easily by the time of the exam.
The next step is to start writing your introduction.
Thinking of Ideas
Some test takers worry that they will not be able to think of any good ideas to write about. If that is you then please remember that:
a) The quality of your ideas is not important, your ideas are not being assessed only your English language ability.
b) The topics you are likely to be asked about are not out of the ordinary. They are issues from real life that are quite easy to relate to. If you are used to forming an opinions then you will be fine. If not, then keeping up to date with the news and actually thinking and forming your own opinions about the issues in the news is a great starting point for your IELTS essays. Use 'dead' time when you are waiting for the bus, or train, or in any sort of a que to form opinions on different topics. This will help prepare you for test day.
c) If you are struggling in the exam. Imagine a friend of yours is sitting opposite you. What would you say to them about the question topic? Imagine having a chat with them and jot down your thoughts. This is a really easy way to generate some ideas.