IELTS Writing: Brainstorming and Planning


Before you plan your IELTS Writing answer, you need to think of 2 or more main ideas that you will use to support what you have to say in your essay. This step is often referred to as “brainstorming”. During your practice (you may not have time in the actual test to complete a detailed brainstorming session), you write down as many ideas and words as you can that come into your head as you think about the topic. Do not judge the worth of the ideas as they come to you – that comes later, after you have put the notes you have made into groups of associated words and ideas.

Practice brainstorming well in advance of taking the IELTS test. Write down on a blank piece of paper as many ideas and words as you can about the topic you choose. Next, plan the answer.

Again, you do not have time in the actual test to write a detailed plan like the sample plan shown below. Your plan will need to be much shorter. However, once you have thought of the main ideas that your answer will contain, you do need to structure and organize your answer.

You should only take a few minutes to read and understand the question, and to think of and construct an answer. Therefore, it is important to know how to form a well-organized plan quickly and skillfully with the ideas you have “brainstormed”.

Here is the plan for the following task:
Studying the English language in an English-speaking country is the best but not the only way to learn the language. Do you agree or disagree?

TOPIC: Studying English in an English-speaking country
QUESTION: It is the best, but is (the topic) the only way?
There are advantages of English study (in Australia? Britain? The USA?) But my opinion: no, not the only way + reasons
Paragraph 1: advantages of English study in an English-speaking country – can practice listening to / speaking with native speakers; can experience the culture (assists language study); should live with local people; should attend language school with native teachers/speakers.
Paragraph 2: English study at home less stressful: with accommodation; with study and living costs – less financial burden; bilingual teachers could assist best explanation and easier understanding.
Paragraph 3: English study at home fewer problems: with daily survival in foreign country; students don’t need to worry about cooking, looking for place to live, culture confliction, like racist or tensions caused by misunderstanding.
Even though it is preferable to study English in an English-speaking country, a reasonable level of English can be achieved in one’s own country.

Note these points about the plan above:

► The plan is composed of 5 parts: topic, question, introduction, body and conclusion.
► The purpose of the introduction is to express the topic clearly. Also, since the task in this case is to present an argument, the writer’s opinion will be expressed in the introduction as well.
► There are 3 main ideas expressed in the body of the essay. actually, you don’t need to plan 3 main body paragraphs, 2 paragraphs or more than 3 paragraphs are also acceptable, but the key is plan one idea per paragraph.

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