Using Examples in IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing Task 2: GIVING EXAMPLES


When writing IELTS essays, it is often a good idea to include paragraphs in the MAIN BODY which have one main argument, supported by some EXPLANATION, EVIDENCE and/or an EXAMPLE. It is worth considering two types of EXAMPLE:


a) personal examples

b) general examples


General examples can be very similar to EVIDENCE, but this certainly is not a problem.


PERSONAL EXAMPLES can make your argument clear and can make you use more complex grammar (such as past tenses), which will impress the IELTS examiner. However, IELTS candidates often make them too long or irrelevant to the argument they are supporting. In addition, candidates who include personal examples often start using basic and informal language because they are writing about things which happened personally to them. Because they can go wrong, I would include a maximum of one personal example in any essay!


Look at this PARAGRAPH 2 from an essay on studying abroad. The example uses complex language, relates to the argument/point made in the first sentence, and is quite concise/short:


Studying in a foreign country can broaden the mind. My own personal experience as an international student supports this point. Having finished secondary education, I chose to complete my undergraduate studies in Germany. After initially feeling homesick and unable to deal with culture shock, I slowly became aware that I had started questioning many aspects of my life and of myself, and that I had become far more accepting and tolerant of views and attitudes which I had previous found incomprehensible or misguided.


GENERAL EXAMPLES can also make your arguments clear and can make you use more complex grammar and vocabulary. This will impress the IELTS examiner. They can be too long and can become irrelevant. However, general examples (which are not taken from your own personal experience) are more likely to be successful than personal examples in an IELTS essay.


Look at this PARAGRAPH 2 from an essay on nuclear weapons. The example uses complex language, relates to the argument/point made in the first sentence, and is quite concise/short:


There is no doubt that the existence of nuclear weapons poses a terrible threat and that we are only a tiny human error away from catastrophe. This issue can clearly be illustrated by an event which took place several decades ago: having mistaken a Norwegian satellite for an incoming missile, The Soviet Union prepared to launch thousands of retaliatory rockets. Only the bravery of a middle-ranking army official who refused to carry out orders prevented the planet from being totally obliterated.

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