Writing task 1 (Academic)

One of the key things to do in your answer is to write an introduction that tries to paraphrase most of the input language.  Here is a sample question:

The pie charts below show the percentage of students who lived in dormitories at a particular university in Australia in 2002 and 2012.

Let’s have a look at this sample response to the above question:

The pie diagrams below demonstrate the ratio of learners who resided in on-campus accommodation at an unspecified Australian tertiary institution from 2002 to 2012.

Firstly, this writer has done a good job at paraphrasing the majority of the language from the question.  However, there are a couple of issues with this sample introduction.

  1. The writer uses the word ‘below’, but this comes across as being very strange as there is no diagram at the bottom of the page or his/her answer. 

  2. The writer has described a continuous time period by saying ‘from 2002 to 2012’, but the pie charts only show data for the years of 2002 and 2012.  The years in the middle are not shown.  Instead, it is better to say something like: ‘in the year of 2012 in comparison to 2002’.

Another key thing to do in your answer is to compare and contrast the data.  Let’s have a look at a question with some sample responses:

Common mistakes writing table
  • In 2008, Australia had the highest amount of students with a part-time job, with 14 thousands.

  • The quantity of Australian students with a part-time job declined steadily, from 14,000 in 2008 to 11,000 in 2016.

  • However, in 2016, Australia decreased and had a figure of 11,000.

  • New Zealand had a larger amount of high school students with part-time employment in 2016 with a difference of 2,000.  While, Fiji’s difference was much greater with 3,000.

  • However, Australia had a differents trend, where they had lower figures in 2016 (11,000) compared to 2008 (5,000)

1. The issue here is with the number. Even though the table says the data is measured in thousands, when we use a specific number, this word is not pluralised. Therefore, the sentence should say:

In 2008, Australia had the highest amount of students with a part-time job, with 14 thousand.

2. The problem with sentence is that the writer has mentioned ‘declined steadily’, when in fact this is not a continuous time period (it is only two dates with a gap of 8 years between them).  Instead, the writer could say:

The quantity of Australian students with a part-time job was much lower in 2016 with 11,000, in contrast to 2008 when there were 14,000 of them.

3. The writer here says that ‘Australia decreased’.  This doesn’t make sense, because a country can’t just decrease.  In fact, it is the number which decreased, not the actual country itself.  Therefore, a more appropriate way of describing this is

However, in 2016, the quantity of learners in part-time employment Australia was lower, with a figure of 11,000

4. There is an error here with the use of the linker ‘while’.  It can be used for contrast, but not in the same way as ‘however.  It is important to use it to connect two clauses in the following ways:

New Zealand had a larger amount of high school students with part-time employment in 2016 with a difference of 2,000, while Fiji’s difference was much greater with 3,000

While New Zealand had a larger amount of high school students with part-time employment in 2016 with a difference of 2,000, Fiji’s difference was much greater with 3,000.

5. There are two aspects to talk about here.  Firstly, adjectives are not pluralised in English, so the correct form is ‘different’ rather than ‘differents’ (which is a common difference with other languages

However, Australia had a different trend, where they had lower figures in 2016 (11,000) compared to 2008 (5,000)

The other point is that using brackets can give you some variation in your sentence Style or type, although they can have the opposite effect of making your sentence less complex.  Consider the following as an alternative

However, Australia had a different trend, where they had lower figures in 2016 with 11,000 students compared to 2008 when there were 5,000.

Writing task 1 (General)

Tone

A common way to sign off a letter is to use ‘look forward to’, for both formal and informal letters.  However, there is a difference between the two contexts:

In a formal letter:

I am looking look forward to your reply. 

[The grammar is correct, but the tone is not appropriate]

I look forward to your reply.

[The grammar is correct and the tone is suitable]

In an informal letter

I look forward to catching up with you then.

[The grammar is correct, but the tone is not appropriate]

I’m looking forward to catching up with you then.

[The grammar is correct and the tone is suitable]

Requesting information / Asking a question

When requesting information or when you have to ask a question, there are both direct and indirect ways to do this.

You have seen a piece of furniture that you like in an online catalogue and you are interested in buying it on one of their payment plans. Write a letter to the store manager and say

- Which piece of furniture you are interested in

- Why you like this piece of furniture

- Which payment plan your are interested in

- and find out what some of the delivery options are

Let’s look at using question words (e.g. What…?)

What is the delivery service for after regular working hours?

When using indirect questions, it is important to consider the word order. Let’s look at a couple of examples using ‘Could you tell me …?’

Could you tell me what is the delivery service for after regular working hours? (incorrect)

Could you tell me what the delivery service is for after regular working hours? (correct)

Take note that the position of the verb (i.e. ‘is’) is after the noun, because the phrase ‘Could you tell me …?’ makes it an indirect question.

Auxiliary (or yes/no) questions are another type.

I live just outside of the city.  Is there an extra charge for this?

I live just outside of the city.  I was wondering is there an extra charge for this? (incorrect)

I live just outside of the city.  I was wondering if there is an extra charge for this. (correct)

In this type, the position of the verb (i.e. ‘is’) is also shifted, plus the word ‘if’ is introduced.

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