Exploring the differences between an IELTS Band 9 essay and a university essay (Part 1)

So, in this post I’m going to convert the first half of an IELTS model essay (written by IELTS Simon) into a university level essay and highlight some important differences. Hopefully, this will provide an introduction to the requirements of academic writing at university. The introduction and first paragraph presented below follow the agree/disagree format, and over the next couple of months I’ll post converted essays in all the IELTS academic writing task 2 formats. I’ll post the converted second paragraph and conclusion for this essay over the next few days.

Finally, I’d like to add a heartfelt thankyou to IELTS Simon for giving me permission to use his essay from March 13th in this post, and I’d recommend his Facebook page as an excellent source of IELTS learning resources. His essay is here: https://www.facebook.com/ieltssimon/posts/10156864679390999

Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. Too what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Introduction: IELTS Band 9

It is often said that modern life presents us with an overwhelming number of choices. I completely agree with this, and I believe that the Internet and globalization are the two major factors involved.

Introduction: University level

It is often said that the modern life provides an overwhelming number of choices. In the most recent decades, there has been a significant acceleration in technological advancement leading to more variety of choice in almost every aspect of life: travel, work, entertainment and study. Equally, increasing levels of economic growth in Asia and other parts of the world have created new opportunities in these countries.  This essay will examine two areas in more depth: the internet and instant access to media; secondly, globalization and greater access to international travel.

Comparison of the two introductions

Language 

In a university essay personal pronouns (us, I) are considered informal, and are only used in certain circumstances. One way of reducing the frequency of their use is to use the passive voice.

In terms of word choices and phrasing, the Band 9 introduction is equivalent to university level. For example, the noun phrase ‘major factor’ is an effective academic collocation, and ‘overwhelming’ is a suitable adjective.

The university-level introduction uses the connecting adverb ‘Equally,’ to show the relationship between two sentences, as taught in IELTS.

The IELTS introduction uses a useful opening phrase: ‘It is often said…’. The university introduction contains two similar phrases for starting sentences: ‘In the most recent decades…’ and ‘This essay will examine…’.

Structure

The first sentence, often referred to as the opening statement, remains unchanged, as it is effective at reusing language from the question to provide a link between the question and the rest of the introduction.

In the university level introduction, the second and third sentence both provide background information to the question topic, and both give some indication as to why the topic is relevant and important.

The final sentence in the university introduction is more detailed than the IELTS introduction. This sentence is the thesis statement, and at university level it should present the topic of each main paragraph (the internet and globalisation), as well as indicating how the topic develops in each paragraph. This is because one function of the thesis statement is to map out the essay for the reader.

Paragraph 1: IELTS Band 9

It is undeniable that the Internet has led to a dramatic expansion in the number of choices that are available to us. The number of online media options, for instance, is now almost endless. There are countless websites offering entertainment, news, videos, on-demand TV and music streaming, many of which are free. I would argue that this abundance of media leads to confusion on the part of the average user, as we have to make so many decisions about the content that we consume. A personal example of this trend would be the fact that I had a choice of just four TV channels when I was a child, whereas I now have access to thousands of films and series through services like Netflix.

Paragraph 1: University level

It is undeniable that the Internet has led to a dramatic expansion in the number of choices that are available. The number of online media options, for instance, is now almost endless. There are countless websites offering entertainment, news, videos, on-demand TV and music streaming, many of which are free. There is evidence which suggests that this abundance of media leads to confusion on the part of the average user, as it necessary for users to make so many decisions about what to consume. Hollingworth (2002) provides statistics which show that Netflix users now spends fifteen minutes on average choosing what to watch. This is in contrast to the situation in the UK thirty years ago, when there were just four TV channels.

Comparison of the two paragraphs

Language

Again, as in the introduction, personal pronouns (us, I) aren’t used in university writing. Also, this means that the phrase ‘I would argue…’ has been replaced with ‘There is evidence…’ in order to introduce the main argument.

Equally, as in the introduction, the adjectives and adverbs, as well as the noun phrases used in the Band 9 introduction are suitably formal for university level. For example: ‘dramatic expansion’, ‘abundance of media’ and ‘number of choices’. ‘Whereas’ is an effective conjunction.

Structure

The most significant difference with the structure is that the university-level paragraph cites research to support its argument. A study by an academic called Hollingworth, published in 2002, is given as an in-text reference, and his conclusion is summarised. One of the key characteristics of academic writing is not only that the writer must provide this kind of supporting evidence, but also that much academic writing involves the writer reporting on and commenting on the ideas and research of established academics and researchers.

Also, the use of the personal anecdote (A personal example…) is replaced with a more general remark about historical trends, as the personal anecdote is too informal for university level.

5 Comments

  1. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something
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    and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to
    get the hang of it!

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