Exploring the differences between an IELTS Band 9 essay and a university essay (Part 2)

This post continues a comparison between an IELTS Band 9 essay and a university essay started in a recent post. In that previous post I examined the introduction and the first main paragraph, but here I’m analysing the second main paragraph and the conclusion whilst continuing to focus on language and structure as the two comparative themes.

The IELTS Band 9 essay was written by IELTS Simon, and as before I’d like to thank him for his permission to use the essay in these posts. You can find this excellent essay on his FaceBook page via this link:  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?

Main Paragraph 2: IELTS Band 9

Alongside the influence of the Internet, globalization is making the world smaller and compounding the problem of too much choice. Cheap international flights have made overseas travel possible for millions of people, but this also means that we are faced with a world of options when deciding where to go on holiday or even where to live. We no longer have the limited but simple travel choices of our grandparents’ generation. The same is true if we look at the increasing tendency for young people to study abroad. While the opportunity for overseas study seems appealing, many students are confused about where to go and which path to take.

Main Paragraph 2: University level

Alongside the influence of the Internet, globalization is making the world smaller and compounding the problem of too much choice. Cheap international flights have made overseas travel possible for millions of people, but this also means that people are faced with an overwhelming variety of options when deciding where to go on holiday or even where to live. The limited but simple travel choices of previous generations have changed forever. The same situation, of a confusing variety of choices, also exists for students who want to study overseas. Research by Otley (2016), using probability statistics, argues that a wide variety of choice is more likely to lead to poor decision-making, as individuals are less likely to research each choice effectively. In fact, he concludes, a wide-range of choices often make people more conservative in their decisions.

 

Comparison of the two paragraphs

Language

As in the introduction and first main paragraph, the personal pronouns (we, our, us) are too informal for the university essay. In one instance, ‘we’ has been replaced with ‘people’, and this use of a neutral collective noun to refer to a group is quite common in academic writing; ‘commentators’ and ‘researchers’ are both frequently used.

Also, the phrase ‘a world of options’ has been replaced with ‘an overwhelming variety of options’. This is because language which is imagistic is regarded as too informal for academic writing, so metaphors and similes and figurative expressions should be avoided.

Elsewhere, much of the language is suitable for university writing. For example, the phrase ‘increasing tendency’ is often used when describing trends in behavior.

Structure

In this sense, the main difference between the two paragraphs is that the university paragraph summarises some research to support its argument. Notice that the research cited is relatively recent (2016); this is because it is more likely to be up-to-date thinking on the subject.

Otherwise, the only other change is where two sentences about study choices abroad have been merged into one sentence. This is because, in university writing, if a subject is repeated across two sentences it should be developed significantly in the second of the two sentences.  

 

Conclusion: IELTS Band 9

In conclusion, we are faced with a huge number of options in most areas of life nowadays, and this is often more bewildering than beneficial.

Conclusion: University level

In conclusion, a huge number of options face the individual in most areas of life nowadays, and this is often more bewildering than beneficial. In summary, this problem is clearly exemplified in the way people engage with media and entertainment via the internet, and in the difficulty of making travel and study choices. Otley (2012) argues that the expansion of choices had made researching each one more difficult, therefore prompting individuals to react by becoming more conservative. However, I would argue that the strategies for researching choices have also expanded, thereby mitigating this problem. For example, online reviews for hotels and resorts can be read quickly and offer a reliable indicator of the potential of a holiday destination. For the future, it seems that the proliferation of choice in every area of life is likely to grow, but so will the ability of individuals to evaluate them.

 

Comparison of the two conclusions

Language

Again, as in the rest of the essay, the personal pronoun ‘we’ isn’t used; here, it’s replaced with the phrase ‘face the individual’. However, later in the conclusion the personal pronoun ‘I’ is used, and that is because it is used to introduce a counter-argument made by the writer.

Notice the fixed phrases which are used to introduce the difference sections of the conclusion: ‘In conclusion,…’ and ‘In summary,…’ and ‘For the future,…’; all of these are useful phrases for essay writing.

Structure

The university conclusion has a clear multi-part structure. There is an opening statement, a basic summary, a critical evaluation of a source and a future statement; three of these sections opens with a fixed phrase which function to signal the start of each one. In university writing, an essay has to show critical analysis in order to receive a high-grade. One strategy to incorporate critical thinking into the conclusion is to present a counter-argument to some of the research cited in the essay.  

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Nisha Therasa

    The write up was quite informative and helped clear my question as to why some IELTS trainers would insist on university style essays for their students . They definitely need to read your analysis.

  2. Jᥙst want to say уour article is as astonishіng.
    The clearness in your poѕt is simply great and i could assսme you are аn expert on this subject.

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    • Lander Hawes

      thanks very much for the positive comments. I plan to post more comparisons between the different IELTS essay types and university-level academic essays over the next couple of months.

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