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Cambridge IELTS 9 Model Answer (Test 2, Task 2)

Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programmes (for example working for a charity, improving the neighbourhood or teachign sports to younger children).

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

It is natural that school curricula will alter and develop over time. At present, the idea that there should be some kind of community-based programme integrated in to school time has been suggested. This could bring about a number of clear advantages, but not without a few potential issues.

Working for one’s local community is without doubt a valuable use of time. If this were part of high school programmes, children and teenagers would learn the value of mutual care and of contributing to the area in which they were born and grew up. It would be grounding for those of higher privilege, and would add diversity to overly-academic schedules, which have come in for criticism in recent times for not being practical enough.

However, there are those who will argue that school time should be spent on more traditional subjects. It is true that mathematics and language skills are integral to a child’s ability to progress in life beyond school, and that a balance of scientific and artistic subjects has always served to enable success in the world of work. It could be said that interference in this balance is unnecessary, and that community-based work should be allocated outside of school time under parental guidance.

In conclusion, I am inclined neither to agree nor disagree to any particular extent. This is principally because, while I appreciate the need for high school children to contribute to society outside of their schools, I am not sure if this should be prioritised above or alongside academic pursuits.

(265 words)

The conclusion – the question says “to what extent do you agree or disagree” – sometimes you will find that you just aren’t sure! As long as you can explain this, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be in the middle (see the first sentence, but with an explanation).

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IELTS Reading (mini-tip) – what order do you answer questions in?

Let’s think about tasks such as True / False / Not Given, sentence completion and short answer questions. You will find that the answers can be found in the text in order. But are you using this fact to your maximum advantage?

Have a look at this short example text below.

Chilies

Chilies originate in South America and have been eaten for at least 9,500 years. Organised cultivation began around 5,400BC. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter chilies, when he landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492. He thought it was a type of pepper and called it the “red pepper”, a name still used today. After their introduction to Europe they were an immediate sensation and were quickly incorporated into the diet. From there they spread to Africa, India and East Asia.
The reason for the chilli’s “hotness” lies in a chemical called Capsaisin. Capsaisin causes temporary irritation to the trigeminal cells, which are the pain receptors in the mouth, nose and throat. After the pain messages are transmitted to the brain, endorphins, natural pain killers, are released and these not only kill the pain but give the chili eater a short lived natural high. Other side effects include: an increased heart rate, a running nose and increased salivation and sweating, which can have a cooling effect in hot climates.

The reason for the presence of Capsaisin is thought to be to deter animals from eating the fruit. Only mammals feel the burning effects; birds feel nothing. As birds are a better method of distributing the seeds, which pass intact through their guts, Capsaisin would seem to be a result of natural selection.

The smaller chilies tend to be the hottest. This may reflect the fact that they tend to grow closer to the ground and are therefore more vulnerable to animals. The heat of a chili is measured on the Scoville scale. The hottest types such as the Habenero and the Scotch Bonnet rate between 100,000 and 300,000, the world famous Tabasco sauceÒ rates at 15,000 to 30,000, about the same as the Thai prik khee nu, while the popular Jalapeno is between 5,000 and 15,000. Powdered chili is 500 to 1,000 and the mild capsicins and paprikas can range between 100 and 0.

People have started to breed and grow chillies specifically to find hotter and hotter varieties, and what was once a pastime or the labour of practical joke production, has now become a competition worth a lot of money, particularly in the States. Not only is production big business, but the ability to consume and digest these spicy monsters has also become a gateway to fame and (small) fortune, with eating competitions on the rise year on year. While there is no direct link between eating these mutant chillies and ill-effects, there have been instances of hospitalisation on several occasions in the last few years, with this figure also on the rise.

 

Questions 1-4

1. Chilies became popular as soon as they were brought into Europe.
2. Capsaisin damages the mouth.
3. Chilies can be part of a birds diet.

 

4. Smaller chillies are generally hotter than larger chillies.

 

OK, so of course, we start off looking for information for question 1. (You can find it in line 3: “immediate sensation”) – so we mark it TRUE (not T, not Yes!)

But what next? In a longer text, I find that sometimes students perform better when the next question they answer is question 5, not question 2.

WHY?

Pretty simple, really. Sometimes, the final answer can be found a long way before the end of the text. (In this case, you can find the answer in line 1 of the second-to-last paragraph – “The smaller chillies tend to be the hottest”) If you can find the final answer position, you can then trap the remaining answers in between questions 1 and 5, so that you reduce the area of text that you have to scan. See below: Blue – question 1 answer / question 5 answer. BOLD = text containing answers 2-4.

 

Chilies

Chilies originate in South America and have been eaten for at least 9,500 years. Organised cultivation began around 5,400BC. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter chilies, when he landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492. He thought it was a type of pepper and called it the “red pepper”, a name still used today. After their introduction to Europe they were an immediate sensation and were quickly incorporated into the diet. From there they spread to Africa, India and East Asia.
The reason for the chilli’s “hotness” lies in a chemical called Capsaisin. Capsaisin causes temporary irritation to the trigeminal cells, which are the pain receptors in the mouth, nose and throat. After the pain messages are transmitted to the brain, endorphins, natural pain killers, are released and these not only kill the pain but give the chili eater a short lived natural high. Other side effects include: an increased heart rate, a running nose and increased salivation and sweating, which can have a cooling effect in hot climates.

The reason for the presence of Capsaisin is thought to be to deter animals from eating the fruit. Only mammals feel the burning effects; birds feel nothing. As birds are a better method of distributing the seeds, which pass intact through their guts, Capsaisin would seem to be a result of natural selection.

The smaller chilies tend to be the hottest. This may reflect the fact that they tend to grow closer to the ground and are therefore more vulnerable to animals. The heat of a chili is measured on the Scoville scale. The hottest types such as the Habenero and the Scotch Bonnet rate between 100,000 and 300,000, the world famous Tabasco sauceÒ rates at 15,000 to 30,000, about the same as the Thai prik khee nu, while the popular Jalapeno is between 5,000 and 15,000. Powdered chili is 500 to 1,000 and the mild capsicins and paprikas can range between 100 and 0.

People have started to breed and grow chillies specifically to find hotter and hotter varieties, and what was once a pastime or the labour of practical joke production, has now become a competition worth a lot of money, particularly in the States. Not only is production big business, but the ability to consume and digest these spicy monsters has also become a gateway to fame and (small) fortune, with eating competitions on the rise year on year. While there is no direct link between eating these mutant chillies and ill-effects, there have been instances of hospitalisation on several occasions in the last few years, with this figure also on the rise.

 

Have a try of this next time, and remember: IELTS is about finding a technique that you are comfortable with. There is not one “correct” way – if this tip works for you, that’s great. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. There will be another way that you are happy with.

 

Simon

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IELTS Writing – avoiding pronouns and vagueness

In IELTS writing part 2, it is important to make your final opinion in the conclusion clear, by using “I”. However, in the rest of the text it is often a good idea to present opinion as though it is fact – this includes the final sentence of the introduction. Let’s look at a few examples, using the following question (from Cambridge Book 9 Test 3)

Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programmes (for example working for a charity, improving the neighbourhood or teaching sports to younger children).

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

1) Let’s imagine that I agree with this statement. I might write an introduction that looks like this:

In order to help children to understand the importance of community, people think that it would be beneficial for them to do some things in their neighbourhood as a mandatory part of their schooling. While some people say this is a waste of time, I believe that this idea has enormous potential.

 

Let’s look at the bold sections in order.

People think –> This is an example of vague language. “People” is a non-specific group, so we can change this in one of two ways. 1: specify a particular group of people, like parents or education experts. 2) Use the passive: “it has been suggested that…”

Some things –> Again, too vague. Using the word “things” suggests to the examiner that you don’t know the specific words, or a good synonym for “community service”. Either repeat the phrase, or think of a synonym, like “tasks”

Some people say –> Again, this is vague. A better way to phrase this might be “While there are those who may…” This is still vague, but a little better. You could also write “While there are is a case to be made for this being a waste of valuable time”

I believe –> The problem with using “I” in the introduction, is that it will make it look very similar to your conclusion. If you use passive or an “It” sentence here, it will make your conclusion stronger.

Here’s a rewrite of that introduction.

In order to help children to understand the importance of community, it has been suggested that it would be beneficial for them to do certain tasks in their neighbourhood as a mandatory part of their schooling. While there is a case to be made for this being a waste of time, it is clear that this idea has enormous potential.

 

Here are two more examples of words and phrases you could use in your essay

It is believed / said that… (instead of People / They believe that) –> It is often said that the most is not made out of the time a child has at school.

There is / are… (instead of a pronoun) –> There are a number of reasons to support the idea that children will benefit educationally from doing community work.

 

Do you have any example sentences you would like to rewrite or share here?

 

Simon