I am not a native English speaker, and as my IELTS (http://ielts.org) approaches, I become more and more scared of not getting the grade I need... so I thought I'd ask for an objective review of my writing skills!
The writing portion of the IELTS exam requires two essays. The first essay is basically a description of data you're given in a graph/table/chart, and the second essay is an argumentative one on various topics - education, health, crime, etc etc. I am fairly sure I'm going to write a decent essay n.2, but I'm not as sure about the first one - mostly because I can't decide what information I can leave out/how I'm supposed to word certain phrases.
I would be endlessly thankful for any and all suggestions you can make. I need to know what I can do better and what is fine. The essays' grade is based on:
1. task achievement/task response
2. coherence and cohesion
3. lexical resource
4. grammatical range and accuracy
Thanks again! :-)
I am going to copy four of my essays under the cut(s). :-) I'd appreciate feedback on any of them - I chose to post the most recent ones.
Oh, and also - paragraphing is a bit difficult for me, so I'd be grateful for any suggestion you can give me regarding paragraphing a formal text.
essay one (chart here)
The chart provides information on the popularity of various sources of electricity in Australia and France, comparing the situation of electricity production of these two countries in 1980 and 20 years later.
In both countries, during this period of time, one specific fuel became, overwhelmingly, the major source of electricity - coal in Australia and nuclear power in France; in both cases the fuel in question represented three fourths of the total production of electricity.
The initial situation, however, was slightly different. In Australia, in 1980, half the units of electricity were produced by coal, ith the other 50% of units produced by oil, natural gas and hydro-power in an approximately equal distribution. Nuclear power wasn't used in 1980 and wasn't used in 2000.
In France, on the other hand, the situation was more balanced in 1980 - electricity's main fuel sources were coal and natural gas, with oil and nuclear power as close second and and third sources of electricity. Over time, hydro power decreased its value as fuel source fo electricity, whereas production of electricity with natural gas dropped by more than 90%.
In both countries, in 2000 there was a predominance of one particular source of electricity, with one or two fuel sources losing much of their importance compared to the year 1980.
essay two (chart here)
The data provided by this chart concern the changes in house prices throughout a period of 12 years in 5 different cities. This information is shown as percentages and is compared with the average house prices in 1989.
During the first six years of the period of time taken into consideration, average house prices in New York, Tokyo and London dropped by at least 5%, while in Madrid and Frankfurt, houses were sold at a slightly higher price than in 1989 - this difference was, however, minimal.
This situation changed radically over the following seven years: New York and London's house prices increased by respectively 10% and 20% - compared to their average prices from 1990 to 1995. Tokyo's prices rose slightly, but still did not reach their 1989 amount. Madrid's houses became more expensive, whereas Frankfurt's average house prices were still higher than in 1989, but lower than in the years from 1990 to 1995.
The fluctuating house pricing shown in the chart is representative of the modern, unstable house market.
essay 3 (diagrams here)
Silk worms produce silk for their cocoons; this silk is used by men to make silk cloth, which nowadays can be afforded by many.
The diagrams given show the stages in a silk worm's life, and the necessary steps in the production of silk cloth.
Once an adult silk worm lays its eggs, these eggs take approximately 10 days to develop into larvas. These larvas spend from four to six weeks feeding on mulberry leaves. The food they ingested during this time is then transformed by the larvas into thread made of silk; the larvas produce silk continuously, creating a cocoon all around themselves, and after a period of about two weeks, the cocooned silk worms burst out of their cocoon as fully developed moths.
The production of silk cloth requires five fundamental stages. First, the best silk cocoons must be selected in order to produce silk of good quality; the chosen cocoons are then boiled in water, unwinded (the thread can reach 900 meters in length), twisted and weaved in order to make a whole piece of cloth. Once the silk cloth is dyed, the cloth is ready to be sold or used.
essay four (argumentative essay)
"Some people believe that there should be fixed punishments for each type of crime. Others, however, argue that the circumstances of an individual crime, and the motivation for committing it, should always be taken into account when deciding on the punishment.
Discuss both these views and give your own opinion."
Once a crime is committed, punishment is an automatic consequence. But the way this punishment is delivered, or how strong it should be, are still questions people keep asking, and there is no general consensus on the matter.
Some people are of the opinion that punishment should not be fixed, because different people's circumstances are never the same, and there is the risk that a set punishment might be unfair; the criminal might have mitigating circumstances, or might be deserving of a stronger punishment.
Other people, however, do not agree with this view of the legal system at all. They say that laws regulating crime should not be open to flexibility, because in this case there would be more room for complaints against a judge's decisions. In their, opinion, in order for the punishment to be objective, the regulations concerning criminals and their handling ought to be followed to the letter.
The ongoing debates concerning different countries' penal system do not seem to be close to a conclusion. There are a number of reasons to explain this fact.
Firstly, it is because laws and crime are concerns of public interest, and as a consequence people who would have otherwise nothing in common find themselves discussing matters of crime and punishment.
Secondly, people's beliefs and convinctions regarding crime handling are not easily swayed - therefore, most countries in which dialogue is open and it is possible for everyone to express their opinion have laws which set punishments flexible up to a certain point - and in my opinion, this is by far the most ideal situation there could be.