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Ideas for IELTS essays

This is a brief video lesson on ideas for IELTS essays. It’s goal is to show you three things. The first is that you do not need many ideas to write an IELTS essay. The second is to show you how you should use your ideas to structure your IELTS essay. The third is simply to explain that it is the quality of your language and not the quality of your ideas that matters in IELTS

Think first

Before you listen, think about these questions:

  1. How many ideas do you need in an IELTS essay?
  2. Where are those ideas in your essay?
  3. Which matters most? The clarity of your ideas or the clarity of your language?

Listen, watch and think


For my Chinese viewers (especially Lisa)

Tudou version of the video (If its in the wrong place sorry. My mandarin isn’t that good yet)


What did you learn?

If you cannot get the answers immediately, leave me a comment and I shall re-record myself!

  1. How many ideas do you really need for an IELTS essay?
  2. Where are those ideas in your essay?
  3. Which is more important, the clarity of your language to express those ideas or the quality of your ideas?


Look at this sample essay and find the two most important idea/sentences. It should take you 5 seconds. Then look at one of your essays and see if you can do the same. If you can, you are on the right track.

Find the sentences

There is no doubt that the massive increase in the worldʼs population in the last 100 years has created a crisis. In order to find a solution to this crisis, politicians need to deal with not only the immediate problems, but also the long-term causes if they want to rescue humanity. Finding the right policies is not an easy task as it is a complex problem.

The first step is to recognise what the consequences of overpopulation are. Only by doing this can we find an appropriate solution. Perhaps its most important effect is the increased rate at which we are consuming the Earthʼs resources such as oil. To combat this, governments need to do more research on alternative and renewable energy supplies so that we do not use up all the oil reserves. Another negative effect of overpopulation is how some countries suffer from a lack of basic necessities such as food. Here, an answer could be greater international co-operation so that countries with a food surplus donate what they do not need to the less fortunate countries.

It is not quite so easy to decide how governments should deal with the causes of overpopulation. The Chinese have adopted legislation that requires parents to pay a special tax if they have more than one child. I doubt, however, whether this solution is realistic in other countries. Another option would be to improve levels of sex education by explaining the difficulties caused by having too many children.Promoting contraception though may be problematic in many regions on cultural and religious grounds.

In conclusion, while it may be possible to find ways to address some of the consequences of overpopulation by international co-operation, it is harder to find policies to deal with its causes. It might be that the only way forward is for different countries to adopt policies that work within their particular culture.

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11 Responses to Ideas for IELTS essays

  1. janice July 21, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    THANKS TEACHER for giving a simple but effective video ..!!~

  2. Anas September 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Dear dominic

    If IELTS need the quality of language only, then in the band descriptor for IELTS, why do they ask for a “to the point answer(s)” to the question(s)? this mean, ofcourse, we have to generate the idea(s) those which are inline with the question(s), nevertheless, they do mark the to the point and logical idea(s).

    Am i misunderstanding your explanation?


    • Dominic Cole December 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

      They don’t mark quality of ideas as such. All you need are ideas that are relevant to the question. The need for ideas that are relevant to the question is important to prevent people from rote learning essays.

    • Lekha January 17, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Yes we have to but i think this advice will help in such essays when we dont have proper knowledge about the given essay in that situation you may represent your ideas with good language

  3. Amna November 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    The link, for sentences, is not working.

    • Dominic Cole December 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

      I’ll get it fixed. Thanks for letting me know.

  4. Pot February 4, 2012 at 3:30 am #


    Just want to ask what if in the discussion type of question you were presented with two direct questions, are you supposed to answer both questions in one paragraph together with your idea?
    or is it better to answer each question in one paragraph?

    thank you very much.

  5. Phúc Hảo Lê Thị March 25, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Hi, teacher !

    This essay is great. Thanks a lot.

  6. malik ibraheem March 26, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    Let me know about ielts.

  7. prabh virk June 1, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    Dear sir,

    i am from india and recently i am finished my grade +2 in science stream
    even, i want 6 bands in IELTS for my further study in abroad

    I am done 5 tests of IELTS
    and my result was same in every test that was, L 6 R 6 WRI 5 SPE 5.5
    I cannot enhanced my writing score
    so, plz plz plz plz help me…………


    • DD April 2, 2017 at 8:11 am #

      Hello, prabh virk,

      I suppose your question is too general to reply to, and I can totally understand your current mood as a candidate of IELTS, too.

      But without having a look at your essays, no one could give you some effective help.

      And I suggest that you can try to focus on the criterion of writing test, and find the disparity.

      Besides, this website includes many good methods and wonderful ideas which you will benefit from a lot.

      Last but not most important , thanks to Dominic Cole very much.

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