Introduction

In this tutorial, we examine an important IELTS skill for starting IELTS Writing Task 2: paraphrasing.

Firstly, let’s start by defining paraphrasing.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is the expression of another phrase or sentence in another way.

For example, the sentence

‘’The school student listened attentively to the podcast’’

can be paraphrased as:

‘’The pupil listened very carefully to the digital audio file’’.

This technique is used frequently in the writing, reading and listening components of the IELTS exam.

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Why is paraphrasing important in the IELTS Writing Task 2?

Paraphrasing is important because it:

  • helps you to focus on the Main Topic, using your own words
  • provides you with the skill to develop an idea, reformulate a concept and offer variety in your writing style
  • prevents redundancy and makes the essay or written material more appealing to the reader

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Strategy

In this tutorial, let’s review paraphrasing techniques to apply in Writing Task 2 of the IELTS exam.

We’ll examine three principle paraphrasing strategies:

Use of synonyms

Verb transformation

Sentence restructuring

Secondly, we will apply these techniques to examples of Writing Task 2 in the IELTS exam. Writing skills in this component of the exam include:

  • giving an opinion
  • discussing causes and suggesting solutions
  • discussing arguments for or against an idea or situation
  • discussing advantages and disadvantages

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Strategy 1: Use of synonyms

Let’s start with our first strategy: the use of synonyms.

First, read and understand the question.

Use a highlighter to highlight the key words in the question.

Select synonyms to replace those keywords.

Let’s take an example. Read and understand the title of this Writing Task 2:

Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty-five hours?

This essay title asks the writer to provide the advantages and disadvantages of an idea or solution.

In your opening introduction, you should not immediately provide an opinion on the essay topic.

Instead, paraphrase two sentences, using our 3-step strategy.

First, read and understand the question:

Unemployment is one of the most serious problems for developed nations.

A 35-hour working week is a possible solution to unemployment.

Use a pen to highlight or underline the key words in the question:

Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty-five hours?

Select synonyms to replace those keywords.

unemployment = lack of jobs

serious problems = grave issues

developed nations = industrialized countries

advantages and/or disadvantages = pros and/or cons

working week = professional schedule

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Strategy 2: Verb transformation

Let’s take the same essay topic example and apply our second strategy to it: Verb transformation.

In this strategy, we:

Highlight the key verbs

Select new verbs or synonyms OR transform the verb

Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty-five hours?

Facing = confronting

Reducing = lessening

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Strategy 3: Sentence restructuring

Let’s apply our third strategy to the same essay topic. Sentence restructuring is using a new sentence format, based on the writing skill. In this example, the writer is expected to explain the advantages and / or disadvantages or an idea. The sentence

What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty-five hours?

Can be paraphrased as

Let’s examine the pros and/or cons of …

Let’s look at the pros and/or cons of …

Okay! Let’s now put our 3 strategies together to write sentences with our new synonyms to create an introduction:

Lack of jobs is indeed a grave issue confronting industrialized countries at this time. Let’s examine the pros and/or cons of lessening professional schedules to thirty-five hours.

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In this part, we’ll take a look at more examples of IELTS Writing Task 2.

Firstly, we’ll take an example of a common essay writing skill, discussing causes and suggesting solutions. Let’s look at the example and then, apply our 3-step paraphrasing strategy to write an introduction.

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Nowadays, many schools are using computer games to teach lessons to many children inside and outside the classroom. What are the negative and positive effects of using computer games in education and what can be done to minimize the negative effects?

Strategy 1: Use of synonyms

Let’s start with our first strategy: the use of synonyms.

First, read and understand question:

Schools use computer games to teach lessons to many children

These lessons are done inside and outside the classroom

Write about the negative and positive effects of computer games on education

Provide solutions to minimize the negative effects

Use a highlighter to highlight the key words in the question:

Nowadays, many schools are using computer games to teach lessons to many children inside and outside the classroom. What are the negative and positive effects of using computer games on education and what can be done to minimize the negative effects?

IELTS Writing Task 2 Rough Copy

Select synonyms to replace those keywords.

nowadays = in modern times

schools = academic institutions

computer games = electronic activities and exercises

lessons = courses

inside and outside the classroom = at school and at home

negative and positive effects = good and bad impacts

education = academic development

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Strategy 2: Verb transformation

Let’s take the same essay topic example and apply our second strategy to it: Verb transformation.

In this strategy, we:

Highlight the key verbs

Nowadays, many schools are using computer games to teach lessons to many children inside and outside the classroom. What are the negative and positive effects of using computer games on education and what can be done to minimize the negative effects?

Select new verbs or synonyms OR transform the verb

using = employing

teach = instruct

can be done = solution

minimize = reduce

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Strategy 3: Sentence restructuring

Let’s apply our third strategy to the same essay topic. Sentence restructuring is the skills of applying a new sentence format, based on the writing objective required. In this example, the writer is expected to outline both the negative and positive effects of using computer games on education. The sentence

What are the negative and positive effects of using computer games on education?

Can be restructured into an answer format:

In this essay, I will outline the bad and good impacts of employing electronic activities and exercises on academic development.

The second question

What can be done to minimize the negative effects?

can be transformed to:

I will also examine solutions to reducing the bad impacts of electronic activities.

Okay! We are now ready to put our introduction together, using our 3-step strategy:

In modern times, many academic institutions are employing electronic activities and exercises to instruct courses to children both at school and at home. In this essay, I will outline the bad and good impacts of employing electronic activities and exercises on academic development.

I will also examine solutions to reducing the bad impacts of these electronic activities.

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Additional IELTS Resources:

Looking to pass IELTS fast? Need to retake the exam? Tired of wasting money on “preparation courses”? Feeling a little confused searching online? Check out this unique IELTS course that includes the exam knowledge you need to pass while giving you feedback on your IELTS essays.

If you have your exam in a few months, then you may be interested in getting feedback for your essay writing, the best way is to find a professional essay correction service, or find a tutor.

Whether you are taking the General or Academic module, I would strongly recommend looking at sample answers, this way you can compare your writing and see what is missing. You can find sample essays for the general module here, and questions / diagrams for the academic component here. Another valuable resource / technique is to compare your work with existing essays, this page has a massive range of sample essays.

If you struggle starting IELTS Writing Task 2 (so many students have this problem!), or if you can’t find ideas for Task 2, then this tutorial will help. Alternatively you might be interested in boosting your lexical resource by upgrading your vocabulary, this page explains how to do just that.