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Effective examples versus ineffective examples on your Task 2 essay?

Posted on March 30, 2011 by

Let me offer an analogy regarding the importance of examples: Examples are to an IELTS essay as a tent pole is to a tent. In other words, examples are what hold up an argument in an essay (whether that argument is yours or someone else’s). Without them, an argument simply fails to hold much water and is impossible to prove. Thus to succeed on your IELTS Task 2 essay question, you’ve got to choose effective examples carefully.

So what makes a good example good and a bad example bad?
The answer is simple: (1) Good examples are specific. Bad examples are vague. (2) Good examples demonstrate the argument in action. Bad examples show little connection to the argument at all. (3) Good examples are displayed in a manner that does not disrupt the flow of the writer’s work. Bad examples feel like they have been randomly dropped into the essay.

When it comes to choosing an effective IELTS Task 2 essay example, specific is always the goal. Take the following, for example:

Don’t be ambiguous…
For instance, mobile phone growth in some countries has been dramatic.

Instead try being more specific…
For instance, mobile phone growth in China and India has been dramatic.

Don’t write in a manner that will make your IELTS examiner guess at your meaning…
Cars are the example.

Tell your examiner clearly what the link is between the argument you are trying to support and your evidence…
Cars play a good example here as they are the largest source of carbon emissions in the developing eastern world.

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Model response from video:

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 16.53.50

The two pie charts display the fatality rates of 6 infectious disease categories as percentages of overall infectious disease deaths in Canada in the years 1900 and 1930. The corresponding table outlines the number of deaths due to infectious diseases per 1000 people in Canada for the same years.

Deaths caused by 3 of the 6 infectious disease categories shrunk as percentages of overall infectious disease deaths between the years 1900 and 1930. Diphtheria dropped from 37% to 24%. Typhoid and scarlet fever dropped from 29% to 18% and 9% to 5%, respectively. Measles was the only disease that held a consistent proportion of overall infectious disease deaths at 12%. Whooping cough grew from 11% to 15% and other, non-pandemic diseases swelled from 2% to 26%.

However, the table adds significant context to the above values. It appears as though the overall death rates due to infectious diseases fell tremendously over the period in question. In 1900, 86 out of 1000 people died of infectious diseases in Canada. In 1930, however, this figure was only 32. Thus, because overall death rates from infectious diseases shrunk so dramatically over the 30 years in question, any trends observed between the two pie charts can be assumed less intense than they appear.

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