IELTS Writing Task 2: Avoiding general statements to gain a band 7 or above

I’ve just finished marking some student essays on the advantages and disadvantages of convenience food and have come across these two sentences in one essay. They are undoubtedly well-written but, for this particular student to reach a band 7, there’s room for improvement. Can you spot what that might be?


· Over-consumption of fast food makes our young people overweight.

· As a result of our very busy, modern lifestyles, people are eating convenience food on a daily basis these days.



Any ideas?


Well, in the marking criteria, under task response, it says this under band 7:


presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to overgeneralise and/or supporting ideas may lack focus


In the sentences above, the student is essentially saying that fast food makes ALL our young people overweight and that EVERYONE eats convenience food. These statements are simply not true so, therefore, my student was over-generalising.


How can I avoid over-generalising?


In order to make your written work sound more academic, you need to use what we call ‘hedging language’ to avoid making general statements. Have a look at how I’ve adapted the sentences from earlier:


· Over-consumption of fast food can make our young people overweight.

· As a result of our very busy, modern lifestyles, many people are eating convenience food on a daily basis these days.


The additions (in green text) are tiny, but they make all the difference, ensuring the student’s arguments sound more persuasive and cautious.


A bit more hedging language


Here’s a bit more hedging language, separated into one of five categories:



Next steps


We hope this blog post opened your eyes to the importance of using hedging language to make your essays sound more academic. For more useful tips on this part of the test, watch our IELTS Writing Task 2 Masterclass by clicking here.

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