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Will radio disappear? (I'm stuck at Band 6.5)
Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
May 9, 2012
9:53 pm
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writefix
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A worried candidate sent me this essay to my personal email asking for recommendations and advice  -  the writer is stuck at Band 6.5 in the last two IELTS exams, but wants a higher grade.

I don't reply to essays sent to my personal email, because (1) I don't have time and (2) you can help hundreds of people by putting your essay here and (3) if you comment on other people's essays, I might be inclined to comment on yours.

However, I felt this writer was a bit desperate and needed help. Here's the topic and essay. Feel free to comment -  you won't offend anyone! (Unless of course, the writer wants to claim the essay!)

 


Radio will no longer be able to hold its presence as television and internet media will replace it very soon. Do you agree or disagree? 

In 21st century a lot of things have changed dramatically. Technology has improved to such a large extent that it is rendered our lives to become more convineint and comfortable. Mass media such as radio, television and internet are also one such invention which has influenced human kind immensely. Nowadays, it is observed that radio is becoming less popular when compared to television and internet and this view point is supported. This is analyzed with examples below. 

Until  television became available to common man, radio was the most famous mass media of communication for entertainment and news. However, when television started becoming affordable it started attracting more and more people since television could connect to people with both audio and video. Today raidio is used less, it is mostly used to listen news, sports commentary or songs while driving or when one is in a remote place without access to television or internet. 

One of the most important advantage of televion is being able to watch motion pictures while listening. Other advantages include being able to watch programs of interest. News on television can better affect, provoke and inspire people to react to the situation. For example, tragic event of tsunami in Japan was viewed by many people across the world and people shared their sympathies and offered help to people of Japan. This could not have been achieved so effectively via medium of radio. When entertainment is considered television offers various variety of programs  for different age groups and is considered one o f the interesting medium of pass time. Sports events can be watched live with all actions. Thus, it can be seen that television offers a lot of convenience and comfort of being able to watch programs telecasted at far of countries sitting at home.

Internet is another great invention which hols a ocean of information and can also be very interactive. Through internet once can access news or any entertaining program like movies or songs at the click of a button from anywhere. This medium of internet is also widely used in education since it has the encyclopedia of information. It favors the social media such as facebook , twitter and emails which is most successful medium of communication in present days. The recent political event in Egypt was triggered by Facebook which spread like wild fire. This shows the strength of internet in connecting with people.Through internet once can also learn about new places and take a virtual tour via google earth.  This shows the advantages of Internet over radio.

To sum up, when clearly analyzed the advantages of Television and internet over radio, it becomes evidently clear that radio will no longer be able to hold its presence  as  a mass media of communication. 

May 9, 2012
10:12 pm
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writefix
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Thanks CandidateX for this essay. I’ve analyzed it quickly with two of the Readability tools at the top of this page (under the heading “Useful Links”).

Your essay is 460 words long. This is much too long for IELTS. You are only required to write 250 words.

There is no penalty for writing more, but candidates who go over 330 or 350 words almost always penalize themselves by making more mistakes, by not planning properly, by having too many unnecessary words and ideas, and by not fulfilling the task, which is designed to be accomplished in 250-300 words.

So the first step I would recommend towards a higher band is to write much shorter essays.

The second statistic is that your average sentence length is 18.4 words. This needs to fall dramatically to about 12-15 words per sentence. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Write a few shorter sentences, especially topic sentences. Short means 4-10 words.
  • Break up long sentences into two or three shorter sentences.
  • Have only one idea per sentence
  • Avoid long dependent clauses
  • It’s an opinion essay, not a history or a research paper. Give your opinion in short, clear terms, and don’t give unnecessary background, particularly if this is obvious already.
  • Use shorter vocabulary. Over 18%of your words are complex (long, multi-syllable words).
  • Avoid the passive. Make sentences active
  • Remove all unnecessary vocabulary and phrases
  • Make sure every sentence is relevant to this topic.

Introduction

In your 77 word intro (yes, it’s far too long) you wrote:

In 21st century a lot of things have changed dramatically. Technology has improved to such a large extent that it is rendered our lives to become more convineint and comfortable. Mass media such as radio, television and internet are also one such invention which has influenced human kind immensely. Nowadays, it is observed that radio is becoming less popular when compared to television and internet and this view point is supported. This is analyzed with examples below.

Let’s check the topic again. The topic is radio. But in your intro, two entire sentences (you should have about 20 sentences) are talking about something else -  comfort, convenience. Are we discussing armchairs or fast food, or laser eye surgery?

Yes, perhaps it’s sort of related, technology, yada yada yada. But it’s not the topic. You need to get to the point immediately if you only have 250-300 words.

The last sentence is generic. You could use it in a million essays. Get rid of it, or make it specific

Remove the passive “it is observed”  and the passive “this viewpoint is supported.”  It’s an opinion essay, not a scientific paper. Where is your opinion?

Check for basic errors in agreement and for logic in ideas. How can radio, the television and the internet be one invention?

Here’s a possible rewrite based on your ideas. I’ve added a thesis sentence (a sentence that tells the reader what you are going to do and/or gives your opinon).

Radio is becoming less popular compared to television and internet.  In this essay, I will explain why I think radio will continue to decline.

Paragraph 2

Paragraph 2 is about the history of radio and why it was popular, but there is a very long (24-word) sentence there about television. Paragraph 3 is about television, so what is this television sentence doing here? Is this paragraph really about radio? We don’t know, because there isn’t a nice short topic sentence at the beginning.

You wrote: 

Until  television became available to common man, radio was the most famous mass media of communication for entertainment and news. However, when television started becoming affordable it started attracting more and more people since television could connect to people with both audio and video. Today raidio is used less, it is mostly used to listen news, sports commentary or songs while driving or when one is in a remote place without access to television or internet. 

Let’s focus this paragraph with a topic sentence that tells the reader what this paragraph will be about -  radio.

Radio has some advantages. It’s good for catching up with the news when you are driving or in a remote area. You can listen to music or follow a game while doing something else. It’s not too distracting, it’s free, and it’s available almost everywhere.

Paragraph 3

Your paragraph three is about television. Fine! But do we need 145 words on television? We all know what it is, and the topic is radio, radio, radio, and radio’s inevitable decline.

You wrote:

One of the most important advantage of televion is being able to watch motion pictures while listening. Other advantages include being able to watch programs of interest. News on television can better affect, provoke and inspire people to react to the situation. For example, tragic event of tsunami in Japan was viewed by many people across the world and people shared their sympathies and offered help to people of Japan. This could not have been achieved so effectively via medium of radio. When entertainment is considered television offers various variety of programs  for different age groups and is considered one o f the interesting medium of pass time. Sports events can be watched live with all actions. Thus, it can be seen that television offers a lot of convenience and comfort of being able to watch programs telecasted at far of countries sitting at home.

(145 words, 18.1 words per sentence, 62% passives) 

Let’s change the focus and keep some of the ideas in a much shorter form. Let’s start with a short topic sentence which outlines the paragraph:

But television is far more engaging and interesting than radio. The images and sounds of televised news demand our attention in a way that radio cannot. For example, footage of Japan's tsunami shocked the world, but also inspired people to react and help. Television is also much more entertaining than radio. Films, soap operas, quizzes, game shows, documentaries and sports are just some of the range of programs available in the comfort of our homes.  

(76 words, 5 sentences, 15 word average sentence length, topic sentence, two ideas  -  three would be better -  and supporting information for each one).

Paragraph 4

This paragraph is about the internet. Fine! But remember the essay topic is radio. Compare, contrast, point out the differences, relate all ideas to the topic. Repeat the topic endlessly in your head and make sure every sentence is about the topic.

You wrote: 

Internet is another great invention which hols a ocean of information and can also be very interactive. Through internet once can access news or any entertaining program like movies or songs at the click of a button from anywhere. This medium of internet is also widely used in education since it has the encyclopedia of information. It favors the social media such as facebook , twitter and emails which is most successful medium of communication in present days. The recent political event in Egypt was triggered by Facebook which spread like wild fire. This shows the strength of internet in connecting with people.Through internet once can also learn about new places and take a virtual tour via google earth.  This shows the advantages of Internet over radio.  
126 words, 18 words per sentence, 14% passives.

Let’s put your final sentence from this paragraph at the start as a topic sentence:

However, the internet is an even bigger threat to radio than television. First of all, it’s personal. It allows us to access our choice of news, information and entertainment, whereas radio and television broadcasts are the same for everyone.  Unlike radio, the internet is interactive and social, with applications such as Twitter, Facebook and email. Because of this, the internet also allows us to act together. Recent events in Egypt and the Middle East spread through the internet, rather than old media such as radio or television.   

87 words, 6 sentences, 14.5 words per sentence, no passives. 

Conclusion

Your conclusion is 35 words long in one sentence. That's much too long. There are serious grammar errors and too much repetition of the question prompt.

A conclusion in IELTS should  summarize both sides of your essay, give your opinion and look to the future. And do it in several short sentences.

You wrote:

To sum up, when clearly analyzed the advantages of Television and internet over radio, it becomes evidently clear that radio will no longer be able to hold its presence  as  a mass media of communication

Here’s a possible rewrite:

To sum up, radio is not as interesting or immediate as television, and not as personal and social as the Internet.  I cannot see much of a future for traditional radio stations. Unless they evolve or move to a more Internet-based form, I think radio’s days are numbered.

Overall, you need to write much less, and go through your writing and ideas with a scalpel to remove all the unnecessary words, phrases and ideas. Stick to the topic. Don’t stray. Use short topic sentences at the start of every paragraph. Read and re-read the question. Make every sentence relevant to the topic. Avoid empty phrases and clichés. Your essays will be shorter and simpler, but much more effective.

May 9, 2012
10:34 pm
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writefix
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Here's my full rewrite of the essay above.  

 

One thing I forgot to say is that I like the organization, even though it is an unusual five-paragraph layout -  the writer had one paragraph about radio, and then one each about the internet and television. I also forgot to say that I am am sure the candidate can easily achieve his or her goal next time!

 

Radio will no longer be able to hold its presence as television and internet media will replace it very soon. Do you agree or disagree? 


Radio is becoming less popular compared to television and internet.  In this essay, I will explain why I think radio will continue to decline.

Radio has some advantages. It’s good for catching up with the news when you are driving or in a remote area. You can listen to music or follow a game while doing something else. It’s not too distracting, it’s free, and it’s available almost everywhere.

But television is far more engaging and interesting than radio. The images and sounds of televised news demand our attention in a way that radio cannot. For example, footage of Japan's tsunami shocked the world, but also inspired people to react and help. Television is also much more entertaining than radio. Films, soap operas, quizzes, game shows, documentaries and sports are just some of the range of programs available in the comfort of our homes.  

However, the internet is an even bigger threat to radio than television. First of all, it’s personal. It allows us to access our choice of news, information and entertainment, whereas radio and television broadcasts are the same for everyone.  Unlike radio, the internet is interactive and social, with applications such as Twitter, Facebook and email. Because of this, the internet also allows us to act together. Recent events in Egypt and the Middle East spread through the internet, rather than old media such as radio or television.   

To sum up, radio is not as interesting or immediate as television, and not as personal and social as the Internet.  I cannot see much of a future for traditional radio stations. Unless they evolve or move to a more Internet-based form, I think radio’s days are numbered.

 

279 words, 20 sentences, 13.9 words per sentence, 0% passives

May 10, 2012
8:57 am
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Dongguan, China
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Hey, Enda. You said we should avoid passive sentences, but sometimes I find that only the passives could express what I am trying to say.

Can I use one or two passives in my essays?

May 10, 2012
7:58 pm
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writefix
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Hi Alison

Sure, it's fine to use passives. One or two in your essay is enough though -  remember the descriptors ask for a mix of structures. But we shouldn't use them to hide when we should be giving your opinion, and we shouldn't use them when they don't add anything. So when I see them in an essay, alarm bells go off (or should that be alarm bells are rung?).

No!

  • It has been observed that divorce is on the increase of late in many countries across the globe.

Yes!

  • Divorce is increasing in many countries.

Here's another example:

No!

  • In this essay, the reasons why women are claimed to be better parents than men will be put forward.

Yes!

  • In this essay, I will explain that women make better parents because they listen better and are around more often. 
May 11, 2012
11:20 pm
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March 7, 2012
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Hi Mr.ENda

 

Some teachers really insist on using passive forms instead of active forms. Now I was wondering which one I should use to get higher score in IELTS. Is it true to say that to get band score 8 we should focus on more academic style ? You know that in essays published in Cambridge IELTS books in most cases we can see this style. But I know that by giving our opinions we can save more time that and will be more ensured than other styles as we can focus on convey the meaning. The next question is how can I show various grammars in essay that it is one of the criteria described in IELTS description band score?

May 12, 2012
8:00 am
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writefix
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Hi Brian

The passive is useful and you should use it a few times in your essay. But remember it's an opinion essay, not a scientific research paper. Give your opinion. Use "I."

The reason I am so opposed to using a lot of passives is that many people use it to sound more complicated or to hide a source of an opinion, instead of using it effectively. Here's a correct sentence that I don't like: 

In this essay various solutions have been put forward to solve this problem

It's a generic sentence (a sentence that could be used in many essays, which I hate -  every sentence should be related to the topic) and it hides the doer - who gave these solutions? Who put them forward? Is there someone else in the room?

Why not just say:

  • I have suggested some solutions to the problem of global warming  OR
  • We can solve X by Y, Z, and W.  e.g.
    We can solve global warming by changing our consumption and transport habits and by paying more for finite resources.   

Here are four horrible examples from this forum of writers using the passive because they (or their teachers!) think it sounds better:

  • The argument may be true to some extent, however, a fact may be neglected that an expensive international trip is intended for pleasure rather than cultural development.
  • It is felt that education with broad subjects is likely to benefit student's career prospect in the long term. This will be shown by looking at how such form of education can bring more career options.
  • Job satisfaction is worthwhile being attached more importance by employer.
  • It is only suggested that universities can offer job training programs for graduates.
What do these sentences mean? Someone get me an aspirin! 
Nowhere in the IELTS descriptors does it mention the passive -  it just asks for a variety of structures and error-free sentences. My suggestion is use the passive very rarely, and use it right!
June 22, 2012
10:01 pm
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Hi enda,

 

I read your comments for this essay. Firstly, thank you for beneficial and subtle points about a good opinion essay, then I have a question about the introduction of your full rewrite essay. Why did not you tell both sides in the introduction? Isn't it recommended to state both opinion about the topic in the introduction? What do you think about writing intro like this ( Radio is becoming less popular compared to television and internet. Some elder people, however, have maintained their interest to radio and prefer sound to picture. In this essay, I will explain why I think radio will continue to decline.) ?

June 26, 2012
1:10 pm
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writefix
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Hi Sepand

Thanks for your comments!

You are right. My rewrite of the essay is very one-sided. You could certainly add your suggestion (older people enjoy radio, or radio is still useful in certain situations) but it's not absolutely necessary.

Unless the essay tells you to discuss both sides, then you are free to give one opinion or side. However it's almost inevitable that you will use comparative sentences like this

  • "While radio is very useful when you are driving, it does not have the impact that X has...."
     
  • "I agree that radio is a cheap and effective way of reaching rural populations. But..."
     
  • "Admittedly, older people enjoy radio, but most older people also enjoy television and can even learn to use the internet of mobile phones. A few people preferred listening to records or cassettes, but the industry changed almost overnight to CDs because they were clearer, cheap to produce, and easier to use." 
     
  • "Radio does allow some interaction, such as phone-ins or competitions, but today, when politicians want to explain their policies, television is their first choice"

In this kind of sentence, you begin by admitting or conceding something about the other side, and then you come in with a stronger rebuttal or argument in favor of your side. So although your essay appears to be one-sided, you are in fact mentioning at least some positive features of the other side.

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