How to learn to generate ideas for writing an essay?

IELTS and TOEFL tests check not only the knowledge of the language, but also your logic, the level of critical thinking, the ability to generalize, argue, and express the point of view.

Generation of ideas, planning and writing Essay are important skills that need to be specifically trained.

Colleagues help students from different countries and cities to prepare for the surcharge of IELTS and TOEFL according to Skype. Often they are treated with such problems and complaints:

  • “Themes are very complicated, I have no ideas”
  • “I don’t know what to write about and in what order”
  • “I can not express the thought”
  • “ Can I pay for essay?”

I know this feeling: a blank sheet, many times reading the task and absolutely nothing goes to mind.

But I am also sure that with planned, regular training you can write an essay on any topic.

Before giving recommendations, I want to comment on the most typical complaints related to writing works.

1. “This is a difficult topic”

All examination themes are adequate to reality. These are the questions with which we face in everyday life, and the arguments “I don’t think about it”, “this topic does not concern me,” “this complex topic” is not accepted.

Education and work, food and health, family and relationships between people, parenting, ecology and environmental protection, crime, purchases and advertising, technology and Internet, transport and travel …

Do not these topics relate to you? We are discussing them, reading about them, and arguing about them every day!

Another thing is that you do not think about how to clearly express your thoughts, do not lay out your considerations on points and not analyze the causes, consequences, advantages and disadvantages. This is to learn.

2. “I don’t know what to write my essay about and in what order”

As I mentioned above, the generation of ideas is just a skill business. Essay has a clear, organized structure and your task is to understand this structure and insert your thoughts into it. Thoughts each time are different corresponding to the topic essay, and the principle is the same.

3. “I don’t know how to express thoughts”

If there are thoughts – it is already good.

Lexik and grammar – this is the second question.

I know that many are scared that their ideas will be too wise, and not enough words to express them in writing. Therefore, these students try to simplify their thoughts, sift really standing (but more complicated) thoughts and as a result do not know what to write about.

Understand what your problem is: in the absence of ideas or in the absence of resources for their description. The second problem is much easier to solve. Even if your level is high, but you do not know what to write – you will not have a high-quality essay.

Therefore, first learn to generate ideas (you can first in your native language), and then look for ways to express them in English.

So what to do if you do not know what to write about if you find it difficult to find ideas for writing an essay? Several tips to help you:

  • Think (differently)

I have no doubt about your mental abilities and what you think regularly. But to write a cool essay, you need to think a little differently, training critical thinking, analyzing the situation and considering it from different sides.

I am sure that you will probably have a formed opinion on many questions and the fact that it remains to learn how to analyze your own opinion.

Start with simple exercises:

Each time you agree with someone or disagree, allocate three (or more) reasons why you support or do not support this opinion.

When you voicate your point of view, allocate several arguments, why others must agree with it.

Think about the problems and paths of their solution, find the advantages and disadvantages of phenomena and items that surround you.

Your task is not only to voice the opinion and your position, but also learn how to argue and justify it.

The same thing is with an essay. After reading the task, you always answer questions:


To What Extent Do You Agree?

Do the Advantages Outweigh The Disadvantages?

What Are the Reasons?

And as soon as you have formed an opinion, answer the question immediately: “Why do I think so?” And write down your ideas, arguments and examples.

  •  Discuss

If no new and fresh ideas appear in your long-suffering head – discuss topics with other people. The side view is always useful.

If you are preparing in the group, then your teacher must initiate discussions when preparing for the essay, where you can exchange views with one-laugures. And in individual classes, the task of the teacher is to discuss the task with you, to help with the choice of arguments, structure.

But when independent preparation is harder to find interested interlocutors.

Discuss the themes of the essay with friends, parents, and close. Ask them to express Opinion, highlight Advantages and Disadvantages, and offer Solutions. To understand you correctly, explain that you are preparing for the exam, and ask you to take time. I think no one will refuse. Discussion is not necessary in English.

Remember, write down all thoughts and after choosing the most successful you use in your essay. Already in English, of course.

  • Read and analyze

You do not learn to write an exam essay if you read the original Shakespeare. Reading posts about the life of the popular instagram blogger will not teach you to cope with the Writing Part. To learn how to write an essay, you need to read – Guess what? – Qualitative examples of essays!

Read and disassemble Model Answers.

If you are engaged with a teacher, he will pick up suitable materials and show you how to analyze them. If you are single – the Internet can help you. On sites there are a lot of writings.

What to do with them? It is important for you to learn how to allocate the main ideas of the author and its arguments, that is, to do reverse action – from the finished essay to the plan, from the plan to the main ideas.

Is it worth memorizing and memorizing other people’s ideas?

I do not think it is effective. You never know what the topic will come to you, so memorizing is not the most reliable option. You need to learn how to generate your ideas, formulate your point of view. Focus on developing this skill in yourself.

The preparation time for that and it is necessary to revise the maximum number of topics that the exam suggests, analyze them. If you do not have time to write an essay in all tasks that you analyze, do you bother to make plans and think about ideas and arguments.

  • Visualize

Most of us are visuals, we perceive the information visually. When we see with our own eyes, clearly, we better remember the data.

If the topic seems abstract or distant from reality, try to imagine this situation: real people who face a problem, put themselves in this situation.

Imagine how people who come to universities like cars pollute the air as large budgets are invested in a study of space, as the jury is sentenced, as children play games on mobile phones …

When you associate yourself with the situation, it is much easier for you to analyze it. Include imagination, do not be afraid to generate any ideas, and then choose from them the most relevant for your task.

5. Write!

If you do not know how to play a violin, you will not learn to play if you look at her, think about her and talk about her. In order to play, you need to play: Practice hours, errors, corrections, and again practice.

Similarly, with an essay: you do not learn to write work if you read, think, visualize and talk about it.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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