IELTS Writing, Task 1, Task 2

The importance of ADJECTIVES in the IELTS exam (Part 1)

This article will focus on giving advice and exercises to help you understand and use adjectives. In the exam in order to reach a level 7 or above you need to try and be as precise and clear as you can, while maintaining a high level of accuracy. But perhaps above all, it is important to show you have a range of vocabulary. One way this can be done is to make sure you use a wide variety of adjectives, appropriately and accurately. Below are some suggestions and exercises to help you achieve this aim.

Here are the level 6-8 band descriptors for ‘lexical resources’ for the writing tasks.

Level 6


uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task


attempts to use less common vocabulary
but with some inaccuracy


makes some errors
in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication


 

Level 7

Level 8


uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility and precision


uses less common lexical items
with some awareness of
style and collocation


may produce occasional errors
in word choice, spelling
and/or word formation


uses a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly to convey precise meanings


skilfully uses
uncommon lexical items but there may be
occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation


produces rare errors
in spelling and/or word formation

 


As you can see from the above, you need to try and be as precise and clear as you can, while maintaining a high level of accuracy. But perhaps above all, it is important to show you have a range of vocabulary. One way this can be done is to make sure you use a wide variety of adjectives, appropriately and accurately. Here are some suggestions and exercises to help you achieve this aim.

1. Don’t overuse common adjectives.

Adjectives like ‘good’ and ‘big’ are safe but if you want to show your lexical range you need to find less common synonyms which express the type of goodness or size more precisely than the general common adjective.

Warning: synonyms express similar meanings not identical meanings. Only use a more precise term for a general adjective when you are sure that the new term is suitable for the given context.

Exercise 1

Replace the common adjective in bold with a synonym from the box below that more exactly matches the intended meaning. Note that two of the options in the box will not be needed, You will also need to change ‘a’ to ‘an’ in some sentences.

1. Good programmers should have no problem in dealing with this kind of problem.

2. The quality of service in that hotel has always been very good.

3. They made me a good offer, but I decided not to accept the position.

4. The hotels rooms are big and comfortable.

5. He is big and strong but very gentle.

6. This book is really interesting. I can’t put it down.

7. That’s John Brown. He is an important figure in the organization.

8. He has a very nice personality. I really like him.

9. He made a very bad personal attack on his colleague and had to apologise later.

10. The film was a happy story and I’d love to see it again

 

massive

well-built

first-class

attractive

competent

heart-warming

spacious

engaging

right

outrageous

riveting

leading

 

2. Gradable vs non-gradable adjectives

To express as full a range as possible of adjectives, you need to be able to use gradable adjectives. Gradable adjectives are adjectives which express different degrees of a quality or state. Many common adjectives are gradable and using an appropriate adverbial before the adjective is a good way of exhibit lexical range.

Examples: She’s a pretty good skier ; she’s a really good skier

To return to the first point, synonyms can also be used in place of common adjectives to express more or less of the adjective in question, for example

tiny – big – enormous.

Warning: A common mistake is to make non-gradable adjectives gradable

For example: She is very excellent in her job.

This is incorrect as ‘excellent’ implies top of the scale so the quality in question cannot be further improved.


Exercise 2

Which of the following are possible?




3. Compound adjectives

A compound adjective is an adjective made up of two parts, often joined with a hyphen. Using a few of these can further help to show your lexical range. Note that the second part is often a present or past participle.

Examples: easy-going, tight-fitting, hard-boiled, left-handed

Exercise 3
Join words from the two circles to make compound adjectives.




Exercise 4

The following is a Task 2 essay. Try and guess the missing words. They are all adjectives. The first two or three letters of each are given.

Question:

We have been living in the nuclear age now for over half a century. Since the first atomic bombs were developed, nuclear technology has provided governments with the ability to totally destroy the planet. Yet the technology has been put to positive use as an energy source and in certain areas of medicine.

To what extent is nuclear technology a danger to life on Earth? What are the benefits and risks associated with its use?

Answer:

Nuclear technology has been one of the most widely discussed topics since its appearance. Supporters claim that nuclear power is a vit…… source of energy. On the other hand, opponents point to its des…….. capability and the devastation it brings to the world. In this essay I will discuss both the pros and cons of nuclear technology.

To begin with the benefits of nuclear technology, firstly, scientists claim nuclear technology is an env…..-fri….. energy resource. Among all energy resources it is considered as the cle….. one; unlike the burning of fossil fuels, it doesn’t significantly contribute to glo…. warming or the depletion of the ozone layer. Secondly, many experts claim that it is one of the saf… technologies; in fact in the last 50 years there have not been too many nuclear disasters . Thirdly and finally, nuclear technology helps to maintain world peace. Since World War II there have not been any maj…. conflicts worldwide. Developing countries have become more and more interested in this power source, and are actively exploring its potential. To mention my own country, since the 1970’s India has been researching extensively in the field of nuclear science and has a str….. claim to become a member for the pre……….. Nuclear Supplier Group.

On the other hand, opponents have some pow…. cou… arguments based on the danger it represents to the world. There are two ma… dangers: one is nuclear warfare and the other is the risk of accident If one thinks about Chernobyl, it is easy to understand why people have such worries, as it has caused hu… suffering. In Japan, for example after the recent Fukushima disaster, some antinuclear groups marched on a protest rally to shut down a nuclear plant, powerfully showing the depth of feeling against nuclear power in that country.

In conclusion, I would say that nuclear technology is better than exi…… alternatives. However, because of its capacity for causing cat…….. harm, it needs to be regulated with the utm…… care.


I hope this article has convinced you of the importance of adjectives and of the need to make yourself familiar with a wide range of them. When reading, pay attention to how the writer uses adjectives.

 

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Answers to Exercises

Exercise 1

1. Competent programmers should have no problem in dealing with this kind of problem
2. The quality of service in that hotel has always been first-class.
3. They made me an attractive offer, but I decided not to accept the position.
4. The hotels rooms are spacious and comfortable.
5. He is well-built and strong but very gentle.
6. This book is riveting I can’t put it down.
7. That’s John Brown. He is a leading figure in the organization.
8. He has an engaging personality. I really like him.
9. He made an outrageous personal attack on his colleague and had to apologise later
10. .The film was a heartwarming story and I’d love to see it again


Exercise 2




Exercise 3

Join words from the two circles to make compound adjectives

eye-catching; time-consuming; present-day; long-standing; last-minute; laid-back; one-off; off-peak


Exercise 4

The following is a Task 2 essay. Try and guess the missing words. They are all adjectives. The first two or three letters of each are given.

Nuclear technology has been one of the most widely discussed topics since its appearance. Supporters claim that nuclear power is a vital source of energy. On the other hand, opponents point to its destructive sites and the devastation it brings to the world. In this essay I will discuss both the pros and cons of nuclear technology.

To begin with the benefits of nuclear technology, firstly, scientists claim nuclear technology is an environmentally-friendly energy resource. Among all energy resources it is considered as the cleanest one; unlike the burning of fossil fuels, it doesn’t significantly contribute to global warming or the depletion of the ozone layer. Secondly, many experts claim that it is one of the safest technologies; in fact in the last 50 years there have not been too many nuclear disasters. Thirdly and finally, nuclear technology helps to maintain world peace. Since World War II there have not been any major conflicts worldwide. Developing countries have become more and more interested in this power source, and are actively exploring its potential. To mention my own country, since the 1970’s India has been researching extensively in the field of nuclear science and has a strong claim to become a member for the prestigious Nuclear Supplier Group.

On the other hand, opponents have some powerful counter arguments based on the danger it represents to the world. There are two main dangers: one is nuclear warfare and the other is the risk of accident If one thinks about Chernobyl, it is easy to understand why people have such worries, as it has caused huge suffering. In Japan, for example after the recent Fukushima disaster, some antinuclear groups marched on a protest rally to shut down a nuclear plant, powerfully showing the depth of feeling against nuclear power in that country.

In conclusion, I would say that nuclear technology is better than existing alternatives. However, because of its capacity for causing catastrophic harm, it needs to be regulated with the utmost care.