Synonym and paraphrasing in IELTS writing task 2.

As I may have mentioned before, the IELTS test, amongst other things, is also a vocabulary test. The criteria for both writing and speaking includes “Lexical Resource”, the ability to use ” vocabulary with full flexibility and precision in all topics” and “idiomatic language naturally and accurately”. One way to demonstrate your wide range of vocabulary is by making extensive use of synonym and paraphrasing in your writing and speech, because of course, if you use the same expressions and vocab every time, you are failing to show the examiner your true abilities.

In speaking, this would include things like, repeating the same language as the question.

“Do you like to visit parks?” “Yes, I like to visit parks because…”

“Do you like to play team sports in your free time?” “Yes, I like to play team sports in my free time because…”

As you see, not much for the examiner to go on there.

In writing, this can be more obvious, depending upon the topic. To illustrate what I mean, and to suggest some alternatives, I will include an example from one of my students. She has kindly given me permission to post her essay in the hope that it may serve as an illustration to others of what not to do, and to show her corrections which she added after our lesson together. I have to say, her subsequent essay was much better. My thanks to her again.

Some people think the recent increase in cheap air travel brings benefits, while other people think it has drawbacks to the environment and the world’s resources.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

“In the past, air travel was the privilege of the rich, while today it is possible for many people to travel around the world by plane because of the prosperous cheap air business. People who benefit from cheap air hold the opinion that cheap air brings great convenience to our daily lives, whilst other people argue that it is wasteful of precious energy. In this essay I will explain the convenience and damages, followed by a reasoned conclusion after comparison.

Travelling is one of the most significant and meaningful activities in modern life, and cheap air makes people travel more freely. On the one hand, travellers can enjoy a high quality journey which is time-saving and human-friendly without having an expensive burden. As well as this, it contributes to communication between relatives and friends who live oceans apart. Compared with the train and the bus, cheap air offers more opportunities to visit family members, especially for those people who work in remote places and have fewer holidays.

However, we have to know that cheap air comes with an environmental cost. Cheap air consumes tremendous amounts of petrol which is a significant but limited fossil energy. Some eco-friendly organizations advise that fossil energy is so precious that it should be applied in necessary domains such as military, industry, or agriculture, instead of travel. There is a survey conducted by Oxford University which suggests that the fossil energy in the Earth might be consumed by mankind in only 200 years, if the cheap air develops continually, it might run out more quickly.

Both of the two sides are reasonable, but in my opinion, I tend to follow the first one. Although the fossil energy is running out, we should have confidence that our scientists would find new replacement energy sources, like wind power, water power and solar power. In addition to this, a high quality of life is the general goal of human beings, we cannot ignore the demands of travel. To conclude, cheap air is a great innovation and its potential risk could be avoided.”

Do you notice anything? The words “cheap air” repeated 9 times and “fossil energy” repeated 4 times. This makes the essay a little tedious to read and also misses some good opportunities to show the examiner a nice, wide range of vocabulary. So what can we do? Well, look at the rewritten version of the essay, which she wrote after some coaxing and liberal thesaurus use.

“In the past, air travel was the privilege of the rich, while today it is possible for most people to travel around the world by plane because of the increase in availability of  cheap air transport. People who benefit from cheap flights hold the opinion that this brings great convenience to ordinary life, whilst other people argue that it is wasteful of precious energy. In this essay I will explain the convenience of free movement, and how it has a negative impact on the environment, follow a reasoned conclusion after comparison.

Travelling is one of the most significant and meaningful activities in modern life, and inexpensive flights allow people to travel more freely. On the one hand, travellers can enjoy a high quality journey which is time-saving and human-friendly without an expensive burden. On the other hand, it contributes to communication between relatives and friends who live oceans apart. Compared with the train and bus, low price airlines offers more opportunity to visit family members, especially for some people who work in remote places and have fewer holidays.

However, we have to know that budget flights come with a environmental cost, which consumes tremendous amounts of petrol which is a limited form of energy. Some eco-friendly organizations advise that fuel oil is so precious that it should be applied in necessary domains such as military, industry, or agriculture, instead of travel. There is a survey conducted by Oxford University that suggests that the petrol deposits in the Earth could be consumed by mankind in less than 200 years, if the budget airline business develops continually, it might run out more quickly.

Both of the two sides are reasonable, but in my opinion, I tend to follow the first one. Although fossil energy is running out, we should have confidence that our scientists would find new replacement sources of energy, like wind power, water power and solar power. In addition to which, the high quality of life is the general goal of human beings , we cannot ignore the demands of travel. To conclude, low cost flying  is a great innovation and its potential risks can be avoided.”

I hope you will agree that the rewritten essay, while not perfect, is much better and more interesting to read as a result of its liberal use of synonym and paraphrase. To recap, the changed vocabulary is listed below.

Synonyms and paraphrase = Cheap air transport

                                                     Cheap flights

                                                     Inexpensive flights

                                                     Low price airlines

                                                     Budget flights

                                                     Budget airline business

                                                     Low cost flying

                                                     Fuel oil

                                                     Petrol deposits

                                                     Fossil energy

                                                     Form of energy

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