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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of the benefits and disadvantages of competition in university from the real IELTS exam.

Tricky two-part question!

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Dave

IELTS Essay: Governments Helping

Competition for university study is becoming increasingly strong.

Why are universities becoming more competitive?

Is this a positive or negative development?

In recent decades, there has been a rise in competitive admission rates for universities. In my opinion, this is largely due to improving income equality and is a positive trend on the whole.

The main cause of this phenomenon is a growth in the global middle class. In developed countries, education levels have been rising steadily since the beginning of the 20th century with diminishing returns as countries reach 90% and above. Therefore, the most significant increases now come from the developing world. In particular, Asian and Middle Eastern nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the UAE have seen dramatic growth in per capita income, enabling families to send their children to university domestically or abroad. Coupled with increased tax revenue this allows governments to fund state schools and offer scholarships and grants to less privileged segments of the population. Larger applicant pools from around the world are concomitant with increased competition.

Despite the risk that less affluent families will be left behind, fiercer competition is an overwhelming positive. When a large number of applicants compete for limited number of spots, this motivates each individual to excel. For example, a student applying to Harvard University in the 1950s was competing against a limited number of other applications and could likely rely on wealth and social status to gain acceptance. Nowadays, the acceptance rate is below 5% as students from all over the world strive for a place at Harvard. This means students must work harder to differentiate themselves by taking on more meaningful extracurriculars, receiving higher grades, and writing more insightful college essays. All this hard work in the aggregate translates to personal growth even if they must settle for a lesser university.

In conclusion, rising incomes globally are responsible for increased competitiveness for university education and this clearly benefits both individuals and society. However, it is also important that governments and families mitigate the potentially negative effects of competition.

Analysis

1. In recent decades, there has been a rise in competitive admission rates for universities. 2. In my opinion, this is largely due to improving income equality and is a positive trend on the whole.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. The main cause of this phenomenon is a growth in the global middle class. 2. In developed countries, education levels have been rising steadily since the beginning of the 20th century with diminishing returns as countries reach 90% and above. 3. Therefore, the most significant increases now come from the developing world. 4. In particular, Asian and Middle Eastern nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the UAE have seen dramatic growth in per capita income, enabling families to send their children to university domestically or abroad. 5. Coupled with increased tax revenue this allows governments to fund state schools and offer scholarships and grants to less privileged segments of the population. 6. Larger applicant pools from around the world are concomitant with increased competition.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. Stay focused on the same main idea.
  6. Finish by linking it back to the main idea.

1. Despite the risk that less affluent families will be left behind, fiercer competition is an overwhelming positive. 2. When a large number of applicants compete for limited number of spots, this motivates each individual to excel. 3. For example, a student applying to Harvard University in the 1950s was competing against a limited number of other applications and could likely rely on wealth and social status to gain acceptance. 4. Nowadays, the acceptance rate is below 5% as students from all over the world strive for a place at Harvard. 5. This means students must work harder to differentiate themselves by taking on more meaningful extracurriculars, receiving higher grades, and writing more insightful college essays. 6. All this hard work in the aggregate translates to personal growth even if they must settle for a lesser university.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Continue developing it…
  5. as fully as possible!
  6. Any extra statement of the result will help.

1. In conclusion, rising incomes globally are responsible for increased competitiveness for university education and this clearly benefits both individuals and society. 2. However, it is also important that governments and families mitigate the potentially negative effects of competition.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

In recent decades, there has been a rise in competitive admission rates for universities. In my opinion, this is largely due to improving income equality and is a positive trend on the whole.

The main cause of this phenomenon is a growth in the global middle class. In developed countries, education levels have been rising steadily since the beginning of the 20th century with diminishing returns as countries reach 90% and above. Therefore, the most significant increases now come from the developing world. In particular, Asian and Middle Eastern nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the UAE have seen dramatic growth in per capita income, enabling families to send their children to university domestically or abroad. Coupled with increased tax revenue this allows governments to fund state schools and offer scholarships and grants to less privileged segments of the population. Larger applicant pools from around the world are concomitant with increased competition.

Despite the risk that less affluent families will be left behind, fiercer competition is an overwhelming positive. When a large number of applicants compete for limited number of spots, this motivates each individual to excel. For example, a student applying to Harvard University in the 1950s was competing against a limited number of other applications and could likely rely on wealth and social status to gain acceptance. Nowadays, the acceptance rate is below 5% as students from all over the world strive for a place at Harvard. This means students must work harder to differentiate themselves by taking on more meaningful extracurriculars, receiving higher grades, and writing more insightful college essays. All this hard work in the aggregate translates to personal growth even if they must settle for a lesser university.

In conclusion, rising incomes globally are responsible for increased competitiveness for university education and this clearly benefits both individuals and society. However, it is also important that governments and families mitigate the potentially negative effects of competition.

Answers

recent decades the last 20 or 30 years

rise growth

competitive admission rates harder to get into

largely due to mostly because of

improving income equality people earning more money

positive trend on the whole good overall

phenomenon trend

growth increase

global middle class people around the world earning decent salaries

developed countries rich nations

education levels how much schooling someone has

steadily at regular intervals

20th century 1900-2000

diminishing returns the rates of growth slow

reach 90% and above between 90 and 100%

significant meaningful

developing world poorer parts of the world

seen dramatic growth undergone a lot of positive change

per capita income the amount earned per person

enabling allowing for

domestically in one’s country

abroad in other countries

coupled with combined with

tax revenue money people pay the government

fund state schools give money to government schools

scholarships money for academic excellence

grants money the government gives students that they don’t have to pay back

less privileged segments of the population poorer people

larger applicant pools more total people applying

are concomitant with happen at the same time as a result

despite regardless of

risk threat

less affluent families poorer families

left behind neglected

fiercer more intense

applicants people who apply

motivates encourages

excel do really well

limited contained

applications what you send to apply

rely on depend on

wealth money

social status standing in society

gain acceptance get into

acceptance rate number of people admitted

differentiate separate yourself

taking on join

meaningful extracurriculars good activities outside school

insightful meaningful, smart

in the aggregate combined

translates to means

personal growth individual progress

even if regardless of

settle have to

lesser university not as good school

responsible for it is their duty

clearly benefits definitely good for

mitigate lessens the impact

potentially negative effects possible downsides

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

ˈriːsnt ˈdɛkeɪdz
raɪz 
kəmˈpɛtɪtɪv ədˈmɪʃ(ə)n reɪts 
ˈlɑːʤli djuː tuː 
ɪmˈpruːvɪŋ ˈɪnkʌm i(ː)ˈkwɒlɪti 
ˈpɒzətɪv trɛnd ɒn ðə həʊl
fɪˈnɒmɪnən 
grəʊθ
ˈgləʊbəl ˈmɪdl klɑːs
dɪˈvɛləpt ˈkʌntriz
ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən ˈlɛvlz 
ˈstɛdɪli 
ˈtwɛntɪəθ ˈsɛnʧʊri 
dɪˈmɪnɪʃɪŋ rɪˈtɜːnz 
riːʧ 90% ænd əˈbʌv
sɪgˈnɪfɪkənt 
dɪˈvɛləpɪŋ wɜːld
siːn drəˈmætɪk grəʊθ 
pɜː ˈkæpɪtə ˈɪnkʌm
ɪˈneɪblɪŋ 
dəʊˈmɛstɪk(ə)li 
əˈbrɔːd
ˈkʌpld wɪð 
tæks ˈrɛvɪnjuː 
fʌnd steɪt skuːlz 
ˈskɒləʃɪps 
grɑːnts 
lɛs ˈprɪvɪlɪʤd ˈsɛgmənts ɒv ðə ˌpɒpjʊˈleɪʃən
ˈlɑːʤər ˈæplɪkənt puːlz 
ɑː kənˈkɒmɪtənt wɪð 
dɪsˈpaɪt 
rɪsk 
lɛs ˈæflʊənt ˈfæmɪliz 
lɛft bɪˈhaɪnd
ˈfɪəsə 
ˈæplɪkənts 
ˈməʊtɪveɪts 
ɪkˈsɛl
ˈlɪmɪtɪd 
ˌæplɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)nz
rɪˈlaɪ ɒn 
wɛlθ 
ˈsəʊʃəl ˈsteɪtəs 
geɪn əkˈsɛptəns
əkˈsɛptəns reɪt 
ˌdɪfəˈrɛnʃɪeɪt 
ˈteɪkɪŋ ɒn 
ˈmiːnɪŋfʊl ˌɛkstrəkəˈrɪkjʊləz
ˈɪnsaɪtf(ə)l 
ɪn ði ˈægrɪgɪt 
trænsˈleɪts tuː 
ˈpɜːsnl grəʊθ 
ˈiːvən ɪf 
ˈsɛtl 
ˈlɛsə ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsɪti
rɪsˈpɒnsəbl fɔː
ˈklɪəli ˈbɛnɪfɪts 
ˈmɪtɪgeɪt 
pəʊˈtɛnʃəli ˈnɛgətɪv ɪˈfɛkts 

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

In r_________________s, there has been a r___e in c__________________________s for universities. In my opinion, this is l_________y d_______o i__________________________y and is a p_______________________________e.

The main cause of this p________________n is a g________h in the g_______________________s. In d_________________s, e_________________s have been rising s__________y since the beginning of the 2____________y with d______________________s as countries r_____________________e. Therefore, the most s______________t increases now come from the d________________d. In particular, Asian and Middle Eastern nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the UAE have s___________________h in p_______________e, e__________g families to send their children to university d_______________y or a_______d. C________________h increased t__________e this allows governments to f__________________s and offer s_______________s and g_______s to l_________________________________________n. L_________________s from around the world a_______________________h increased competition.

D_________e the r___k that l____________________s will be l___________d, f____________r competition is an overwhelming positive. When a large number of a____________s compete for limited number of spots, this m__________s each individual to e_______l. For example, a student applying to Harvard University in the 1950s was competing against a l_______d number of other a____________s and could likely r________n w______h and s____________s to g___________________e. Nowadays, the a________________e is below 5% as students from all over the world s_______e for a place at Harvard. This means students must work harder to d_____________e themselves by t_________n more m_____________________s, receiving higher grades, and writing more i____________l college essays. All this hard work i_____________________e t____________o p_______________h e_________f they must s_______e for a l_____________y.

In conclusion, rising incomes globally are r___________________r increased competitiveness for university education and this c______________________s both individuals and society. However, it is also important that governments and families m__________e the p________________________s of competition.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic in the video below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/04/is-college-really-harder-to-get-into-than-it-used-to-be/360114/

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Writing Practice

Practice with the same basic topic below and then check with my sample answer:

Full-time university students spend a lot of time studying. Some say they should do other activities too.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?


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