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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of paying attention in school from the real IELTS exam.

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Dave

IELTS Essay: Paying Attention in School

Many students find it difficult to pay attention at school.

What are the reasons for this?

What could be done to solve this problem?

Many students these days find it increasingly difficult to pay attention during lessons. In my opinion, this is partly a natural reaction that has been exacerbated by technology and the solutions lie in school reform.

Students struggle to stay engaged both due to a natural predisposition and the pervasive impact of screen time. Students throughout history have always wanted to escape their school lessons. This is because learning is difficult and provides little pleasure itself relative to both passive and active pastimes like hanging out with friends, watching TV, listening to music, or playing sports. Moreover, the advent of the ubiquitous internet era and portable devices such as smartphones has had an exponential effect on attention spans and diversionary priorities. Most students today are addicted to short videos and posts on social media networks and therefore struggle to follow the intricate arguments of lengthy lectures and extended readings.

On a small scale, individuals can remedy these problems through sheer willpower but for broader change schools must play an active role. The most immediate fix would be to ban phones. This is difficult since phones serve practical purposes such as allowing students to call their parents or book a ride home, but they could be taken at the beginning of the day and returned when school finishes. Another step schools could take would be to modernise the curriculum and account for reduced attention spans. Lessons could be shorter and could include more interactivity in order to stimulate learning, rather than the passive learning environment that has led to daydreaming students for generations.

In conclusion, although this trend is likely an irreversible part of human nature and progress, schools can implement changes to curb its effects. It is important for parents and governments to be supportive of such reforms as well.

Analysis

1. Many students these days find it increasingly difficult to pay attention during lessons. 2. In my opinion, this is partly a natural reaction that has been exacerbated by technology and the solutions lie in school reform.

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

1. Students struggle to stay engaged both due to a natural predisposition and the pervasive impact of screen time. 2. Students throughout history have always wanted to escape their school lessons. 3. This is because learning is difficult and provides little pleasure itself relative to both passive and active pastimes like hanging out with friends, watching TV, listening to music, or playing sports. 4. Moreover, the advent of the ubiquitous internet era and portable devices such as smartphones has had an exponential effect on attention spans and diversionary priorities. 5. Most students today are addicted to short videos and posts on social media networks and therefore struggle to follow the intricate arguments of lengthy lectures and extended readings.

  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. Switch to a second reason.
  5. Develop it fully.

1. On a small scale, individuals can remedy these problems through sheer willpower but for broader change schools must play an active role. 2. The most immediate fix would be to ban phones. 3. This is difficult since phones serve practical purposes such as allowing students to call their parents or book a ride home, but they could be taken at the beginning of the day and returned when school finishes. 4. Another step schools could take would be to modernise the curriculum and account for reduced attention spans. 5. Lessons could be shorter and could include more interactivity in order to stimulate learning, rather than the passive learning environment that has led to daydreaming students for generations.

  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 or switch to a related solution.
  5. Develop this one fully.

1. In conclusion, although this trend is likely an irreversible part of human nature and progress, schools can implement changes to curb its effects. 2. It is important for parents and governments to be supportive of such reforms as well.

  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.

Many students these days find it increasingly difficult to pay attention during lessons. In my opinion, this is partly a natural reaction that has been exacerbated by technology and the solutions lie in school reform.

Students struggle to stay engaged both due to a natural predisposition and the pervasive impact of screen time. Students throughout history have always wanted to escape their school lessons. This is because learning is difficult and provides little pleasure itself relative to both passive and active pastimes like hanging out with friends, watching TV, listening to music, or playing sports. Moreover, the advent of the ubiquitous internet era and portable devices such as smartphones has had an exponential effect on attention spans and diversionary priorities. Most students today are addicted to short videos and posts on social media networks and therefore struggle to follow the intricate arguments of lengthy lectures and extended readings.

On a small scale, individuals can remedy these problems through sheer willpower but for broader change schools must play an active role. The most immediate fix would be to ban phones. This is difficult since phones serve practical purposes such as allowing students to call their parents or book a ride home, but they could be taken at the beginning of the day and returned when school finishes. Another step schools could take would be to modernise the curriculum and account for reduced attention spans. Lessons could be shorter and could include more interactivity in order to stimulate learning, rather than the passive learning environment that has led to daydreaming students for generations.

In conclusion, although this trend is likely an irreversible part of human nature and progress, schools can implement changes to curb its effects. It is important for parents and governments to be supportive of such reforms as well.

Answers

these days nowadays

increasingly difficult harder

pay attention focus, concentrate

partly somewhat

exacerbated made worse

solutions lie in remedies include

school reform changes to schools

stay engaged pay attention

natural predisposition normal inclination

pervasive throughout

screen time spending time on phones, computers

escape get away from

provides little pleasure itself doesn’t make you happy on your own

relative to compared to

passive not active

active pastimes not passive activities

advent beginning of

ubiquitous common

internet era online

portable devices smartphones, tablets, etc.

exponential effect gets worse and worse quickly

attention spans amount of time you can focus

diversionary priorities paying attention to other things

addicted can’t stop using

struggle have difficulty with

intricate arguments complex discussions

lengthy lectures long talks

extended readings long texts

small scale not applying to many people

remedy fix

sheer willpower just not doing it

broader common

play an active role not a passive part

most immediate fix fastest remedy

ban can’t use anymore

serve practical purposes real reasons to do it

book a ride home use a ride-hailing app

taken not allowed to keep

returned given back

modernise make modern and new

curriculum what is studied in school

account for pay attention to

interactivity not a passive experience

stimulate make more interesting

rather than instead of

passive learning environment not active classes

daydreaming imagining

generations many years

irreversible can’t be changed

progress moving forward

implement changes make reforms

curb slow down

supportive helpful

reforms changes

Pronunciation

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

ðiːz deɪz 
ɪnˈkriːsɪŋli ˈdɪfɪkəlt 
peɪ əˈtɛnʃ(ə)n 
ˈpɑːtli 
ɛksˈæsə(ː)beɪtɪd 
səˈluːʃənz laɪ ɪn 
skuːl ˌriːˈfɔːm
steɪ ɪnˈgeɪʤd 
ˈnæʧrəl ˌpriːdɪspəˈzɪʃən 
pɜːˈveɪsɪv 
skriːn taɪm
ɪsˈkeɪp 
prəˈvaɪdz ˈlɪtl ˈplɛʒər ɪtˈsɛlf 
ˈrɛlətɪv tuː 
ˈpæsɪv 
ˈæktɪv ˈpɑːstaɪmz 
ˈædvənt 
ju(ː)ˈbɪkwɪtəs 
ˈɪntəˌnɛt ˈɪərə 
ˈpɔːtəbl dɪˈvaɪsɪz 
ˌɛkspəˈnɛnʃ(ə)l ɪˈfɛkt 
əˈtɛnʃ(ə)n spænz 
daɪˈvɜːʃəneəri praɪˈɒrɪtiz
əˈdɪktɪd 
ˈstrʌgl 
ˈɪntrɪkɪt ˈɑːgjʊmənts 
ˈlɛŋθi ˈlɛkʧəz 
ɪksˈtɛndɪd ˈriːdɪŋz
smɔːl skeɪl
ˈrɛmɪdi 
ʃɪə ˈwɪlˌpaʊə 
ˈbrɔːdə 
pleɪ ən ˈæktɪv rəʊl
məʊst ɪˈmiːdiət fɪks 
bæn 
sɜːv ˈpræktɪkəl ˈpɜːpəsɪz 
bʊk ə raɪd həʊm
ˈteɪkən 
rɪˈtɜːnd 
ˈmɒdənaɪz 
kəˈrɪkjʊləm 
əˈkaʊnt fɔː 
ˌɪntərˈæktɪvɪti
ˈstɪmjʊleɪt 
ˈrɑːðə ðæn 
ˈpæsɪv ˈlɜːnɪŋ ɪnˈvaɪərənmənt 
ˈdeɪˌdriːmɪŋ 
ˌʤɛnəˈreɪʃənz
ˌɪrɪˈvɜːsəbl 
ˈprəʊgrəs
ˈɪmplɪmənt ˈʧeɪnʤɪz 
kɜːb 
səˈpɔːtɪv 
ˌriːˈfɔːmz 

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:

Many students t____________s find it i_____________________t to p________________n during lessons. In my opinion, this is p________y a natural reaction that has been e_______________d by technology and the s__________________n s______________m.

Students struggle to s_____________d both due to a n____________________n and the p_______________e impact of s______________e. Students throughout history have always wanted to e__________e their school lessons. This is because learning is difficult and p____________________________f r_____________o both p_________e and a___________________s like hanging out with friends, watching TV, listening to music, or playing sports. Moreover, the a_______t of the u_______________s i______________a and p________________s such as smartphones has had an e___________________t on a_________________s and d_________________________s. Most students today are a_____________d to short videos and posts on social media networks and therefore s_________e to follow the i_________________________s of l____________________s and e______________________s.

On a s________________e, individuals can r_________y these problems through s____________________r but for b_____________r change schools must p________________________e. The m______________________x would be to b___n phones. This is difficult since phones s___________________________s such as allowing students to call their parents or b_________________e, but they could be t__________n at the beginning of the day and r______________d when school finishes. Another step schools could take would be to m______________e the c______________m and a_______________r reduced attention spans. Lessons could be shorter and could include more i_______________y in order to s_____________e learning, r____________n the p______________________t that has led to d__________________g students for g______________s.

In conclusion, although this trend is likely an i_______________e part of human nature and p___________s, schools can i______________________s to c______b its effects. It is important for parents and governments to be s_______________e of such r__________s as well.

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/2014/05/how-i-teach-history/361459/

Speaking Practice

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

School Subjects

  1. What courses or subjects do you think will be added into high schools?
  2. What courses or subjects will be helpful in future work?
  3. Is it more effective to read online than in a book?
  4. What do students do after school in your country? 
  5. Do you think students should choose subjects they like?

Writing Practice

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

Some today argue that schools are no longer necessary because children can learn so much from the internet and be educated at home.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?


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