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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of focusing in single subjects in school after the age of 15 or studying a more diverse curriculum.

This one was tricky for me because I knew what I wanted to write but it was hard to structure it and make the ideas clear.

Be sure to check out my online courses here and my correction service here.

Dave

Listen to the audio and take notes before reading for some extra practice:

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer Essay: Focus on Single Subjects

Some educational systems make students study specialised subjects from the age of fifteen while others require students to study a wide range.

Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.

Real Past IELTS Exam

Many educational reformers today incline towards a narrower curriculum for students 15 and older. In my opinion, while this is part of a decidedly modern movement for early specialisation, a wide range of knowledge serves as a basis for more well-adjusted adults.

Limiting subjects from the age of 15 onwards can allow for greater focus. It is not uncommon for many children to choose one musical instrument or participate in a single sport from the beginning of grade school. The rationale is that more time spent in one domain inevitably leads to mastery and this is supported by research into the importance of practice for elite performers. There are many famous examples of individuals who focused from their teenage years onwards and found success such as The Beatles’ band members with music and Steve Jobs with computer technology. Fewer subjects after age 15 is therefore one way to safeguard a child’s future.

However, the famous examples above are belied by the bulk of research that shows, for the majority of individuals, a wide range of skills and interests is a better predictor of future success. Studies have overwhelmingly shown that varied skills allow for increased creativity and a more even temperament. The average high school student must study obviously useful subjects such as math and various disciplines of science but also take music, art, home economics, and choose their own electives. They may never become professional musicians but opening up that side of their brain can help them be more creative in another field and feel their education is well-rounded. Without dabbling in these allegedly useless subjects they might feel harnessed to a single career and purpose, unable to exercise autonomy over their own life.

In conclusion, studying a range of subjects after the age of 15 leads to better results in general. A complete syllabus furnishes happier individual citizens and contributes to a richer overall society.

Analysis

1. Many educational reformers today incline towards a narrower curriculum for students 15 and older. 2. In my opinion, while this is part of a decidedly modern movement for early specialisation, a wide range of knowledge serves as a basis for more well-adjusted adults.

  1. Paraphrase the overall topic of the essay.
  2. Write a clear opinion.

1. Limiting subjects from the age of 15 onwards can allow for greater focus. 2. It is not uncommon for many children to choose one musical instrument or participate in a single sport from the beginning of grade school. 3. The rationale is that more time spent in one domain inevitably leads to mastery and this is supported by research into the importance of practice for elite performers. 4. There are many famous examples of individuals who focused from their teenage years onwards and found success such as The Beatles’ band members with music and Steve Jobs with computer technology. 5. Fewer subjects after age 15 is therefore one way to safeguard a child’s future.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a single main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop the argument – focus on the one main idea.
  4. Use examples for further support.
  5. Relate back to the overall topic.

1. However, the famous examples above are belied by the bulk of research that shows, for the majority of individuals, a wide range of skills and interests is a better predictor of future success. 2. Studies have overwhelmingly shown that varied skills allow for increased creativity and a more even temperament. 3. The average high school student must study obviously useful subjects such as math and various disciplines of science but also take music, art, home economics, and choose their own electives. 4. They may never become professional musicians but opening up that side of their brain can help them be more creative in another field and feel their education is well-rounded. 5. Without dabbling in these allegedly useless subjects they might feel harnessed to a single career and purpose, unable to exercise autonomy over their own life.

  1. Another topic sentence with a new main idea.
  2. Explain your main idea – here I use research as support.
  3. Begin an example – my example here is hypothetical.
  4. Develop that example.
  5. Finish developing that example and state any results.

1. In conclusion, studying a range of subjects after the age of 15 leads to better results in general. 2. A complete syllabus furnishes happier individual citizens and contributes to a richer overall society.

  1. Repeat your opinion.
  2. Add in a final thought/detail for full marks from the IELTS examiner.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

Many educational reformers today incline towards a narrower curriculum for students 15 and older. In my opinion, while this is part of a decidedly modern movement for early specialisation, a wide range of knowledge serves as a basis for more well-adjusted adults.

Limiting subjects from the age of 15 onwards can allow for greater focus. It is not uncommon for many children to choose one musical instrument or participate in a single sport from the beginning of grade school. The rationale is that more time spent in one domain inevitably leads to mastery and this is supported by research into the importance of practice for elite performers. There are many famous examples of individuals who focused from their teenage years onwards and found success such as The Beatles’ band members with music and Steve Jobs with computer technology. Fewer subjects after age 15 is therefore one way to safeguard a child’s future.

However, the famous examples above are belied by the bulk of research that shows, for the majority of individuals, a wide range of skills and interests is a better predictor of future success. Studies have overwhelmingly shown that varied skills allow for increased creativity and a more even temperament. The average high school student must study obviously useful subjects such as math and various disciplines of science but also take music, art, home economics, and choose their own electives. They may never become professional musicians but opening up that side of their brain can help them be more creative in another field and feel their education is well-rounded. Without dabbling in these allegedly useless subjects they might feel harnessed to a single career and purpose, unable to exercise autonomy over their own life.

In conclusion, studying a range of subjects after the age of 15 leads to better results in general. A complete syllabus furnishes happier individual citizens and contributes to a richer overall society.

Answers

educational reformers people who want to make changes to schools

incline towards are in favour of

narrower curriculum fewer subjects

decidedly modern movement clearly new thinking about

early specialisation focusing on one/a few subjects from a young age

wide range lots of different, variety

serves as a basis a foundation for

well-adjusted adults normal people

limiting narrowing

onwards from then to the future

greater focus more emphasis

It is not uncommon for it is common for

grade school from grades 1 -12

rationale reason for

one domain one subject/area

inevitably leads to mastery always will result in becoming an expert

elite performers experts, masters

found success be successful

The Beatles’ band members Paul, John, George, and Ringo

safeguard guarantee

belied undermined

bulk most of

majority most of

better predictor shows more accurate predictions/estimates

overwhelmingly shown clearly evidenced

increased creativity can think of more ideas

more even temperament not too emotional

obviously useful subjects clearly practical areas of study

various disciplines of science biology, physics, chemistry, etc.

home economics learning about cooking, sewing, etc.

electives subjects you can choose

opening up making possible

side of their brain part of their mind

field subject/occupation

well-rounded overall balanced

dabbling playing around with

allegedly useless subjects supposedly not important

harnessed held in check

purpose reason

exercise autonomy have freedom/control

leads to better results nets better outcomes

in general overall

complete syllabus furnishes varied subjects fosters

contributes adds to

richer overall society better society

Pronunciation

Listen and repeat:

ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃənl rɪˈfɔːməz 
ɪnˈklaɪn təˈwɔːdz 
ˈnærəʊə kəˈrɪkjʊləm 
dɪˈsaɪdɪdli ˈmɒdən ˈmuːvmənt 
ˈɜːli ˌspɛʃəlaɪˈzeɪʃən
waɪd reɪnʤ 
sɜːvz æz ə ˈbeɪsɪs 
wɛl-əˈʤʌstɪd ˈædʌlts
ˈlɪmɪtɪŋ 
ˈɒnwədz 
ˈgreɪtə ˈfəʊkəs
ɪt ɪz nɒt ʌnˈkɒmən fɔː 
greɪd skuːl
ˌræʃəˈnɑːl 
wʌn dəʊˈmeɪn 
ɪnˈɛvɪtəbli liːdz tuː ˈmɑːstəri 
eɪˈliːt pəˈfɔːməz
faʊnd səkˈsɛs 
ðə ˈbiːtlz bænd ˈmɛmbəz 
ˈseɪfgɑːd 
bɪˈlaɪd 
bʌlk 
məˈʤɒrɪti 
ˈbɛtə prɪˈdɪktə 
ˌəʊvəˈwɛlmɪŋli ʃəʊn 
ɪnˈkriːst ˌkriːeɪˈtɪvɪti 
mɔːr ˈiːvən ˈtɛmpərəmənt
ˈɒbvɪəsli ˈjuːsfʊl ˈsʌbʤɪkts 
ˈveərɪəs ˈdɪsɪplɪnz ɒv ˈsaɪəns 
həʊm ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪks
ɪˈlɛktɪvz
ˈəʊpnɪŋ ʌp 
saɪd ɒv ðeə breɪn 
fiːld 
wɛl-ˈraʊndɪd
ˈdæblɪŋ 
əˈlɛʤdli ˈjuːslɪs ˈsʌbʤɪkts 
ˈhɑːnɪst 
ˈpɜːpəs
ˈɛksəsaɪz ɔːˈtɒnəmi 
liːdz tuː ˈbɛtə rɪˈzʌlts 
ɪn ˈʤɛnərəl
kəmˈpliːt ˈsɪləbəs ˈfɜːnɪʃɪz 
kənˈtrɪbju(ː)ts
ˈrɪʧər ˈəʊvərɔːl səˈsaɪəti

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

Many e________________________s today i_________________s a n______________________m for students 15 and older. In my opinion, while this is part of a d______________________________t for e______________________n, a w___________________e of knowledge s____________________s for more w__________________________s.

L______________g subjects from the age of 15 o_______________s can allow for g_________________s. I_________________________r many children to choose one musical instrument or participate in a single sport from the beginning of g_________________l. The r________________e is that more time spent in o_____________________n i________________________y and this is supported by research into the importance of practice for e____________________s. There are many famous examples of individuals who focused from their teenage years onwards and f__________________s such as T_____________________s with music and Steve Jobs with computer technology. Fewer subjects after age 15 is therefore one way to s________________d a child’s future.

However, the famous examples above are b__________d by the b________k of research that shows, for the m_____________y of individuals, a wide range of skills and interests is a b___________________r of future success. Studies have o__________________________n that varied skills allow for i______________________y and a m_________________________t. The average high school student must study o_________________________s such as math and v_____________________________e but also take music, art, h__________________s, and choose their own e______________s. They may never become professional musicians but o__________________p that s______________________n can help them be more creative in another f__________d and feel their education is w__________________d. Without d_______________g in these a________________________s they might feel h_______________d to a single career and p_____________e, unable to e__________________________y over their own life.

In conclusion, studying a range of subjects after the age of 15 l____________________s i_________________l. A c_______________________________s happier individual citizens and c________________s to a r__________________________y.

Listen and check:

Listening Practice

Listen about this topic here:

Reading Practice

Here is an interesting book review on the subject as well:

Speaking Practice

Answer the following questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Age

Do you like your current age?

What was the biggest decision you made in your life?

At what age are people happiest?

Real IELTS Speaking Exam

Writing Practice

Write about the following topic then read 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?

Real Past IELTS Exam

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