Written March 16, 2016

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My Answer to a Student's Question about a Model Answer on the Internet


The Question

On Sat, 3/12/16, XXX wrote:

Subject: Question
To: "Chris Green" <>
Date: Saturday, March 12, 2016, 2:16 PM

Dear Chris,

I saw this sample essay in ielts book of  Cambridge. Surprisingly, the examiners said this essay is very good though I didn't realize any numbers in this paper. I thought that we have to use exact numbers to show these comparisons, but the candidates didn't. Please give me your advices.

Thanks a lot


P.s you can see this essay at this link address:


A Copy of the Essay from that Webpage



My Reply



Yes, I agree with you. It's not necessary to quote figures with every statement made but this essay never quoted any figures at all. 

If you have a look at the Writing Band Descriptor (Task 1) that I have attached, there is a point under Task Achievement, Band 5 that I think applies to this essay. That point says, "(A) Recounts detail mechanically with no clear overview; there may be no data to support the description". The first point does not fit this essay but the second point does. I am quite sure that this statement does not mean that BOTH of those points need to exist for one of the points to be applicable. That is, I am quite sure that the statement does not mean, "(A) Recounts detail mechanically with no clear overview AND there may be no data to support the description". Therefore, either one of those points is an indicator of 5 for Task Achievement. Although one point alone might not always mean that the essay fits that Band number for Task Achievement, it is usually a strong indicator that it does. After all, there are other points to consider under the category of Task Achievement.

I would give the essay the following sub-scores: TA 5 (or 6), C&C 9, Lexical Resources 9 (or 8), Grammar 9. This gives an overall score of 8! In my opinion, this essay does not fit the description of being a "model essay" but instead fits the description of being, "an example essay, illustrating that a high score can be achieved with one sub-score being low". That statement should have been added to the webpage.

Websites such as that are written by humans and are subject to human error. Possibly the writer of that essay first wrote the essay, intending to add some numbers later but forgot to do so. The essay at the moment is 155 words long, which is just above the minimum. In my opinion, a real "model essay" should be between 160 and 190 words so the writer could add a few numbers and then call it a "model essay".

At the bottom of that webpage, there is a link titled, "Contact Us". I suggest you write to them, including the points I have written. 

By the way, "advice" is a non-count noun, and your use of "realize" is not suitable just use "see".

Good luck with your IELTS preparation!