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‘Paraphrasing’ – the key to IELTS

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All IELTS test takers need to be familiar with ‘paraphrasing’. The dictionary meaning of paraphrasing is to express the meaning of (something written or spoken) using different words. Paraphrasing is simply restating the meaning of a text using words which are different from the ones used.

In the Reading section of the test, many candidates fail to get the answers as they are often searching for the same word/s as in the question. This is a trick most commonly used in IELTS to make the test challenging. A very basic example of this would be: Suppose the passage says, “Maria is the prettiest girl in town A”; and the question asks, “Who is the most beautiful girl in A?” Here the answer is obvious, however, it gives an idea that IELTS test takers need to read and understand the question and not just look for the specific word/s.

Similarly, in the Listening section, I often find people complaining, “but the answer was not there in the recording!!” Here also, candidates make the same mistake of ‘listening’ for the exact words as in the question and fail to answer in time. The additional challenge in the listening part of the test is that the audio is not repeated. Therefore, test takers do not have the opportunity to revisit and locate the answers. It is essential that candidates try to understand the audio recording and analyse the question, rather than trying to listen for words/phrases.

On the other hand, in Speaking and Writing, often at times test takers repeat the same idea more than once. Here, paraphrasing can be a blessing in disguise. In the Speaking section, as in Listening, it is not possible to replay or go over what has already been said. Therefore, if a candidate is struggling for new thoughts, saying something like, “As I have already mentioned before ………………..” and rephrasing their earlier answer might be used as a ploy to buy time.

The Writing section is where IELTS tests the ability of candidates to express themselves in the most objective, clear and succinct manner. It is tempting to use the same words as the question in the introduction; however, it should be absolutely discouraged. It is believed that those words are not counted in the final word count of the essay. Though this is unconfirmed, the introduction is the first impression a candidate makes and it helps if a range of vocabulary and ideas are used instead of repetition. A good way to write the introduction is to divide it into 3 sentences, one of which is stating the ‘topic’ of the question in your own words. Further, paraphrasing can be utilised in body paragraphs to provide support to the opinion stated in response to the question. The conclusion is merely summarising or restating main points of the essay in words different to the ones already used.

To rephrase the whole article in one sentence; IELTS makes use of paraphrasing in Reading and Listening sections, whereas expects test takers to do the same in Speaking and Writing sections

Snigdha Gupta, Score8ielts, IELTS Tutor – Melbourne

Author: Snigdha Gupta

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