Common Writing Genres
Expectations vary depending on the type of IELTS exam you are required to take: Academic or General Training. The Academic type assesses an exam taker’s ability to utilize the English language in an academic or professional setting. It is a requirement for those who wish to study in a college or university within or above degree level or those who seek professional registration (e.g., nurses, accountants, engineers, etc.).
The General Training, on the other hand, evaluates a test taker’s ability to use the English language on a daily basis. It is a requirement for those who wish to study below degree level, work or migrate to an English-speaking country.
Whatever your purpose of taking the IELTS exam, bear in mind that the band score you need to acquire depends on the university or country you wish to migrate, study or work in. You may check out various IELTS sources online for a detailed overview of the exam. You may also subscribe to online IELTS test as part of your preparation.
Another option to prepare for this language proficiency assessment is through exposure—expose yourself to common writing genres. Doing so allows you to differentiate formal and informal style of writing, also getting familiar with the tone, jargon and structure. After all, the IELTS Academic Writing exam requires you to interpret visual information and to express your opinion, while the IELTS General Training Writing involves letter writing and expressing opinions. What better way to prepare for these exams than to familiarize oneself with various writing genres?
Here are some common writing genres:
- a. Memorandum – Commonly referred to as “memo,” it is a form of written communication that aims to inform. It usually contains announcements or notifications. Also, it can be disseminated via e-mail or printed text. For example, the HR officer announces new policies and reminders via e-mail. Each employee acknowledges receipt of the said e-mail by sending out a reply or confirmation.
b. Proposal – This writing genre is persuasive in nature. It aims to convince readers, usually the persons in authority, to consider an idea, an event or a product the writer is suggesting. He/She provides an overview, including supporting details, why his/her recommendations must be implemented. For example, an employee is seeking for his manager’s approval regarding an event that the company should sponsor. To convince his manager, the employee prepares a detailed proposal presenting the budget, target date, venue, projected sales and others.
c. White paper – It is a writing genre commonly used in the government. It is persuasive in nature as the writer aims to convince the readers that his/her proposed solution to a certain issue is the best option. Nowadays, businesses use white papers as marketing tools to sell products or services and to sway consumers.
- a. Critique – It is a piece of writing which presents a writer’s opinion regarding a movie or a play he/she has seen or a book he/she has read. It is usually an informed analysis as authors use theories or concepts as bases of their critiques. Moreover, a critique may be subjective as the writer often subscribes to a specific literary or philosophical movement.
b. Literature review – This writing genre is commonly mistaken as something that pertains to novels, poems, plays and other creative works. A literature review is a summary, analysis and review of another study relevant to a writer’s research. From this piece of writing, the writer formulates his/her thesis statement and questions that his/her study aims to discuss and answer, respectively. In addition, the writer includes other published materials or any studies relevant to his/her topic of interest.
- a. Case study – It is a writing genre which pertains to careful examination and discussion of a particular subject (event, person, phenomenon, etc.) in a realistic or hypothetical situation. The writer analyzes the situation and proposes well-supported solutions.
b. Laboratory report – It is a documentation of an experiment. It often includes objectives, materials, procedures/methods, observations, results and conclusion. It aims to prove or disprove something, and it is presented in a sequential order (step by step).
Getting yourself familiar with various writing genres is not only beneficial for the IELTS exam but also to your future endeavors as well. Keep in mind that whatever field you wish to pursue in the future, you will be required to produce at least one or two of the abovementioned writing genres. Moreover, consider being able to write any genre as an advantage. Nowadays, institutions require that potential students or employees have at least professional working proficiency, which means they can effectively participate in formal or informal discussions (focus: speaking) and understand materials relevant to their field of specialization (focus: reading).
Tutoring centers, even those that offer IELTS online training, assess each student’s English language proficiency so they can provide a more specific program. Aside from traditional classroom-based and one-on-one coaching programs, you can also take advantage of their online sessions which you can take anytime, anywhere. These virtual classes administer IELTS test online, including assessment and feedback sessions, to monitor your progress.
Start getting yourself familiar with the writing genres presented above. You do not need to buy any reference material as these can be found online or even at home. For instance, read the notice of electricity consumption. How is the letter constructed? What are the tone and format? You may also read the Opinion section of a broadsheet. How are viewpoints expressed? Take note of structure of each writing genre you encounter, including its tone and style. Consolidate your observations and try to come up with your own. Have a colleague or classmate look at your work and ask for comments. This way, not only you practice coming up with your own material, but you also learn which areas to improve.
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