for academic purposes…

Format  Grammar  Vocabulary       Blog  Account

الإنجليزية للأغراض الأكاديمية

Styles of academic writing include descriptive reports and opinion-based essays:

Descriptive reports
تقارير وصفية
Opinion-based essays
مقالات القائم على الرأي
1.  Bar graphs & Pie charts
2.  Diagrams, Maps & Processes
3.  Line graphs
4.  Tables
1.  Agree/Disagree
2.  Cause/Effect
3.  Problem/Solution
4.  Advantage/Disadvantage

Academic writing

Academic writing is formal and structured. It should communicate its intended purpose clearly and concisely. To avoid ambiguity, plan the points that you want to set out and the evidence that you require to support these. In this regard structuring and organising your written work is important. A well organised piece of writing helps to make your interpretations and/or ideas clear and unambiguous and therefore, makes it easier for the reader to understand your findings/arguments. Therefore, where possible, avoid using complex language. Nevertheless the vocabulary and phrases you use should be academic (i.e. formal as opposed to informal).

Word Syllables Translation &c.
Obvious ob·vi·ous
واضح [noun]
Where something is clear; easy to see.
— The most obvious difference between these two cars is …
Overall o·ver·all
شامل [adverb]
Describing the general trend.
Overall, the differences are greater than the similarities.
However how·ev·er
لكن [adverb]
Has the same meaning as “but”. Nevertheless; yet; on the other hand.
— Money is important however, happiness is more important.
Describe de•scribe
وصف [verb]
Noun: de·scrip·tion | Adjective: de·scrip·tive
— In this report, I will describe each stage in detail.
Discuss dis·cuss
بحث [verb (used with object)]
noun: dis·cus·sion
To consider/debate: different opinions on a subject.
— In this essay I will discuss the issue of junk food in schools.
— The discussion in class today was about global warming.
Positive pos·i·tive
إيجابي [adjective]
Used for describing an advantage (think: “good”).
— A positive, result of reading is gaining background ideas and knowledge.
Consequence con·se·quence
نتيجة [noun]
Adverb: con·se·quent·ly
Another word for effect/result.
— The exam was easy, as a consequence, most students passed.
— It rained consequently, I went outside.

View the full list of academic vocabulary and phrases

Using appropriate grammar and punctuation is also important in academic writing. The key reason for this is because it helps ensure that your interpretation of existing research and your own ideas are clearly understood (i.e. not ambiguous). Typical mistakes include: incomplete sentences; the wrong use of semicolons and colons; the wrong use of apostrophes; nouns and verbs where singular/plural do not agree; and inconsistent use of tenses.

View the guide to academic grammar, style, structure and tone

Formatting conventions

When you produce a piece of academic writing, you need to consider a number of things. First and foremost: for every source you use, you need to cite this in the text of your document (“in-text”) and then provide a full reference to it in a list of references at the end of your text (“post-text”). Secondly, the document must be formatted in a certain way (e.g. font type, font size, line spacing, margin size &c. &c.).

If you are using research or ideas based on work by others (e.g. books, journals, websites) you must reference everything fully and in a standardised way. There are in fact many different referencing styles, but the two most commonly used for academic purposes are APA and Chicago:

APA style format Chicago style format
APA (American Psychological Association) is a very common format and uses an “author-date” reference style. APA provides a comprehensive formatting and styling guide, including instructions on how to layout and structure your writing. In fact, APA covers all aspects of the writing process, including how to avoid plagiarism, the tone of language to be used and, how to construct tables and graphs. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is used in some social science publications and most historical journals. In distinction to APA, CMS offers writers a choice of several different formats and actually permits the mixing of formats, so long as it is consistent. As with APA, In CMS covers all aspects of the writing process, including how to avoid plagiarism, the tone of language to be used and, how to construct tables and graphs.

Creative writing

As writing is a creative skill, it is important to practice writing “creatively” at the same time as learning how to write “academically”. Creative writing expresses feelings, emotions, personal thoughts and ideas, in an imaginative way rather than just as a means of conveying information. It is argued that by practicing creative writing in the target language will improve your English proficiency in many respects: grammar, vocabulary, phonology and discourse. This is because when you write creatively you have to manipulate the language in interesting and demanding ways in order to express uniquely personal sentiments.

Designed by pencil

Designed by pencil


Irrespective of style, good writing is contingent upon extensive reading. Therefore, this site provides guidance on reading “skills” as well as practice Reading-to-write tasks. The majority of these reading tasks are based upon “authentic” materials. In other words, they are taken from one of a number of different English language newspapers — they were not written for English language students, but for native speakers of English to read.

Authentic sources used on this website include:

The Guardian

Gulf News

The Independent

New Scientist

Khaleej Times


Fast Company




Seatle Times

The Australian


See all authentic sources

Homage to the pencil



The academic version of the IELTS assessment has two writing tasks, Task One is a descriptive report (of 150 or more words) and Task Two is an opinion-based essay (of at least 250 words). Each of the eight sub-categories above (i.e. Bar graphs & Pie charts through to Advantages/Disadvantages) provide instruction, practice materials and model reports/essays for each style respectively.


The IELTS written assessment
Task One (Descriptive reports)
Task Two (Opinion-based essays)
Sample IELTS writing test (01)
Sample IELTS writing test (02)

When describing information presented in tables you tend to use the language of compare and contrast and this includes using comparative adjectives where appropriate. Whereas when you describe a line graph you tend to focus on the overall trend and the degree and speed of change over the given period of time. If you are asked to describe a diagram or a process, you would use sequential language (describing the steps, stages and options).

With respect to opinion-based essays – and unlike descriptive reports – it is important to provide examples and ideas of your own. Whilst you should present both sides of the argument, the examples you give will be based upon your own views and background knowledge. If for example you are asked to compete a problem/solution style essay, the way you set out the problem and the types of solutions you provide, will be based on your own opinion of the given subject.