Brainpower trends

Focus on IELTS Unit 12

Choose one of the topics below and describe past, present and/ or future changes in that thing in your country, the region, the world, etc and see if your partner agrees.

Useful language for discussing trends

I totally agree.

That’s pretty much what I would say, but I think it is… more rapidly/ less rapidly.

I’d only disagree with…

I’m not sure but I’d imagine it has already…

According to what I’ve heard,…

I think you are right about the past, but in the future I predict…


  • (use of) abacus/ abacus training
  • ADHD/ hyperactivity
  • (chronic) anxiety
  • autism
  • belief in intelligence being mainly genetic
  • bilingualism/ the opinion that bilingualism is a good thing
  • brain drain
  • (interest in) brain training (smartphone games/ video games/ materials)
  • celebrity tutors
  • cheating
  • (training in) communication skills
  • (people’s powers of) concentration/ concentration spans
  • cram schools
  • (teaching) creativity/ creative thinking (skills)
  • (the difficulty of/ the necessity of having/ top businessmen who don’t have) (first/ undergraduate/ four-year/ bachelor’s) degrees
  • dementia (Alzheimer’s, etc)
  • depression
  • different education for gifted children
  • distance learning
  • dropping out (of school/ university)
  • educational standards in this country
  • (interest in/ levels of/ training in) emotional intelligence/ EQ
  • exam scores
  • (interest in) foods that boost brainpower
  • the gap between top universities and other universities
  • (high school) graduation rates
  • (people going to) graduate school
  • (amount of/ hours of) homework
  • IQs
  • (criticism of) IQ testing
  • (social) isolation
  • (interest in different) learning styles
  • Master’s degrees (Mas, MScs, MBAs, etc)
  • people’s memories/ memory power
  • (use of/ interest in) memory techniques (mnemonics, mental palaces, etc)
  • (use of/ training in/ children’s skills in/ usefulness of) mental arithmetic
  • (admissions to) mental hospitals
  • mental illness
  • mental speed over a human life
  • music education
  • nervous disorders
  • number of neurons in the brain over a human lifespan
  • people coming to this country to study
  • personality testing
  • PhDs/ doctorates
  • phobias
  • positions of universities in your country in international rankings
  • positions of your country’s schools in the international rankings (PISA, etc)
  • positive thinking (exercises)
  • post-docs
  • postgraduate degrees
  • pressure on children to succeed (in education)
  • private tutors
  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • psychotherapists
  • respect for science/ scientists
  • rote learning
  • (difficulty of/ pupils passing) school-leaving exams
  • second language education
  • self-help (books)
  • (chronic) shyness
  • (support for) single sex schools
  • size of hominid brains
  • (different education for) special needs students
  • speed reading
  • streaming in schools
  • stress
  • studying by retired people
  • talk therapy
  • teaching other subjects through English/ CLIL
  • (use of) technology in schools
  • (the difficulty of/ people taking/ the percentage of people passing) university entrance tests








Use as many of these phrases as you can to make true sentences about the things above. The ones on one line have (approximately) the same meaning, so try to use words which are new to you.


–       has…

–       has been …

–       is …

–       will/ is expected to/ is forecast to/ is predicted to

–       will have …

–       explode/ soar/ rocket/ boom/ shoot up/ take off

–       accelerate/ increase more and more rapidly

–       expand/ climb/ rise/ grow/ increase/ go up

–       slow down/ increase, but not at the same rate/ rise less rapidly

–       creep up

–       peak/ reach a new high

–       plateau/ level off/ flatten out

–       stabilise

–       stay flat/ remain at the same level/ remain steady/ remain stable/ remain constant/ stay the same

–       fluctuate/ be unstable/ experience turbulence/ go up and down

–       fall back/ slip back

–       decline/ drop/ decrease/ fall/ go down

–       plummet/ plunge/ collapse/ crash/ dive

–       bottom out/ level off/ flatten out

–       bounce back/ rebound/ pick up (again)/ regain lost ground/ recover

–       vary/ change/ move

–       (ed)

–       (ing)

–       dramatically

–       sharply/ suddenly/ rapidly

–       considerably/ substantially/ quite a lot

–       steadily/ at the same rate

–       slowly/ slightly/ a little

–       in (the year) 19…/ 20…

–       since (the year) …

–       for …years/ decades

–       at the moment/ presently/ currently

–       in the next few years/ in the next… (s)/ within…

–       in the near future

–       by…


Ask about any phrases above which you couldn’t understand and/ or couldn’t use.



Trends language synonyms presentation

Without looking above, brainstorm as many expressions as you can which have each of the meanings below. Other phrases not above may also be possible.



increase more and more rapidly

go up

rise less rapidly

reach a new high

flatten out

stay the same

go up and down

slip back

go down






at the same rate

a little





Use the mixed answers below to help with the task above. All should fit in one place.

  • accelerate
  • be unstable
  • boom
  • bounce back
  • climb
  • collapse
  • considerably
  • crash
  • decline
  • decrease
  • drop
  • expand
  • experience turbulence
  • explode
  • fall
  • fall back
  • fluctuate
  • grow
  • increase
  • increase, but not at the same rate
  • level off
  • move
  • peak
  • pick up (again)
  • plummet
  • plunge
  • quite a lot
  • rapidly
  • rebound
  • regain lost ground
  • remain at the same level
  • remain constant
  • remain stable
  • remain steady
  • rise
  • shoot up
  • slightly
  • slow down
  • slowly
  • soar
  • stay flat
  • steadily
  • suddenly
  • take off
  • vary



Use the section by section mixed answers below to help check your answers above.


  • accelerate
  • at the same rate
  • bounce back/ rebound/ pick up (again)/ regain lost ground
  • collapse/ crash/ plummet/ plunge
  • considerably/ quite a lot
  • decline/ drop/ decrease/ fall
  • expand/ climb/ rise/ grow/ increase
  • explode/ soar/ boom/ shoot up/ take off
  • fall back
  • fluctuate/ be unstable/ experience turbulence
  • level off
  • peak
  • slow down/ increase, but not at the same rate
  • slowly/ slightly
  • stay flat/ remain at the same level/ remain steady/ remain stable/ remain constant
  • suddenly/ rapidly
  • vary/ move

Check your answers with the second worksheet above. Other answers not above are also possible, so please check any other things you wrote with your teacher.


 PDF version for easy saving and printing:

Related pages

Trends main page

Focus on IELTS page

IELTS Writing Task One page

IELTS Writing e-book