Students often say ‘ I need a band (whatever) what can I do to improve my writing?’
Here are some of my suggestions and I hope they’ll help you, too.
- Read the question carefully.
- How many parts are there to the question?-What is the question asking you to write about?
- Remember to answer each part or you will lose marks.
- What writing style are you going to use?- (Neutral- not formal or informal and no contractions can’t=cannot )
- Do not forget to write in paragraphs, or you will lose valuable marks. A new idea, a new paragraph.
- Write in pencil and you can remove any mistakes easily, giving the examiner a first good impression of an easy to read piece of work.
Students often panic when they read the question. Instead-stop and think- what are you going to put in the piece?
- Take 5 minutes to write down the ideas which come into your head – a plan.
- The plan could be a mind map or simply a list of your ideas.
- Take a few minutes at the end to check your spelling and grammar.
- Check that your ideas are clear and easy to follow.
Preparing for Task One
Do you know how long have you got and how many words you must write? – Answer: 20 minutes and 150 words.
Do you know what you might have to write about?
1) A graph
2) A bar chart
3) A pie chart
4) A table
5) The picture of a process
This must be an overview of what you can see – a picture in words. Aim for approximately 30 words. Do not repeat the words used in the question. Paraphrase them. For process writing don’t forget to mention the stages of the process and what each shows.
Second and third paragraphs
Aim for approximately 45 words for each paragraph. Describe the most important points and make comparisons.
Always mention the figures (data) when you describe something. For process writing talk in stages.
Aim for approximately 30 words. Make a summary of what you have said.
For a better score
Link your ideas from the first paragraph to the second and from the second into the third paragraph. In the same sentence have opposite ideas. Include A relative pronoun/a conditional sentence/a split sentence/natural English expressions/Opposite ideas/comparisons/the same idea in different words – especially with the numbers
Base what you say about the graph from the information on the graph only. Do not add your own opinion.
Use the present tense to describe what you see in general. If the data is in the past, use the past simple tense. If the data starts in the past but the information leads up to today, use the present perfect. Good use of grammar will always cause you to score highly. Learn more about Grammar from Murphy or Grammar Girl by clicking on the links to buy dedicated practice resources.
Note: In the process writing, it is often better to use the passive tense.
How long have you got and how many words should you write? You have 40 minutes and must write a minimum of 250 words. To be safe try to write 280 – 300 words.
Introduce what you are going to say by paraphrasing the quesiton. Tell the examiner whether you are only going to agree, or only going to disagree, or discuss both and then form an opinion at the end. Try to do this using about 40 words.
You can link this paragraph to the next paragraph (the main body) by asking a question.
Aim to write 3 or 4 paragraphs using about 170 words in total. If your essay is going either only to agree or only disagree, use 3 paragraphs.
If you are going to discuss both sides of the argument, use 4 paragraphs.
Summarise what you have discussed and give your final opinion. Use about 40 words for this.
For a better score
Using Natural English, complex grammar, split sentences and conditionals – especially mixed – is good. Use of an idiom, a rhetorical question, useful words to refer backwards and forwards to your ideas will all gain you extra credit.
Practise this and you will be on your way to achieving a higher score.
To your IELTS success,
P.S. Don’t forget that good use of grammar will always cause you to score highly. Learn more about Grammar from Murphy or Grammar Girl by clicking on the links to buy dedicated practice resources. If you haven’t found it already try reading my IELTS Test Tips post: 5 ways to improve your grammar here