Achieving IELTS Success With Your Academic Writing

IELTS Writing Tips

I would like to give you some advice about the IELTS writing tasks. It is very important to understand what the examiners are looking for in your answers and not to write for the sake of writing.

Let’s take the academic task 1 exercise into consideration first up. In broad terms, someone who is awarded a band 6 in a writing task can do the task even though there are still some errors in the writing.

To be awarded a band 5 in writing, the examiner must be able to see that you are trying to answer the question despite errors. A band 4 or below would indicate that the candidate is not able to do the task and there is little evidence that he or she knows how to handle the task.

So how do I get above a band 6 I hear you ask? In order to be awarded a 7 or even an 8 in the writing, you would need to present the examiner with a number of lexical items that are over and above the normal standard vocabulary items — again a great reason why you should use your thesaurus and find out other words that can be substituted for the more common and overly used word.

You would also need to use more complex sentences and keep grammatical errors to a minimum.

However, this time I am just going to focus on getting you over the line with a band 6 for both writing tasks. Once you have a clear picture of what you need to do and what the examiner is looking for, it is then up to you to improve on your writing.

Let’s break it down. To be awarded a 6 and above in the Academic writing Task 1 exercise, you would need to do the following 7 things:

  1. Show that you understand the graph, table or procedure and can identify the main trends.
  2. Show that you can understand and write about the main trends. Remember, if you do not write about the main trends, the maximum you can be awarded is a band 5!
  3. Use a clear pattern of organization. This is where your plan comes into play! Aim to write 2 paragraphs. Paragraph 1 should be the introduction and  the main trend and the second paragraph should be the body and should include contrasts and similarities and other important information.
  4. Explain the most significant information, that is summarize it using specific examples i.e. Between 1956 and 1996 there was a significant rise in ……
  5. Do not simply describe everything you see, you must summarize the main trends and compare information.
  6. Make sure that your spelling errors or your handwriting do not hinder the examiners ability to pick up on the important trend you have just  described. Write clearly and leave enough space so that it is not a challenge to read your essay.
  7. Do not bother to guess at reasons why the trends are the way they are, this extra information will be treated by the examiner as off-topic and irrelevant.

Why don’t you take time to go through them and each time you practice an essay, use these 7 steps as a check list to make sure you have covered all possible angles. The examiner (and you!) will be pleasantly surprised that you did!

Extra practice: Look up the bold italicized words above in your dictionary.