IELTS writing tips

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1. Understand the test format

This is entirely an exam specific skill set. Get familiar with the types of IELTS questions. Problem / solution, advantages / disadvantages, extent agree / disagree, discuss + opinion, two part question. Get used to answering them.

2. Optimise your exam time

Wear a watch and allocate 20 minutes for writing task 1 and 40 minutes for task 2. Start task 2 first because it represents most of your points.

3. Check your writing

Budget 5 minutes to review your writing. Look for mistakes you made in previous essays using a free IELTS writing evaluation software. In our online course we insist all students develop this powerful skill. Effective self correction can boost your score.

4. Understand the criteria used

Your writing band score is split up into 4 criteria, lexical resource, cohesion and coherencegrammatical range and accuracy, and task response / achievement.

5. Writing general task

Follow the bullet points and determine the tone (formal, semi-formal, or neutral). Use the standard frases expected in letter writing. You can find these in sample letters.

6. Academic task 1

Describe a line chart, bar chart, flow chart or pie chart. Sometimes it can also be a map or a natural process.
Each question type requires its own set of vocabulary, for example a line chart will often require the language of change.
Pay attention to tenses, dates and units.

7. Writing task 2

Go for simple ideas that are easy to communicate. This is a language exam, not an intelligence test. Complex ideas are difficult to explain and can trip you up grammatically. Have a look at these essay answers and topic ideas. 

8. Organise your ideas into coherent paragraphs

This is straightforward. All our successful students love the C2 template.

9. Practice generating ideas

Sit down with a list of sample questions and brainstorm ideas. If your mind goes blank then research online.
Here are over 240 sample IELTS task 2 questions seen in past exams.

10. Get feedback for fast improvement

Self correction is not reliable, you could be missing mistakes. A native English speaker friend will help but may struggle with the academic writing style needed to pass band 6.5. Invest in yourself and get a professional IELTS evaluation of your work. Another option would be to use our new free online IELTS essay checker to get your score, instantly and free.

11. Master the passive and active voice

Both are needed to improve your grammatical range and accuracy, and both will help you paraphrase. Paraphrasing is another vital skill to learn. Here is a guide to the principles of academic writing for IELTS.

12. Avoid repetition

Our essay correction tutors constantly see students using the same words throughout their essay. Avoid this by expanding your vocabulary.

13. Expand your vocabulary

Learn collocations, prefixes and suffixes. If you are aiming for a band 7 or higher then you definitely need topic specific vocabulary.

14. In the exam

Our students say the computer based test is easier, especially if you are stuck at 6.5.
Writing on the computer allows you to edit, reorganise, copy / paste and even move around complete paragraphs.
This is insanely valuable if your handwriting resembles chicken scratch.

15. Learn to focus

The listening and reading test require an incredible amount of intense focus. Past students like Vinod practised meditation and yoga to improve his mental stamina. Get the full story of how Vinod jumped from 6 to 7.5.

Audio tutorial

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

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