In this tutorial you will learn the importance in IELTS Writing tasks of:
- knowing what help with writing you need and
- where and how to receive expert feedback
- This will help you to learn:
- exam skills and
- language skills
and to therefore
- know exactly how to handle IELTS writing tasks
- improve your band score in IELTS writing
The writing skill
The part of the IELTS exam that worries you most is probably the Writing Test. Writing proficiency in a second language for most people is more difficult to achieve than speaking, listening and reading. Maybe it’s because when we write something it’s “permanent” or that very often, writing requires a more formal style. Also, we can’t backtrack as we can in speaking. That means we have to be extremely careful with grammatical structures, how we organise our writing and even the words we chose. Some of us find that a struggle in our native language, so when it comes to a second language, we need to work extra hard. Now, before we look at the IELTS writing tasks, take a look at these tips:
- Be honest with yourself. How would you rate your writing skills in your first language and in English?
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. For example, what mistakes do you commonly make in writing?
- Plan to write and write to plan. How well do you plan your writing and follow the plan?
Even if you felt comfortable with those tips and questions, I’m sure you’ll agree you will benefit from help. IELTS task 1 and task 2 in both IELTS versions, need careful preparation and there are experts ready to help you (link: www.ieltspodcast.com) These experts will:-
- Assess your current level in writing
- Give you practice in and guidance on IELTS tasks 1 and 2
- Provide effective feedback on your progress
- Help you push your writing band score up
How can I learn IELTS writing?
From experts, you will receive help in:
- EXAM SKILLS
- LANGUAGE SKILLS
With exam skills, the 3 key words are know, plan, revise
- Knowing refers to what to do in each task. It also means knowing what the examiner is looking for.
- Planning means using the 60 minutes of the test to the maximum. Writing task 1 is worth a third of the total score, so spend 20 minutes on it and 40 on Task 2.
- Revising involves finding at least 2 or 3 minutes before you finish each task reading through what you have written, looking for any avoidable grammar mistakes, checking your use of vocabulary.
Help in knowing covers:-
- Being very familiar with all the possible task types and topics in IELTS task 1 and task 2. That means graphic descriptions of several types, letter writing with different purposes and essay topics asking you to agree or disagree, compare advantages to disadvantages, put forward explanations and so on. It’s not straightforward and step by step guidance with relevant examples, model answers, practice and feedback makes all the difference between an overall 6.0 and a much higher band score.
As for the planning stage:-
- Follow the advice which will tell you to spend at least 2 or 3 minutes planning your answer in note form, from the first visual contact with the pie charts for example, to the short written plan of your essay in both task 1 and task 2.
- One problem is of course, how to have “something to say” about a topic in 40 minutes. You will find that there are solutions such as reading extensively on topics often used as essay topics, like education, technology and its impact and so on.
- Another great idea is to try writing down quickly, points in favour of or against an issue. Doing that quickly and often will be practice in what it will be like in the exam.
Revising is vital because.-
- In any exam, we should always find time before the end to go over what we have done, checking for errors (spelling, the match between subject and verb, singular and plural). A few minutes spent on this will often make the difference in IELTS between, say, a band score of 7.0 and one of 8.0.
- With self-awareness of where you make mistakes together with advice as to how to eliminate them will help you but, even so, use this vital exam skill of checking through your work.
When it comes to language skills, outside expert assistance is possibly even more useful. Take a loook at some IELTS Task 1 tips and Task 2 tips to help you prepare for each task. IELTS writing tasks are looking at your ability to:
- answer all parts of the question (task achievement or task response)
- structure your answer using paragraphing and connectors to link ideas
- use an appropriate range of general and specific vocabulary
- show that you can handle complex structures at sentence level (examples)
- All the above benefit from practice and feedback. But not necessarily practice for its own sake. Writing hundreds of IELTS task 1 or task 2 essays will not automatically guarantee you a good score. What probably will, however, is quality feedback on areas where you need to improve.
- Let’s say, for example, that your problem is organising your essays into paragraphs. If so, you would do well to make the most of help into planning an essay in terms of a steps: an introduction where you state your overall purpose, followed by one paragraph outlining advantages, another describing disadvantages and a final fourth paragraph summarising your views through a short conclusion)
- If you need to work on your grammatical structures, then work on that aspect. To get a high score (a band 7.0 or higher) in Grammatical Range and Accuracy, you must not only handle verb tenses but structures such as conditional sentences, together with a variety of ways to join parts of sentences together. This requires practice and constructive feedback.
How can I get an 8 in IELTS writing?
The truth is that the average band score in IELTS writing is around 6.0 or a little less. (www.ielts.org) Yes, it is the area where scores are generally lowest.
Candidates that follow exam tips and practice their essay writing usually can be guaranteed a 6.0 or possibly a 7.0, especially if they have a broad range of vocabulary and are familiar with the possible exam topic types.
So, what makes a Task 1 or Task 2 essay stand out and get that 8?
The normal tips you will get are things like “answer all aspects of the question” , use main and supporting points, make sure you write 250 words and so on. Good advice? I’m not sure really, It’s far too general. What you really need is specific help on specific areas that you find difficult or that you need to improve. This is what you will get from professional experts to help you in:-
- Planning each part from the introduction, 2 or 3 body paragraphs and a conclusion but the ways each part are presented.
- It is better for example, to write from the start what your position is, rather than simply rephrase the question. If the essay asks you to agree or disagree, as in: Some people say that Ebooks and modern technology will totally replace traditional newspaper and magazines. Do what extent do you agree or disagree?
- Begin strongly with your stance: “Although techological advances now enable us to have easy, and often free access to printed materials online, I believe that there is still an important role to be played by more conventional forms .”
- Extending and enriching your IELTS vocabulary. You may be advised to work through word families, for example, to build up synonyms, antonyms, collocations, formal and less formal uses, etc,
- Making you use as varied and complex grammatical structures as possible to enable you to express your ideas as fully as possible. Again, this is best achieved through constant feedback.
- All the above necessarily involve hard work. A lot of writing, feedback, re-writing and more feedback.
- Practice as well as reading through and learning from good models. You will find excellent examples of Band 8.0 or higher IELTS task 1 samples and task 2 writing samples. Getting the most out of model essays is more than just reading them. It’s also a question of incorporating language forms (grammar and vocabulary) into your own writing.
You can download or listen to the audio version here: