7 ways to improve your sentences in your IELTS essays

In this lesson, we discuss 7 ways to improve your IELTS essay sentences.

A sentence has one job above all others: to convey information. Its job is not to be clever. Its primary task is to present information.

And in your case, score points.

That's not to say it can't or shouldn't, sound nice. Or be clever -- but those are a bonus.

It is so important to be understood because then the examiner can determine whether you have understood the question too.

1. Subjects separated from verbs

Read the two sentences below then determine which is easier to understand.

England, together with most other Western European countries in the 18th Century undergoing industrialisation, transitioned from a largely agrarian society to a more factory-orientated economy.

England transitioned from a largely agrarian society to a more factory-orientated economy, much like most other Western European countries in the 18th Century undergoing industrialisation.

Can you see in the first one that you have to wait 13 words to find out what happens to England?

You have to hold all this information in your head until you get to the verb "transitioned".

Forcing the reader to hold all this information in their head creates a strain, and in your case the reader is the IELTS examiner!

The factories with the most equipment, the best technology, and working environment that has rapidly adopted automation, ultimately and most frequently have prospered. 

This could be rephrased to reduce reader strain in the following manner:

The factories that have ultimately and most frequently prospered, have the most equipment, the best technology, and a working environment that has rapidly adopted automation. 

2. Sentences can be heard

Sentences are not just related to the eyes, the ears participate also -- basically good writing sounds good when spoken.

This is more difficult to implement but you can always try it, perhaps by reading your work to a native speaker.

3. Variety

Each sentence must be different from the last, this creates interest.

Vary your usage. Short - long - short sentence moves into a long sentence.

Sentence openings should not be repeated twice in a row.

Listen how boring this sounds:

There are many countries that have banned smoking in public places and have greatly increased the quality of life of their citizens. There are many other ways to improve a society, a government could reduce taxes then there would be more money for each person…   

4. Some clauses are independent, others are dependent

The former stands on their own. I'm not going to get into a big lesson here, but sentence construction relies on you knowing that dependent clauses cannot form their own sentences

A dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. It does not express a complete thought so it is not a sentence and can’t stand alone.

Since the country in question clearly lacks funds…..

Before the country developed…

Whenever universities are established abroad…

5. Long sentences I

Long sentences reduce comprehension for readers. The longer the sentence, the greater chance you will lose the reader's attention and understanding.

Ideally one idea per sentence.

Within the context of academic writing, being able to write short, crisp sentences is a great virtue.

Again and again, in reading over students’ IELTS essays, I observed that longer sentences are more difficult to comprehend.

In addition, students tend to make more grammatical errors when writing long sentences.

6. Long sentences II

A run-on sentence is a sentence that takes a lot of independent clauses and puts them together without punctuation or conjunction.

In practice, a run-on sentence is one that goes on and on and on, it feels rambly and loses cohesion.

They cause reader strain, are difficult to read, and you have to hold a lot of information in your mind before reaching the end of the sentence.

This strain makes reading difficult. Another example of inflicting strain is when subjects and verbs are separate.

Take a look at some more useful task 2 tutorials to help you prepare for IELTS.

Different IELTS essay structures

Tutorials and tips to prepare for task 2

Audio tutorial

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