How to Improve Score in IELTS Writing While Preparing for the IELTS Exam?
It is common knowledge that IELTS Academic writing can be tricky. One might believe that having fluency in speaking helps in the written test. However, IELTS writing needs precision and clarity. Therefore, it is wise to invest some time in writing during your IELTS preparation.
The IELTS Academic Writing Task
The academic writing test takes 60 minutes, during which the candidate has to complete two tasks.
Task 1 consists of a kind of precis writing — one has to summarize visual information (Tables, Charts, Diagrams, Graphs, Maps) in a minimum of 150 words. In writing task 2, the candidate needs to write an essay based on common opinions or facts. Herein, the essay should answer an argument or describe a problem referred to in the question in a minimum of 250 words.
Both these tasks require proper organization according to the time given. As a rule of thumb, you should divide these tasks in a 40:60 ratio, i.e., 40% of your time for task 1 and 60% of it for task two. You need to practice accordingly while preparing for the IELTS exam.
Improving Your IELTS Score in the Right Way
Both of the writing tasks in the IELTS writing section require spontaneity, as these questions cannot be predetermined. It is through proper IELTS preparation that you can develop, increase, and improve your spontaneity.
Below are some helpful hints for these writing tasks that will be useful while preparing for the IELTS exam.
1. Know the structure
The topics in essays are unpredictable; regardless, one must follow a structure to write them. Instead of making the essay into a single long paragraph, it should be divided into an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
This structure helps avoid confusion while writing and will make your essay look tidier. A well-structured essay will be easier for the examiner to read so that he/she can evaluate your paper with extra clarity.
2. Know the vocabulary
Instead of writing extra words to explain your thoughts, you should use suitable lexicons. More often than not, the sentences we use every day are grammatically incorrect, sometimes even senseless.
However, the language of the tasks has to be formal; there is no chance for uncertainty. Indeed, vocabulary cannot be developed over a few days; however, training yourself gradually will help in transitioning from vernacular language to an academic one while preparing for the IELTS exam.
3. Read the questions thoroughly
It often happens during a test that a candidate rushes through the questions in hopes of procuring a few more minutes to write. Usually, this leads to a misjudged perception of the question and an inaccurate answer.
In the end, the candidate loses points as a result of panic and desperation. Taking an additional minute or two to read and understand the task will help you avoid this panic and write peacefully.
4. Surpass the word limit
As previously mentioned, the word limit for both the tasks is 150 words and 250 words, respectively. This does not mean that you have to put your pen down the moment you write your 150th or 250th word.
This limit is just to help you structure your task so that you can organize your points accordingly. Make sure to write a little bit more than what is expected. A few more points to explain your opinion will only add a polished look to your tasks.
5. Do not use contractions
This is one of the main rules that you have to follow when you write any kind of formal note. Professional writing, which is not going to be heard by a diverse audience, should not have any contractions.
Contractions are meant for informal conversation. It is only natural to use them almost every time you speak. These contractions should be avoided in formal essays at all costs since they are not meant for them and might bring down the weight of your writing.
6. Avoid overuse of transition words
You might have received a piece of infamous advice from people on using words like ‘however,’ ‘in addition to that,’ etc., as many times as you can. These transitions are necessary, but their sole purpose is to make your writing task seamless.
Overusing them or misusing them will show very clearly on your answer sheet. The examiner might even perceive them as your inability to generate better points. Use these transitions appropriately as needed while preparing for the IELTS exam.
7. Do not miss the conclusion
While writing task 1, it is easy to miss the conclusion since there is a lot to plan and remember. However, a conclusion is one of the most important elements in task 1 and carries a considerable number of points. You need to mention your findings from the information and write the result of the comparison (if any).
8. Practice makes perfect
Make sure to practice writing these tasks under the given time limit. Take as many mock tests as you can. Gradually, you will see a pattern and understand the intentions behind the questions.
Avoid common mistakes. Unconsciously, candidates often make a few mistakes during their IELTS preparation which leads to a lower band. Below are some case studies that mention mistakes that you can avoid during your preparation for IELTS.
Case Study 1: The Approach
A candidate has taken the IELTS exam three times; however, each time, her overall score has been weighed down by the writing score. Upon reviewing both of her tasks in all three attempts, it is revealed that her sentence formation, vocabulary, even punctuations are accurate. However, their approach is incorrect. Instead of writing the essays with reasonable points, she has tried to fit grammatically correct sentences into a specific structure.
Along with many other factors like grammatical range, lexical resource, coherence, and cohesion, your writing task in IELTS is also evaluated based on ‘Task Response.’ Your essays need to be sensible in reference to the question asked. You need to write valid points in answer to the situation given with arguments that support or oppose the statement and your opinion. Your grammatically correct sentences need to be intellectually balanced as well.
Case Study 2: Time Management
A candidate has been preparing for the test for a few days. He takes reading, writing, and listening tests separately, with intervals of a few hours. He takes the listening test in the morning, the reading test in the afternoon, and the writing test randomly, as per his plans and schedule.
When this candidate appears for the actual test, he runs out of time and misses the last task, i.e., writing task 2. This leads him to score lower in his IELTS. As a result, he has to schedule the examination again, for next month.
Separately, the listening, reading, and writing tasks are not that difficult. One might be able to complete them all under their respective time limits on the first try. However, the real challenge is to sit for three hours and complete each task on time, with the same amount of dedication and concentration that you started with.
When you complete the first two tests in one sitting, the exhaustion is shifted to the third task, which makes it difficult to attempt, and is often attended with pressure. A candidate has to prepare for them with mock tests, in a similar way as the real test, so that he/she gets used to coping with the pressure. This also helps in managing the time for each test.
Case study 3: The Accurate Evaluation
A candidate has been preparing for IELTS through self-study. He prepares diligently for all four assessments and takes a few mock tests available online. During the mock test, his scores in all the assessments are satisfactory except for the writing test. He attempts the mock test several times only to have the lowest score in writing because something is missing in his self-evaluation of the writing task.
Self-preparation for the writing task often doesn’t work because the results are not obvious to the one who writes it. To evaluate your writing, you need the help of someone who trains specifically for IELTS. This is why candidates often prefer formal training for the exam.
The purpose of IELTS academic writing is to evaluate your academic apprehension skills for tertiary-level education. Being a fluent speaker or having good grammatical skills are simply not enough. However, putting in a little more effort, like paying attention to details, understanding the structure, and lots and lots of practice, will assure an improved score and decent results.
K C Raj is a career counselor and recruiter with many years of experience. Interested in topics like human development, education, immigration, inequality, and many other international issues. K C Raj is a socialist in thinking, and believes in “One Nation, One World” theory.