Do you feel IELTS writing section is the hardest to crack? Do not worry because you are not alone in this. Seven out of ten candidates feel IELTS writing is quite challenging.
This article is all about letting you know how you can actually improve your IELTS writing score. Before we move ahead, let us understand the marking criteria of the writing section in IELTS:
How does IELTS mark your writing?
If you know the criteria on which you are marked, then 25% of your job is done. All then left are you focussing on those areas to get better. The following table illustrates the marking criteria of IELTS writing:
Note that your IELTS Writing section consists of two tasks. Task one needs to be written in 150 words whereas task 2 asks for at least 250 words. Check the pdf 1 and pdf 2 for an idea of how your writing exam question paper would look like.
Tips for improving your score
Now let us move onto the tried and tested methods of improving your IELTS writing score.
1. Read the passage carefully
There is absolutely no alternative to careful reading of a passage. Note the tone of the passage and keep a tab of the keywords. This will help you process the meaning of the text.
2. Make sure you understand it well.
The more carefully you read the passage, easier it will get to understand it. It is important to understand the point-of-view, tone, and bias, if any, of a text because these are the things you need to focus on, in your writing.
3. Make a rough format of the essay.
This may sound like an additional hassle but once you have a clear idea on how to approach the topic, then it will be very easy for you to build upon that.
4. Have a fairly well-rounded idea about the topic
This will require prior preparation. Spend some time with past papers and get an idea about the kind of topics IELTS to focus on. Once you know that, read those kinds of books or articles. If you don’t read enough it is unlikely that you will have enough information to write about. Remember you must show the coherence of complex ideas in your writing.
5. Use a range of linking words.
Linking words are the easiest and the most grammatically stylistic devices to connect ideas or sentences or phrases in a piece of writing. You must show the examiner a range of linking words that are appropriate to the context.
6. Be careful of misspelled words and grammar errors.
Nothing marks an essay bad, more than grammatical errors and misspelled words. You need to have a keen eye to make sure your sentences are grammatically and stylistically error-free and the spellings are absolutely correct.
7. Organize everything within the given number of words.
Writing more than the given word count is equally bad as writing less. It will either show your lack of organization skill or your lack of information. Either way, it is a huge disadvantage. Therefore, make sure you round up the entire discussion within the allotted number of words.
8. Consider getting a personal mentor.
Preparing for IELTS writing requires constant improvement through professional feedback. You cannot go on practicing mindlessly, without anyone telling you where to improve. Remember it is a cyclic process, where you write, get your writing checked, work on your mistakes or drawbacks and write again. If you do not have a mentor, achieving higher bands will be impossible.
Finished writing needs to be proofread, so as to remove any silly mistake, that can otherwise, cause deduction in marks. You need to have eyes like a hawk in order to successfully proofread what you wrote. Only a 100% error-free answer script should be submitted.
Mistakes to avoid in IELTS Writing
The preparation of IELTS writing is perhaps the most time-consuming. It also comes with common mistakes. Here are a few mistakes that you should totally avoid if you are aiming at a high score:
1. Using special words unnecessarily to showcase your vocabulary.
IELTS is not a platform where you demonstrate your knowledge of the English lexicon. Rather, it is all about using only the words that are relevant to the topic given. Choosing words/phrases that are out of context, takes out the weight from your essay. While writing, care must be taken to ensure that the vocabulary is appropriate for the topic.
2. Quoting random reports.
The essays in IELTS ask you to elaborate your opinions and ideas on general topics and social issues. They require your observations and your understanding of trends in that matter. Quoting random reports robs your essay of its originality. Make sure you only discuss the facts and figures and not put them inside inverted commas!
3. Not having concrete ideas.
It’s true that language quality is the primary focus but it should always be remembered that it is the idea that constructs your essay. While you are free to be as opinionated as possible, it is necessary to have concrete ideas.
4. Practicing more past papers to ensure a high score.
Essay writing is not a discipline. It is a skill that needs to be mastered. Whatever level you are in, if you keep writing, again and again, it will not help you make the cut. In order to achieve a high score, you need to spend more time analyzing your mistakes and working on them.
5. Going over the top with linking words.
A Linking word can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it. While it is a wonderful tool to add coherence in your writing, it can ruin your entire essay if you overuse it. Do not use connectives, where several short sentences can work.
6. Inserting idioms unnecessarily.
Scattering idioms throughout your essay only makes it culturally unsound. Remember your essay should represent you, your ideas, opinions and your culture.
7. Using lengthy and wordy sentences.
The length of a sentence does not justify your command over a language. In fact, long sentences sound unnecessarily wordy and complicated. You can use complex sentences to express your ideas but do not turn them into an endless line of gibberish!
8. Writing in passive voice only.
Remember passive voice focuses on the action, whereas, Active voice focuses on the person behind the action. You need to choose one, depending on your need.
Improving your performance in IELTS writing requires full dedication. The best way is to get a personal trainer who can assess your progress and give regular feedback. Have strategies, understand the examiner’s expectation and go ahead!