What IELTS is And What it is not.
The International English Level Testing System is mainly designed to check a non-native speaker’s level of English, when they apply for migration, work or studies, in an English speaking country. Its only purpose is to check your language skill. They look for well-articulated expressions, skillful use of grammar and vocabulary and your ability to respond coherently.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not extremely hard. People find it hard because there are plenty of technicalities involved. You need to master the skills in order to farewell. IELTS consists of highly qualified English language experts who keep an eye out for correct understanding and the ability to respond accurately. It is a very systematic and rounded set of tests, which is designed to check your Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills. It does not concern your knowledge, your beliefs or your opinion.
Myths about IELTS Writing Task 2
Myth 1: Use special words which showcase your vocabulary.
If anything, this myth is categorically misleading. It is important to have a proper understanding of the term “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.
Myth 2: Using facts, figures and quote reports.
It is a common misconception that quoting reports or providing facts and figures makes your essay shine. You must remember that the essays you need to write in IELTS are not literary essays. You don’t need to support your argument with data and well-known quotations. 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!
Myth 3: Ideas don’t matter. You are primarily judged on language quality.
Ideas are an integral part of an essay. It is practically impossible to structure an essay if your ideas aren’t strong or organized enough. 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.
Myth 4: Practicing more past papers is the key.
Practicing past papers mindlessly will not get you 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.
Myth 5: Using more connectives ensures a high score.
Connectives can be a blessing or 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. A good analogy would be: use connectives as you use salt in your cooking. Use in moderation, and you will get a fantastic essay.
Myth 6: Use idioms wherever possible.
Using idioms is another malpractice that destroys your essay’s originality. What does not come naturally, should not be used in writing, just to make it sound fancy. Most of the English idioms are derived from common English practices, which we are not familiar with. Scattering idioms throughout your essay only makes it culturally unsound. Remember your essay should represent you, your ideas, opinions and your culture.
Myth 7: Use long sentences rather than short 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! A complex sentence doesn’t need to belong. The examiners want to see if you can confidently use complex sentences to express complex ideas.
Myth 8: Use as much passive voice as possible.
Another setback in scoring high in IELTS is the idea of using passive voice whenever possible. English grammar is all about making the right sense. What you convey through an active voice will not have the same sense, if you try to write it in the passive voice. 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.
IELTS is a highly technical language test. Preparing for it requires expert guidance and a thorough understanding of the English language. The internet is full of free guides, which claim lofty results. However, you should take that advice with a grain of salt. Even the British Council doesn’t explain beyond the band description. It is only wise to take guidance for IELTS from your personal mentor.