For many students, the writing section of the IELTS test can be one of the most challenging. The good news is that careful preparation will go a long way in helping to get the band score you need. Use the six tips below to maximize your chances of success on the writing section of your upcoming IELTS test.
- Plan your time effectively.
Since the amount of words you need to write for part two of IELTS (250 words) is longer than part one (150 words), make sure you plan your time to reflect this. This is particularly important because approximately two-thirds of your mark is given to task two. Therefore, you want to spend about two-thirds of your time (approximately 40 minutes) on this section.
- Read the question carefully.
Many test takers rush into answering the writing question without reading it carefully. Do not do this! For part one, the task usually asks you to summarize, select, and make comparisons. If you see these words, underline them—they are important! When you are completing the task, go through your work and make sure you have summarized the information, selected key points, and made comparisons.
For task two, cover all parts of the task. For example, if the task asks you to give advantages and disadvantages, ensure that you have given both. Similarly, if you are asked to give your opinion, make sure you have done so and that it is clear.
- Include an “overview” in part one.
An overview is a summary of information that doesn’t include every single detail. For part one of the academic writing section, you are usually required to write an overview (that is, summarize the information). This is an important part of the task and can be included at the beginning or end.
- Keep it simple in the part two essay.
Grammar and vocabulary are important factors in assessing your writing band, but some students believe they must write extremely long sentences or use very complicated vocabulary in order to get a higher band. This is not true! The important thing is that your ideas are easy to understand.
Don’t try to use complicated words that you may spell incorrectly; replace these words with ones that you are more confident using.
Also, remember that the quality of your English is what is being assessed. Don’t spend too long thinking about whether your ideas are “smart” or “intellectual” enough. Think of ideas that are easy to explain; then concentrate on the grammatical forms and vocabulary you need to express these ideas on paper.
- Be realistic.
Becoming proficient at any language takes effort and time. If you score a band or two lower than you would like (for example: you need a band 7, but you get a 5 or 6), it is not advisable to take the test again immediately because you will most likely score a similar band. Take the time to practice your writing skills before you take the test again.
You can even take a practice test (for a small fee), which will be marked by an official IELTS examiner. Your practice test will include a band score and detailed feedback. This exercise will help you know how ready you are to take the test and get the band score you need. This service is called IELTS Progress Check.
- Help is available.
In preparation for your IELTS academic writing, you need to have a plan. There are a host of free online practice materials to help you practice. If you need more help, invest in a teacher who will be able to tell you where you may be going wrong and what to improve on.
Practice for the test as much as you can. You can never be too overprepared.
For information on IELTS practice materials and courses, visit the British Council IELTS Canada prepare page. Good luck with your IELTS preparation!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).