Writing Test Advice
Follow this Writing test advice, and make sure you know how to manage your time.
Write your answers in pen or pencil. You may write entirely in capital letters if you wish.
You may make notes on the question paper, but nothing you write on the question paper will be marked.
Make the most of your Writing test:
- Analyse each task properly and spend some time making notes
- Highlight or underline key words in the tasks to make sure that you focus on what you have to do
- Plan your answers
- Use paragraphs clearly; put one idea in each paragraph
- Do not repeat ideas using different words
- Do not copy whole sentences from the question – you will receive no marks for this
- Keep to the topic; do not write about unrelated subjects
- Manage your time; remember, Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1
- Spend approximately 20 minutes on Task 1 and approximately 40 minutes on Task 2
- Pay attention to the number of words required for each task; you will lose marks if you do not write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2
- Learn to recognize how long 150 and 250 words look in your handwriting; you will not have time to count during the test
- You must write your answers in full; answers written in note form or in bullet points will lose marks
- Pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation; you will lose marks for mistakes
- Avoid informal language
- Do not memorize model answers; examiners are trained to recognize them and your test will be invalid
- Spend several minutes re-reading and correcting your answers
IELTS Writing – 10 Tips
Here are 10 of my top IELTS writing tips. They focus on the writing process in the exam. Much the most important tip is number 1. If you are a band score 8.0 candidate, you may want to check out my other essay writing tips for more advanced candidates.
Read the Question – Answer the Question
Rule number 1 is to answer the question: read the question carefully and underline all the information you need to include. This works differently in the essay and the report.
In the essay, often you will find background information and the question itself. Make sure you answer the question
(eg “Do you agree?”) and do not write generally about the topic. If you copy another essay you have written on the same topic, you will lose a lot of marks.
In task 1, all the information you need to include is in the chart/graph: make sure you identify the key points before you start writing.
Don’t start writing too soon – Think and plan!
It is important to finish both pieces of writing, but the way to do this is not necessarily starting to write immediately. If you do that, you may get half way through the writing and realise you cannot finish it. Only start writing when you know how you are going to finish.
In the essay this can mean up to 10 minutes and in the task 1 report it can mean up to 5 minutes. The more you think, the better and more quickly you will write. 2/3 minutes is almost certainly not enough. For more detail on this, try looking at Planning an IELTS essay – the 10 minute solution.
Write Enough Words
250 means AT LEAST 250 and 150 means AT LEAST 150.
Don’t write too many words
The more words you write, you more mistakes you are likely to make. The more words you write, the less efficient you become and the quality will fall. The ideal is to aim for between 260 – 280 words in the essay and 160-180 words in the report.
Don’t copy whole sections of the question
If you copy whole sections of the question, the examiner will not include those words in your word count: 260 words can become 230 words if you are not careful.
Time is your enemy – Have a plan and a watch
Timing can be a problem. It is important to keep moving and stick to your timing. Don’t be tempted to spend more than 40 minutes on your essay – you need 20 minutes to answer task 1 properly.
Task 1 and Task 2 – Which do you answer first?
The essay is worth twice the marks of the report. One idea is to do task 2 (the essay) before task 1(the report), just to ensure you finish the essay. You do need to spend at least 20 minutes on part 1 though. Do not try to answer it in 15 minutes.
Check Your Writing
It is important to check your writing for grammatical errors. You need to have a checklist before you enter the exam of what mistakes you typically make.
Think About Range of Vocabulary
You should also check your writing for unnecessary word repetition – you are graded on the variety of your language. You should note that this does not mean you need to use long, complex words, rather it means you should use precise words.
Think About The Examiner – Use Paragraphs Well
The examiner will not spend very long grading your paper. You need to create an immediate good impression and the best way to do this in my experience is to present a well-structured piece of writing with clearly laid out paragraphs. This way the examiner is going to be on your side. If, however, it looks disorganized, the examiner is not going to be impressed.