Writing tips

How to prepare to IELTS Writing test, tips and techniques that really work

Do’s and don’ts of IELTS essays (Band 7+)

As promised, today we are sharing Kathrine’s tips for writing a high scoring IELTS essay. Following these simple principles increased her Band score from 7 to 8.5 in Writing, and the same can happen for you! If you aren’t familiar with the term “do’s and don’ts”, it’s really simple: do’s are the things you should do, and don’ts are the things you should avoid.

The Do’s of IELTS Essay

– Conciseness (8-15 words per sentence)
– Cohesion (link ideas, paragraphs, sentences together)
– Coherence (all ideas should be easily understood by the reader)
– Composition (use the correct essay structure)
– Answer the question fully (cover all points asked in the task statement)

Band 7+ essays need

a) more complex sentence structure
b) more complex vocabulary
c) more complex grammatical use and variation

– Use the official writing task 2 form to practice and check what 250 words look like in your own handwriting
– Read many essay topics
– Read many sample essays
– Know the right structure for all essay types
– Know when to give your opinion

– Add examples from your own experience if asked
– Use smart words and noun groups
– Use punctuation correctly
– Separate the arguments “for” and “against” into different paragraphs
– Use the right tone (essays are always formal)
– Only use possessive/personal pronouns when giving your opinion
– Lead from one paragraph to another well – connecting words are vital!
– Vary grammar
– Write neatly as it values the reader-writer relationship
– Write maturely to reflect mature way of thinking
– Make a plan in 3-5 minutes: it makes your essay more organised, mature and conveys the positive image of YOU.
– Make your opinion very clear: formal and reasoned point of view, give details.

The Don’ts of IELTS Essay

– Write too many words if your English is average (aim for 250-265)
– Use contractions such as “don’t”, “shouldn’t”, etc
– Overuse connecting words (assessors expect that!)
– Jump from one idea to the next: link, link, link!
– Mix arguments “for” and “against” in the same paragraph
– Use the wrong tone (essays are always formal)
– Use abbreviations
– Repeat words or overuse primitive verbs (does, makes, gets)
– Cross out many things
– Write illegibly
– Use idioms too frequently or inappropriately
– Write in a babyish manner (bad grammar and poorly developed ideas)
– Become a clock victim (constantly look at the clock and panic)
– Start writing without a plan
– Forget to leave a blank line between paragraphs
– Use generalisations (“All”, “Every”) as this reflects an immature way of thinking
– Use simple sentences if you want a high score
– Use cliches as they are often too informal
– Use ‘lazy’ expressions (“and so on”, “etc”).
– Copy part of task question
– Agree with both sides – choose one side to make your opinion clear
– Let adrenaline make you arrogant
– Go off topic

These tips are not exhaustive but will give you some important points how to pass the IELTS Writing test with a high Band Score.

Writing Task 1 letter – is the order important?

Have you ever thought about the order of information in your GT Writing Task 1 letter? Have you ever wondered if there’s a specific order in which you should write all the information that the task statement requires? Here is what you need to know:

The GT Writing Task 1 statement usually asks you to write a letter to someone, including the reason why you are writing and some bullet points with information for you to include in your letter.

For example, the task statement can be:

You are travelling next month to stay with a host family you do not know as part of a student exchange program.

Write a letter to the family to introduce yourself. In your letter,
– say when and how you will be arriving
– tell the family a little about yourself
– ask about the weather to pack suitable clothes

A student asked a very good question: what will happen if you write about the bullet points, but NOT in the same order they appear in the task statement? Will your score go down if, for example, you first write about yourself (2nd bullet point), then about when you will be arriving (1st bullet point) and then ask about the weather (3rd bullet point)?

The answer is – your score will not suffer if you write in a different order from the task statement. If your letter is long enough (at least 150 words), has no spelling errors, is grammatically correct and written using the appropriate tone and vocabulary, you don’t have anything to worry about.

One thing to keep in mind though is that often there is logic to the order of bullet points, and following that logic may be easier than re-arranging it. This means that if you write in the same order of bullet points, your letter will turn out coherent and there will be a logical progression. However, if you can write a good logical letter with all the information in a different order from that of bullet points’ – that would be absolutely fine.

You can find more writing tips in our new book, ‘IELTS Success Formula’ – go here to learn more.