Some time ago I began publishing the tips I’ve received from Vasco Medeiros, our previous IELTS results competition winner, who got an Overall Band Score of 8.0. Thanks to those methods Vasco was able to score as high as he did.
Even though I had to interrupt the sequence of his tips to deliver the most recent exam updates to you, I hadn’t forgotten about the rest of them – his advice makes a lot of sense to me, and may help you with your exam preparation. Today it’s Writing tips, the previously published Reading tips are here and the Listening tips are here.
This was, by far, the most difficult and challenging task for me, since I haven’t written anything in English since high school, many years ago. I can recall the first essay I’ve written: it took me 3 or 4 days to write it in my spare time with lots of thinking, planning, browsing the dictionary and grabbing words to express my thoughts on paper.
The reason I say this is simply for you to persist and try again even if the first attempts seen frustrating or greatly exceed the time limits. Don’t let this hold you back! By browsing the dictionary and writing down unfamiliar words, you will minimize spelling mistakes that cost you points!
This was also the section where IELTS-blog was more helpful to me, with the writing tips and essay examples. I read lots of them and even printed some band 7 and 8 essays in order to study the structure and vocabulary more closely. Learn from the best. If you persevere, you will write at their level.
Plan your report or essay before you actually start writing it. Those 2-4 initial minutes in planning can save you a lot of time and frustration while writing because you don’t have to worry about structure and sequence of ideas later on. With practice you will be even able to produce texts within the word limits without having to count the words every time.
If possible, have a teacher review your work and correct your mistakes. My own method was to complete the writing tasks in exam conditions in pencil on paper. Then I would type my text and mail it to my teacher for correction. This way I would immediately be aware of the number of words I’ve written (keep an eye on the “word count” functionality of your software) and got some basic spelling mistakes corrected right there. Them my teacher would review and correct my texts giving me valuable feedback both by e-mail and in the class.
After a few weeks of typing, I installed voice recognition software to speed things up. Instead of typing I just had to read aloud my hand-written text. Since the accuracy of the voice recognition software depends on how well you pronounce it, you can imagine how my speaking improved: I had to pronounce the words/phrases correctly for my words appear on the screen. Feedback in real-time! And it also saved me many hours of cumbersome typing in the process.