Getting an IELTS score of 6 or higher on the writing test isn’t difficult, but you need to prepare appropriately. In this lesson, we’re going to discuss the ten simple tips to help you prepare for the IELTS writing test to perform your best on exam day.
IELTS Writing Test Format- Academic Writing
The test-takers need to complete two tasks in the academic writing test. Let us discuss these two tasks elaborately:
In task one, the test takers are asked to describe some visual information (graph, table, chart, diagram) in their own words. They have to write at least 150 words within 20 minutes. If they fail to fulfill this requirement or write a concise answer, they will be penalized. They also keep in mind that they have to answer the given topic and avoid irrelevant information.
The test takers are given to write about an academic and semi-formal neutral style in task two. They must read the task carefully, and after reading the task, they need to provide complete and relevant information. Here they also need to avoid irrelevant responses.
They will be penalized if they provide any irrelevant information. They have to write at least 250 words within 40 minutes and avoid short answers. Finally, they should keep in mind that they do not directly copy from the question paper.
IELTS Writing Test Format- General Training Writing
The test-takers also need to complete two general training writing test tasks. Let us discuss these two tasks elaborately:
In task one of general training writing, the test takers are presented with a situation, and they need to write a personal response in the form of an informal, semi-formal, or formal letter. The length should be at least 150 words in the answer booklet provided. They are asked to write about common everyday situations.
The writing style depends according to the audience they are asked to write and how well they are familiar with them. In task one, The test takers should spend 20 minutes and write at least 150 words. They also keep in mind that they will be penalized if they provide any irrelevant information and an off-topic answer.
The test takers have to write a semi-formal/discursive essay in task two. They are provided the topics of general interest. The length should be at least 250 words, and they have to write a full answer with relevant information. They will be penalized if they provide any irrelevant information. They will get 40 minutes to complete the task.
10 Simple Tips to Prepare for the IELTS Writing Test
Now it’s time to find out the 10 simple and easy tips to prepare for the IELTS writing test:
1. Understand the writing test format
The IELTS writing test contains two tasks: an essay and a letter. The essay lasts 40 minutes, and in that time, you’ll have to write at least 250 words. The IELTS letter takes 20 minutes, during which time you must write at least 150 words.
The scoring rubric is straightforward: In both cases, your writing will be scored from 0-9, with 9 being the best. You’ll receive different scores for grammar, vocabulary, and task achievement.
2. Get used to using your writing skills
It might seem obvious, but you need to write as much as possible. Taking a few minutes every day (or even once a week) will help you get into writing mode and train your brain on how to formulate words into sentences that make sense. It’s also a good idea to start using some of those words in conversation—that way, when it comes time for test day, you won’t be stuck thinking about what word to use.
Start by introducing yourself with an icebreaker during class or when going out with friends: Tell them about where you grew up and what hobbies you have—it’ll keep your vocabulary fresh and allow you to practice listening skills simultaneously.
3. Write consistently
IELTS writing is scored on a nine-point scale, ranging from zero (minimum) to nine (maximum). Even if you get all your grammar and spelling correct, a weak structure and flow can bring down your score, even more than an error here or there.
The key to writing well in IELTS is producing consistently strong answers. Before you take any test section of IELTS, be sure that you have practiced writing several essays in your target band; aim for at least two total hours of practice per week.
4. Use time wisely
Time is a significant factor in how well you do on test days, so it’s important to use your time wisely. IELTS writing test questions are more complex than their counterparts on other English exams because they require effective expression and demonstrate your ability to meet deadlines. For that reason, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time and resources when writing an essay.
Make sure you have a quiet place (preferably one without distractions) and enough time (always better over-prepare rather than under-prepare). It’s also important to set a timer while writing so you stay within your word limit; if your essay goes over, a low score is likely in your future.
Most importantly, don’t forget that practice makes perfect: if you want high scores on these essays, practice will help ensure success.
6. Practice common grammatical structures
In general, there are two types of questions in an IELTS writing test: a discussion question and a factual/descriptive question. For both, you must write at least 250 words. While these topics may appear easy on paper, it’s quite challenging to make your points quickly enough. After all, you don’t want your essay coming in under or over length!
To prepare for those standard requirements, you must practice common grammatical structures—from recognizing subtle differences between adjectives and adverbs (such as saying the quick brown fox rather than the fast brown fox) to knowing when they’re needed versus not.
7. When planning an essay – think in paragraphs
Paragraphs allow writers to structure their thoughts and arguments clearly and concisely. If you’re not able to write in paragraphs, it might be because you don’t have a plan of what you want to say – or what you need to say.
When planning an essay, take time to write down your main points and then try using them in an actual paragraph. Ask yourself if each point is directly related to your thesis statement – does it contribute to making your argument?
You can even try organizing your points in a pyramid format: At first, your pyramid will be very narrow at its peak; once finished, however, it should look broad and strong as if ready for anything.
8. Watch out for commonly confused words in academic English
This can help you catch and correct those mistakes when writing your essays. Many people don’t realize that these commonly confused words are a big mistake because there is no equivalent word in their native language.
These words include effect vs. affect, which vs. that, then vs. than, where vs. were, etc., but remember it is all about context, so if you have doubts about which one to use, ask yourself where am I? (location) or when am I? (time).
9. Double check your spelling and grammar mistakes
It’s simple but important. As you can see in the exam, even one spelling or grammar error would lose you some marks. So before submitting your essay, make sure you proofread it carefully. If possible, make a habit of doing it every time you submit an essay.
Doing so is a good practice for other types of writing as well. For instance, typos are easy to miss when sending emails or writing reports – and costly too.
Many colleges request that you prepare several essays when applying; therefore, it’s worth checking each essay carefully. Moreover, having a colleague read your work will give you better feedback on how others perceive what you have written: their perspective may be quite different from yours!
10. Proofread and revision
We can’t stress enough how important it is to proofread and revise your essays for a higher score on the writing test. No matter how much time you spend crafting an answer, a poorly constructed sentence will lose you points.
Keep in mind that you have 40 minutes for essay writing- if you don’t have time to proofread and revise, then make sure that each answer takes 15-20 minutes to have enough leftover. It’s not worth sacrificing your points because of a simple error! It might be tempting to leave all of your papers blank, but we don’t recommend it.
If you’re looking forward to taking an international English language test, such as TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS, there are a few things you should know about their writing component. By following these ten simple tips, you’ll be able to prepare yourself and improve your IELTS writing test score on time!
Azizul Hakim is the founder & CEO of englishfinders.com. He is a passionate writer, English instructor, and content creator. He has completed his graduation and post-graduation in English language and literature.