People often ask me to review their writing a day or two before their test date. With only a few days to go before a test, there is not a lot you can change in your writing. However, there are key changes you can make to the way you approach the test on the day – changes that can have an impact on your score.
Here are some tips for during your IELTS writing test:
Writing task 1
- Consider doing this task second so that you only spend 20 minutes on it.
- For GT, spend a few moments thinking about the situation. Think about who you are writing to and why you are writing. To help you write in the correct tone, think of a real person you know and imagine you are writing to them. Use each bullet point as a new paragraph.
- For Academic, spend some time looking at the information to make sure you interpret it accurately. Think about the main points and make sure to compare the information if it is relevant to do so, and write an overview.
Writing Task 2
- To achieve the best score that you can in Task response, before you write, spend a few moments thinking about what the question is about and what you are being asked to discuss. Consider the issue, then decide how you feel about it. This will tell you what your position is. Writing about what you actually think and feel, and about what you know, will help you to write clearly and logically. In my experience, when people write about what they really feel, their position is clear throughout.
- Don’t begin writing without first organising your thoughts. Remember, writing is thinking we can see, so thinking must be involved in your planning. Clear thinking will result in clearer writing.
- To improve your Coherence and cohesion score, make sure that you write a rough plan of your main points. This will help you to organise your paragraphs and ideas logically.
- When you are writing, make sure that each point follows on logically from the next. The following extract from one of my Facebook posts shows a common problem with Coherence and cohesion. The paragraph was part of a candidate’s answer to a question about compulsory community service from Cambridge test book 9. I have corrected the language problems so that we can focus on the coherence problem, which is shown in red.
In this next image, I have taken the ideas from the paragraph and tried to show how they should act like stepping stones forming a path that the reader can follow. As you can see, the example used is not logically connected to the other ideas in the paragraph, so it causes the reader to get lost:
5. Finally, aim to write in a way that is clear, not in a way that shows off as much of the high-level vocabulary you have learned.
I often use 2 birds to help make this point: a carrier pigeon and a peacock.
A carrier pigeon is a very ordinary bird, but it can be used to carry important messages, which it does so in a very fast and efficient way.
In contrast, a peacock spends a great deal of time walking in circles and showing off its wonderful feathers. We would never think of using a peacock to carry an important message so don’t turn into a vocabulary peacock during the test.
For more tips and advice, be sure to read The Key to IELTS Success.