There are many free online IELTS Writing checkers available, and they can be useful when you’re starting your IELTS preparation.
Online writing checkers such as Grammarly can give you simple feedback on your grammar, vocabulary and linking words.
There are more sophisticated versions available that claim they can assess your IELTS writing using the Band Criteria, and give you a grade and feedback in a matter of seconds.
But how accurate and reliable are they?
I tested a few and here are my results. Please let me know of any others that you have tried in the comments section below.
View more details in the PDF.
I used a relatively simple task and response to test the online checkers, because I wanted to be realistic about what is achievable in 40 minutes with no preparation and under the stress of the exam.
I believe that the response below could achieve a Band 9, though I understand that more sophisticated structures and vocabulary could be used if you had more time available.
I also realise that ‘mobile phones’ is repeated several times, but as I always tell my students, sometimes there are simply no synonyms for key words.
Mobile phones have brought many benefits, but they have also had negative effects. Do the disadvantages of having mobile phones outweigh the advantages?
Mobile phones have had an enormous impact on many aspects of our lives. Our personal and professional communication has been profoundly changed by them, and they clearly have many advantages. However, there are several drawbacks to being constantly available and connected to the internet, which I will outline below.
By far the most common criticism of mobile phones is the fact that we are now expected to be available at all hours of the day. Before mobile phones were invented, the time spent away from work was our own, but now it seems that the separation between work and free time has disappeared. In addition, mobile phones pose certain health risks and can be dangerous if drivers use them at the wheel or if people cross busy roads while texting. There have been several mobile-phone related accidents and fatalities. A final negative effect is that in public places such as on the train or at the cinema, there is no escape from the noise of annoying ringtones and loud, one-sided conversations.
On the other hand, there are obvious benefits. The most powerful argument in their favour is that they can be used to call for help in the most inaccessible places, for example when a car breaks down in a remote area, and emergency services can be called to the scene of an accident without delay. Moreover, being easily contactable every minute of the day has real advantages for business people and for working parents.
To sum up, I feel that although there are some clear drawbacks to mobile phones, their efficiency, portability and multi-functional abilities have greatly enhanced most aspects of our lives and the plus points certainly offset the downsides.
IELTS Writing checker 1
The first checker that came up in the search was IELTScdt.com. Here are the results.
Overall Band: 7
- Task Achievement*: 8.5**
- Lexical Resource: 6.5
- Cohesion and Coherence: 6.0
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy: 7.0
What I found unhelpful about this checker was that it was difficult to make sense of the detailed results, which seemed to be a list of meaningless percentages.
For example, my lowest score was 6 for C&C, and the feedback was this – I’m not sure what I should do with all of those numbers:
*’Task Achievement’ is the wrong band criteria – it should only be used for Task 1. ‘Task Response’ is used for Task 2 band criteria. Only ChatGPT got this right.
**Also, it is strange that they use 0.5 scores for each criteria, which does not happen in the real test and makes you wonder where they got their marking system from. Again, only ChatGPT got this right.
IELTS Writing checker 2
The second one to come up in Google search was IELTSpodcast.com (I saw the same version with IELTSing.com so I didn’t test them both).
It gave me a very different set of figures (one Band lower):
Overall Band: 6
- Task Achievement*: 7.0
- Lexical Resource: 6.0
- Cohesion and Coherence: 5.5
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy: 6.5
This checker was more useful because it underlined areas of weakness, and I could hover over them to see what I’d done wrong.
Unfortunately the suggestions for improvement were not good.
For example, instead of ‘many advantages’, it suggested ‘a plethora of advantages’ (nooooooooo!!).
And as a synonym for ‘mobile phone’ it suggested ‘dial’ ‘contact’ or ‘call up’, all of which were completely inappropriate/wrong synonyms.
Finally, it WRONGLY suggested that I use ‘on the contrary’ instead of ‘but’ (it says ‘but’ is too simple). This is a very common mistake I see test-takers make.
It also told me that I DIDN’T
- include an introduction or conclusion (?!)
- answer all parts of the question (?!)
In the real IELTS test, you would get 5 for Task Response if you didn’t answer all parts of the question, but they gave me 7 anyway.
IELTS Writing checker 3
This is an app called essaychecker.ai.
This was probably the least useful checker.
The advice that it gave me on spelling was grammatically wrong – it said I made ‘few’ spelling errors (which means ‘not many’).
That could be very confusing (correct grammar = “a few” errors).
ChatGPT (Best option)
After being disappointed by the results I got from the first two online essay checkers, I asked ChatGPT to review and grade my essay.
I think it was probably the closest to the best response with a brief summary of each criteria.
Overall Band: 7.5
- Task Response*: 8.0
- Lexical Resource: 7.0
- Cohesion and Coherence: 8.0
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy: 7
I asked it to give me more information about the negative points and it went into more detail with helpful suggestions.
For example it said:
“There is a noticeable repetition of words and phrases throughout the essay. For example, the phrase “mobile phones” is used multiple times, especially at the beginning of sentences, which can make the essay sound repetitive and monotonous.”
[I totally agree, but as we’ve seen, it’s almost impossible to find a synonym for ‘mobile phones’.]
Also, like many AI checkers (e.g. Grammarly), ChatGPT did not like my PASSIVE sentences.
Many AI checkers think that the Passive Tense is too formal, but for IELTS it is certainly NOT too formal.
ChatGPT suggested that I change passive to active, which I believe is wrong advice.
The phrase “Before mobile phones were invented, the time spent away from work was our own” could be rephrased to “Before the invention of mobile phones, we had more control over our free time.”
ChatGPT Band 9 essay
Finally, I asked ChatGPT to give me a Band 9 response for this essay question.
It produced a 377-word essay (overlength).
I then asked ChatGPT to evaluate its own Band 9 essay, using the IELTS Band Criteria.
Overall, this essay would likely score a Band 7 or 8 on the IELTS Writing Task 2, due to its effective organization, clear and concise writing, and strong arguments. With a few minor improvements, particularly in terms of grammatical accuracy, the essay could potentially score higher.
Free online IELTS essay checkers can be used to give you a very rough idea about whether you’re writing effectively.
It can tell you some basic errors so that you can fix them.
However, the information and advice that they give is certainly NOT reliable or accurate.
Use them as a starting point if they’re free, but I would be careful about paying any money to get a more detailed response.
Have you used any other computer program that you think I should mention?
Please let me know in the comments below, and I will check them out.
Try my F.I. online IELTS essay checker here:
Watch me help a student figure out how to get past Band 6.5.
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I also tried one of the websites above. The most ridiculous one was ieltsing.com.
It gave a band 5.5 score to a model answer written by IELTS examiner in Cambridge 10 Test 1. hahahahahaahh.
Thank you for sharing your experience Qin.
Did you find a good one?
I’m the founder of essaychecker.ai and thanks for reviewing our app. 🙂
Though little disappointed that you only checked the statistical overview at top and didn’t review the complete feedback section below the essay which gives detailed scores and feedback for cohesion, sentence variety, lexical and grammar criteria.
But we are working and trying our best to improve it.
Thanks once again.
Many thanks for reading my blog and letting me know more information about your essay checker. I will have another look,
I think I need to sign up and give my phone number to see more details.
Yes, you can send me your email id used for signup, we will enable premium account. Till now we have focused on checking sentence variety, cohesion, now soon we are also adding ChatGPT like analysis for Task Response.
Thanks I’ll email you now.
Unfortunately, I do not have access to a teacher who will check my essays at the moment, and which of the sites on the Internet gives the most accurate results, especially in terms of scoring systems?
From the ones I checked in the article above, ChatGPT came out the best, though it wasn’t perfect by any means!
Have you experienced the writing9, do you have any idea about it? I tried 4-5 times, but it felt like the points were given a little too much. Thanks 🙂
Hi Mustafa. No I haven’t tried that one! To be honest I got so tired of seeing such random results that I gave up pretty quickly.
NEW! I just tried https://ielts.yura.ai/ (you get 2 free)
This gave me an accurate score I think, though again it uses the 0.5 Bands for each criteria, which doesn’t happen in the IELTS test.
***UPDATES*** Yura kindly updated the program so that it now only gives WHOLE BANDS for each criteria.
Total Score: 7.5
Task Response: 8
Coherence and Cohesion: 8
Lexical Resource: 7.5
Grammatical Range and Accuracy: 7.5
And it gave me a nice suggestion as a synonym for ‘powerful argument’ (though I don’t recomment using a thesaurus unless you know what you’re doing).
“Use more impressive vocabulary to elevate the language in the essay”.
– Suggestion: Try using a thesaurus to identify and memorize new synonyms for frequently used words.
Example: Instead of “powerful,” use “compelling” or “potent.”
Unfortunately the advice it gave me about a grammar mistake was wrong:
– Lack of article usage in “from work was our own,” should be “from THE work was our own.”
‘work’ does not need a definite article here, as it is a general concept.
NEW! I just tried this with https://feedback.gotlearning.com/
There’s no grading but I got these comments. They are quite VAGUE.
Overall, your writing is good, but you can make some improvements to the narrative structure to create a smoother and more effective flow. Below are some suggestions for how you can improve the transitions in your writing:
– Start with a strong introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and provides context for the topic. You can start by mentioning the ubiquity of mobile phones in modern society and the far-reaching effects they have had on various aspects of our lives.
– In the second paragraph, start with a clear statement about the positive impact of mobile phones, followed by specific examples to support your point. This will make your argument stronger and more convincing. You can then move on to the drawbacks, keeping in mind that you want to keep a balanced approach.
– In the third paragraph, start with a transition phrase like “on the other hand”, followed by a clear statement about the negative impact of mobile phones.
Thank you for this podcast episode about AI-based essay checkers. It put a huge smile on my face when you were sharing your experience with each of the services that you mentioned.
I tried the ieltspodcast.com one months ago and was disappointed. This cannot be used in IELTS prep at all because it is misleading. I wrote and pasted two essays into their checker and both scored not higher than a 6. I took IELTS six times and scored 8.0 in Writing in 5 out of my 6 attempts. So Band 6 is just a joke, together with the ridiculous synonyms that they want me to use.
You reminded me about them today in your podcast, so I tried their checker again to see if it’s become any better. Nothing of the kind! Still 6.
The first thing that is a red flag for me is that they provide scores in half-bands for CC or GRA, which is not the way it works, right? Half-bands are possible only for the total score based on four scoring areas.
The same applies to ChatGPT. The same half-bands.
I spent a good hour talking to ChatGPT, teaching it the IELTS scoring system. It kept apologizing for not knowing the rounding conventions in IELTS, which made it rather confusing even for the bot itself. It recalculated the scores several times and couldn’t really produce the right overall one.
However, I did like the way it caught some minor mistakes in my grammar and offered some improvements in wording some complex sentences. Very useful! And it did great at checking my GT letters. The scores were close to reality.
I still think that nothing can be compared to a good old human brain able to ‘feel’ the language and look at any essay from four different perspectives covered in the band descriptors. But AI is progressing so rapidly that it’s getting kind of scary:) Will us teachers have to re-invent what we do, say, in a few coming years?:)
I’ve been teaching IELTS in Kazakhstan for more than 10 years and have checked thousands of essays, helping my students understand what IELTS wants them to do in Writing.
By the way, I’ve been listening to your podcast for years and I always recommend it to my students because I absolutely love the way you break Reading, Listening and grammar into pieces! This cannot be any better – please bring more! Thank you ever so much for being so dedicated to teaching and giving so much help to the world!
Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience with us. I definitely agree that these checkers can be helpful for noticing minor errors but I agree that teachers will be able to give much more meaningful feedback when it comes to IELTS.
Thank you for listening to my podcast and for taking the time to write this!
Muhammad Danish says
Hello there, I faced the same problem while looking for an online essay checker today. Is there any website that could help me achieve my desired band score and correct it similarly to the way IELTS marks the essays?
Many thanks for your comment. If I find what you’re looking for, I will update my blog.