Some people consider Writing the most difficult part of the test, as it requires a number of different Writing Skills – basic skills such as
- good grammar,
- good spelling
- good vocabulary
- good organisation
but also more sophisticated, advanced skills such as the ability to
- think critically
- to argue well
- to answer the question fully
- to organise your thoughts so that they are clear
This all takes time, no matter what your starting point is.
Different countries have different writing cultures, so you may be an advanced English writer but you then have to
- adapt to the expected IELTS writing style and format
- keep within the word count limit
- do all of this within the very strict time limit.
It is a lot to improve, so you have to adjust your expectations about IELTS Writing – getting a higher score will take longer than you think.
With consistent action and by following reliable advice, you can expect to increase your Band score by 0.5 – 1 point in about 6 months.
Make sure that you leave plenty of time to focus on improving your Writing score.
How to improve your writing: general advice
When you become more familiar with academic-style writing, it will have a noticeable effect on your Task 2 Writing (and Academic Task 1).
Start reading IELTS-style texts now and do deliberate practice – not just skimming and scanning.
Read closely and carefully, taking notes, examining grammar, checking vocabulary and asking yourself difficult questions about the text:
- What is the purpose of the text?
- What is the writer’s opinion?
- How is the text structured to help the reader understand the writer’s purpose?
- What is the aim of each paragraph?
- How does the writer achieve their goal?
Once you start doing this, it will be easier to apply the features of good writing to your own writing.
2. Use model answers
Use a reliable source for your model answers. I see a lot of “Band 9” models online that are nowhere near Band 9.
Analyse model answers closely (I’ve done some for you on the website).
Ask questions about the model answers – what makes them Band 9? e.g. for Task 2 essays:
- Is the language complex and confusing, or clear and easy to read?
- How is the answer structured?
- How does the writer argue their points?
- How does the writer support their arguments?
- How many words does the writer need to make their point clearly?
- How many points does the writer make?
3. Get reliable feedback
It sounds obvious, but you can’t improve if you’re not getting any feedback, or if you’re getting BAD feedback from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
4. Analyse your feedback
Don’t just look at the score. In fact, don’t look at the score at all. Focus on the performance, not the outcome.
Listen to what your teacher tells you, and keep notes. Do you notice the same mistakes again and again? What can you do about them?
Most popular IELTS Writing Lessons
- How to answer ‘To what extent do you agree?’ questions
- 14 simple ways to improve your IELTS Writing Score.
- How to plan and structure a Task 2 essay.
- How to use different types of structures effectively.
- How to make your writing more complex – 10 ways and a YouTube 10-minute tutorial.
- How to write a Band 9 Essay
- Task 2 structures that strengthen your argument.
- Get more advice on the official IELTS website (IELTS.org)
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