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IELTS Writing Task 2 Errors - Don't Commit Them! - Article

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

In order to prevent the occurrence of common writing errors, it is imperative to be cognizant of the most apparent ones. Further information on these mistakes can be found below.

1) Not reading instructions carefully.

It is essential to read the instructions of a IELTS Writing task 2 carefully so that you can understand the question and identify the requirements for the essay. By reading the instructions, you will be able to determine what kind of essay you need to write and what information should be included in it. Furthermore, if you fail to read the instructions, you may miss out on important details and this could result in a lower score on the test.

Some IELTS Writing task 2 questions ask for your opinion, while others ask for a general discussion of the topic. It is important to understand what type of essay you need to write and what information should be included in it. Failing to understand the task requirements can lead to a loss of marks as you may not address all the parts of the question relevantly.

IELTS Writing task 2 essays typically require a minimum of 250 words. It is important to meet this requirement as short answers can lose marks. On the other hand, writing too much can also be a problem as there are no extra marks for long answers.

2) Failing to plan or structure your essay beforehand.

Planning and structuring your essay is an important step in the IELTS Writing task 2. Without a plan or structure, your essay may lack clarity, focus, and consistency. Planning your ideas and arguments before you start writing will help you organize your thoughts and keep on track with your essay's argument.

Additionally, having a clear structure for your essay will make it easier for the examiner to follow your line of reasoning and understand your ideas. A well-structured essay will also help you to stay focused on the task and avoid going off topic, which can result in a lower score.

3) Not including enough examples.

It is important to include enough examples when writing for the IELTS writing task 2 because they can provide evidence to support arguments and help to illustrate an idea or point. By including enough examples, the essay will be more persuasive and convincing. Examples also help to explain and break down an idea or point, making it easier for the reader to understand. Examples can also provide an insight into the writer’s understanding of the topic. Finally, including enough examples within the essay helps to add depth to the essay.

The number of examples included in an IELTS Writing Task 2 essay depends on the number of main points being discussed. Generally, one or two examples per main point is appropriate.

Having a clear, specific, and well-explained example can be more effective than having multiple examples that are not well-developed. The goal is to provide adequate evidence to support your argument and to illustrate and explain your ideas in a clear and understandable manner.

Additionally, the quality of the examples is more important than the quantity. The examples you choose should be relevant to the topic and help to reinforce your main argument. They should also be well-explained and easy for the reader to understand.

4) Not answering the question directly.

It is important to answer the question directly in IELTS writing task 2 because the examiners will be looking for evidence that you have understood and analysed the question and its requirements. By failing to answer the question directly, the candidate risks missing out on introducing relevant information and examples which are necessary to receive a good score.

Moreover, direct responses to the question demonstrate that the candidate understands the task and is able to develop a logical structure which contains both relevant facts and persuasive arguments. As such, the examiner can evaluate the response appropriately and make an accurate judgement about the candidate’s English language level.

Lastly, by failing to answer the question directly, the candidate risks wasting valuable time by introducing irrelevant information and arguments which are not directly related to the question. The candidate will thus become confused and the response will lack cohesion and structure, which could diminish their score.

In short, it is important to answer the question directly in IELTS writing task 2 as this can improve the candidate's score by ensuring that they have understood the question and are able to develop a logical and coherent response that is directly associated with the question.

5) Not organizing your ideas clearly.

Organizing your ideas clearly is an important factor when writing for the IELTS Writing Task 2. This is because it helps the reader to understand the essay better, and it makes the essay flow more smoothly. The essay should be organized in a logical fashion, from the introduction to the conclusion. The body of the essay should contain clear and concise arguments that support the overall point of the essay.

Organizing an essay in a logical manner will make the essay easier for the test-takers to read and understand. This is beneficial for the test-taker, because it will help them to stay focused on the main points and to build strong arguments. Furthermore, having a clear structure to the essay, with easy-to-follow transitions, will also help the examiner to easily follow the argument. This will make it easier to assess the essay and, in turn, to award higher marks.

Organizing one's ideas also makes the essay more cohesive, as it helps create a consistent argument or discussion throughout. This is key for the IELTS Writing Task 2, as the examiners look for well-rounded, polished pieces of writing. By organizing your ideas in a logical way, you will be able to demonstrate your understanding and knowledge of the essay topic, as well as your ability to effectively communicate these ideas in an organized and clear way.

A good example of a clear and organized IELTS Writing Task 2 essay would have:

  • A clear introduction that states the main topic and position

  • Paragraphs that are focused on a specific idea or point and are structured with a clear topic sentence and supporting sentences

  • A logical flow of ideas that connect the paragraphs together and lead to a strong conclusion

  • A consistent position throughout the essay

  • A conclusion that restates the position and summarizes the main ideas discussed in the essay

A bad example of an unorganized IELTS Writing Task 2 essay would have:

  • A vague or unclear introduction that does not state the main topic or position

  • Paragraphs that are not focused on a specific idea or point and lack a clear structure

  • A disjointed flow of ideas that do not connect the paragraphs together and lead to a weak conclusion

  • An inconsistent or shifting position throughout the essay

  • A conclusion that does not restate the position or summarize the main ideas discussed in the essay.

6) Using overly complicated sentence structures and inaccurate grammar.

It is important to use correct grammar and sentence structures when writing an essay for the IELTS Writing task 2, as incorrect grammar and overly complicated sentence structures can make your essay difficult to read and understand.

An example of a long, convoluted sentence written in academic English is:

  • "The author proposes that through the use of fundamental methods, the understanding and mastery of technology can be honed."

An alternative sentence written in clear and precise English:

  • "The author suggests that we can improve our understanding and ability to use technology by using basic methods."

7) Not getting to the point quickly enough.

It is important to get to the point quickly in IELTS Writing Task 2 because of the limited timeframe and word count. You have a limited amount of time to make your main points, so it's important to be concise and to get to the point without beating around the bush. This ensures that your ideas are well-articulated, organized, and comprehensive. Additionally, getting to the point quickly allows you to cover all the required aspects of the task and to present your arguments in a persuasive manner.

Example 1:

Long Winded Sentence: "Our understanding of the current state of the economy and its impact on people's lives has been drastically improved by recent technological developments."

Better: Technology has significantly improved our understanding of the economy.

Example 2:

Long Winded Sentence: "The utilization of modern approaches in business operations, emphasizing customer service and satisfaction, has led to increased profits and success for many companies."

Better: Modern business approaches have improved company profits and success.

8) Misusing or overusing certain words.

Misusing or overusing certain words can be detrimental to one's performance on the IELTS Writing Task 2. Not only does it indicate a lack of understanding of proper English language conventions, but it also can hinder clarity and impede communication between writer and reader. For instance, using "very" excessively can make an essay seem exaggerated and unprofessional; similarly, repeating the same word multiple times in a sentence makes for dull writing that fails to engage readers effectively. Additionally, incorrect use of homophones (words that sound alike but have different spellings/meanings) such as “their” versus “they’re” or “its” versus “it's” can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Misusing or overusing certain words can affect the quality of your writing and make it less effective in conveying your ideas.

Good example:

In writing, it's important to use a variety of vocabulary to enhance the reader's understanding and make the writing more engaging. For instance, instead of always using the word "good," you could use synonyms such as "excellent," "superb," or "outstanding." This will help to add depth and interest to your writing.

Bad example:

On the other hand, overusing certain words or expressions can make your writing repetitive and boring. For example, if you constantly use the phrase "at the end of the day," it will lose its impact and become meaningless. It's better to use a variety of expressions to convey your ideas, such as "in conclusion," "ultimately," or "in the final analysis."

In conclusion, using a varied vocabulary is important in writing to convey your ideas effectively, while overusing certain words can diminish the impact of your writing.

9) Relying too heavily on an informal or casual style of writing.

The IELTS Writing Task 2 requires a more formal style of writing. Relying too heavily on an informal or casual tone can make the essay seem immature, unprofessional and lacking in structure. For example, instead of using contractions (e.g., "it's"), use full words ("it is"); when introducing ideas, avoid slang vocabulary and opt for more sophisticated language; also avoid starting sentences with conjunctions such as “and”, “but” or “so” as this can detract from one's overall argumentative focus. By adhering to a more formal style of writing and avoiding colloquialisms where applicable, writers will be better able to effectively communicate their arguments with clarity and precision during the IELTS exam.

10) Being too repetitive in your writing.

Repeating words and phrases in writing may negatively impact a person's IELTS Writing Task 2 score, as it displays a lack of fluency and flexibility in the use of varied vocabulary to communicate accurately. To avoid this, use a range of synonyms (words with similar meanings) to ensure that each point is expressed clearly yet variedly. Additionally, try to avoid repeating words like “also” or “furthermore” too frequently; instead, transition ideas using cohesive devices such as pronouns and conjunctions which are more effective at linking thoughts together whilst maintaining a formal style. Lastly, when making comparisons or contrasting two points of view, use different structures rather than simply restating the same point multiple times so that your writing remains interesting and engaging for readers.

11) Copying the task

Examiners will not award extra points for using text from the task verbatim in an essay. If any text is copied directly, it will not be taken into consideration when calculating the total word count and will not help the essay. To prevent this, it is important to rephrase and summarize the text to create your own introduction, which can easily be done by paraphrasing.


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