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IELTS Academic Writing Test Strategies - Article

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

Essentials


The IELTS Writing test consists of two tasks, Task 1 and Task 2. It's important to allocate your time effectively between the two tasks to ensure that you have enough time to complete both tasks to the best of your ability.


Task 1 is a task that requires you to write a 150-word response to a given prompt, such as a graph, table, or chart. Task 1 is designed to assess your ability to understand and summarize information presented in visual form.


Task 2 is a more complex task that requires you to write an essay in response to a given prompt. The essay should be 250 words long and address the prompt with a clear argument and supporting evidence. Task 2 is designed to assess your ability to write an essay in English, including your ability to use a wide range of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structures.


It's recommended to spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. This will give you enough time to thoroughly read the prompt, plan your response, and write a well-structured essay with good grammar and vocabulary. The total time for the Writing test is 60 minutes.



Academic Task 1

Before you write

Read the task and make a mental summary of the key points and overall trends/stages.
  • Why? Because if you misinterpret the data or diagram, you will lose a lot of marks for content.


Additionally, you should also identify the type of diagram or data you are presented with and understand the purpose of the information being presented. This will help you determine the most appropriate way to present the information in your essay.


For example, if the data is presented in a bar graph, you should focus on comparing and contrasting the different bars to highlight any trends or patterns. If the information is presented in a table, you should focus on presenting specific data points and making comparisons between the different rows or columns.


It is also important to consider the time frame of the data and whether there are any significant events or changes that might have affected the results. This will help you understand the context of the information and give you a better perspective on the trends or patterns you are observing.


Finally, it is important to consider the audience for your essay and write in a clear and concise manner that is easy for them to understand. This will help you present the information in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the reader.


As you write


Introduce the information, in a sentence or two, using your own words.


  • Why? Because if you copy the question, the examiner will not count these words.


Summarise the key points and use data to illustrate these.


  • Why? Because you will lose marks if you miss key points or fail to illustrate them.


Include an overview of the information - either in your introduction or conclusion.


  • Why? Because you will lose marks if your answer does not contain an overview.


It is crucial to present the information in a clear and concise manner. Firstly, you should introduce the information in your own words, as the examiner will not count the words you copy from the question. Secondly, it is important to summarize the key points and use data or graphs to illustrate these, as this will help show your understanding of the information. Lastly, you should include an overview of the information, either in your introduction or conclusion, as this will demonstrate your ability to synthesize the information and provide a comprehensive response. This will help you earn a higher score on your task 1 writing.


How you write


Try to show that you can use your own words (wherever possible) and a range of grammatical structures.


  • Why? Because you will get more marks for vocabulary and grammar if you can do this.


Divide your answer into paragraphs and use linkers to connect your ideas.


  • Why? Because you will get more marks if you can organise your answer well and use a range of linking and reference words.


It is important to demonstrate your English language proficiency and writing skills. To achieve this, it is recommended that you try to use your own words and a range of grammatical structures in your answer. This will help you earn more marks for vocabulary and grammar.


Additionally, it is recommended that you divide your answer into paragraphs and use linkers and reference words to connect your ideas. This will show the examiner that you are able to organize your thoughts and ideas in a clear and coherent manner, which will help you earn more marks for coherence and cohesion.


When you have finished


Count your words to make sure you have written enough.


Why? Because short answers lose marks. (There are no extra marks for long answers.)


Check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation.


Why? Because mistakes in these areas can reduce your marks.


After you have finished writing task 1 in the IELTS Academic module, it is important to double-check your answer to make sure you have met the requirements of the task.


Firstly, it is important to count your words and make sure you have written enough, as short answers may lose marks. The word count requirement for task 1 is typically 150 words.


Secondly, it is important to check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as mistakes in these areas can reduce your marks. Taking the time to carefully proofread your answer will help ensure that you present a polished and professional response, which will improve your overall score.



Essay Writing (TASK 2)


Before you write


Read the task instructions carefully: Make sure you understand what the task is asking you to do, and what the key requirements are. This will help you to focus your thoughts and plan your essay effectively.


Brainstorm ideas: Take a few minutes to think about the topic and jot down any relevant ideas that come to mind. This will help you to get a better understanding of the topic and identify the most important points you want to include in your essay.


Plan your essay: Decide on the main ideas you want to discuss and the order in which you want to present them. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay has a clear structure.


Research the topic: If necessary, gather information from reliable sources to support your arguments and opinions. This will help you to provide well-informed and accurate responses to the task question.


Make an outline: Write down a rough outline of your essay, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. This will help you to see the overall structure of your essay and make any necessary changes before you start writing.


Set aside enough time: Give yourself enough time to plan, research, write, and review your essay. Avoid rushing the process, as this can lead to mistakes and a lower-quality essay.


As you write


Introduce your answer in your own words and make your position clear (if required). You may state your position here as well.


  • Why? Because the examiner will not count copied material as part of your total word count.


Present your main ideas clearly and use examples to support them.


  • Why? Because you will get more marks if your ideas are clear and well-supported.


Write a conclusion and re-state your position.


  • Why? Because your examiner will expect to find a logical conclusion and a consistent position.


In addition to the advice given above, here are some other tips for writing the body of your essay:


Use clear and concise language: Avoid using overly complex language and technical terms that may confuse the reader. Stick to simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand.


Good example:


The use of renewable energy sources has increased significantly in recent years, due to a growing concern for the environment and a desire to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. This trend has resulted in the development of new technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines that are more efficient and cost-effective than ever before.


Bad example:


The proliferation of renewable energy sources has been facilitated by the upsurge in environmental consciousness and a proclivity towards mitigating dependency on fossil fuels. This has led to a proliferation of cutting-edge technologies, such as photovoltaic systems and wind energy conversion systems, which have been optimized to be more economically viable and technologically sophisticated.


In the good example, the language is clear, concise, and easy to understand. The ideas are presented in a straightforward manner, making it easy for the reader to follow. In the bad example, the language is complex and overly technical, making it difficult for the reader to understand the ideas being presented.


Use logical paragraph structure: Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence and supporting sentences. Make sure the transition between paragraphs is smooth and logical.


Use linking words: Use linking words and phrases to connect your ideas and show the relationships between them. This will help you to present your ideas in a cohesive and logically organized way.


Good example:


Education is an important aspect of personal development, not only because it provides individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, but also because it helps to broaden their perspectives. Furthermore, it plays a crucial role in the development of critical thinking skills, which are essential for making informed decisions. Moreover, education also opens up new opportunities for personal and professional growth, and can lead to greater job satisfaction and higher earning potential.


Bad example:


Education is good for you. It gives you knowledge and skills. It helps you think better. It also helps you get a better job and make more money.


In the good example, the linking words (e.g. "not only because," "Furthermore," "Moreover") help to connect the ideas and show the relationships between them. This makes the writing more cohesive and easier to follow. In the bad example, the linking words are missing, and the ideas are presented in a disconnected manner, making it difficult for the reader to understand the overall argument.


Use varied sentence structures: Avoid writing in a monotonous or repetitive way. Mix up your sentence structures to make your writing more interesting and engaging.


Good example:


Education is a powerful tool for personal development. It provides individuals with knowledge and skills that are essential for success in both their personal and professional lives. Additionally, education helps to broaden perspectives and foster critical thinking skills, which are critical for making informed decisions. Furthermore, education can open up new opportunities for personal and professional growth, leading to greater job satisfaction and higher earning potential. Despite these benefits, however, access to quality education remains a challenge for many people around the world.


Bad example:


Education is important. It gives you knowledge and skills. You need it to be successful. It also helps you think better. Education is good for your future.


In the good example, the sentence structures are varied and include simple, compound, and complex sentences. This keeps the writing interesting and engaging for the reader. In the bad example, all of the sentences are short and simple, making the writing monotonous and less engaging for the reader.


Stay focused on the task: Stay focused on the task and avoid drifting off-topic. Make sure each sentence is relevant to the task and supports your position.


Avoid using contractions: In formal writing, it is best to avoid using contractions (e.g. "don't" instead of "do not"). This will help you to maintain a professional and academic tone in your writing.


How you write


Try to show that you can use your own words (wherever possible) and a range of grammatical structures.


  • Why? Because you will get more marks for vocabulary and grammar if you can do this.


Divide your answer into paragraphs and use linkers to connect your ideas.


  • Why? Because you will get more marks if you can organise your answer well and use a range of linking and reference words.


Use appropriate vocabulary: Use a range of vocabulary, including synonyms, to express your ideas clearly and effectively. Avoid using the same words repeatedly, as this can make your writing sound repetitive and monotonous.


  • Why? Because a good range of vocabulary shows that you have a good command of the language, and it helps to make your writing more interesting and engaging for the reader.


Good example:


Education is a fundamental aspect of personal development, providing individuals with the knowledge and expertise required for success in both their private and professional lives. Furthermore, it promotes intellectual growth, fostering critical thinking skills and a broader outlook. Additionally, education opens up new avenues for personal and professional advancement, leading to increased job satisfaction and higher earning potential. Despite these benefits, access to quality education continues to be a major challenge globally.


Bad example:


Education is important. It gives you knowledge and helps you do better in life. It helps you think better. You need education to get a good job and make more money.


In the good example, a range of vocabulary is used, including synonyms (e.g. "fundamental" and "important," "promotes" and "helps"). This makes the writing more interesting and engaging for the reader. In the bad example, the same words are used repeatedly (e.g. "important" and "good"), making the writing monotonous and less engaging for the reader.


Check your spelling and grammar: Always check your writing for spelling and grammar errors, as mistakes can lower your overall score.


  • Why? Because the examiner is looking for clear and accurate writing, and even small mistakes can detract from the overall quality of your answer.


When you have finished


Proofread your answer to check for any mistakes or inaccuracies.


  • Why? Because a well-written and accurate answer will help to increase your marks.


Check that you have answered all parts of the question and that your answer is logically organized and well-structured.


  • Why? Because the examiner will expect to see a clear and well-organized answer that addresses all parts of the question.


Check that you have used a range of vocabulary, sentence structures, and linking words.


  • Why? Because a good range of these elements helps to make your writing more interesting and engaging for the reader and can increase your marks.


Overall, it's important to take the time to carefully review and revise your answer to ensure that it meets the requirements of the task and is of the best quality possible.

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