The Writing section of the IELTS test is one of the most difficult parts of the exam. This is why English teachers recommend that examinees should give more time in preparing for this test. There are several ways to increase your chance in passing the exam. You only need to learn about the tips and techniques in writing to be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to do well during the test. If you are wondering how exactly would you prepare for the test, then you can make use of the information below.
Top 10 IELTS Writing Tips
Many people struggle in their writing because they don’t know where to start. Here are 10 IELTS writing tips to make writing easier for you:
- Analyze the question.
Read the question carefully and find out what you need to address in the task question. If you write an off-topic essay, the examiner won’t give you the score that you deserve. Find out the type of question that is asked whether it’s an advantages/disadvantages essay, problem/solution essay, opinion or discussion essay.
- Think about the topic.
Brainstorm ideas about the topic. If it’s an agree or disagree essay, think of two main points for each side and provide specific examples. Spend 2-5 minutes to plan your essay. During this time, you can think about what position you will take, how you’re going to expand your paragraphs and in what order you will present your ideas.
- Organize your essay.
An essay should always have an introduction, body and conclusion. Make an outline of your essay. Write 5-6 paragraphs in your essay. The introduction should have a general statement about the topic, a supporting statement and your plan on what you will discuss in your essay. Your body paragraphs should contain a topic sentence and 2-3 supporting details or examples. Your conclusion should state clearly your opinion and summarize the main points in the body paragraphs.
- Write only one main point per paragraph.
Some people write multiple main points in one paragraph. If you have a new point, you should write a new paragraph.
- Review your essay.
Check the word count of your essay. Write between 250-265 words. If you write too much, the more mistakes you are likely to make. If you write less, you will be penalized by the examiner. Count the number of words for every paragraph and make a small note the number in the margins of your paper.
- Give concrete examples.
Make sure your paragraphs are well developed by supporting details. Avoid giving examples in the first lines of a paragraph.
- Use transition words.
Transition words help move your thoughts in an orderly fashion. They help connect paragraphs so that your paragraphs are coherent and not choppy.
- Make a vocabulary list.
The aim of this list is to utilize words that will help you write your essay. Vocabulary should not be repetitive. Try to use synonyms or paraphrase words. Have a lot of descriptive and academic words in your essay.
- Make clear your stand.
Your essay should clearly define your stand on a particular issue. Avoid tentative statements. You should clearly state if you are for or against an issue.
- Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes.
Spend the last 5 minutes of your time to proofread your work. Check your essay for grammar errors such as subject-verb agreement, tenses, prepositions and use of articles. There is no leniency on grammar or spelling mistakes. You are writing an essay to show the examiner how good your writing is. So don’t let the small things mar the shine of your beautiful ideas and strong vocabulary.
Task 1 vs. Task 2
The IELTS Academic and General Writing tests have similarities as well as differences. Whichever test you take, you have 60 minutes to finish two tasks.
|Task 1||Minimum 150 words Writing a letter in response to a situation – informal, semi-formal formal||Minimum 150 words Interpreting, describing or comparing information in graphic form such as a diagram, bar chart, line graph, pie chart or table|
|Task 2||Minimum 250 words Writing a more personal essay – possible informal style||Minimum 250 words Writing an essay on an academic topic – formal style|
In Task 1, you have 20 minutes to write a 150-word essay either writing a letter or reporting a graph. In writing a letter, find out if you have to use a formal or an informal tone in your essay. If it’s letter to a friend or relative, use an informal tone. If it’s to an institution or a company, use a formal tone.
In reporting graphs or diagrams, make sure you use different graph vocabulary. Identify the main trends. Support your main points with specific figures or percentages.
In Task 1, you are supposed to write a letter or report a graph without giving your opinion. Task 2 differs in the sense that here you have to express your views more elaborately. In Task 2, you are required to write a 250-word essay expressing your opinions on various topics. You are asked to write an essay on a particular topic and provide reasons as well as examples from your own experience or knowledge. Task 2 has a greater weight compared to Task 1. Words are counted by the examiner. So don’t write too many or few words.
The writing criteria is as follows:
- Task Achievement – refers to how appropriately, accurately you fulfill the task questions
- Coherence and Cohesion – refers to the overall clarity and fluency of the message; how well you organize and link information and ideas; logical sequencing and correct use of transition words between and within sentences and paragraphs
- Lexical Resource – refers to the range of vocabulary you used; how accurate and specific the words used in the task
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy – refers to the range and correct use of grammar in writing sentences.
IELTS Writing Task 1
In Task 1, you will be asked to interpret a graph or diagram and express it in your own words. You will be asked to:
- organize and possibly compare data e.g. money people spend on different forms of entertainment
- describe stages of a procedure or process e.g. the stages of human evolution
- describe an object or event or series of events e.g. how the water cycle works
- explain how something works e.g. how a car engine works
What are the most common graphs you will encounter in the Academic Task 1 writing test? Here is a list of writing task types.
- Line graph – in this task, you will be given a graph with one or up to four lines. You are being tested on your ability to describe the graph, make comparisons, report on a topic without giving an opinion and use graph vocabulary
- Bar graph – bar charts and column charts are basically the same. A bar chart is horizontal while a column chart is vertical. These kinds of charts are usually used for comparing things.
- Pie chart – pie charts usually illustrate proportion, which are measured percentages
- Table – describing tables is not as easy as describing graphs. You really need to examine carefully the big and small changes.
This task often shows you a plan of two towns in two different periods, and you have to compare the changes between the two time periods. The usual time periods are in the past and present or two periods in the past.
In a process task, you will be given a diagram with a series of images. The diagram shows the stages of how to do something or how something is done.
What are the most common types of letters that you will encounter in the General Training writing test? Here is a list of the top five letters in the General Training test.
- Complaint letter
In this task, you will be presented with a situation and you have to write a letter complaining about the problem.
You have just bought a new mobile phone from a website on the internet. When it was delivered, the phone was faulty.
Write a letter to the website. In the letter:
- introduce yourself
- explain the situation
- state what action you want to be taken
- Request letter
In this task, you will be presented with a situation wherein you have to request for information.
You are not happy with the course you are doing at college and would like to change to a different course. Write a letter to the college director requesting to change your course. You should include details about:
- what course are you doing now
- why you are not satisfied with that course
- what course would you like to change to
- Letter of opposition or support
This task will present to you a development in your neighborhood or town and you will be required to write a letter expressing support or opposition regarding the change.
You are unhappy about a plan to make your local airport bigger and increase the number of flights. You live near the airport.
Write a letter to your local newspaper. In your letter:
• explain where you live
• describe the problem
• give reasons why you do not want this development.
- You should write at least 150 words.
- You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
- You do NOT need to write your own address.
- Apology, thank you or invitation letter
In this task, you will be asked either to express an apology, thank someone for a service or invite someone to an event.
You won a competition and received a vacation for two as a prize. Write a letter to ask them to go on holiday with you. In the letter, you should:
- tell him/her about the competition you won,
- state what kind of vacation it is,
- explain why you would like him/her to go on holiday with you
- Explanation letter
One of your colleagues is leaving for a new job, your manager has asked you to arrange a leaving party for him.
Write a letter to your manager and
- Suggest a suitable day and time for the party
- Recommend a place
- Discuss about the food and entertainment options available
In writing letters, leave a single blank line after the salutation Dear Sir/Madam. Use either traditional or modern method of dividing your piece of writing into paragraphs. If it’s traditional, there are indentions. If it’s modern, it’s full blocked. The complimentary close is usually written on the left side of the page, as is your name below it.
IELTS Writing Task 2
It is very important to become familiar with the type of essay question in IELTS writing. What are the most common types of questions you will encounter in the IELTS writing test? We’ve rounded up the 4 types of Task 2 essays:
- Advantages and disadvantages essay
In this task, you will be asked to discuss the good and bad points of a certain issue or situation.
In order to solve traffic problems, governments should tax private car owners heavily and use the money to improve public transportation.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a solution?
- Problem and solution essay
This task requires you to explain an issue and provide solutions to address the problem.
Many historical buildings are being destroyed or replaced.
What are the reasons for this?
What should be done to preserve these buildings?
- Opinion essay
In an opinion essay, you will be asked to express your opinion on a certain issue or topic.
One of the functions of art is to challenge the establishment. There should therefore be no restrictions in the form of censorship on artists.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
- Discussion essay
In a discussion essay, you will discuss two opposing views on a certain issue or topic. You are also asked to provide your personal opinion on the topic.
Some people think that governments should give financial support to creative artists such as painters and musicians. Others believe that creative artists should be funded by alternative sources.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion.
IELTS Writing Topics
IELTS writing tasks could range from different topics such as men and women relationships, education, environment, technology, social issues and leisure.Here are some sample topics that you might encounter in the IELTS writing.
- Some people say that young people today do not make good use of their leisure time as they spend too much time indoors watching television and playing computer games.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
- Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.
Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?
- It is said that travel broadens the mind.
What can we learn by traveling to other countries? Should we first explore our own countries?
- Nowadays, international tourism is the biggest industry in the world. Unfortunately, it creates tension rather than understanding between people from different cultures.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
- Global warming is one of the most serious issues that the world is facing today.
What are the causes of global warming and what measures can governments and individuals take to tackle the issue?
To know more about the IELTS writing test, watch this video: