Writing Tips for IELTS: How to improve IELTS Writing Score

Writing Tips for IELTS 2023

Rahul Singha

Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

Updated on Feb 28, 2024 20:44 IST

IELTS writing is one of the trickiest sections to be encountered in the IELTS Exam. Due to lots of pointers to be kept in mind the exam becomes challenging as one has to be careful of even the smallest of tips like spelling mistakes and punctuation marks. The following IELTS writing tips and information about the module would help you to locate your errors well and aim for a better score.

writing task 2

IELTS Writing is bifurcated into two categories

IELTS Exam Type Task 1 Task 2
IELTS Academic Report Writing Essay Writing
IELTS General Training Letter Writing

Pattern of the Writing module.

The writing module consists of two categories. Academic and General training both have two tasks in total.

Report Writing: This question can be in the form of a graph, table, pie chart, flow chart or a diagram and you will be asked to summarize, describe and provide information in your own words. It is task 1 for academic candidates.

Letter Writing: This question can be in the form of a formal, semiformal or an informal letter. You may be asked to write a letter to your friend, a shopkeeper or even the manager of an airline company. It is task 1 for general training candidates.

Essay Writing: This question remains common in both the categories. This question can be in the form of an opinion-based essay or a descriptive essay or an argumentative one. It is task 2 for both categories.

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Format for Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 & Task 2:

Format plays a very crucial role in gaining higher band in IELTS writing because it carries separate marking for the structure/format of each paragraph. Follow the below structure to organize your paragraphs uniformly.

Format for Writing Task 1(Academic) is as follows:

Para 1 Para 2 Para 3 Para 4
Introduction (Paraphrase + caliberation in units ) Overview ( main highlights ) 1st main comparision paragraph 2nd main comparision paragraph

(Note: You may go with only three paragraph structure, having the last para as a single main comparison paragraph.)

Format for Writing Task 2 is as follows:

Para 1 Para 2 Para 3 Para 4
Introduction (Paraphrase + thesis statement + outline sentence ) Explain the first idea + related example Explain the second idea + related example Summary + restate opinion

(Note:  Opinion must be given only if asked)

Format for Writing Task 1(General Traning) is as follows:

Type Purpose
Formal Requesting information from a company
Applying for a job
Complaining to a bank, store, airline re:product/service
Making a recommendation/suggestion
Semi-formal Complaining to a landlord
Explaining to a neighbor
Asking a professor for permission
Informal Inviting someone you know well
Thanking a friend
Apologizing
Asking for advice

(Note: There are separate marks for the format and structure hence Identifying the Type of Letter is crucial)

Style Characteristics Opening Closing
Formal To someone you have not met, whose name you don’t know Dear Sir/Madam, Yours faithfully,
Semi-formal To someone you may or may not have met, whose last name you know Dear Mr Brown,
Dear Ms Stone
Yours sincerely,
Informal To someone you know well, whose first name you know and use Dear John,
Dear Anita,
Best regards,
Warm wishes,

(Note:Do not forget to put a comma after your opening and closing in the same manner as mentioned above)

Tips and Strategies of Writing for getting 8+ bands:

Certain strategies are required to gain a good band in IELTS writing. Being the trickiest module in the exam, it carries several tips which the candidate must be aware of while taking the exam. Below are some of the indispensable points to be noted for an easy approach to the writing section.

There is no right/wrong answer in writing

When you write your answers remember that the examiners are grading you on your expressions, organization, grammar and vocab. Hence, every candidate will have a distinct response. Hence no need to stress yourself on one right answer. Every candidate would have a different answer for every essay according to the caliber and skills.

Know the parameters of marking

There are total of four parameters of marking for the writing section:

  • Task achievement: It examines the overview and information that you provide. Details of your content and the accuracy with which you mark your illustrations and key features. And you must write 150 words for task 1 and 250 for task 2 to cut down the penalty.
  • Lexical resources: This is one of the essential parameters of writing. How well you use your vocabulary counts under this section.
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: Grammar is as important as any other parameter. The way you use your tenses, simple, complex and compound sentences grammatically correct says it all.
  • Coherence and Cohesion: The organization of the phrases and paragraphs   plays a vital role in getting a higher band. The scattered words and incomplete paragraphs would hinder in getting a better score.

Word limit is highly crucial

If you do not write the minimum word limit which is 150 for task 1 and 250 for task 2. The scores are negatively affected. Hence to avoid the penalty one must reach the minimum word limit.Following the word limit is a must.

  • IELTS Writing Task 1(Report writing + Letter writing) requires you to write 150 words as a minimal word limit. The time taken for this task should not be more than 15-20 minutes.
  • IELTS Writing Task 2(Essay writing) requires you to write 250 words as a minimal word limit. The time taken for this task should not be more than 40-45 minutes.

{Bands are hindered in case of not reaching the word limit. No marks are cut for the upper word limit although we need to fall between genuine word limits. Writing too much as well is not a positive sign.}

Paraphrase your answers well

Using the same words in the question would reflect that you have a poor vocabulary. Hence to get a higher score use more synonyms and words and phrases which are not repetitive and carry the same meaning of the words in the question.

Organize your answer well

Coherence and cohesion is itself a separate parameter in marking criteria of writing. Hence, it's crucial to organize your paragraphs well with paraphrase and opinion in introduction and main key features in main body paras and the summary in the conclusion.

Time management is the key

Time is again an important factor in achieving a desired band. Many candidates lose bands due to no time management and not finishing the paper on time.  IELTS paper is very time restricted, no extra time is given in the exam.

Be aware of the common errors

Candidates do make certain errors which are common among them like spelling errors and singular / plural words and phrases. Hence, to avoid cutting marks be assured you do not make such mistakes in a hurry.

Read: IELTS Writing Topics and Questions 2023

Video Alert: IELTS Writing

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Writing:

There are few Do's and Don’ts which should be kept in mind while going for the writing module, otherwise these petty mistakes can cost you a good band. Please read the following to avoid such errors.

IELTS Writing Do's IELTS Writing Don'ts

Feel free to use the question paper for writing notes.

Get distracted by the clock, keep a note of the timings though for each paper.

Underline and highlight the key words in the tasks and spend five minutes planning the information you want to include.

Write your answers in paragraphs and not in bullet points.

Write minimal word limits for task 1 and task 2 to avoid the penalty.

Keep a strict management of time.

Repeat the words from the question.

Every essay has its own structure to be followed hence keep a watch because it has a separate marking.

Forget to check your spelling mistakes and singular plural verbs and nouns.

Clearly set your paragraphs. Use the contracted form of the verbs or any shortcuts.

Best Books for IELTS Writing Practice:

The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS-for Academic & General Training

The Barron's IELTS Superpack 

Official IELTS Practice Materials

Target Band 7:IELTS Academic Module- How to Maximize Your Score

Sample Questions:

Here are two sample questions given along with the answers for your help.

Report Writing

TASK 1(Academic)

Pie Chart

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The amount of cash which a children’s charity situated in the United States of America spent and received in a year,2016.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

Model answer:

The pie charts demonstrate the amount of revenue and expenditures in 2016 for a children’s charity in USA. The calibration has been done in percentage.

Overall, it can be noted that most of the income was generated by donating food whereas the program services were where most of the expenditures took place.

Firstly, it could be seen in the chart that the revenue made by donating food was the highest, which was 86%. While the expenditure made maximum was for the program services which was 95.8%. The other smaller sources of revenue were Community contributions at 10.4% which was the second highest, then we have program revenue at 2.2%. Government grants and investment income were very small sources of income while at 0.2% each.

Secondly, the expenditures made on program services were the maximum recorded at 95.8% whereas the fund raising and management and general were at 2.6% and 1.6% respectively.

Essay Writing

TASK 2(Both)

Some people believe that earning a good salary leads to a better lifestyle whereas others have a notion that having a job which one can enjoy is more important than earning a handsome package.

Discuss both the views and give your own opinion.

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write at least 250 words.

Model answer:

There has been an ongoing debate about whether the main reason behind earning should be the remuneration or a satisfied enjoyable job. Some individuals have a notion that having a good package would reduce the economic and financial problems in one’s life while others believe that enjoying the work is crucial for a person’s mental health as well as for a satisfying job. I personally reckon that a person should enjoy his occupation rather than focusing just on earning more and I will put forward my views with examples in coming paragraphs.

People earning a good amount feel that money brings happiness into their lives because they can buy luxury items and fulfil their dreams of visiting different destinations. Also, it helps them to encounter their financial issues in life. But because of this, it can make them money oriented. In addition, to this they do not have time for themselves or for others in their family.

On the other hand, others have the view that people who enjoy being at work have a comparatively higher sense of belonging at work and give their best at their job due to encouragement by others and being motivated throughout. For instance, if a person at work loves what he does at the office, he would not take his job as a burden, he would stick to the job for a longer time, would have better stability and be happier in life as compared to the person who is not happy with his job. And it is proof that money can buy happiness every time and cannot satisfy all our needs.

To conclude, Money is not the reason behind every happiness, although it is one the crucial pillars of one’s life. Hence, I firmly support my opinion that people should focus more on being jubilant at work and be satisfied with what they do rather than minting money.

Letter Writing 

TASK 1(General Training)

You are experiencing financial problems and want to ask your landlord if you can pay your rent late. Write a letter to your landlord.

In your letter explain:

  • Why you cannot pay the rent
  • When you will pay the rent.
  • How you will ensure you can pay your rent in the future

Write at least 150 words

You do NOT need to write any addresses

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear……..,

Model answer:

Dear Mr Strickland,

I am writing to you to request that you allow me to pay my rent late this month.

The reason is that I am having a few financial problems at the moment. Last month, I was made redundant from my job due to the fact that the company I work for is closing down. Because I have not worked at the company for long, I have not received a redundancy payment, therefore leaving me short of money this month.

I can assure you that I will be able to pay the rent on the 15th of next month. I have now found another job, and they have kindly agreed to give me an advance on my wages, but they are unable to arrange this until next week.

I can assure you that I will be able to continue to pay rent at the full rate and on time in the future. As I mentioned, I have a new job and this is on a long-term contract, meaning that I will have a secure and timely income. I may also set up a direct debit so the payment goes to your automatically each month. 

I hope this will be acceptable to you, but please contact me if it is a problem.

Yours sincerely,

John Streetham.

IELTS Writing- TASK 1 general Training (Letter Writing)

 

IELTS Writing FAQs

1.Can we write less than the word limit?

Word limits in IELTS writing must be followed strictly. There is a separate marking for the word limit. In task 1 of writing the minimum word count is 150 words and for task 2 the word limit is 250 words.

This word count falls under a separate important parameter of the marking criteria named cohesion and coherence which asks you to organize your paragraph well with the appropriate word limit.

2. What kind of questions are asked in IELTS writing?

In IELTS writing there are various essays which one has to prepare for the exam. There are 5 different kinds of essays namely, opinion based, descriptive, merit/demerits, problem /solution, two- part question.

Every essay has its own approach, hence it’s really important that the candidate is aware of all the techniques behind each and every essay. The exam may carry any one of the five.

3. How is the IELTS writing marked?

In IELTS writing marking for task 1 and task 2 is done separately.  The examiner first marks you and gives you a band on task 1 and then on task 2. Then the bands are calculated on an average for a total individual score.

There are four basic parameters based on which the marking is handled in writing. Firstly, Task responses/ Task completion, Lexical resources, Grammatical range and accuracy, Coherence and cohesion.

4.What kinds of words to use in IELTS writing?

IELTS writing has a vast list of words and phrases which can be used in the exam. Paraphrasing shows how you know your vocabulary. Where there are few lists of words which should be avoided during the exam like slang words, contractions and colloquial language.

Words from the question should not be repeated on the paper otherwise the bands would be hindered. Use flexible vocabulary with variations in words for a higher band.

5. Should I state my opinion in Task 2?

Read the question really carefully. If the question asks you to define or state your opinion, then you should do so but if it does not ask you to give any opinion of yours then you should not.

This is important to note that such errors fall between the task response parameter of the marking criteria of the writing task. It should also be noted that the opinion has to be placed correctly in the paragraph.

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