As you know, there are two formats; Academic IELTS Writing and General Training IELTS Writing. The tips in this post are relevant to both, you can find more specific tips in the next posts ‘Best IELTS Academic Writing Tips’ and ‘Best IELTS General Training Writing Tips’.
1. I have heard of too many candidates who run out of time in the IELTS Writing Test and therefore fail to complete both Task 1 and Task 2. You need to complete both tasks to the best of your ability in order to achieve the IELTS score you deserve.
As it’s necessary to complete both tasks, you need to organise your time well; see my post ‘Tips for the best way to use your time in the IELTS Writing Test’.
2. Writing Task 1 (150 words) accounts for one third of the marks and Task 2 (250 words) accounts for two-thirds. I therefore strongly recommend that you spend 20 minutes on task 1 and 40 minutes on task 2.
3. You can do the tasks in any order you like, just make sure you write them in the correct place on the answer sheet. Task 1 is written on pages 1 and 2 and Task 2 is written on pages 3 and 4. If you require extra paper, raise your hand and ask the invigilator.
4. Now, this next point is really important; make sure you read the instructions carefully. If you look at the writing band descriptors for both Task 1 and Task 2, you will see that one of the things the Examiner looks for is Task Achievement / Task Response. In other words, you must fulfill the requirements of the task to score well. You should set aside some time to plan your answer to score well.
One of the things I’m famous for saying to my IELTS students is ‘Answer the question!’ You should read the whole question carefully and decide what the important aspects are; underline them so that you keep them in mind whilst you are planning your answer.
5. OK, now on to a few things that I strongly recommend you DON’T do! Don’t include irrelevant information in your answer; if you plan well, you should be able to avoid doing this. Don’t change the topic to write about something you prefer. Don’t, don’t, don’t memorise an answer and regurgitate it in the test; it’s unlikely you will get the same question in your test and the Examiner will definitely know that it’s a memorised answer!
6. Remember that you are required to write at least 150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2. I always remind my students however not to write pages and pages! Remember you have to concentrate on writing a coherent answer that responds to the task set and has a good range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. You have enough to do without eating up valuable time writing ‘too much’. I usually recommend that my students write between 150 and 180 words for task 1 and 250 and 300 words for task 2. The ideal would be to write just a little more than the minimum number of words required for each task.
7. Be sure not to copy the rubric from the question; paraphrase it as necessary. The Examiner is analysing your English; he/she knows that the language in the question is perfect!
8. Although you are not assessed on your handwriting, you must make sure that it is neat and clear enough for the Examiner to understand.
9. Finally, if you find you have extra time after you have finished both tasks; use that time profitably to check spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!