It’s certainly true that this is one of the limitations of IELTS self-study; evaluating your own writing skills. When you do practice IELTS Reading and Listening Tests, you can evaluate your level through the number of answers you get correct, when you do a practice IELTS Writing Test, you need evaluation from an expert English language speaker; preferably an English language teacher with IELTS experience.
I do, however, have some tips for getting the maximum benefit from doing a practice IELTS Writing Test.
Before we start, we have to think about why we do practice IELTS tests. One reason is to get an idea of what the test is like and of the different task types etc. The other is the same as any other activity you do in the English language; to improve your English. Before I talk about my guidelines, I cannot stress the importance of doing as many practice exercises as possible in order to improve your English.
Over the years, I have taught from many different IELTS books and I always recommend that my students purchase Adams & Austen IELTS books. These books contain so many useful practice exercises for IELTS, which help you improve your English, and also IELTS practice tests. They also have some great ideas for analysing the IELTS Writing Task question
OK, so on to my tips for doing practice IELTS Writing tests.
The IELTS Writing Test
- First of all, you have to find a test to do; either from this site or from Adams & Austen.
- Next, get yourself in ‘IELTS examination’ mode. You may be at home, but we have to make this as authentic as possible; turn the TV off, turn the phone off, make sure you won’t be disturbed by your flatmate or your kids, have a couple of pens ready. Remember, no dictionaries allowed!
- Now sit down and do the writing test exactly as instructed, making sure your note your start and finish time. The test is 60 minutes long and I suggest you don’t spend any longer than 20 minutes on Task1; one of the main problems candidates seem to have with the Writing Test is not having enough time. Also, make sure you write a quick plan before starting to write.
Now, grab a cup of tea or coffee and your dictionary; this is where the hard work begins!
- First of all, count the words in each task. Task 1 should be at least 150 words long and Task 2 should be 250 words long. It’s better for you to check before taking the test that you can write the prescribed amount.
- Next, look at your handwriting and ask yourself honestly if it is legible. Ask a friend who speaks English if they can read your writing.
- Check your punctuation; look at my punctuation guide for tips.
- Check your paragraphs; remember new idea, new paragraph. You should either miss a line between paragraphs or begin the first sentence of a new paragraph about two centimetres in.
- Make sure your writing ‘flows’. Did you use connecting words?
- Now’s your chance to check the spelling of any words you were unsure of and write them down in your notebook.
Of course the best way to evaluate your writing in a practice IELTS Writing Test is to ask a native speaker; preferably an English language teacher with IELTS experience, to check it.
If you would like me to check and evaluate any practice IELTS Writing Tests you do, please feel free to contact me.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!