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Writing Test Tips

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ImageLike reading, the best way of preparing for the writing test is by writing as much as you can. Ideally, what you have written would be seen by someone better at English than you so they can pick out your grammar problems. Again, hard work is the key but these tips will help your approach to the writing test.

1. Task 1 and Task 2 are both important, but Task 2 is slightly more important than Task 1 in that it has more 'weighting' (there is more score attached to Task 2). With a Task 1 that isn't as good as it could be, and a good Task 2, you could still get a good score. As a result, it is probably best to do Task 2 first. However, aim for doing BOTH tasks well! 

2. Remember: You have to manage time yourself. Do not expect anyone to tell you to stop Task 1 and start Task 2. Many candidates get so involved in writing an answer they forget the time and as a result they don't give themselves enough time for the next task. This will reduce your total score significantly. 

3. The reason not giving yourself enough time to answer a question will reduce your score is because you haven't completed the right number of words (Task 1 - 150 words, Task 2 - 250 words). This is the biggest crime you can commit in the writing test, and IELTS assessors have guidelines on what reducing scores for to few words. 

4. However, knowing this some students are tempted to 'fill out' their writing to complete the number of words necessary:
"Of course, nowadays the majority of people (men and women) have a greater preference for studying degrees, diplomas, master degrees, etc. than in the past, when people were not as interested in university as they are today."

This should read:

"University study is more popular than it was in the past."

5. 'Stretching' your sentences makes them harder to read, less easy to grasp your point, and can also have a bad impact on your grammar. If you don't really know how to use the words you are using, the quality of your sentences will decline, as will your score. 

6. Try to join sentence using words like 'although'. Long sentences (correctly written with correct grammar) have a tendency to flow better and engage the reader. 

7. However, don't show off. See the IELTS Test as a test of what you can do, not a test of what you know. Some students see the writing test as a opportunity to show an assessor that they know long and complicated words, without fully understanding their meaning, and know complicated grammar structures, without really understanding how the grammar works. Do this and your score WILL go down. Do you best, but never try to go beyond what you can do - it just won't work!

Task 1 Tips: 

8. In Task 1 your job is to put numerical information or some form of illustration into written form. The first paragraph should say what the information is. After that, think of the task in this way: write in a way that someone who can't see the table, graph, illustration, etc. would be able to draw the important points of what you are looking at.

9. Spend 2-3 minutes really understanding the task. What exactly do you have to do? Who is the audience for your writing? Etc.

10. Remember the audience stated in the question.

Often this is something like:

"Write a report to a university lecturer explaining the key points of the table."

If you were writing for a university lecturer, you wouldn't use slang or 'trendy' words so make sure your vocabulary is appropriate for the task.

11. You don't need to write a conclusion in Task 1. If you have time you can predict some type of future trend or event based on what you have written, but it is not necessary, and few students have any time to spare!

Task 2 Tips:

12. Unlike Task 1, in Task 2 you aren't given any information - only the question. Often the topic is related to the reading task in some way. You can take information from the reading content, but don't copy. If you do, your score will be '0' for the writing task!

13. In Task 2, you are often asked to give an opinion, or solve a problem in some way. Your opinion with 'support' (evidence your opinion is valid) is useless. Always give as many examples as you can that support your view.

14. Before you start writing, plan what you are going to write (but only for a maximum of 4-5 minutes).

Always write these notes in an abbreviated form (short notes); don't waste time writing sentences.  

There are a number of ways to plan what you write. Experiment with a style that you are comfortable with. Whatever the style, remember: it is difficult to write and think at the same time. If you think first and then write, you will save time.

15. Although there are variations, there are a set number of topics tasks are related to.

These include:

a. Culture and Society
b. Education
c. Technology
d. Environment
e. A combination of the above

It is a good thing to prepare yourself by improving your general knowledge. Visit websites that have information on these topics. Read books, magazines and newspapers which might have articles covering them. Remember: reading will improve your writing, so the more reading you do, the more you improve your general knowledge of each area, and you also have exposure to sentence structures and organization - this should carry over to your writing.

The more reading you do, the more you improve your general knowledge of each area,

16. In Task 2, always spend a few minutes to really understand the question. You may receive a question: 'What are the benefits of education abroad?' Some students look at the topic - education - and start writing EVERYTHING they know about this topic. Only later do they remember to try and related this to studying abroad, and by that time it is too late.

17. In Task 2 you need to write a conclusion. Always ensure your conclusion is based on what you have written. Many Thais introduce new information into the conclusion.

For example:

Paragraph 1: Introduction
Paragraph 2: Pollution is bad because of traffic.
Paragraph 3: It is also bad because of factories.
Conclusion: Pollution is bad because people don't care enough about the environment and we should recycle things.

The in the paragraphs the writer did not talk about people not caring or about recycling. These should not therefore be in the conclusion.

18. Although you can use your own experience to answer a question, never do so to the extent that you change the question. For example, you might get a question:

"Traffic problems are the chief source of global pollution. Suggest a possible solution to this problem."

Some candidates see this as an opportunity to discuss traffic problems in their countries, going on to discuss such things as public transport in great detail. Unless you make your answer applicable to the global situation, you will not get a good score.