September 6, 2012

A 4-Point System for Your IELTS Writing Exam

In your IELTS writing test, you will be presented with tasks. Some of them would require you to either write a letter, or describe graphs, tables, charts, processes or objects. Others would instruct you to either defend your opinion, discuss a given set of opinions, weigh a topic's pros and cons, or provide solutions to problems.

Most often than not, we've observed that a number of IELTS candidates proceed to write without carefully reading the question. There are several more who would start to write without brainstorming for ideas. Then almost all would just end their work without checking for errors. Because of this, their writing tasks would usually contain unrelated topics, erratic presentation of ideas, grammar errors, and repeated words. Simply put, the tasks would likely merit a low band score.

In this post, we will suggest a simple system that you could implement for your IELTS writing test. And since many of our students have had success using this tip, it's high time we shared this with you as well.

So how do you methodically tackle the writing test?

We encourage you to do the following:

1) Understand the question.

What you do here is to just mark and note the important keywords in the instruction and question. For instance, let's take the following question:
Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use. To what extent do you agree or disagree.

If you were to understand the question, you will have to
  • mark "transport," but also note "alternative forms" and "encouraged"
  • mark "laws," but also note "international" and "introduced"
  • mark "to control," but also note "car," "ownership," and "use"
  • mark "agree or disagree," but also note "extent"

2) Organize your ideas.

Now that you've had topic taken into context, you could now organize the ideas for your task. We recommend that you draft an outline so that your ideas would neatly fit into their respective places in the writing task. For example, if we were to suggest a simple outline for the earlier question, it would be:
  • Introduction
  • Justification of your view
  • Additional justification of your view
  • Refutation of the opposite view
  • Conclusion

3) Write with care

Basically, you'll just have to not only scribble fast, but write legibly as well. Make use of paragraphs so that you could highlight the organization of the ideas in your writing task. Always keep in mind that your examiners would be checking lots of papers. Helping your examiners easily read your work really wouldn't hurt.

4) Proofread

Allot enough time for checking your work. Some of the errors worth looking at are the following:
Many times such mistakes creep up into your work. Your effort in looking for these errors would surely help you in your writing tasks.


What could you expect if you follow this simple system?

If you have correctly understood the question, then your chances of complying with the criteria of task achievement/task response would be high, since you would've answered the question properly and sufficiently.

If you have organized your ideas, then there is a good possibility that you have complied with the criteria of coherence and cohesion, especially when your ideas have been logically presented.

If you have done some proofreading, then you would have addressed the criteria of grammatical range and accuracy and lexical resource. You would have spotted the repeated words and grammar errors and made the necessary corrections.

Follow this system and you’ll be on your way to improving your IELTS writing performance.