Ways to improve writing for the IELTS Academic Test
The IELTS Tests are designed to test the ultimate level of proficiency in all forms of the English language of a student/candidate. The IELTS Academic tests are for students who want to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level in a foreign English speaking country. The IELTS tests certify students/candidates with a Band Score, the higher the Band Score the better the future. More than 900 institutes/companies/organizations in 140 countries over the world provide entry to a student/candidate according to his IELTS Band Score. As IELTS sets a benchmark which is accepted and trusted worldwide, achieving a high Band Score like 7+ is not an easy task, it takes a high level of competence, dedicated sincere efforts and expert guidance.
The IELTS tests have four parts:
1) Listening test
2) Reading Test
3) Speaking Test
4) Writing test
The writing test is undoubtedly the toughest one. The IELTS Academic writing test has two sections, namely Task1 and Task2. In the Task1 the students are instructed to describe, explain or summarize the information provided in the form of a graph, table, diagram or a chart. The student must write at least 150 words on the answer sheet. In the Task2 the students need to write an essay in response to a situation/problem/argument or a particular point of view. In the case of Task2 one has to write a minimum of 250 words. In both the Tasks, the students need to write in formal English. The total time is 60 minutes and it is suggested to complete Task1 in 20 minutes as Task2 needs longer time to complete, approximately 40 minutes. Before discussing ‘How to improve writing’ we should talk about some primary matters.
Students from a non-English speaking country can be divided into two categories.
Category One: Students with a non-English medium background.
Category Two: Students with an English medium background.
The students belong to ‘Category One’ are supposed to be weak in the English language, with a handful of exceptions. Such students with poor or weak knowledge of the English language need to work very hard to come to an optimum level to start their preparation for the IELTS test. They should read English newspaper, listen to English news and debate shows. They should work hard to enrich their vocabulary and knowledge of English grammar. They should develop written English skills, preferably with the help of an English tutor. Thus, after acquiring some knowledge in English they can start preparing for the IELTS test.
Students of ‘Category Two’ are in the privileged class, it would be a lot easier for them to start preparing for the IELTS Exam. Though, it is not taken to be granted that they would achieve a high Band Score of 7+ easily, getting high band Score is a different ball game altogether, and even native English speakers often fail to achieve a Band Score of 7+. It should be mentioned that the Native English speakers also appear for the IELTS Test for going to a foreign English speaking country. Eyebrows might be raised, “Why? It’s their mother tongue after all”. But, there are obvious reasons. The English language of different countries differs from one another, e.g. The American English differs a lot from the British English. Distinct differences in pronunciations, spellings, and accents are there. So when a student going for higher study, say from Canada to U.K. he needs to be updated and accomplished with the British English.
IELTS Tests are designed in a manner to test a student’s proficiency in the English language of the country he is going. Different educational bodies, universities set different Band Scores for accepting students. A ‘Band Score’ of 7+ is regarded as a good achievement. Hence a student has to prepare accordingly to achieve a Band Score set by the educational body he is going to study in. At the early phase of preparing a student should polish and sharpen himself with the basic English skills. When ‘Written English’ is concerned a student with adequate basic English knowledge should initially download sample question papers from the Internet. After that, he should study all the sample papers with the set of instructions given to have an idea of the actual test. To avoid spending huge sum of money a student should study the free to download sample papers with questions, answers and practice as per instructions.
As all the questions are answered in the sample papers a student should assess himself on how well prepared he is. This process should not be continued for more than 3 to 6 months. Hopefully, a student would be prepared to some extent for the actual test by this time. Now he should take admission to a ‘Well Reputed Professional IELTS Coaching Center’. He should choose wisely from a dozen of coaching centers and should go for the best. A reputed coaching center teaches a student each and every minute detail of the IELTS Test. It also takes a series of mock tests, which replicate the original tests. Through the mock tests a student gets accustomed with the real test scenario, also he becomes able to assess himself and become confident. However good the coaching center might be, a student has to work very sincerely, keeping in mind that his knowledge would be put to the ultimate test.
Writing for the Task1 about a given topic or a situation or an event in a particular tone of English needs a lot of practice and a truly reliable and expert guidance. A student needs to write in flawless formal English with hardly any spelling mistakes followed by subtle grammatical accuracy. He should have a neat style of expression and he should form a nicely woven text with justified points. So apart from knowledge in English, capability of shaping the contextual ideas in proper order is also asked for. A skillful student who is acquainted with the actual exam like scenario by going through a series of mock tests would tackle the situation with ease. While writing in Task1, describing a graph or table in perfectly structured flawless English within 20 minutes is not an easy task, it requires a lot of practice. In the task1 a student gets his marks from 1 to 9 in the following:
- Task Achievement: This is where a student can really make a difference through well-contemplated
- Coherence & Cohesion: Cohesion is how the writing of the student fits together, i.e. Is the writing of the student and his ideas are expressed logically or not. While ‘Coherence’ is how the student making himself understood and whether the readers understand the writing clearly.
- Lexical Resource: The examiner looks at this area for the student’s selection of words. Right words at the right place with proper sense are To get good marks over here, a wide range of vocabulary is a must.
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Here the examiner looks for a range of grammatical knowledge with appropriate usage.
Final Band Score for task 1 would be an average of the marks awarded in the above four areas. Improving all the areas would help a student get a higher score in Task1.
Preparation for the IELTS Writing Test task2 takes more effort and the Task2 is undoubtedly very tough test for anybody including native speakers. The time allotted is 40 minutes to complete the Task2. (Assuming that a student has completed Task1 in 20 minutes). The student has to write an essay with a minimum of 250 words. He must use a wide range of vocabulary and more complex sentence structures, of course maintaining the clarity. Usually, the essay is given on a subject of general interest. The student might have to justify his opinion or point of view on a certain problem, or he might be asked to compare different ideas or point of views. As in Task1, the marking process is the same as in Task2.
For getting a high band score in the writing test, a student should:
- Analyze each task properly and read the question with extreme care to understand what exactly is asked.
- To make sure what he wants to do before starting writing, planning is important.
- Underline or highlight the keywords in the tasks
- Use paragraphs wisely by putting one idea in each paragraph
- Not repetition of ideas
- Strictly no copying full sentences from the question
- Manage time wisely, keeping in mind Task 2 takes twice the time taken by Task1
- Use minimum 150 words for Task 1 and minimum 250 words for Task 2. But should not write too much.
- Practice writing Task1 in 150 words and Task2 in 250 words, watch the lengths. The length in each case would suggest him how many words he has written. He won’t get time to count words in the exam hall.
- Should write each answer in full. No marks for pointed answers or answers in bulleted points.
- Be impeccable in writing, spelling and in the usage of grammar, otherwise, he would lose marks.
- Strictly use formal language. No usage of informal or casual English would be entertained.
- Use a variety of complex sentence structures
- Spend at least a few minutes for correcting answers.
- Practice writing something every day.
Actually, there are 3 main areas in which a student can improve his IELTS writing score.
- Improving his proficiency of English writing by regular practice and by getting corrected by an expert.
- Improving the test skills of him by giving a number of mock tests conducted by the coaching center or by his teacher.
- Understanding how the marks are given and where one might lose marks.
Improving one’s knowledge level in general English, getting important tips and tricks from an experienced teacher or from a coaching center, writing on a regular basis and getting corrected by an expert tutor, attending repeated mock-tests, strictly following the tried and tested ways towards achieving a better band score are the keys to success. The IELTS Writing Test is a test of Proficiency in writing the English language. So the surest way to improve the IELTS score is to improve one’s level of general English and prepare following the instructions of the coaching center or an experienced English tutor, who has profound knowledge on the IELTS English.
Originally posted 2016-11-18 13:14:00.