IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an exam that is intended for non-native English speakers. You require taking this test to study or work abroad. This English proficiency test is built to test your English in four different sections - writing, reading, listening and speaking. They will evaluate you on a scale of 0 to 8 and a minimum requirement is a basic 6.5 or 7.5 as per some institutional regulations.
The fact that many people find it difficult to pass the writing section is not unusual because the average score achieved is a band of 6. Many candidates have attempted the test multiple times and yet have failed again despite good preparation. This is because the test-takes fail to meet the criteria. They consistently miss the criteria which is the bullseye target and hence, result in failing the writing section.
However, the problems occurring in the writing section are no mystery. Behind the complex jargon and dense language, there are clear writing objectives that can be achieved easily with practice. We can unveil the criteria for good writing and guide you on how to prepare for the writing section.
IELTS Writing: Common Problems that students face
- Casual Approach
One of the key factors of the writing section is the introductory paragraph. This must be key for holding your essay together. On that note, if you approach the introduction with casual phrases like ‘Nowadays..’, ‘In recent times..’, it will not help you create an impression on the reader. The question requires you to answer it precisely and not casually.
- Include Thesis Statement
The thesis statement is the one affirmation that summarizes the body of the essay. It creates a sketch of the problems and possible solutions provided in IELTS writing. The central part of the introductory paragraph is the thesis statement, and the main body should be designed around it. This is important because it describes the central idea of your essay and creates an impression on the examiner that you have comprehended the question.
- Outlining of the Essay
Before you write the essay, you must create an outline concerning the provided question. When you have a clearer idea of what to present, it helps you construct the essay and share the outline in the introduction. If you refrain from stating the outline about how you are going to carry the essay, you may lose your marks as the examiner is unaware of the outline.
- Trying to be Entertaining
IELTS does not score based on how appealing or entertaining your writing is. It is not about how philosophical you are or how inspiring your answer is. The goal of IELTS is to test your focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling, and overall structuring of sentences. So, it is advisable to refrain from using ‘flowery’ language and trying to make your essay entertaining. Keep in mind that IELTS evaluates how accurate your application of the English language is.
- Informal Style
Do not use an informal style of writing in an IELTS exam. The test focuses on an academic style of writing where you present your essay in a structured format. The structure that has been approved by many IELTS examiners begins with an introduction, followed by a body paragraph stating the problems and then another body paragraph mentioning its solutions, and then the conclusion. See to that you cover the outline points you would mention in the introduction. Write in complete sentences and focus on vocabulary and sentence structure.
Avoiding the above-mentioned problems will help you write well-constructed and informative essays for your IELTS writing test. It will give the examiner an opinion that you have understood the question well and have a well-structured essay to write.
IELTS Writing Solutions: Points to Focus On
- Get Feedback
While preparing for the IELTS exam, try to get feedback for the writing section of the test. Keep in contact with someone who has profound knowledge of the English language that can help you to strengthen your writing. It can be someone who has already secured a remarkable score on the test, or a teacher, or even a native speaker. A second eye will help you realize which aspects of your writing require strengthening.
- Make use of Transitional Expressions
Once you have worked on your basic writing skills, improve them with the use of transitional expressions. Transitional expressions or connectives include conjunctive adverbs that are used to connect independent sentences. To ensure a smooth flow of writing without upsetting the reader, transitional expressions like ‘however’, ‘meanwhile’, ‘furthermore’, ‘nevertheless’, or ‘hence’ can be used.
- Write something every day
When practice is the only thing that will help you improve your writing skills, it is necessary to have a habit of writing something every day. It can be about anything, so there is no need to worry about the topic, it is just for practice. Constantly making efforts to change your writing style while receiving feedback will create visible changes and will help you score better in your IELTS writing section.
- Follow the exam instructions
During the IELTS exam, have a keen eye on the exam instructions. If you require writing an essay for 250 words, stick to the word limit. Being 10 to 20 words over or under the limit is acceptable, but writing 350 will result in losing points. Create a rough sketch about what you are going to write once you receive the question. This will help you to stick to the word limit. Leaving your imagination free may not be a good idea while writing for IELTS, you might end up writing more than what is required.
Brushing through the problems mentioned will help you understand what all you must stay clear from. Problems that you face may be inevitable but not unsolvable. IELTS mainly focuses on the academic style of writing, which is formal and structured. If you stick to the points of focus mentioned, it will help you overcome the problems faced while writing the IELTS writing section.
Vandana is a highly qualified IELTS (British Council trained), and TESOL holder, with over 15 years of experience. She is a proactive professional with a progressive approach to teaching and lesson planning. She has the sound ability to maintain curriculum development. She is a science graduate, Six Sigma and PMP trained individual who has also worked with multinational companies in the Training & Quality domain for more than a decade. Right now, Vandana is working as an IELTS Trainer with Edoxi Training Institute, Dubai.