To state the obvious, the IELTS Writing Test is a test of your writing. Depending on whether you are attempting the Academic IELTS or the General Training IELTS, you will be asked to write:

– a description of graphs, charts or maps (Academic).
– a letter (General Training).
– an advantages / disadvantages essay (Academic & General Training).
– an opinions essay essay (Academic & General Training).
– a 2-question essay essay (Academic & General Training).

Before we move on, please feel free to check out all my articles about the IELTS exam. They’re great!

What You Need to Remember

The most important thing to remember in the IELTS Writing Test, and in any test come to think about it, is to give the examiners what they want. This is very important. Often, my students try to do what they have been taught in the past or what they want to do, but this is not the best way to get a high score in the IELTS.

The are four different things that the IELTS examiners are looking for (taken from IELTS Advantage Writing Skills: A step-by-step guide to a high IELTS writing score:

Vocabulary: You need to have a good range of academic words and phrases for the main IELTS topics.
Grammar: You need to use accurate grammar and a range of complex structures (for example relative clauses, noun phrases, conditionals).
Organisation: You need to write clear, well-organised paragraphs, and an answer which is easy to follow.
Ideas and arguments: You need to make sure you have well-developed ideas, that you answer the question fully and that you give a clear point of view.

IELTS Scoring System

Let's have a quick look at the scoring system. If you're having trouble seeing the column headings, hover the cursor over them to see more clearly.
ESL LevelCEF LevelBand ScoreEnglish LevelKey Points
IntermediateB1Below 5.0Modest UserFrequent errors and difficulty with complex language.
Upper-IntermediateB26.0Competent userSome errors and some use of complex language.
AdvancedC17.0Good userOccasional errors and fairly good complex language
ProficiencyC28.0 - 9.0Expert userRare or no errors, and complex / full understanding of English

Be Realistic In Your Expectations

Before we continue, try to be realistic about your expectations in the IELTS Writing Test. If you need to get 6.5, aim for 7.0, to allow for small mistakes. If you need to get 7.0, aim for 7.5, and so on. Your goal should be based on your level of English, not on some bizarre idea that you’re a native-level speaker and that a 9.0 is feasible. To be honest, anything above an 8.0 is pretty exceptional.

If you want to know what the average scores are by country as well, you can check them out here. As you can see, the scores are pretty average, if you’ll pardon the pun. Mind you, students from some countries do much better than students from others. The scores reflect the quality of English language learning in the country, and the attitude of the candidates taking the IELTS. They do not reflect how you will do in the IELTS.

How to Do Well in Your IELTS Writing Test

Here is some advice to help you improve your writing. Although self-studying is great, I have to advise you that the best way to do well in the IELTS is to get a teacher. You can book a FREE trial lesson with me if you wish by going here. Now onto the advice.

Write As Often As Possible

There is no substitute for writing. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. If you don’t have anyone to help you, and you don’t want to do lessons with me, then the only alternative is a good writing book. I reckon the “IELTS Advantage Writing Skills: A step-by-step guide to a high IELTS writing score” is one of your best options.

IELTS Writing Test

Read As Often As You Can

Reading is the best free teacher in the world… seriously. It is great for improving your grammar, tenses, vocab, word choice, and sentence structure. If you read out loud, it’s also great for practising fluency, intonation, and pronunciation. The BBC is a great resource for Academic IELTS. If you’re intending to do General Training IELTS, I would suggest something a bit more fun like short stories.

Study Your IELTS Grammar

I know it’s boring but I’m afraid you gotta do it. The best thing, when you’re studying IELTS grammar, is to keep reminding yourself why you’re doing the IELTS Writing Test in the first place. It’s also worth remembering that you’re not a child anymore. Don’t look for excuses to avoid studying grammar. And start studying as quickly as possible. Here’s a good book to study if you don’t have one yet.

Learn to Generate Strong Ideas

There is nothing worse for an examiner than reading (or listening to) weak ideas that add nothing or little to what you are writing or saying. The more you know, the more details you can add to your work, the more interesting what you write or say will be. Examiners love IELTS candidates who can come up with great ideas. Check out this post here for advice on how to generate ideas.

Study Lots of Vocabulary

I’m sorry but there is more bad news… you need to study vocabulary as well. Now, I did say you can read, and that will certainly work. But if you are planning to do your IELTS in the near future, you need to turbocharge your vocab learning. The best way to do that is to get another book. If you’re aiming for 6.5 or more, which you probably are, the book below will fix your problems.

Wrapping Up the IELTS Writing Test

To be honest, I could go on forever and still probably not finish everything you need to know. However, I think I have covered most of the important information. If you have any other great tips concerning the IELTS Writing Test, feel free to add them in the comments below.

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