Although Task 1 of the IELTS test is far from easy, it is Task 2, i.e., essay writing, that most often causes aspirants trouble. It is understandable – in Task 2, you are supposed to write an essay answering a specific question, at least 250 words long. It may not sound like much, but here is the catch – you have only 40 minutes to do it, including all stages from writing a plan to creating the final draft. If you have problems with essay writing in general and are not used to working under time pressure, it is going to be a challenging job for you.
In this article, we collected the best IELTS writing tips to make this task easier and make sure you can successfully write it.
Follow The Instructions Of Invigilators
You should carefully listen to the invigilators overseeing the exam and always follow their instructions. For the duration of the test, they represent authority, and you should do what they say, lest you invalidate your entire test. Most importantly, you should immediately stop writing the moment an invigilator tells you to stop. Even if you are in the middle of a sentence or have to finish a word you started, stop anyway. If you continue writing after the command to stop, and an invigilator sees it, it can result in invalidating the test as a whole.
Exceed The Word Limit
Many IELTS takers misunderstand the requirements related to the word count. In reality, Writing Task 2 should be at least 250 words long, not exactly 250 words long or as close to 250 words as possible. You will get a penalty for writing less than the required number of words, but there is no upper limit. Theoretically, you can write as long an essay as you want. However, for practical reasons you should aim for about 270 to 290 words – this way you will safely exceed the word limit without introducing too much irrelevant information.
Do Not Count The Words
It takes ridiculously long, and you have precious little time. Instead, estimate the number of words in a line and count the lines to get an approximate number of words. If you aim to exceed the word limit, it will be enough precision for you.
IELTS writing tasks are primarily evaluated based on their relevance and focus. This means that, although you have to exceed the word limit, you should not artificially bloat your essay by using meaningless words and sentences or introducing irrelevant information. Be focused and only use information that is obviously related to the topic, otherwise, you will get a lower score.
Write Without A Hook
Normally, you expected to start an essay with a hook – a sentence or two at the beginning that serves to pique the reader’s interest and motivate him/her to read on. IELTS essays are different – you do not get a higher score for being interesting. You get more points for giving a laconic and focused answer to your question.
Paraphrase The Information Given By IELTS If You Use It
If you repeat the information given by IELTS in your introduction word for word, the examiner will not count these words toward the overall word count. If you are going to use this information at all, at least paraphrase it when you introduce it.
Write A Plan
Even for such a short essay, it helps to prepare a plan before you start writing. However, keep in mind that you do not receive any extra paper for planning and rough drafts – you should manage with what you receive at the beginning of the test. Feel free to use your question paper for planning, but do not go overboard with it – the examiner will not evaluate your plan, only the essay per se.
Do Not Forget To Write A Conclusion
Your essay should have a conclusion, period. You are going to lose points if you do not include it. Plan it out beforehand and keep track of how much time you have left. If you see that time is running out, and you still have a lot to mention, better skip over a few points and write your conclusion.
Be Consistent With Your Spelling
IELTS allows you to use either British or American spelling. The only requirement is that you should choose one and stick to it throughout your essay, so be extra careful in this regard.
Avoid Learned Phrases
Learned phrases are stock and clichéd phrases that have been so overused in language as a whole and essay writing in particular that they barely have any meaning anymore. Students often try to use them to quickly boost their word count; however, you should remember that IELTS writing task 2 is not just an academic essay – it is also a test of your mastery of English. When you resort to learned phrases, you demonstrate your ability to memorize, not your ability to formulate your thoughts. Some examples of learned phrases include:
- It is a highly controversial issue;
- Since the dawn of time;
- In our day and age;
- In my essay, I will discuss both sides of the argument and give my opinion at the end.
IELTS writing task 2 is different from essays you are used to writing. It is a highly formulaic task that has its own conventions and is often more concerned with how you write than with what you write. You should keep it in mind when you take your exam – otherwise, you may lose points on formalities.
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