To many students the biggest challenge in IELTS is the IELTS writing exam. It’s the part of the IELTS exam that can really make or break test-takers. It makes you apply the language skills you’ve learned and is graded based on how well the invigilator can make sense of your writing. For many, this is the most stressful part of the IELTS test. But, The Language Gallery can help you to make the IELTS writing easier. Since the test is standardised, there are some ways to adapt your skills to make the most of the time you are given to write. Here are a few key points to think about:
There are two parts
The Academic and General IELTS tests’ tasks are different, but whichever you are taking, each has two writing parts. Students must write a minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2, with Task 2 worth more points. It’s okay to do them out of order i.e. start with the second task, then end with the first — as long as you complete both.
Under the clock
Like the other parts of the IELTS exam, the writing paper is timed. You’ve got 60 minutes to get everything written and checked so you have to be ready to understand the tasks you will write about, and to pace yourself so you can complete it in time. A good rule is 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. But remember, always plan your writing before you start to write and leave a little time at the end of each to check your work.
Know the task type
While the structure of the writing part of both the Academic and General IELTS writing test are the same, their tasks are completely different. For Academic, your first task will be describing or explaining a graphic like a table or chart, followed by an essay question. For General, you often start with a response to a prompt like a letter or e-mail and are then given an essay question to complete. It is good to practise sample tests so you can get used to thinking about ideas, planning your content, writing and checking all in the time allowed.
Plan it all out
As an actor might say “If it isn’t on the page, it isn’t on the stage.” This means that what they need to say when they act must be written by the writer before, they don’t just make it up. IELTS writing Tasks are similar: you must plan your writing out before, decide what you want to say, and then your piece of writing says what you want. Your writing is the actor telling the story, but you have directed everything from the very first thought.
In the exam room, you’ll be given paper where you can take notes to structure what you want to write, then you transfer these ideas into the final piece of writing. IELTS preparation teachers always tell students to do lots of practice of planning at home under mock conditions so they can plan faster and better on their test day.
Do not panic!
Too often IELTS test-takers get stressed on test day and forget everything they have been taught. They ignore the word count, forget to plan, go off topic from the point they have to write about, forget the grammar they have learnt, make punctuation and spelling mistakes and then leave no time to check the writing to try to make it better.
But this does not have to happen. Remember that practice makes perfect. The more you write, the more you practice the Tasks, the more you read to give yourself vocabulary and ideas, the more you plan, plan, plan every writing task you do – all these will help you on the day. Read the task carefully, think about the question being asked. Breathe! Take a minute to just think, then you can start planning, then writing, then checking.
If you think you need some extra help to prepare, you should consider taking The Language Gallery’s IELTS Preparation course - available both online where ever you are, and face-to-face in the UK. Your friendly and qualified teachers will help get you ready to achieve the best possible result on test day.