Friday, March 7, 2014

IELTS Writing: What does it all mean?

Lots of people approach me saying they need a 7 in IELTS.  My advice is always the same:   know what that means.  It's easy to see what a 7 translates to in Reading and Listening but sometimes people don't know what a 7 means for speaking and writing.  Google this:  IELTS speaking band descriptors  as well as IELTS writing band descriptors.   The descriptors are available on PDF all over the Internet.  Familiarize yourself with them and what they mean. 

A 7 in writing means you will need to do lots of things. In terms of task response, first, you'll need to address all parts of the task. So, if there are two questions, you will answer those two questions.  Advantages/ Disadvantages?   Talk about them both.  Your position will need to be clear throughout, so yes, say what your position is in your introduction.   Lastly, back up your main ideas with support, support, support. An 8 tells us that you have to develop your response with EXTENDED support, so after every sentence you write ask yourself, "how, why, what, who?"  If you can give an answer, then perhaps that answer should go in your essay. 

Coherence and cohesion tell us that your essay needs to have a logical order & progression.  Cohesive devices are necessary but they are more than just Firstly, Secondly, thirdly.   Even pronouns and words like this and that can link your ideas together.  So, use a variety.   Another warning would be not to OVERUSE cohesive devices.  So, sentences should be linked together but more seamlessly. 

As for lexical resource, why use "big" when you can say enormous, monumental, substantial or vast???  You want to be as precise as possible.  You could say, "air pollution is a big problem in our society," or you could say, "air pollution is a problem of monumental proportions in our society."    And I know that spelling in English is no easy task but it counts, so do be careful. 

Grammatical range means use more grammar than just Subject + Verb + Object.  Use subordinate clauses.  Use advanced grammar like inversion,  subjunctive, participle clauses, conditionals, relative clauses.  If you are not sure what these things are, open an advanced grammar book or Google them.
In an 8 essay, the majority of sentences are error-free.  That is your goal.  

If you keep in mind what an 8 is and have that as a goal, then you are more likely to get the 7 you actually need. 


  1. Hi Helen

    Its really helpful post.Last year in Academic IELTS,I have scored 6 bands in both Speaking and Writing

    This year i want to appear for General Test,I would like to know what are the best ways to practice to get 7 bands in both.

    Awaiting Response

    Harshil Gandhi

  2. Do you know the expression, "Practice makes perfect?" Practice is the first step. It alone will not help though. What are you doing differently this time to jump an entire band in Speaking and Writing? Are you seeking the advice of a professional teacher who is familiar with IELTS? I would definitely recommend it. Going from a 6 to a 7 will require some professional help. Practice your writing and speaking as much as possible but ask yourself the following questions:
    Are you developing your ideas in writing? Are your ideas organized and coherent throughout? In writing and in speaking are you using a wide range of simple and complex sentences? Are you using a wide range of pronunciation features to make your speech clearer? Are you using a wide range of vocabulary, idiomatic expressions & collocations to show the reader that you have the language to say EXACTLY what you want and not APPROXIMATELY?

    I hope that has answered your questions.

  3. Thanks for responding back.I have not yet consulted any tutor till now,but i guess you are saying it right.

    because sometimes although i have logical reasons and statements to speak to or write to,i am not able to put it in i need to practice a lot.