The IELTS Exam: Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills | Top Universities

The IELTS Exam: Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills

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Zain Nabi

Updated Apr 09, 2021



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In my previous posts, I attempted to shed some light on how you could do well in the reading, listening and speaking sections of an IELTS exam. While you act on those tips and add some of your own insights to them, here is a brief guide on how to improve your writing skills in preparation for the writingsection of the exam.

Get feedback on your writing

When preparing for the written section of the IELTS exam, the first and foremost task is to get some feedback on your writing. You could contact someone who has already secured a good score in the exam, or ask for help from a teacher or friend who has a sound grip on the English language or is a native speaker. The idea is not so much to impress the reader, but to ascertain your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know which aspects of your writing skills require most attention, the challenge becomes easier.

Write something every day

Yes, I know I talk about practice all the time! But I still urge you to write as often as you can in the months before taking the IELTS exam. Don’t worry about not having any good ideas to write about. You don’t have to be a philosopher here. Transcribing your daily activities into words at the end of the day is more than enough. Keep doing this consistently while getting feedback on your writing, and you will see your writing skills improvewithin a couple of weeks.

Follow the exam instructions closely

During the IELTS exam, try to follow all the instructions. If you have been asked to write 250 words, make sure you are not writing 350. That’s the easiest way to lose points. It is alright to be over or under the limit by around 20-30 words, but don’t push this boundary too far.

Also, don’t just start writing as soon as you read the question. Try to first develop in your mind a rough sketch of what you are going to write. This will help you shape your text right from the start and you will be in a better position to follow the word limit. If you start writing without giving any thought to it, chances are you might end up writing more than the required words.

Use more transitional devices in your writing

Once you have got your basic writing skills correct, try to keep improving them. Using transitional devices (also known as connectives) is one way of doing that. During writing, you may find the need to jump from one idea to another. Here is where transitional devices come in: to ensure smooth flow without upsetting the reader. Transitional devices can be a single word such as meanwhile, hereafter, therefore etc, a sentence or even a complete paragraph. But given the word limit in the exam, it is better to only use words or small sentences to connect parts of your text.