6 Useful Tips to Improve IELTS Writing Skills

Tips to improve IELTS writing skills
Tips to improve IELTS writing skills

A multitude of IELTS learners ask me how to boost their IELTS Writing scores to Band 7.0 or higher. It’s not an easy question to answer, but fortunately there are many tips you can make use of. Below, I’ll show you some areas to focus on in order to boost your IELTS writing skills.

Vary your Sentence Length

Once you know the different types of sentences, you should practice using them. The most difficult one is the compound-complex sentence, but even if you don’t know that, you can still get a good score with a mix of simple, compound, and complex sentences. The key is varying the length and type of sentence so it sounds natural. Look at this example:

Firstly, children watch too much TV. It’s bad for their health. It can make them addicted. They will spend too much time indoors. This can make them fat.

The sentences are all short and could easily be mixed together into more interesting patterns:

Firstly, children watch too much TV, which is bad for their health. This habit can cause them to become addicted, resulting in them spending too much time indoors and thus getting fat.

Remember Collocations

Students preparing for the IELTS exam always want to study lots of vocabulary. This is understandable as vocabulary is important for understanding and making yourself understood. However, knowing a word’s meaning is very different from being able to use it. Learn a word in context and you will be able to apply it more easily. When you are learning vocabulary, pay attention to what words commonly go together.

Example:

Verb + thought:

Spare a thought

Spare a thought for all those who are homeless on a cold night like this.

Hear one’s thought

Have you given the new proposal any thought yet? Were keen to hear your thought

One’s thought goes out to somebody/something

Our thoughts go out to all those families who lost relatives in the disaster.

The thought occurs to someone

The thought just occurs to me that it’s mum’s birthday tomorrow and we haven’t got her a card.

Gather one’s thought
The President was taken aback by the question and took a minute to gather his thoughts.

Noun + preposition + thought:

great deal of thought
Shirley doesn’t devote a great deal of thought to her appearance.

freedom of thought
Some places don’t encourage freedom of thought.

school of thought
One school of thought contends that modern man originated in Central Africa.

train of thought
Sorry, where was I? I’ve lost my train of thought.

You can access more free lessons about topic collocations for IELTS writing to hike up your score on IELTS Material Website.

Avoid using really, so, a lot, very

In IELTS writing, you need to write an essay, using “academic” language. So your goal should be to be reasonably formal/academic. To do so, you should not use imprecise language like really, so, a lot, very, etc

Examples:

  1. Many IELTS candidates think that achieving Band 8.0 in IELTS is very hard.

==> Use a stronger word: Many IELTS candidates think that achieving Band 8.0 in IELTS is difficult

Very good ==> top-notch, splendid, terrific, excellent, magnificent, fabulous, outstanding, etc

Very bad ==> horrible, terrible, outrageous, distressing, awful, etc

Very delicious ==> appetizing, delectable, flavorful, scrumptious, enjoyable, palatable, etc

  1. Robot-driven car is really controversial 

==> Robot-driven car is controversial 

  1. A lot of IELTS learners share their great tips on IELTS writing, speaking on IELTS Material website.

==> Many/A great number of/ A multitude of IELTS learners……

Do not use Contractions in academic writing

It’s better to write out the words like:

Don’t ==> do not

Can’t ==> cannot

Mustn’t ==> must not

Couldn’t ==> could not

Wouldn’t ==> would not

Isn’t ==> is not

Haven’t ==> have not

Hasn’t ==> has not

 

Avoid “There is/ There are”

When you write, try to write your ideas in a clear & concise way. There is/there are is extra words that are not needed. So just leave them out to make your sentences stronger and straight to the point.

Example:

There are many issues that students have to face at university

==> Students face a multitude of issues at university

Know the Sentence Types

It’s really important that you know the difference between a simple sentence and a complex sentence. You don’t need to know the terminology, but it is important that you can form full sentences. Knowing the sentence types means being able to avoid these cardinal sins of writing:

  1. sentence fragment
  2. run-on sentences
  3. comma splices

1. SENTENCE FRAGMENTS:

This is the most common grammar error IELTS students make. A sentence fragment cannot be a sentence by itself. It does not even have one independent clause.

Remember: a simple sentence is an independent clause, which requires 3 things:

  1. A subject
  2. A verb
  3. A complete thought

Sometimes it seems to be a sentence, but if we examine it closely it lacks the necessary parts and thus cannot stand alone.

Examples:

  • The doctor worked round the clock. Operating on the boy.
  • As India has entered the WTO. The local entrepreneurs are faced with both challenges and opportunities.

How can we correct these sentences?

Corrections:

  • The doctor worked around the clock, operating on the boy.
  • As India has entered the WTO, the local entrepreneurs are faced with both challenges and opportunities.

 

2. RUN-ON SENTENCES:

A run-on sentence consists of two or more main clauses that are joined together without proper punctuation (comma, semi-colon, period, etc). We often speak in run-on sentences but our pauses indicate meaning; however, when we write we need to use punctuation to break up our sentences and impart proper meaning.

Comma splices occur when two independent clauses are joined by a comma. Remember: a comma is not strong enough to join these clauses itself! You need a conjunctive coordinator to complement it, or else use a semi-colon and a conjunctive adverb.

Most importantly, to do well in the IELTS writing you don’t need to be a punctuation expert. Just knowing commas and periods is usually sufficient for a good grade.

Examples:

  • Van Gogh is a world-famous artist his paintings can be found in many museums and art galleries.
  • Allen Ginsberg is a renowned American poet, his most famous poem is Howl.

How can we fix these?

Corrections:

  • Van Gogh is a world-famous artist whose paintings can be found in many museums and art galleries.
  • Van Gogh is a world-famous artist. His paintings can be found in many museums and art galleries.
  • Van Gogh is a world-famous artist; his paintings can be found in many museums and art galleries.
  • Allen Ginsberg is a renowned American poet, whose most famous poem is Howl.
  • Allen Ginsberg is a renowned American poet. His most famous poem is Howl.
  • Allen Ginsberg is a renowned American poet; his most famous poem is Howl.

As you can see above, there is more than one way to fix these errors. Make sure, however, that you use the correct fix according to the sentence’s precise meaning.

 

3. COMMA SPLICES:

Be careful to avoid a comma splice. This is a very comma error wherein two independent clauses are joined with a comma, like this:

  • The dog was hungry, he wanted some food.

We can change it in a number of ways to make it correct.

  • The dog was hungry; he wanted some food.
  • The dog was hungry. He wanted some food.
  • The dog was hungry, and he wanted some food.

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