How to Ace The IELTS Writing Exam

How to Ace The IELTS Writing Exam

16 international students with their individual IELTS band scores

So you want to know how to ace the IELTS writing exam? Sure, we’ll get to that shortly. First, though, lets give a brief overview of what exactly IELTS is.

IELTS is the real deal when it comes to proving your English language skills to universities, employers, and immigration authorities worldwide.

IELTS (The International English Language Testing System) is a globally recognised exam used to assess a person’s English language proficiency. It’s commonly required by universities, colleges, and other educational institutions as proof of language proficiency for admission purposes.

In addition, employers and immigration agencies also use IELTS to evaluate language skills for visa and work permit applications.

IELTS is recognised by over 10,000 organisations in more than 140 countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It’s also recognised by professional organisations, governments, and immigration authorities in other countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa. That’s a lot of countries, right?

Learn more about preparing for your IELTS exam at Q Language

The Four Parts of the IELTS Exam

The IELTS exam consists of four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

The listening and reading sections are multiple-choice, while the writing and speaking sections require test-takers to produce written and spoken responses. As promised, we’ll dive a lot deeper into the written section for you below.

The exam is scored on a nine-band scale, with band one indicating a non-user and band nine indicating an expert user of the English language.

There are two versions of the IELTS exam: Academic and General Training. The Academic version is designed for those seeking admission to undergraduate or postgraduate programs in English-speaking countries.

In contrast, the General Training version is intended for those looking to immigrate to an English-speaking country or for employment.

So, whether you’re trying to impress the admissions committee at your dream school or convince an immigration officer that you’ve got the skills to pay the bills, IELTS has got you covered. Just bring your A-game (and a few sharpened pencils).

Now what about acing the IELTS writing exam? That’s what you came here for, right?

Look no further! We’ve cracked the code to help you write like an IELTS writing virtuoso, manage your minutes like a Time Lord, and wow the examiner with the mastery of your finely honed lexicon.

From outlining your essay to checking for oopsies, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to ace the IELTS writing exam.

1. Crack the Code: Deciphering the IELTS Writing Exam Format

The IELTS writing exam is like a secret code you must crack (well, sort of) to get those coveted high scores. But fear not, dear test-taker, we’ve got your back!

Let’s decode the exam format together so that you can write like you’re the offspring of an IELTS exam director.

The IELTS writing exam consists of two tasks: Task 1 & Task 2.

Task 1 requires that you write a report of at least 150 words based on visual information such as graphs, charts, or diagrams. Think of it like describing the juicy details of your latest Tinder match, but with charts and graphs instead of mirror selfies.

You’ll need to describe the main features of the visual information, compare and contrast the data, or explain a process. Use your writing skills to paint a picture that even Picasso would be proud of!

Task 2 is where you get to show off your essay-writing skills. You’ll be asked to write an essay of at least 250 words on a given topic. Analyze the topic, give reasons for your opinion, and provide supporting evidence.

Remember, your opinion matters, so write like you mean it! You will have 60 minutes to complete both tasks, so be sure to keep an eye on that clock!

2. Time Management: Don’t Let the Clock Tick You Off

Managing your time effectively is crucial when it comes to the IELTS writing exam. You need to allocate your time wisely to ensure enough time to complete both tasks.

We recommend you spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. Use the first five minutes to read the instructions and plan your essay. Ensure you clearly understand what the task requires and what you must include in your response.

Take control of your time and show that clock who’s boss!

3. Plan Your Essay Like a Pro: Outlines are in, Procrastination is out!

Planning is essential when it comes to writing a successful essay for the IELTS writing exam. Don’t let procrastination bring you down!

Take time to read and understand the topic, then brainstorm some ideas. Make a rough outline of your essay, including the key points you want to cover and the supporting evidence.

This will help you organise your thoughts and ensure a clear structure for your essay. You don’t have to be a pro to plan like one!

For Task 2, you should use a traditional essay structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Your introduction should state your essay’s main idea or argument, while the body paragraphs should provide supporting evidence and analysis.

Your conclusion should summarise your main points and restate your thesis statement.

4. Talk the Talk: How to Impress the Examiner with Your Formal Language Skills

The IELTS writing exam assesses your ability to use formal English language and vocabulary. Avoid using contractions, slang, or informal language. It’s time to put on your fancy writer’s pants and flaunt your lexical repertoire. Use a wide range of vocabulary and avoid repeating the same words or phrases.

Pro Tip:

There is a misconception that using more advanced C1/C2 vocabulary words will guarantee a higher score in English language exams. Be careful – that’s not true!

While a wide range of vocabulary and accuracy are essential for a high score, the focus should be on communicating effectively using words accurately and naturally. Note the key words ‘accurately’ and ‘naturally’.

Also, using easy-to-understand language and only using words that one can spell correctly is very important.

Many successful test-takers have simplified their vocabulary and improved their scores rather than using lots of high-level words that they misspell or use incorrectly.

The popular tip of memorising numerous C1/C2 words is not the key to success and may lead to failure.

Also, use transition words and phrases to connect your ideas and make your essay flow smoothly. Examples of transition words and phrases include: “however,” “in addition,” “moreover,” “on the other hand,” “therefore,” and “consequently.” However, be very mindful about how you use these linking words. Her’s a another pro tip for you:

Pro Tip:

To achieve a high score on the IELTS writing test, it’s essential to use linking words effectively and appropriately.

While some teachers and popular online resources recommend using formal and advanced linking words, the official marking criteria from the British Council emphasise that cohesive devices should be used in a natural way that does not attract attention. 

Inappropriate or excessive use of linking words should be avoided.

It’s also important to note that simple linking words can be effective and that linking words should only sometimes be used at the beginning of sentences.

To summarise, using linking words appropriately and effectively is key to achieving a high score on the IELTS writing test.

So, add some spice to your language and impress the examiner with your formal writing skills but be sure that you communicate effectively using words accurately and naturally – that’s how to ace the IELTS writing exam!

6. Bring Your A-Game: Supporting Your Ideas with Examples

To score high on the IELTS writing exam, you must bring your A-game and support your ideas with relevant examples.

Use real-life examples, facts, or statistics to support your arguments. This will show the examiner that you understand the topic well and can apply your knowledge to real-life situations.

Don’t be afraid to spice up your writing with some juicy examples! For example, if you’re writing an essay on the advantages and disadvantages of social media, you could use examples of how social media has helped connect people from around the world or how it has been used to spread fake news and misinformation.

7. No More Oopsies: Check Your Grammar and Spelling

Don’t let grammar and spelling mistakes make your scores tumble like a poorly constructed Jenga tower!! Poor grammar and spelling can significantly affect your score on the IELTS writing exam.

Make sure that you check your essay for errors before submitting it. Use a variety of sentence structures and ensure that your sentences are grammatically correct. Your spelling must also be on point! Spelling misstaykes (like this one) will certainly lose you marks.

Use a spell checker (when practicing) if necessary, but only rely on it partially. Learning to spell correctly is the best way forward.

It’s also a good idea to get feedback from a teacher or tutor to help you identify any errors or areas for improvement before your sit that exam..

The Importance of Daily Practice and Consistent Effort

I’m not a fan of the expression ‘practice makes perfect’ as perfection is nigh on impossible to quantify!  However, practice certainly does make progress. The more you practice writing essays for the IELTS writing exam, the more you will progress and, as a result,  the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel on exam day.

Not only will practice help you to hone your writing skills, but it will also help you to manage your time more effectively, which, as already mentioned, is crucial for success on the exam.

Use the same time limit as the actual exam (60 minutes for IELTS Academic Writing) and mix up the types of questions you practice to become a pro at tackling any question type.

Review & Feedback

Once you’ve written a practice essay, don’t just toss it aside like yesterday’s news. Take the time to review it carefully and find areas where you can level up, like sentence structure, grammar, or vocabulary.

You can even go the extra mile and seek feedback from an IELTS pro (a teacher or tutor familiar with the IELTS writing exam) who can give you valuable insights and suggestions for improving your skills and score. Incorporate this feedback into future practice essays to continue improving your writing skills.

Remember, the key to success on the IELTS writing exam is being well-prepared and confident. By practising regularly and seeking feedback from others, you’ll be well on your way to acing the exam and achieving your desired score.

So there you have it, dear test-taker, congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of our insightful guide on how to ace the IELTS writing exam.

With our help, you’ve learned how to crack the code, manage your time, plan your essay like a pro, talk the talk with formal language, support your ideas with examples, and check for oopsies.

And if that wasn’t enough for you, check the video below for some more great insights.

IELTS Writing Tips and Tricks: The Ultimate (Video) Guide

Here’s a great video from YouTuber teacher, Christopher Pell. Yes it’s long, but well worth watching to help you understand which tips and tricks will improve your score and which will actually lower your score.

Christopher explored various online resources that give IELTS writing Tips & tricks and compared them with what Cambridge, IDP, and the British Council say about them.


View on YouTube


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