One of the mistakes most people make when taking the IELTS written test for the first time is to quickly read the question and then write their responses using the entire hour of test time. Other test-takers read the question, then sit there wasting precious time trying to figure out what to write, then rush to quickly put down whatever they can in the remaining test time.
Both methods often lead to lower scores because test takers are either spending all their time writing a response to the question or spending time thinking about what to write. As a result, they are not using effective writing tools and techniques that can make answering either of the task questions easier.
Step 1: Practice, practice, & practice some more
There are practice written exams you can find offered through our IELTS website. We highly recommended using these to help prepare for your actual exam.
Step 2: Read the question more than once
Read the test question for both tasks and decide which one you want to write about. Before you start writing, read the question a second time to ensure you understand what it is asking and the topic/subject.
Step 3: Create a plan
While you might want to jump into your writing right away, hold off for a few more minutes. Instead, use this time to develop an outline of your ideas to help keep you focused. Not having a plan can cause you to go off-topic.
It should only take two to three minutes to prepare a rough outline. You can also use your outline to refer back to the question and verify you have included all required components in your response.
Step 4: Write your answer
Now that you have your outline, you should get to writing. Remember to include an introduction and concluding paragraph. Don’t forget you also need to write the body paragraphs and these are a very important part of the written test, as they contain the information you need to answer the question.
Step 5: Don’t write to the last minute
You want to have about five to ten minutes at the end of the test left for revising and editing. It’s always a good idea to re-read through your written work and look for errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar usage. Checking for errors is equally important because they will lower your score.
As you’re re-reading your answer, refer back to your outline to make sure you included each point you needed as part of your answer. Make any revisions, and if time allows, re-read it again after adding new content to your answer.
*This article first appeared on IELTS Canada Test.