The Structure And Timing Of The IELTS Test Writing Section
It’s time to take a close look at how the IELTS Writing tasks work during the actual test. As a reminder, the IELTS is given in two different versions: Academic tasks– for those wanting to apply to higher education – and General Training – for those who plan on moving to an English-speaking country for professional or migration purposes. Depending on which version you take, you will need to focus your attention on different writing functions and time-management strategies.
Writing sections include a short writing task and a longer task in both versions. Keep in mind that they differ slightly depending on the version.
- In the IELTS Academic version, Task 1 asks you to describe a graph, table, map, or diagram. You’ll need to either describe or explain data, describe a process, or detail an event. Task 2 involves writing an essay to defend your opinion on a given topic.
- For the IELTS General Training version, you have to write a letter in Task 1 to solve a problem or request assistance in a situation from real life. For Task 2, you need to present your point of view on a common-interest topic. The format of your essay should be in the form of a lengthier, more developed essay.
#Tip 1: Familiarize Yourself With The Test Structure
In both versions, Task 1 is worth approximately one-third of the Writing score while Task 2 counts for about the other two-thirds. The whole Writing section is limited to one hour.
As a result, you should budget your allotted time accordingly. Spend no more than 20 minutes on Task 1 so you can spend the bulk of your time on the more important Task 2. Of course, take full advantage of the time you have; if you end up with extra time, there’s only one thing left to do: re-read, revise, readjust.
Once you are familiar with how the Writing section is structured and timed, it’s time to look at how to work on your English writing abilities to maximize your chances to drive the road to success.
#Tip 2: Improve Your Writing With Newspaper, Articles and Books
One good way to start fine-tuning your writing skills may not be obvious: start reading! That’s right, if you read and study high-quality written material in various forms, you’ll immediately notice how good writing should be structured. Newspapers, short articles, academic textbooks, and general-interest magazines are all real-life examples of authentic written texts in English that you can easily find either online or on paper.
Reuters Online News is a great place to find articles with tables and diagrams. Indeed, they illustrate the text, especially in their Financial and Stock reports. This can serve as a real-world model for Task 1 of the Writing section of the IELTS Academic test.
As for Task 2 essay, try looking for short articles on current events in sources such as The Economist or The New York Times. Even those free tabloids often distributed to commuters will provide short, simple reading material you can peruse as you get around your town. Editorials, opinion columns, and blogs offer real-life examples of defending points of view. Useful authentic texts can be found in many surprising places!
#Tip 3: Read, Read, Read And Read… Actively Paying Attention
Now, it’s not enough to simply read your sample materials passively. You need to actively pay attention to how the text is written. Underline vocabulary you don’t recognize so you can research it later. Highlight grammar structures you recognize so you can see how they fit into the sentence structure.
You could even highlight unfamiliar grammar so you know what you need to study later. Take particular note of linking devices used between paragraphs or sentences. These linking devices can do wonders… if you apply them to your writing style.
Indeed, the key to this active approach to reading is to apply these principles to your writing on your own. Do not neglect this crucial step for a better score.
#Tip 4: Answer The Questions Precisely And Around Not The Task Topic
There is nothing worse for the person who is going to read your work than having to deal with answers that are unclear and do not really answer the question. Do not read and immediately write on your exam paper Think about it, write it on a draft then see if your modal answer is directly related to what you are asked and if you think it makes perfect sense.
#Tip 5: Plan And Use An Appropriate Structure For Your Text
Whether it is for your own organization while creating your answer or for the peace of mind of the examiner who will be reading it, always plan and use an appropriate structure for your text.
Basically, try to remember that every answer has to have a structure. It should start with an introduction sentence or body paragraph. Your text is explaining what you are going to talk about without actually giving the answer.
Then dive right into it with your actual answer fully developed and clear. It must include the subject brought up (that is to say the context), then the subject posed (that is to say the problematic and the thesis) and the divided subject (that is to say the arguments that will be presented).
Finally, you have to come up with a concluding sentence or paragraph briefly coming back on what you said earlier. Basically, take the major information of the context, the problematic, the thesis and the arguments that you presented, and rephrase all of this in your conclusion.
Remember to go straight to the point while precisely explaining what you mean in a very organized and clear way.
#Tip 6: Explain Your Personal Point Of View and Provide Examples
Remember that no one needs the classic answer straight from your practice books.
The examiner will be more involved in your answer if you enrich it with your personal point of view. Think about providing some examples as well. It will be the opportunity to back it up and give more sense and credibility to what you are trying to say.
It will also show that you perfectly understood what you were asked and that you can provide material to explain what you mean.
#Tip 7: Learn How To Paraphrase Sentences And Use Synonyms
You want to use the idea of a text with completely copying it? You should make the effort and take the time to paraphrase.
To do so, you will need to extract this idea and from this point you have several options :
- modify the structure of the sentence, changing the way words are placed, the times that are used, and so on
- focus on the key words only in order to create a whole new sentence
- use synonyms whenever you can to change the words without changing the meaning of the sentence
You can also start by reading the primary text and try to explain it in your own words in your head. This way you won’t be influenced by the words the author used and you will be able to produce a personalized answer without plagiarizing.
#Tip 8: Practice Your Writing On GlobalExam Platform
Next, let’s take a look at applying what you’ve observed until now. Your best bet is to prepare for IELTS and get practice IELTS test topics from GlobalExam. Naturally, you will do better if you are dealing with a subject you master or know something about (even if it’s in English).
Moreover, try a variety of sample questions and try to meet the designated time and word-count limits. GlobalExam can also teach you how to assess your score in case you need to send it to US Universities.
Do not forget to study the other sections and enjoy the top 10 IELTS Listening tips and Reading tips we provide. We also have gathered useful advices to ace the oral test.
What Can GlobalExam Provide You With?
The GlobalExam platform lets you practice real IELTS exam conditions. It provides lots of sample questions and mock exams with built-in timers and sample corrections. You can even track your writing progress thanks to personalized statistics so know where you need to focus your revision.
There’s no better practice than the real thing. GlobalExam’s materials all follow the IELTS format exactly, letting you experience real IELTS test-taking conditions. If you consistently find that you are having trouble organizing a cohesive IELTS essay, we’ve got you covered.
On the GlobalExam platform, you’ll have access to function-specific revision and practice tests to work on, for instance, linking words or academic vocabulary. And the best part is that it’s all online, so you can put in revision time from wherever you are!
Above all, the most important part of revising for the Writing tasks is just to give it a go. Then adjust your writing strategies later. In no time, you’ll be an ace at writing in English for the IELTS test!