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    IELTS Writing Preparatory Tools

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    To be able to study and work in an international country is the ultimate dream. But this is where language comes into play especially if the student is from a non-English speaking country. English is a mandatory language for students to study abroad. To prove one’s proficiency in English, the IELTS exam is asked for. The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is the English proficiency language test this must be submitted as part of the admission requirement, in international schools and universities. Applicants must know about the minimum requirement for IELTS score before applying. 

    IELTS Exam Pattern

    Before diving into the writing section of the IELTS exam, it will be important to understand the overall exam pattern. There are four sections in total, Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking in the IELTS paper. A candidate is allotted 15 minutes to 60 minutes in each section amounting to 2 hours and 45 minutes in total.

    The writing section is allotted 60 minutes. There are two questions in total to attempt. One question is of 150 words where candidates are judged on their ability to understand a table, graph, chart or diagram and summarise it. The second question is of 250 words and is a short essay question.

    How to prepare for the IELTS writing section

    The answer sheet

    Everyone practices for an exam and is no doubt the best way to score high in the IELTS exam. To practice, using the official IELTS answer sheet format is recommended. Understanding from the band scores, how to fill it and how to estimate word count is helpful. The online version will have an automatic word count displayed. A copy of the answer sheet can be downloaded and used for the next practice session.

    Writing the introduction

    The second writing question, the short essay, needs an introduction, and a good solid introduction will set the bed for the rest of the answer. One good method to write a good impressive introduction is to write a background statement and a thesis statement. The background statement will paraphrase and summarise the question in a couple of words to open up the answer. The thesis statement refers to the actual answer to the question. So one would understand what issues are to be answered and then answer it in the thesis statement. The introduction should not be longer than 50 to 60 words.

    Model essays

    There are numerous sample solved essay questions that can be found online. Going through them will help to get an idea of how to start and proceed with the questions. Model essays are also a great way to understand various ways of structuring the essay questions. When not practicing or when taking a break, opening up a model essay for a casual read is best. Going through model essays will also help in getting an idea of what type of questions are asked which can be then practiced.

    Practice questions

    There are numerous websites online that list any possible essay questions and the topics are updated regularly. These questions are curated by experts after careful analysis of past papers. Going through such IELTS focused blogs, websites, etc. and preparing a list of questions to practice is a good idea. Answering as one would in an ideal exam situation is optimal. Timing while writing, being aware of the word count, etc. will help. Practicing as much as possible will help one to get a grip on how to approach the IELTS writing section.

    Structure of the answer

    To help save time during the actual exam day, having a pre-prepared essay structure will help. During practice, developing a structure that will work with most essay answers should be on the to-do list. Ideally, a sample essay structure would include, an introduction, two to three paragraphs stating the advantages and disadvantages to your argument and a conclusion to wrap everything up. One can, of course, add or delete paragraphs as they deem comfortable.

    Using Cohesion

    Cohesion refers to using words to help link ideas together. These linking words are useful to tie or link up two sentences or paragraphs together. To do so, the starting point should be to pick up one idea or a point that is to be highlighted across sentences. If complex sentences are to be written then it should be done so with proper punctuation. The lack of or using the wrong punctuation can alter the meaning of the entire sentence and ultimately derail from the original idea. While linking words are useful, using too many of them is not a not good idea. More than one idea should not be used in a paragraph for clarity.

    Understanding areas of improvements

    If there is a guide or a teacher on call, it would be good to get the practiced papers checked. Knowing the mistakes or areas of improvement is essential because then one can work on it. Working on those mistakes and then getting the papers rechecked will ensure the weaknesses are not repeated. Going through solved sample papers also helps in this regard. One’s own mistakes are easy to catch while reading through other papers.

    Marking

    The marking system for the writing section could help in understanding how to better attempt the section. The second question which involves writing the 250-word essay makes for 66% of the total writing marks and the first question makes for 30% of the total marks. Marks are also assigned to task response, coherence (structure) and cohesion, vocabulary, and grammar. Each point mentioned makes for 25% of the total marks for the writing section.

    Counting words

    Learning how to count words for the answers written important as any mistakes made will mean losing points and a lower band score. Number, dates and time are counted as they would it is were written in words. For example, 30,000 will be one word and 12th July will be one number and one word. Hyphenated words such as up-to-date are to be counted as one word. Prepositions like ‘in’, ‘at’ and ‘a’ or ‘an’ are also counted. Contractions like ‘it’s’ will be one word and ‘it is’ will be two words. Words in brackets are also counted in the final count.

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