The IELTS Writing Examination is seen by many as the most difficult sub-test, particularly Task 2, an essay. Both those taking the Academic module and the General training module are required to write a 250-word essay, which would consist two-thirds of their total IELTS band score. That is 66.66% – quite a big percentage. Students find essay writing particularly difficult because many are unaware of what makes an essay good. From this, we can derive the best practices for writing these kinds of articles.
First: Remember the definition of an essay.
Just so we are all on the same page, let us use this definition.
An essay is an intellectual, opinionated article or write-up.
There are two important words in that operational definition – intellectual and opinionated. Essentially, an essay is a write-up about YOUR opinion. However, opinions are not enough. Whatever arguments or premises you want to make must be explained, and explained smartly.
Second: An essay must be written with Grammatical precision.
To simplify: make sure your Grammar and word usage are correct. A very common problem in Grammar is the shifting of Present Tense to Past Tense. Remember the basics: your opinions now and facts that are still acceptable are written in present tense; facts no longer acceptable today should be written in the past tense.
Third: Flamboyant words do not make the grade.
If all you have gone are long, rarely-used words that you misuse, then that says not-so-good things about your writing. Aim to be simple and understandable and elegant at the same time. Also, being wordy does not make you a good writer. It shows that you are ineffective because you cannot express using as little words as possible. Let me give you an example:
Bad, Flamboyant English: To be brief, concise, and to utilize as little words as possible are characteristic of vigorous and active writing.
Simple, Elegant English: “Brevity is vigorous.” – The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
Fourth: Do not use jargons.
Some people think it is smart to make use of jargons – words used in a specific field or profession – in IELTS essay writing. It is not. Your point is to make people understand what you want to say, not impress them by using words mean nothing to them.
Bad: The Reproductive Health Law has been placed in indefinite status quo ante.
Better: The Reproductive Health Law has been put on indefinite hold.
Fifth: Mix up complex sentence structures with simple ones to create variety and show Grammatical range.
It is simple, really. Correct use of complex sentence structures mixed in with simple ones shows that your grammatical range and accuracy is good. This means higher scores. Complex sentence structure means the use of dependent and independent clauses.
Sixth: Know what you are writing about.
You can never speak or write intelligently about something you have no idea about. Content also matters in the examination.
Final words, dear test-taker: Writing is not a skill that improves immediately. It takes a lot of practice to be a good writer. Do an essay, have your teacher or coach mark it and ask for the things you need to improve on. You might have to do this five times, or ten times, or twenty. That is part of the writing process. That is part of improvement.
Have patience with yourself and never give up on Writing.
Find out more tips about the IELTS exam at: