Why are you scoring 6.5 bands in writing?
After working with more than 3000 students who were preparing for IELTS General Training module, we have observed even candidates with proficient Listening, Reading and Speaking skills are stuck at 6.5 bands in Writing. Why is it so? We have observed a few patterns the way you approach these essays and have compiled the most common reasons below.
Before going through the reasons for your 6.5 bands, let’s talk about in essay writing in general. Most of you have painful memories of writing essay in schools. Try to recall the experience. Out of the twenty minutes dedicated to essay writing, you spent 10 minutes thinking about a great introduction and writing some scrappy lines. You realise that waiting for a divine inspiration is of no use, as only 10 minutes are in hands before the final bell goes off. So, you start writing fast! Really fast! You know some ideas are better off in introduction but now you don’t have time re-write. You also notice the odd grammatical errors, but you don’t have time to fix it. And the essay is finally ready somehow.
Now, if you have gone through a similar experience in IELTS already read along.
1. Hasty task reading
Most of the students read the topic quickly and begin writing to manage time efficiently. They don’t pay attention to all words neither do they reflect on the task at hand. For an instance pay attention to the following task.
You must spend about 40 minutes on the following task.
While there are some advantages of the group study, one must focus on self-study.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-study?
Give your relevant reasons and examples from your knowledge or experience to support your position.
Write at least 250 words.
Now, most of the students end up writing whether they prefer to study in groups or individually. However, your preference for the study is not asked. You are asked only to concentrate on the pros and cons of the individual studies. Now, if you have compared the two methods and offered your preference you have not answered the question completely, although you may have had a perfect structure. So, you are bound to lose heavily on Task Response (TR), one of the evaluation criteria.
Hence, read the task well and reflect what is exactly expected by the examiner.
You can score 7 bands in writing.
2. No plan to write an essay
Now let’s say you have analysed and reflected on the task. The next logical step that you should take is to plan for the essay. Here, many students feel a bit hesitant as they have experienced that they need ample time to complete the essay.
Now take a step back. Can you write 10 words in a minute? Yes? Yes! Most of us can do that. So, is it difficult to write 250 words in 25 minutes? It should not be! However, it is only possible if you plan. You can dedicate about 7 to 8 minutes to plan well and think about the examples. Also, think about the flow of ideas in the essay. It will ease out pressure and you can realistically finish writing the essay within 25 minutes.
3. Inappropriate examples
One of the most painful experiences of correcting IELTS essays is evaluating the answer sheets of the students who look towards example as a filler and an excuse to inflate essays with words.
Let’s say you are asked whether watching TV is good for children or not. While supporting the idea that watching TV leads to problems, two authors write the same example, but in different fashions. Read following samples.
“… In summer holidays during school time, I used to visit my aunt’s house. I was friends with few local boys my age. We used to love watching Spiderman. However, after a few days, we were not allowed to watch the program, as one of the boys jumped from the first floor of the building in a hope that the Spiderman will help him. …”
“… One of my neighbour’s son jumped from the first floor of the building in a hope that his favourite superheroes, Spiderman will save him, only to find a hospital bed. …”
Now clearly the second example is precise and to the point.
4. Flow of ideas
The problem with writing an essay without planning is that you cannot maintain the correct flow of ideas as you don’t have any control over them. After planning, spend some time in deciding the flow of ideas.
Consider following letter writing task.
You recently visited a restaurant with someone. You enjoyed the overall experience there.
Write a letter to a restaurant manager. In your letter
- Give details of the visit
- Explain why you visited the place
- How was your experience?
Now, while writing this task, again the same writers take different approaches.
“Me and my wife visited your restaurant on our marriage anniversary. Your staff is very polite. The ambience of the restaurant is awesome. We danced a lot and enjoyed a lot of mocktails. We had delicious food. Also, the chef suggested awesome cuisines. Lastly, the pool-side table was great. Thanks for giving the best memories.”
“I and my wife visited your restaurant on last Sunday 19th July to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Your staff welcomed us warmly and offered us a short tour of the property. Initially, we settled on the dance floor, where we had a few mocktails in between. After about an hour, we shifted on our pool-side table, where the head chef suggested delicious cuisines. I must say I have never had tasted such a heavenly preparation. Overall, your staff is polite, and the ambience of the place is very romantic. Thanking you for the memories.”
Do you see the difference? Both the samples have the same amount of information. However, when you follow the order of time, to narrate the experience, the information is much easy to digest as it is in Sample 2.
5. Heavy words
The last but most crucial self-inflected torture (self-harm) students post on themselves is memorising esoteric vocabulary. Look at Sample 2 put in the previous point. Do you see any hi-fi vocabulary? No! Yet, it is a very effective piece of the letter. While writing it, the author has ensured that no word is repeated throughout.
Remember IELTS is an English proficiency test, in which the examiner aims to determine whether you can survive in an English-speaking environment or not? Also, Canada is not looking for the next Shakespeare! They are looking for good Engineers, Doctors, Management professionals and others who can work in their country without getting lost in translation. So, the regular words which average citizen use are more than enough to score well on the exam.
We hope that you have understood your one or more mistakes. We have helped many students who have faced one or more of these difficulties. We can help you too. Let us know how we can help you too.
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