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How to seriously improve in writing
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
June 27, 2012
9:01 am
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I tried IELTS GT 4 times now to get a score of 8 in each area.

The first time i got 7 in writing with no practise some 7 month ago, then 6.5 twice in another test center.
Then 7.5 in writing yet another center. My overall score is 8.5 now. I have lived and worked in English speaking countries for some years, i do read. I practised a lot. The last time it didnt feel like not enough time. Still... not there and not yet ready to give up on it.

I am looking for serious suggestions about what to do as just writing another 50 more essays seem to not get me there.

June 29, 2012
8:33 am
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hi katisss:

Your "rant" really resonates with me!!!!!!!my overall score is 8.5 too and i do have the same issue with you . In my last two tries for ielts,  either reading(7.5) (absolutely too careless) or writing(7.5) drags me down.   i also agree with you that the number of essays you wrote doesnt mean you can nail the writing exam . i reckon, more importantly , that you need to reflect on the essays you wrote and comments , think about where it might get wrong ,relating to ideas(less convincing) or structure ?  ,  apply the feedback you've got to next essay . you do not have to rush to the writing all the time .  hmmm,  i am also in need of advice from other experts at writing as to how to get 8+ in writing......lets keep writing and learning, i FIRMLY believe that we can make it happen....dont give upon yourself.

June 30, 2012
9:05 am
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I am serious: Feels like i will spend years and insane amounts of money for nothing.

Any (online) course, book, recommendations? Just practising on my own does not work.

July 3, 2012
10:52 am
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Hi Katiss and ChrisLuke

Have a look at what Dominc Cole says here. As usual, his advice is excellent.

There is some shocking advice out there. The examples of Band 9 essays I have seen on some IELTS websites are too easy, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to get a Band 8.5 or a 9.

Most native speakers would not get Band 9. It is aimed at 'educated writers' - by that IELTS means someone

  • who almost certainly has a university degree (no monosyllabic teenagers, please) 
  • with five or six reasonably acceptable ideas  (nothing too extreme, wacky, or right-wing)
  • with a natural style (not too gushing, no angels and dolphins or crystals, but not too turgid or soul-destroying)
  • who knows the difference between writing and speaking (no 'like, totally awesome, lol')
  • who can plan an essay in a particular way (no circular logic or repetition, even if this is normal in your language)
  • who can put together a predictable structure (paragraphs, topic sentences and a couple of cohesive devices)
You can't write everything about the topic in 35 minutes. So it's important to spend time deciding what to leave out. And you have to do all this in just 250-300 words. By hand, which is sheer torture, because you only get one chance and you can't reorganize anything. 
 
It's a challenge with its own rules. There is a good bit of advice out there, but if you jump from one website to another or from one book to another you will definitely get confused.  I'd say go with Dominic Cole's website or with ielts-blog.com. But be careful to maintain your own style as well.
 
 
July 6, 2012
9:52 am
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I have seen his blog, great link. I got 2 degrees but it feels an unfair requirement.
Anyways, I decided to go back to writing without time constraints for a while.
Dont know what else to do. I have focused a lot on beating the clock….

If only IELTS was about English. I dont want to be a journalist or anything like that really.

July 6, 2012
2:17 pm
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sample pageHi Katiss

That might just be a good idea to practise writing in your own style without time pressure.

But I would suggest that you have something at the back of your mind to keep your creative beast on a leash.

For example, print out the sample IELTS Writing Task 2 Answer sheet here so that you know the appropriate length depending on your handwriting.

There are twenty lines on each side of the page, which makes it easier for examiners to estimate the length of your essay. If you normally write 8 words on a line and fill two pages that will be 320 words (hmmmm, that's a bit long!).

If you write 9 words and do about a page and a half, that's 270 words. You get the idea.

Maybe visualizing a page and a half is easier than worrying about the time.

July 22, 2012
6:27 am
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July 22, 2012
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Hellow everyone ,

I took the IELTS exam twice each time i score 6 in the writing part ..however, i scored 6.5 in my last attempt and i need 7 ? could u provide me with some advice how to improve my score and what is the difference between 6.5 and 7 ?!

July 30, 2012
8:09 am
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Hi Eman!

It's a good question!

There is no difference between 6.5 and 7, because there is no Band 6.5!

What happened is that you got Band 7 for some parts and Band 6 for other parts. As far as we know the four criteria (Task Response (your ideas), Coherence and Cohesion (how you link ideas and sentences), Lexical Resource (vocab), and Grammar and Accuracy are equally weighted. So it seems if you got Band 6.5 for writing you got 7766, or 7676, or 6677 or 6767. So you already have Band 7 in some areas.

Have a look at the attached picture or have a look at the official descriptors for IELTS Task 2 Writing (public version) here, to see the descriptors for Bands 6 and 7.

Don't forget that your grade is a 40% : 60% mix of Task 1 (graphs/charts/maps/diagrams/cycles/process -  objective visual data) and Task 2 (opinion essay -  subjective, personal, experience). Your style of writing needs to be different. Some students are good at Task 2 but very weak at Task 1 -  often 'fluent' students who have done no preparation, and they are surprised at their low overall score.

So have a look at your essays and see what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Of course, one way to improve is to aim for Band 8! 

 

band6_7.pngImage Enlarger

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July 31, 2012
4:17 pm
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Hey, Enda, after reading my essays from ur correction, I feel that I probably never could achieve band 6.

I am looking forward to get band 7 before the latest examination, but only 5.5.

Of corsue, my essay cannot get 6 in that exam, loads of repetition and the exetremely obnoxious long sentences. I feel upset and already lose heart to write essay now. Reading the require of band 6, it seems so easy, but when I fulfill it, I realize the gap of mine.

Writing is my most awful part in my whole life, regardless of English or my mother tounge.

Most competitors in my country achieve band 5.5 in writing, it kind of the barrier of mine too.

How to achieve band 6, if it is possible, I'd like get rid of anything to reach this band.

Best regards,

 

David

August 4, 2012
11:46 am
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Hi David

Don't be discouraged. Just concentrate and you will be able to do it. You've noticed a lot here so just try to put some of what you've learned into practice.

Make sure there is a big difference in style between Task 1 and Task 2.

I don't think you should have a big problem in Task 1: Just make sure to have an "Overall,.." statement in your introduction, and be as objective as you can. No subjective "I", no "we," no "as you can see," no "the graph shows us that if people in France don't stop using nuclear power there will be a huge environmental disaster for our children." 

In Task 2, underline the keywords, brainstorm, pick related words and ideas, and write synonyms.  Don't start writing until you have six ideas.

Have a good thesis sentence in your intro which tells the reader what you are going to say. Have a clear central topic in each paragaph. Have a topic sentence at the start of each paragraph.

Add some short sentences - perhaps the topic sentences or a short expression or opinion. Have some long sentences, but don't have any over 25 words. Keep the average down!  There's a big difference between conversation and IELTS Task 2 writing. 

Don't rely on tired old phrases. Add one or two links between sentences, but not for every sentence. Let your ideas and examples do the work.

Remember Task 2 is about YOUR opinion. Give your opinion. That's what the question asks you to do. Don't hide behind experts or passives or scientists or recent research. 

Check for subject /verb agreement  ("he goes," not "he go"). Check every noun to see if it needs an article ('a, an, the'). Remove unnecessary commas. 

And don't write too much. A page and a quarter  or a page and a half is fine for Task 2.  Print out this sample IELTS Writing Task 2 Answer sheet from the official IELTS website, and practice writing by hand in 35 - 40 minutes. For most people with about ten words per line, 300 words is about a page and a half. There are 20 lines on each side.

It’s important to practice by hand at least once or twice. Typing on the computer is not the same. You don’t have time to reorganize when you are writing by hand.  You have to get it right the first time. 

Good luck!

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