Hello! I hope you are having a great day and making good progress with your IELTS preparation.
Welcome to the Writing Pitfalls page!
Here, we will cover some common mistakes people make in the writing section, and how you can avoid them. We don’t want any of our amazing students falling into the same trap as other exam-takers!
So, let’s have a look at some common pitfalls…
If you write less than 150 words in Task 1 or 250 words in Task 2, you will lose marks because you have not written the minimum required words. You will lose marks because of this!
This is a really important point:
You must be aware that some words will be counted differently. For example, writing we’re instead of we are would be counted as one word and two words, respectively. See below for other examples:
Another essential point you must be aware of:
Using contractions is seen as being informal. This should be avoided in the writing section unless you are asked to write a letter to a friend (for example in the General IELTS Task 1).
So, we have discussed avoiding writing too few words (Pitfall 1), now you need to make sure you do not write too many words!
Remember, you only have 60 minutes in total, so do not spend too much time on task 1 otherwise you will not have enough time to complete task 2 (and vice versa). You should aim to write approximately 10% more words than the required minimum. For example:
These are just approximate figures, though. If you write a few more words than this, do not worry too much. But do not write many more words or you will run out of time and you will start to lose focus of what the question is asking. Keep it simple!
What does 150 or 250 words look like on paper?
That depends on your handwriting!
We have developed a game-changing, foolproof technique to make sure you write enough words in task 2. It is known as the ‘Four-Two-Fifty Word Count Technique’ and can be found in our Premium Band 7+ Writing Ebooks here.
As we discovered above, you only have 60 minutes for the WHOLE writing section. Once your time is up, you have to stop straight away. So you need to make sure you finish both tasks within 60 minutes.
Task 2 is worth twice the number of marks as Task 1, so you need to spend longer on Task 2.
Task 1 should take no longer than 20 minutes to complete
Task 2 should take no longer than 40 minutes to complete
You are not allowed to take a watch into the exam, so get used to looking at a clock when practicing.
One of the most important pieces of advice is to practice over and over again, so the writing section becomes easier. Many candidates fail to practice the tasks and so they score poorly in the exam.
There are 3 main skills you need to master in the exam:
Now ask yourself, ‘Which of these three points do I have control over?’. The answer is the Timing and Word count.
If you practice Task 1 and Task 2, you will become really good at recognising when you have written 150 or 250 words in your own handwriting. You will feel much less stressed in the exam if you PRACTICE.
Remember, you may not have enough time in the exam to count your words.
We understand practicing the writing exam can be confusing, so we have developed some FREE example questions for you below:
Despite what some people will tell you, it is NEVER a good idea to write down the exact same sentences from the question. You can PARAPHRASE the question, in certain situations (we discuss this in the writing framework section). But NEVER write the exact same words/sentences. You will use up vital time and the examiner will simply deduct points if you do this.
Even if you are struggling to write anything, DO NOT repeat the sentences!
I hope this information helps you to avoid these common mistakes!