How to Improve Your IELTS Essay Writing?
The IELTS Essay writing skills deserve getting a special attention. As, the IELTS test is known to be the most popular and trusted test of proficiency in all forms of the English language, no need to explain the standard it maintains. Writing a perfect essay in the IELTS test is not just writing any essay. It needs special training and skill to write a ‘Quality Essay’ to score a high band in the test. In the Academic version of the tests, in Tsak2, you would get a topic, providing a brief detail of a situation/problem or argument and you need to generate an essay proceeding to a conclude by justified reason or logic. While in the Task2 of the General Training module you would get an instruction to write a discursive essay asking your opinion on a social issue, usually a contemporary one. In both cases you have to write an essay in not less than 250 words and the language used should be very rich with a lot of complex sentence structures and a wide range of suitable vocabulary with hardly any spelling mistakes. The content should be grammatically rich and idea wise, coherent and cohesive.
You should prepare yourself well before the test on how to plan and construct an essay. The planning comes first. You should not spare much time for planning, a well prepared you hopefully should know that taking 3 to 5 minutes for planning the essay is adequate enough. Prior to writing an essay you should first read and analyze the question thoroughly, this is an indispensable part. You should be aware about the fact that, if you cannot write addressing all the parts of the question you won’t be able to get a good Band Score. So scanning each and every part on the question is compulsory, and you should not jump start to write, without making an impeccable plan.
Why you should make a plan before start writing:
Planning before writing is an integral part to ensure higher Band Score. It ensures that you would never get lost in the middle, also planning would help you write the exact sequence things should be written. One who writes without planning would have to stop- then think – then write – again stop and think – and write this process simply wastes time incurs errors at the same time it lowers the quality of the essay. Planning and working accordingly would also save your time and help you write in a more organized manner. So, as mentioned above, first read and analyze the question and have a clear idea of what exactly you need to write about. For example, let’s write a sample question to make you understand finding the keywords. Say, the questions are as below:
A major number of children of the age group 5 to 11 years are getting addicted towards playing games on the cell phones and becoming unsocial: What is your opinion, is it completely bad or has some good side as well? Do you think that they should socialize more? Here the major keyword is ‘Getting addicted towards playing games on the cell phones’, and the smaller keyword is ‘becoming unsocial‘. If you can’t identify the exact ‘Keyword’ your essay would be off the track and carry no marks for you at all. Your answer through the essay should be exactly to the point. So once you have got the ‘Keyword’ you start planning your essay. Remember, you are writing on papers, not typing on your computer screen, so that you have the liberty of delete-rewrite-edit-then write again. You have to plan what you are going to write, then start writing according to the plan. A good plan would work as a roadmap preventing you from losing on the midway.
How to plan your essay: In short, we can write that there are four things to do:
- Identifying the right keyword that means the central idea.
- Identifying the micro-keywords that are the main points.
- Starting with a good introductory paragraph.
- Thinking and constructing the body of the essay.
- While thinking about the construction framing them into paragraphs is necessary.
An average IELTS essay is 250 to 280 words long with 14 to 18 sentences in it. So you could spend 5 minutes for planning and then 35 minutes for writing. In the case of constructing an essay first comes the introduction part, think about the introduction part, first. Remember a good introduction bears immense importance as we all know the famous quote saying “well begun is half done”. For writing a good introduction, first decide what is your opinion, is it in favor of the ‘Keyword’ or against the ‘Keyword’. Once you decide what exactly you are going to write, you can write your opinion clearly and transparently, clarify on which side you are, ‘Against’ or ‘For’. So this is the first phase of planning. Plan to write a compact context without overlapping ideas. Write every sentence with a purpose.
Now you have to ‘Generate the Exact Idea’ for forming of the essay: You have written down your opinion or view in the introduction part, now you have to justify it with logic. At this juncture make yourself ready with how to weave the sentences to form a complete and compact essay. It might sound easy, but doing it in the exam hall without sufficient practice would be almost impossible. Generate the ideas using logic, which sentence comes when, whether it fits there or not, etc. Having a rock-solid plan from the start would make you move through the context with ease without having to think about the structure, it would be formed automatically. Note that you have to write both the options ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ and establish it with logic.
For executing your plan in the best way and not forgetting them you can write the planning on the question paper, the examiner won’t mind it, he would mind about your answer only. Hundreds of top students have found getting low Band Score because of their poor planning or no planning at all for the essay. Another very important thing is if you fall low in the word count. In the exam hall you won’t be able to count your words, so practice it at home by watching ‘How 250 words look in your handwriting’, this is important.
There are 4 main marking criteria for giving marks for the IELTS essay. They are as follows:
- How your response to the task
- How good the essay is from the point of view of ‘Coherence’ and ‘Cohesion’
- How good it is regarding the ‘Lexical Resource’.
- How appropriate is the range of grammatical expertise and accuracy
- Accuracy in spelling.
A suggestive discussion, for getting a high Band Score like 8 is:
- Address all parts of the tasks.
- Write complete answers of all issues in the essay questions.
- The contextual meaning should be transparent to the readers.
- All the answers are supported by justifying opinions.
- Don’t write in big paragraphs, exceeding 140 words, complete the essay in 2 to 3 paragraphs.
- Be always relevant to the topics, don’t write irrelevant points and sentences, the examiner will be annoyed.
- Strictly avoid any errors in linking words and paragraphs.
- Write paragraphs in perfect sequence, so as to be transparent with your writing.
- Don’t use too common words, use synonyms instead.
- Use a wide range of rich vocabulary to stand tall amongst the crowd.
- Use a wide range of complex sentences without losing lucidity.
While giving your opinion, remember that you would have to justify it with the solid argument in favor. At the same time when you are talking about the ‘Dark side’, you have to establish your view with the solid justifying statement. To get a high Band Score like 8 or 9 you have to do something specials during your preparation, you have to
- Read a lot of good essays.
- Practice on ‘how to make planning within 5 minutes before starting’. This would make you write in the coherent form.
- Your opinion should be transparent and you have to establish it with 100% convincing and justifying points.
- Always keep in mind that, ‘The purpose of writing’ is to convey the meaning of the essay, at the same time showing the examiner how impressive your range of vocabulary is and how expert you are in construct complex sentences keeping the cohesion intact.
Focus on writing clearly and you will do very well. They know the key to high grammar scores is accuracy.