• Erica S. — IELTS Grader

5 Tips to Get a Band 8 on IELTS Writing Task 2

Updated: Aug 30, 2020

Check out these essential insights to help you improve your score.

The IELTS exam is generally pretty tough, but is an important key to unlocking your educational or career dreams. Everyone says that practice practice practice is the best way to improve your score, which is true. Practicing for the test is easy for most of the sections, but writing can be tricky. You have to write a good, well-thought out response to a prompt, and you have to do it in English, paying attention to all the small things such as grammar, spelling, punctuation…and English has so many rules!

So today we’re going to talk about five basic tips to help you get a strong start for IELTS writing skills. Keep these tips in mind, and keep practicing your writing (and get feedback on it so you know where to improve!), and you’ll have a better shot at improving your score, even up to Band 8!

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list. In future posts, I will provide even more tips, so stay tuned!

Start Early

I hope you are not reading this a week before your exam. If you are, then I hope you have already followed this first piece of advice. To have a good shot at improving your score, you need to begin your preparation process early on. This will give you the right amount of time to build your writing skills and take enough practice tests to improve your score. Along the way, you should also be building good habits both in your studying and in your English skills. Success does not happen overnight, so make sure that you allocate enough time that will give you a better chance to get a great score.

Pay Attention to the Prompt

What hurts some test takers is that they don’t take the time to carefully read the prompt. Before you proceed with writing your essay, take a few moments to read the prompt carefully, and ensure that you understand it. If you rush to write your essay, you may miss important details in the prompt, and ultimately get a lower score. Thinking and planning are key parts of creating a good piece of writing, so spend about 5-10 minutes just thinking about what you want to say and make sure you cover everything the prompt is asking.

Understand the Criteria

The IELTS Writing section has four key components:

· Task Achievement (Task 1)/Task Response (Task 2)

· Coherence and Cohesion

· Lexical Resource

· Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Each of these components carries an equal weight of 25%. If you want to receive a high score, you need to fulfill all of the criteria within each component, and do it well. During your preparation process, ensure that you understand the differences between each of these. When you practice, look at the IELTS rubric and evaluate yourself, focusing on each component at a time and thinking about where you think you could do better.

Time Yourself

In total, you have 60 minutes to complete Task 1 and Task 2. It is highly recommended that you spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2.

Have a plan for how you want to structure the time. You may want to spend the first few minutes (about 5-10 minutes) reading through the prompt and then creating an outline on how to structure your response. Once you feel confident that you have clearly understood the question and have a strong outline in place, you can then start writing your essay. Be sure to leave some time at the end (again about 5-10 minutes) for reading over what you’ve written and making any changes.

Practicing before the test can be helpful here because you will familiarize yourself with the kind of questions that are typically asked on the exam, and then become comfortable with how you want to respond. Practicing each step of responding—planning, writing, and reviewing—will help you get better and faster, so that the time limit is not as daunting.

Maintain the Word Limit

One of the worst things that can happen is that you write an amazing essay, but then you don’t meet the word limit requirements. The minimum word limit for Task 1 is 150 words and for Task 2 is 250 words. If you don’t write at least the minimum number of words, you may be penalized. Again, practicing will help you understand how long 250 words is and how much you can say in that amount of space. It is actually not very long, and there’s usually a lot you can say when responding to the IELTS prompts. Keep in mind everything else when you’re writing, though—a 250-300 word response that is well constructed and satisfies all of the rubric components will score higher than a longer response that has less structure and more language errors!

Keep practicing, and happy writing!

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