Here’s the scenario: You have only a week or two before the IELTS exam and you want to improve from 5 to 6 bands in IELTS Writing – what are your options?

You cannot go too wrong with IELTS Reading and Listening tests even if you are having difficulty with audio or the passage, the questions will give you a pretty clear idea. And even if you go wrong with one question, there are still so many questions left to answer. But when it comes to writing tasks whether IELTS writing task 1 or task 2, if you do not understand the question or you interpret it wrongly you will not get any marks. And you will end up getting a low band score.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the most common mistakes students make in the IELTS Writing task 1 academic and how to fix them in a short period of time.

The most common and truly avoidable mistakes in IELTS writing task 1 are where students:

  • Do not write an overview.
  • Do not take the time factor into consideration and make mistakes in tenses.
  • Do not use a range of vocabulary.
  • Do not include key details.
  • Represent the data incorrectly.

These problems cover all four assessment areas: task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource and grammar. The overall band score is the average of all these four areas. Just to give you an example: If you get TA: 6, CC: 6, LR: 6 and GRA: 7, it will give you a 6, while TA: 6, CC: 6, LR: 6 and GRA: 6 would give you 6. Of course, TA: 6, CC: 6, LR: 7 and GRA: 7 would add up to 6.5.

Working on grammar and vocabulary takes time, not your best option in the given time. That means you need to bring your focus on TA and CC.

(Download the public assessment criteria for your reference from the IELTS Official website.)

Now as per the assessment criteria provided by IELTS (see table above), to get a band 6 in TA (task achievement), your answer should have the following:

  • (Academic) presents an overview with information appropriately selected  

What does it mean: If your answer does not have an overview/the main or general trends that can be seen in the graph, you will not get band 6 in TA.

  • (Academic) Presents and adequately highlights key features but details may be irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate.

What does it mean: The terms used above stand for: Inappropriate: any evaluation or personal comments on the data; Irrelevant: data that is not presented, comments which do not relate to the graph; Inaccurate: factual mistakes in the description (e.g. with dates or numbers).

It means that if you have captured the key features correctly and adequately you will get a band 6 in TA, even if the details are not all that accurate. If you fulfill these two conditions, you will get a band 6 in TA. 

Let’s take a look at Coherence and Cohesion: As per the assessment criteria provided by IELTS (see table above), to get a band 6 in CA (Coherence & Cohesion), your answer should have the following:

  • Organised information

What does it mean: Data given should be organised properly. Comparison of data should be clear; everything should not be mixed in one paragraph. For example: there should be clarity in the comparison drawn between the troughs and the peaks given in a bar chart.

  • Reasonable paragraphing

What does it mean: Content should be divided in different paragraphs – introduction, overview, and paragraphs to show different details.

  • Usage of linkers

What does it mean: Appropriate usage of linkers is a must; these are words like however, whereas, on the contrary, conversely, similarly, etc.

  • Errors in linking within sentences and in referencing

What does it mean: Error in linking is when linkers are used incorrectly; for example, using moreover in place of however.

To sum up, you can secure a band 6 in other areas by doing the following:

  • Use a range of vocabulary
  • Linkers – do not under use or overuse.
  • Correct usage of tenses
  • Present information in different paragraphs

I hope you found this useful.

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