Only when you understand the IELTS writing test marking criteria then you would know what exactly the examiner is looking for in your task responses, that way you can work on your weaker areas to improve your test score. In one of the previous blog posts, I walked you through the writing section format and question types, in this blog post I’ll show you how an IELTS examiner marks your IELTS writing test.
Your writing test has two tasks, task 1 and task 2.
Let’s begin with the Writing Task 1 assessment.
Writing assessment criteria for Task 1:
Your writing task 1 will be evaluated on 4 parameters or band descriptors.
- Task Achievement
- Coherence and Cohesion
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
The examiner looks for these 4 things when they go through your task 1 response. They give you four scores one for each of the criteria and your total score is calculated from them.
Let’s say you get 7 for each of the criteria then your Task 1 band score would be 7.
However, if you get 6 in let’s say task achievement then your score will come to a disappointing 6.5.
In order to score high in each of these criteria you must understand what they mean and what all things you can do to impress the examiner.
Let’s begin with marking criteria of General Writing Task 1, which is Letter writing.
General Writing Task 1 Assessment Criteria
- Task achievement: Task achievement simply means covering all the parts of the question.
Let’s say you get this informal letter in your task 1.
Now the first thing that the examiner is going to check in your response is whether you understood the letter scenario and covered all the bullet points appropriately.
As you can see in the sample letter, we have covered all the three bullet points separately and everything written in each paragraph is strictly related to a particular bullet point only.
That’s Task achievement.
To score highly in the Task achievement category you should:
- Read the question carefully
- Cover all the points
- And most importantly, Stick to the topic.
2. Coherence and Cohesion: Coherence and Cohesion refers to the structure and flow of your writing.
The examiner evaluates how well-structured and well connected your letter is.
If you look at the sample letter you can see a seamless flow with points divided into 5 different paragraphs, which includes: the opening and closing statements and each bullet point in a separate paragraph.
This makes the letter well-structured or coherent.
Now let’s come to cohesion. Cohesion simply means that your writing should make sense, which means each sentence that you write in the letter should connect to the next sentence.
For instance, the first highlighted sentence talks about the new house, and then the next statement talks about the reason behind moving into a new house which is getting married.
There is a connection between the two sentences. Right! That’s cohesion. Each sentence in the letter should connect to the next one.
So, coherence is how well-structured your letter is and cohesion is how well-connected your letter is.
To score high in this category, you should:
- Divide your writing into 4 to 5 paragraphs.
- Use appropriate linking words to connect ideas and paragraphs.
3. Lexical Resource: Lexical Resource means your range of vocabulary.
The examiner will look at your choice and accuracy of words used in your response.
Since there are three letter types – Formal, Semi-formal and informal, your vocabulary will vary depending on the type of letter you get in the exam.
If you get an informal letter your language style and vocabulary will be casual while in a formal letter you will use formal words.
We have jotted down some formal/informal vocabulary so that you can differentiate between the two.
- We begin a formal letter as Dear Sir/Madam. We don’t use first names in formal letters whereas in an informal letter you greet the person with the first name, because you know the person well. Right! So it’s, Dear Riya.
- Likewise, visit is formal whereas “come over” is an informal phrasal verb which we use in our daily conversations.
- Then there’s extraordinary which is formal and awesome is informal.
- Next we have “Moreover”, it’s a formal linking word and “also” is its informal counterpart.
- And finally, we have a standard phrase, “Looking forward to meeting you.” which we use in formal letters whereas in informal or semiformal letters we use, “can’t wait to see you! Or See you soon!”
So, to get high scores in vocabulary you should:
- Use words and phrases depending on the type of letter.
- Use some uncommon words, for instance, Splendid instead of Good.
- And you should not repeat the same words over and over again.
4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Grammatical range means your control over grammar.
The examiner evaluates your ability to use a range of grammatical structures.
To score high you need to demonstrate your grammatical range and you can do that in many ways.
- One of the keyways is to use a mixture of simple, compound and complex sentences.
- Your punctuation should be correct too. There should be proper usage of full stops and commas.
- In addition to these you should be able to use basic grammar structures correctly such as articles, prepositions, verbs, different tenses, modals (could, would, might), comparatives (larger, faster, higher), conditionals(if).
Alright! So, this is how your IELTS General Writing Task 1 is evaluated by the examiners.
Now let’s see how IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 is assessed.
Academic Writing Task 1 Assessment Criteria
- Task achievement: Task achievement here means reporting all the key features of the given graph.
The examiner evaluates whether you covered the most important and relevant information from the diagram in your response.
Let’s say you get this chart in your test. The Pie Chart presents the Browser market share in January 2018. Prepare a report by summarizing the given information.
- Spend at least a minute to understand the chart, just analyze it so that you know what means what.
- Then you can start with paraphrasing the question statement. Take this description and rewrite it into your own words.
- You can move on to give an overview of the chart, the most striking or noticeable features. For instance, the moment we look at the chart we see that Chrome had the biggest share in the market whereas Safari had the least. Write about it!
- And then finally delve into more details by extracting all the key data from this chart. Talk about percentages.
So, that’s how you cover all the parts of the graph.
To sum up,
- Analyze and understand the graph.
- Then select and report only the most noticeable or key features of the chart.
2. Coherence and Cohesion refers to the structure and flow of your report.
The examiner evaluates how well-structured and well-connected your report is. You already know what well-structured and well-connected means.
Take a look at the sample report.
As you can see to give a proper structure, we have divided the report into 4 paragraphs.
To connect the ideas or findings we have made use of connecting words such as, “whereas”, “Although “, “Conversely”, “in comparison” …
To score high you should do the same, i.e.
- Divide your report into 4 to 5 paragraphs.
- And use appropriate linking words.
3. Lexical Resource is your range of vocabulary.
You need to use a variety of vocabulary not only to describe but also emphasize the changes, similarities and differences in the data.
Look at the kind of vocabulary we have used in our report to describe the data.
We have used a range of different words to describe the data given in the chart.
So, this is what you got to do, you should:
- Use words and phrases to describe data depending on the type of diagram.
- Use some uncommon words.
- And you should not repeat the same words over and over again
4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy: is your control over grammar.
The examiner evaluates your ability to use a range of grammatical structures. We have already discussed all this; I am going to quickly repeat it for you.
- Use a mixture of simple, compound and complex sentences.
- Use basic grammar structures correctly such as articles, prepositions, verbs, modals (could, would, might), comparatives (larger, faster, higher), conditionals (if).
- Use tenses correctly.
It could be possible that you are mentioned a time frame in the chart.
For instance, in the sample question, the data is from the year 2018. This means you have to write in the past tense.
Remember, it’s only in the first paragraph that we use the present tense. After that we should use the tense according to the time frame mentioned.
- Also, your punctuation (full stops and commas) should be correct too.
- Besides all this you should also be able to use active and passive voice properly as diagrams are usually a combination of active and passive voice.
Our Writing Task 1 Assessment Criteria for both General as well as Academic exam are covered.
Now let’s move on to,
IELTS Writing Task 1 Assessment Criteria
Task 2, which is essay writing, is the same for both General and Academic so it is marked in the same way.
Your essay will be evaluated on 4 parameters:
- Task Response
- Coherence and Cohesion
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
You can see only the first parameter differs. Instead of Task achievement, it’s Task Response. Rest of the parameters remain the same.
Let’s start with the criterion Task Response.
- Task Response: The examiner evaluates whether your response covers each part of the essay question.
Now if you get a question like this.
In the question statement you are asked whether there are more advantages or disadvantages of moving to a new location.
Now, in order to score high in Task Response you should,
- Cover all parts. Talk about advantages, disadvantages and present a clear opinion on which ones are more.
- That’s one thing, you are also marked on how well you have developed or supported your ideas. Therefore,
- Support your ideas with appropriate reasons, opinions and examples which could be drawn from your own experiences as well.
Let’s quickly go through the rest of the criteria. We already know what they mean.
2. Coherence and Cohesion: Criterion 2, Coherence and Cohesion is all about paragraphing, linking and flow. The examiner evaluates whether your essay is well-structured and has a certain logical flow.
To get high scores:
- divide your essay into 4 to 5 paragraphs.
It could be like Introduction, 2 or 3 body paragraphs and then conclusion. Make sure your body paragraphs are of the same length. Only then it would be a logical paragraphing.
- Make use of appropriate linking words to connect your ideas and paragraphs.
Criterion 3 is,
3. Lexical Resource: You already know it, it’s your vocabulary.
To get high points:
- Include some uncommon and rarely used words or phrases in the test. Take a look at the vocabulary used in the sample essay. Using such vocabulary would definitely push your band score to 9.
- And also make sure you spell every word correctly.
The final criterion is,
4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Again here the examiner is looking for a variety of grammatical structures and they evaluate how accurately you have used them in the essay.
To boost your score, you need to do the same things here as well,
- Use a mixture of simple, compound, and complex sentences accurately.
- Use correct punctuation (full stops and commas).
- Use different grammar tenses.
- Avoid errors in grammar like usage of inappropriate articles or plural nouns.
Alright! So, we are done with the IELTS Writing task 2 assessment as well.
So, these are the parameters on which your writing task 1 and 2 are evaluated.
Each parameter evaluates a particular aspect of your writing; by working on that aspect, you can improve your overall IELTS Writing band score.
It definitely is not that easy but with hard work and practice, you can level up on IELTS Writing to get the score you need! And of course, we are here for you as well! You can always visit our website, yunolearning.com. Visit the website and take a look at our courses. Book the course you like and kickstart your IELTS preparation with one of our expert trainers from the comfort of your home.