5 Great Tips to Help Improve Your Writing Skills for the IELTS Exam

It may surprise you to discover that every year, over three million people take the IELTS exam. So, if you wanted additional evidence as to just how important and respected this test is, you now have it.

The next step is to help ensure that not only do you get the results you need in the IELTS test but that you pass it with flying colours. While many businesses today have English as a universal language and require employees to have competent English language skills, according to the Complete University Guide, most university applications from non-native English speakers require an IELTS exam score of between 5.6 – 6 or higher.

If you are already studying for your IELTS, then you will know that there are four principal sections to the test – listening, reading, writing and speaking. Here at Highway IELTS, we are often asked the same question:

How can I improve my writing skills for the IELTS exam?

We decided to concentrate on five of the most important tips we could think of, helpful hints that will ensure you get a great score in your IELTS test.

  1.     Keep your writing simple. It is far better to you write correct, simple English, rather than make mistakes trying to show off your depth of knowledge of the English language. Remember the adage “Good simple, not bad complex”.
  2.     Avoid contractions. It can be all too easy to write in the same way that we speak, but using contractions is seen as lazy and unprofessional. So, here are the most common examples:
  3.     Can’t = cannot
  4.     Won’t = would not
  5.      Shan’t = shall not
  6.     Don’t = do not
  7.     Couldn’t = could not have
  8.      Wouldn’t = would not have
  9.     Shouldn’t = should not
  10.     Isn’t = is not
  11.       I’ve = I have
  12.       We’ve = we have
  13.     They’ve = they have
  14.     Use the fewest number of words. This may sound like a strange thing to say, but you will be required to limit the number of words used to answer a question in the IELTS writing section. Consequently, you want to be more positive in the words you use. For example: “We saw that there were a lot of elephants wandering around in the jungle” can easily be changed to “We saw many elephants in the jungle” – 14 words are reduced to 7, yet the sentence says the same thing. Consider the following:
  15.     A lot of = many
  16.     One or two = several
  17.      Really, very and so, – avoid using these as an additional descriptor, such as “really hot”

In addition, do not use the phrases “There are/there is, as these words create unnecessarily long sentences. As an example: “There are many challenges we will have to face in life” = “We will face many challenges in life” – 11 words reduced to 7.

  1. Use the active voice, not the passive voice

The passive voice again involves using an excessive number of words to say the same thing. The style of writing that the IELTS looks for is concise and accurate, as opposed to vague and fluffy. As an example: “The war was won by the Russians” is the passive form, “The Russians won the war” is the active form – 7 words reduced to 5.

  1. Use the strongest form of a verb

This is simpler than it sounds. In many instances, and especially when we talk, we often use a verb and a noun where a stronger form of the verb will suffice. As an example: “He gave some assistance to his neighbour” can be “He assisted his neighbour”. Other examples include:

  1.     He made an objection = he objected
  2.     We conducted an investigation = we investigated
  3.      We did some research = we researched

Perhaps the best bit of advice we can give you is to practice for the IELTS writing test, and then practice some more, as you may well have heard the expression “practice makes perfect”!

If you are looking for help for IELTS in Johannesburg, whether you want to discover about how to take an IELTS test in Johannesburg or take an IELTS test in South Africa, get in contact with us here at Highway IELTS and we’ll be glad to help you.