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IELTS Writing: 4 tips to help you stay on topic and increase your score

Table of Contents

by Mark Rankin

IELTS Expert


In the Writing section of the IELTS exam, you have a limited amount of time to complete part 1 and part 2.  It’s important to use that time effectively and avoid including information that is not necessary and is not connected to the main question.  

Here are a few tips to help you stay on-topic, maximize your time and increase your IELTS Writing score!

Writing Task 1 (General Training) - Don’t waste time with unnecessary information

Part 1 of the General Training test will ask a question and give three points to address. Make sure to address all three points, as missing just one will result in a lower mark.

It’s very important that you stay on topic and do not include irrelevant information that is not directly connected to either the question or the three points.  For example, if the questions asks you to write a letter to a friend and invite them to a party, don’t waste valuable time and space by asking off-topic questions about your friend and their life.  Also, don’t include information about you and your life.  Stay on topic and make sure you keep focused on the question and the three points that are listed.

Writing Task 2 (General or Academic) - The danger of including statistics and other research

Often, test takers think that including statistics or other types of research in their writing will help to support their arguments.  However, this is not recommended, as it is impossible for the examiner to know if the research being quoted is actually correct or not.  Therefore, including studies/statistics/research can distract the examiner and they might mark it as irreverent information.  

Instead, the best way to support your arguments is to provide your own opinion on the topic.  You can also draw on your own experiences and include this as well.  As a result, the information will be more relevant to the topic of your essay.

Try not to generalize...

When you are giving explanations and supporting your arguments, try not to make general statements.  For example, if the topic is about people getting more exercise, you don’t want to say: ‘In my country, nobody is exercising.’  (Even if your statement has some truth, it is considered a generalization and this will lose you marks!)

So how can you avoid writing generalizations? You can try ‘hedging’ your argument, which means using expressions like:

  • Some people say that…
  • It has been reported that…
  • It is often/sometimes said that…

A sentence like, ‘It is sometimes said that people in my country don’t exercise very much…’ is now less of a generalization and more of your own opinion.

Don’t forgot your conclusion!

While conclusions in Writing Task 1 are not necessary, you should always have a conclusion at the end of your Writing Task 2 essay.  Be clear, concise and try not to repeat exactly what you have said in your essay – remember, your conclusion should be a summary of your ideas, not just a repeat of them.

What’s next?  Why not check out these other resources to help you prepare for your test and increase your IELTS Writing score! 

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