Word count for IELTS writing tasks

ielts word countWhat is the ideal word count for IELTS writing?

This is a common question many IELTS candidates have but there seems to be misinformation out on the internet about word count in the IELTS writing section.

In fact, you can actually lose marks if the writing is under word count. Here are some examples of what I have heard about the word count in IELTS essays and writing task 1.

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Giving effective examples in IELTS essays.

ielts examples in writingHow to write specific examples in IELTS essay body paragraphs.

In writing task 2 it is very important to be able to extend your ideas and explain your main points with examples in IELTS essay body paragraphs. This can be done with supporting points and most importantly, specific examples. This is necessary to get a good band score in task response and helps with the overall cohesion of the essay. By using examples the examiner can clearly see how you are developing your main idea in the main body paragraphs. However, the examples given must be specific to the task question and your main idea and they should also be clear, easy to follow and concise.

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Are you worried about time management?

ielts time managementTiming and preparation in IELTS Writing

One of the biggest concerns for people doing the IELTS exam, particularly in the writing section, is time management.

Many candidates who are doing IELTS get to the writing section and start stressing out because their time management becomes an issue. You only have around 40 minutes to write a 250+word essay, so straight away this tends to create anxiety. Then there is writing task 1 which should only take 20 minutes.  That’s 1 hour in total for the writing section. It is easy to feel pressure in this situation.

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Two easily confused essays (problem / causes solutions essay)

What is the difference between a Causes Solutions and a Problem Solutions essay?

Problem solutions and causes solutions essay are very similar but there is a subtle difference. One type asks about the problems and the other type asks about the causes.

It is very important to spend a couple of minutes analysing the task question so that you know what to write about in the essay. I have seen many good essays lose marks in Task Response because the writer did not find the issues in the task question or did not fully understand what to write about.

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The dangers of memorised statements in essays.

Be careful of memorised sentences in your writing.

There are some IELTS teachers out there who tell students to write an outline statement after the thesis statement. 

To be honest, this is not a good way to structure the introduction. Outline statements are only for true academic essays that are many pages long like you would write at university (IELTS essays are short discursive essays)

Another reason why I advise not writing them is that they look like they have been memorised. The examiner is looking out for memorised statements and sentences. 

You could lose points on this in task response and lexical resource. To put it simply, you have to use your own words. The IELTS examiners are looking at how you can use language naturally and coherently.

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5 things to do before writing your essay

5 steps you should take when planning your IELTS essay.

Planning is extremely important before writing an essay in writing task 2. (also for writing task 1) Most teachers have different advice for this. Some say 2 minutes others say 5 minutes and yet others say 7 to 10 minutes of planning time.

I believe that you should take at least 10 minutes to plan. Why? because I have had students before with good English skills who did not take the time to plan, they ended up with a Band 6 even though they were capable of a Band 7.

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Balancing your opinion in an IELTS essay.

ieltsHow to show the other side of the argument in an opinion essay.

In an opinion essay, you need to give 2 reasons for your opinion back them up with details and give examples. I usually advise my students to choose one side, either agree or disagree, and stick with that. You do not actually get a higher band score for a balanced approach so it is safer to choose one side and stick with that view throughout the essay. Remember that your opinion must be in the introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion.

However, something that will showcase your language ability is to show the other side of the argument or a concession which helps to balance the essay. This gives the essay good coherence and you can demonstrate your grammar skills if you feel confident with your grammar. However, this should be done carefully because you still have to maintain your own opinion and not contradict yourself.

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IELTS Discussion essay: Model answer and analysis

Below is an IELTS question for writing task 2 and my model answer. It is on the topic of Education. After analysing the question, I can see that it’s about whether homework is a good idea or not in helping kids in their educational development. It asks me to discuss both views and also asks for my opinion.

In this case, you must state your opinion in the introduction, the body and conclusion.

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When Should I Write My Opinion?

IELTS Essays: Giving your opinion.

There is some confusion among IELTS students about when you have to give an opinion in an essay and when not to give an opinion. If you are asked for a direct opinion and you don’t write it you could lose marks, so it is very important to understand when your direct opinion needs to be included.

Actually, all IELTS essays ask for your position. Some directly ask an opinion but others may ask something like: ‘What are the problems and what solutions can you suggest?’ this is actually asking for your position on the issue or suggestions for solutions.

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Personal Pronouns in IELTS Essays

Can you use personal pronouns in IELTS Essays?

This is a question I have been asked quite a few times and there is some confusion even among IELTS teachers about this. The quick answer is that it is fine to use some personal pronouns in IELTS essays but not all. There is nothing in the marking criteria that says you should not use them either. As long as they are kept to a minimum.

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