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.
One of the most important skills for getting a good score in the IELTS writing exam, is the way cohesive devices or linking devices are used. In the marking criteria for task 2 essays and Writing task 1 reports, Coherence and Cohesion accounts for 25% of your marks. So it is important to have an essay that flows naturally and is easy for the reader to understand. A key component of this is cohesive devices, however, use them correctly and sparingly.
Spend a couple of minutes analysing the question before writing your essay.
One of the most important things to do before planning or writing is to first analyse the essay question so that you know exactly what to write about. Even students who have a higher level of English often have trouble with this as they think they are wasting time and want to get straight into writing the essay. As a result, they often end up losing marks because they missed a key issue from the task.
The examiner needs to see that you have understood the question and that you are on topic. If you do not take the time to analyse the question you could end up writing a completely different essay, or your essay may not have a clear opinion even though the task question has asked for it.
It is important to use some ‘complex sentences’ in IELTS writing task 2 otherwise you are unlikely to get a band 6.5 or above. However, not all of your sentences have to be ‘complex’ you need to use simple sentences too.
Remember that grammar accounts for 25% of your marks in the writing tasks but there is some confusion in IELTS about what a ‘complex sentence’ actually is.
These mistakes can stop you getting Band 7 or more.
In my experience when teaching IELTS writing classes, I noticed a lot of my students making at least one or two or more of these mistakes. The IELTS examiners are marking your paper based on an official IELTS marking criteria so there is no guesswork here.
See below about the 10 most common problems students have when dealing with IELTS Writing task 2 essays.
When writing the introduction of IELTS essays there are two steps that need to be taken. Paraphrase the task question and write a Thesis Statement. If the question asks for an opinion then it must be in the Thesis Statement. It depends on the type of essay you are writing as they are not all the same. It is important to write a thesis in the introduction for every type of essay. A good Thesis Statement goes towards getting a good band score in the writing section.
A common problem many of my students have is that they find it hard to think of ideas for their essays, especially when they are under pressure in the exam.
This is because of stress and creativity. If you have trouble thinking for yourself and have gone through an education system where memorisation is the main way of learning, then you will have real trouble getting ideas and you will need to find an approach to developing your imagination.
One of the most important skills in IELTS writing is the ability to paraphrase. In IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2 you are marked on your ability to paraphrase. Paraphrasing means changing the words so they have the same meaning.
When writing essays in IELTS task 2 (it also comes in handy for the speaking test) you will need to use ‘instead’ or ‘rather than’ to show preference, changing trends, opinions or facts. Here are some sentences based on the topic of technology and internet use.
Using ‘tend to’, ‘that’ clauses and modals in IELTS writing and speaking.
A good skill to learn in academic writing is to soften your language or use what is often called ‘hedging’. This is useful in Discussion essays when you write about others opinions and it is also needed to soften your language so that you don’t generalise too much. This shows that you have a wider range of vocabulary and you can form complex sentences.
This is also very useful in the speaking section when you want to display a wider range of vocabulary and it shows that you can talk naturally.