• Mai Duc Nguyen

IELTS Writing Tips – 8 Common Mistakes among Candidates

In this article, I would like to explain popular mistakes made by IELTS students and candidates. I learned these mistakes thanks to my experience as an IELTS instructor, book author and website developer.

#1: Writing a weakly developed introduction

In Task 1, your introduction should briefly describe what the graph or diagram is about. In Task 2, on the other hand, you should introduce the mentioned trend or problem, quickly list its advantages/ disadvantages or causes/ effects and explain what you will do in your essay.

#2: Showing a poor essay structure

In both Task 1 and Task 2, make sure that your essays demonstrate a clear and appropriate organization. For example, in a Task 2 essay, you may wish to follow this structure: Introduction + 2 Body Paragraphs + Conclusion, of which the first body paragraph examines the causes of a problem and the second analyzes the solutions.

#3: Using the same words or grammatical structures all the time

Try to diversify your language while writing IELTS essays. For instance, “The percentage of town residents who recycled their waste in 2009 was 74%” can be rephrased as “In 2009, nearly three quarters (74%) of residents in the town recycled their waste”.

#4: Using “weak” words

Typical weak words that should be avoided in academic writing include but are not limited to: Have, Get, Better, Worse, Good, Take, Big. To improve, use their synonyms which show more explanatory power. For example, you should write “Fast food accounts for 30% of spending of students” instead of “Fast food gets 30% of spending of students”.

#5: Showing a lack of cohesion and coherence

In many student essays, ideas and analyzes are poorly connected and sometimes are even irrelevant to the main topic. To enhance cohesion and coherence, you should use a variety of transitional words and phrases in your essays. For example, use “Furthermore”, “Additionally” to add information, and “However”, “In contrast” to illustrate contradiction.

#6: Showing a lack of conciseness

While writing IELTS essays, you should use concise language as much as you can. Conciseness adds clarity and transparency to your sentences and paragraphs. For example, the phrase “It can be easily seen from the chart that …” should be replaced by “The chart shows/ illustrates/ demonstrates/ explains/ records that …”.

#7: In Task 2 – Introducing no example

In Task 2, you should introduce real-life examples to strengthen your analyses and evaluation. For instance, if you believe that companies should allow their employees to work from home, name a few companies that have implemented such policy and achieved successes.

#8: In Task 2 – Bringing no personal opinion into the essay

Try not to stay neutral in your Task 2 essays and show your opinions. For example, you can answer questions like: "Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?", "Are the advantages just theoretical or applicable to real-life contexts?", "Do the disadvantages always happen or apply only to certain groups of people/ countries/ markets?".

Do you have other tips that you would like to add to this article? Please leave a comment below!

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