Saturday, January 14, 2012

Seven Steps to Improve IELTS Exam Writing

Step One: Identify the Different Tasks

The Different Types of Task One in the IELTS Writing Exam

Task one of the IELTS writing exam can be separated into two key types. Static tasks, which are tasks that have only one time period; and change over time tasks, which have two or more different time periods. Then, task one of the IELTS writing exam includes different types of charts, which should all be looked at to be well prepared. The most common ones are: tables, pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, process diagrams, and maps. Finally, with task one of the IELTS writing exam, you need to use different types of language depending on whether the task consists of numbers, percentages, or steps in a process. Therefore, there are three key dimensions of task one of the IELTS writing exam:

1. static or change over time

2. type of chart

3. numbers or percentages

Identify the Different Types of Task TWO in the IELTS Writing Exam

For task two of the IELTS writing exam the two key elements are the TOPIC and the TASK. In theory, the topic could be almost anything. Although many topics are on the following subjects: education, crime, society, media, transportation, environment, and technology. In addition, many of the past topics seem to be recycled, so if we look at many of the past topics that have come up in the exam, we have a reasonable chance that we will have thought about that particular topic.

Next comes the TASK. I have identified that the task is almost always one of the following three tasks: an argumentative essay, a both sides and opinion essay, or a two question essay. I have talked about these three essays at length on my website. I have observed that about 30% of candidates on any given exam day seem to fail to either understand the topic or identify the task. In this case many people are failing, not because of their English ability, but because of their poor IELTS ability, or ability to know how to respond to questions in the exam. Note that not only your task score will be lower if you don't respond closely to the task, it tends to affect everything. For instance, you might use a lot of academic vocabulary, but if it is off-topic you won't get the full value for it.

Step Two: Read Lots of Samples for Each of the Different Tasks

Reading samples of different IELTS tasks can help you appreciate the differences between each type of task as well as help you learn the language and structure that is required for each particular task. Not every sample will be an accurate response to the task, even if it is written by a native English user; so a little caution is needed. The key point is to read lots of different samples and learn from them. To read samples go to my website and click on the links under Task 1: academic report writing and Task 2: essay writing.

If you would like to practice your essay planning please join my blog or facebook page, you can see the addresses for these in my author's PROFILE.

Step Three: Learn How to Structure your Report or Essay for Each of the Different Tasks

Structuring your tasks well is important to score well on one of the four key grading criteria Coherence and Cohesion. In addition, it also helps you score well on the other three grading criteria. Your Task Response score is enhanced because it is easier for the examiner to assess whether you have responded to the task and topic if you have structured your ideas logically. In addition, errors with vocabulary and grammar may be less serious if the examiner already knows your key point and therefore can guess what you mean, despite their being an error with language. In other words errors are more serious when the examiner is lost and has no understanding of what you are saying.

You can view the structure of the three main types of task two essays on my website.

Step Four: Practice Writing Each of the Different Tasks

In order to fully appreciate the different types of tasks in the IELTS writing exam you should practice writing as many different types as you can. This will help you remember the structure and language that you need to complete these tasks, help you improve your writing in general, and also alert you to any areas of uncertainty for completing the task. To illustrate this last point, imagine you are writing an argumentative essay and then you realize you don't know how to write the last paragraph. In this case you could read same samples or models and see how other authors completed these essays. In this case we should summarise our main arguments and then give our final opinion. We should also send a signal to the examiner that we are summarising our main arguments by starting the paragraph with words such as "In summary" or "In conclusion."

Step Five: Have Someone Check your Tasks

After writing your writing tasks it is best to try to get someone to read them and get some feedback. Most English learners don't seem to like to do this with their classmates, but I would say it has merits. Everyone has different areas of expertise and it can be a good learning exercise for students to check each other's writing. Another choice is to hire a private English tutor and get them to read your essays and give feedback. online editing IELTS essays service. I can correct your IELTS essays for a modest fee.

Step Six: Learn From the Feedback on your Tasks

If you do get your essays corrected by another student or a tutor, it is essential that you pay close attention to the feedback and learn from it. If you have made errors with the task response (for example you wrote an answer that was off topic) or you didn't structure it well, then you should think about what you did wrong in the planning of your essay. Perhaps you rushed to start the essay to quickly or just didn't read the question carefully.

Step Seven: Rewrite Tasks to Avoid Repeating the Same Errors

Sometimes, the best way to make sure you avoid repeating the same errors is to rewrite the same task, using the feedback from your marker to make sure that you are able to correctly produce a response to a particular type of question or task, before moving on to conquer the next type of task. This is especially true if your exam date is a long way off.

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