If you want to improve your IELTS writing test score, then it is very important to understand how your answer is assessed. If you already know your IELTS writing test score, and you are hoping to increase that score, then the assessment criteria for your current band will help to show you where you are going wrong and the assessment criteria for the band you would like to be will tell you what to need to improve and work on.
Since most people who contact me are currently stuck at Band 6 or 6.5 in writing and would like to score band 7 or 7.5, let’s look closely at the assessment criteria for those two scores. In this post, I will look at Task Response, this means that way that you choose to answer the question you are given.
This is what the criteria for Task Response says:
1) The first bullet point refers to the essay question itself. This bullet point is the reason I always tell you that you must stop thinking that there are different approaches for a ‘discussion essay’ or ‘an opinion essay’. As this bullet point makes very clear, if you do not address every part of the essay question, you will not score band 7. This is particularly important when you are given a question that asks ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’ I see too many people who are taught that they should only mention the part that they agree with. Doing that will guarantee a lower band score for you because you will not ‘address all parts of the task.’ See this post to find out how to answer that type of essay question: If I agree with the opinion in the task 2 question, should I only mention that?
2) According to the second bullet point, band 6 candidates may ‘reach a conclusion’ but then repeat that conclusion within their essay. Again, this is one of the main reasons I say that you should not write what some call a ‘thesis statement’ in your introduction. I believe this is typical in American essay writing, but it isn’t necessary to do that in IELTS. If you do, you must be very, very careful not to sound too repetitive in your essay. Often, band 6 students have one or two main ideas about a topic that they introduce, mention again in their body paragraph, and then repeat in their conclusion. Look carefully at your own essays to see if you are making this mistake. Notice that a band 7 candidate, ‘presents a clear position throughout’. So, if you want to score band 7, you must do the same. Again, the post I have shared above as well as this post about using personal pronouns will show you how to do that.
3) The third bullet shows that you must fully develop all of your ideas. This means, you should not simply make a statement as though it is a fact. Instead, you need to present your ideas and then explain why you think this by offering support or an example.
In the example below, I have presented my idea in pink and then given my support in green:
Travelling can very educational, particularly for young people traveling independently. As children, our main experiences are with our family doing familiar things, but when we travel alone, we are forced to meet new people and experience the new and the unfamiliar.
A band 6 candidate would simply write: ‘Travelling can very educational for young people.’ without offering any explanation or support.
In my next post, I will look at coherence and cohesion.