How do I Write a Good IELTS&Reg; Essay?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2019
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The International English Language Testing System® (IELTS®) is a test which examines the English language abilities of the test-taker. In the IELTS® essay section, students need to compose two short essays that demonstrate mastery of writing in the English language. Since the IELTS® exam is often used to determine university admission or immigration to English-speaking nations, performing well on the IELTS® essay section can be very important. In order to write a good IELTS® essay, it is important to understand the requirements of the essay section, practice before the test, carefully read the essay prompts, and plan the essay before writing it down.

The IELTS® essay section is graded on several criteria, including proper tone and format, vocabulary mastery, cohesion, and clarity. Understanding tone and format comes from reading comprehension; for instance, a person will need to be able to tell whether the prompts is asking for a letter or an informative explanation, and if the tone is formal or informal. The vocabulary component examines things such as word choice, correct usage, and the use of idiomatic phrases. Cohesion and clarity both have to do with how well the essay is put together, whether it flows from sentence to sentence and introduction to conclusion, or if it is choppy and jumps around.


Practice essays are a great way to improve performance in all of the above categories. There are dozens of sample prompts and guides to better scoring available on the Internet and through the IELTS® website. Doing practice essays can also help a test-taker become comfortable with the time limit for the IELTS® essay section, since going over-time is not usually permitted. Finding an IELTS® tutor or study group can be very helpful in determining possible scores on practice essays. Tutors may offer their services online or through other advertising forms, such as newspaper ads. It is important to ask for references before hiring a tutor, as good tutors are likely to have a list of happy past students that did well on the test.

When taking the test, it is important to take a few minutes to carefully read the prompt and make sure that it is clear what type of writing is required. Once the tone, style, and format is determined, is often considered useful to brainstorm important ideas that can be used in the response. After brainstorming, the ideas can then be arranged into paragraphs. With an introductory paragraph and a conclusion, the IELTS® essay can then be written out in an organized fashion, with the writer shifting focus to ensure that vocabulary and transitional phrases are incorporated to improve clarity and cohesion.


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