Mistakes IELTS Students Make

Mistakes IELTS Students Make

Getting a higher band score in IELTS is every aspirant’s desire where the reason could be that even though lower bands would serve the purpose, a higher band score makes you feel good and gives a sense of achievement, which one would talk about for long.


Even though some of the aspirants are good at the language, they score low in the writing compartment purely because of the same mistakes they inadvertently make. The purpose of writing this blog is, to point these mistakes out and help an IELTS aspirant score better and higher in the written part of the test.


Not reading the instructions properly:


It is a must that before attempting to write your Task 1, the test taker must read the instructions very carefully since each test has specific instructions given, which must be adhered to and should alter the way you approach the task. I would like to mention a couple of them below:


  • “Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons” –here the keywords are highlighting key features and making comparisons. Mere describing the facts will not help you gain a good score.

  • “Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information below.”  


Not planning your writing:


Other than not noticing the instructions as mentioned above, another big mistake the aspirants make is attempting to write without planning. Time is not only limited but premium in IELTS tasks. Anyone who is given such tasks to write in leisure would be able to do it, however, the pressure is created, when the time given, is limited. This limited time doesn’t allow us to either make amendments in between, after the course that we have taken as writing or include important highlights that we may have missed out initially. It even takes the flow of the writing and the whole writing looks haphazard. One must do the following:


Making an analysis:


  • Make notes after analyzing the data and highlighting relevant information through circles, arrows, or by underlining

  • Keep the instructions in mind about either summarising the information or making comparisons

  • Mark out all the relevant points which must be evaluated

  • Mark out facts figures, and data that show comparisons


Plan your writing by:


  • Logically listing the points.

  • Deciding para-wise what to write starting with the overview.

  • Making logical linking between paragraphs.


Writing too little or too much:


An extremely common mistake where candidates either write too little or i.e. less than the stipulated minimum of 150 words or too much, way beyond the gained figure of 150 words.


It is so very obvious that writing less than the asked minimum number would have you penalized, as it gives the ideas to the examiner that you don’t read or understand instructions, you are not competent to plan your writing, for lack of understanding of the task and/or have limitations of the language in itself. On the contrary, when you write much more than the asked number, you would again make an impression of having limitations of the language where you are unable to express ideas precisely and concisely. I would, hence suggest you not to exceed more than 10 % of the word count asked in the task.


Not writing in a paragraph:


So after candidates taking the IELTS writing test, write the entire task 1 in one or at the most 2 paragraphs. This is a costly mistake and takes away important scoring points.


It is necessary to separate ideas by putting them in different paragraphs. The first paragraph invariably is the overview and the last is a conclusion. The body of the text must have at least 2 paragraphs explaining the data in the required format. Hence, make it a point to write in paragraphs of which planning should be at the beginning itself.


Not checking for errors:


Although the most obvious thing to do for anyone who is writing anything, is to check one’s writing after it is done, it is in fact the most ignored process in the entire writing task. First, the aspirants don’t check their texts after the task is over, in their process itself and second, they don’t ensure to take time out specifically for this task.


I, however, must insist on checking your writing once it is done for the following errors:


Subject-verb agreement: Ensuring the right form of the verb is used based on the pronoun of the subject, such as, do or does, have or has, ‘s’ or ‘es’, with the main verb, etc.


Singular or plural name: So, after candidates get confused about the type of the noun to use while writing their essay. For example, if the essay is about the utility of cars in some manners, then very often candidates get confused between choosing ‘A car’ or ‘cars’, and subsequently use pronouns ‘they’ with 'a car’ or ‘it’ when they mean ‘cars'. I would rather choose ‘cars’ as a general noun which alleviates a lot of such problems.


Punctuation: Another aspect of the writing task which gets ignored is about using punctuations. Punctuations are an important part of writing, and unless used where required and correctly, the meaning of the passage gets altered and affects coherence in general.


Tenses: If, in the task one of Academic writing the data is given of the past and the instructions are about past analysis, then using the past tense is imperative, an aspect, very often ignored by candidates, while writing. Using appropriate tense is a must, which commensurates with the given information and instructions.


By making sure that these mistakes are avoided, one can expect to have a clear upgrade as the score expected in the IELTS writing task, be it General training or Academic.



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