In recent weeks I’ve had a number of students take their test for either the first or second time. I’m very happy to report that all of them felt more confident after attending IELTS at REV and even if they didn’t achieve their intended score, they all improved on previous tests. Great job everyone!
That brings us to today’s topic: writing. Yes, writing tends to be the one section of the test that can absolutely terrify students. Because of this, they tend to avoid serious attention to it or ignore it all together. The first thing to realize is that writing is what we call a productive skill; meaning that we don’t become good writers from simply being around writing or reading about how to write. You actually have to practice your writing! So, here’s a few tips that might help those of you who are frustrated with your progress.
1. Basic Academic Writing: Academic writing is a specific style of writing with its own rules and nuances. Unfortunately, many students haven’t had enough exposure to it. Here are some things to remember:
- write clear, concise compound and complex sentences. This means being able to use basic coordinating (and, but, or, etc.) and subordinating (although, while, even though, etc.) conjunctions.
- to get a band score 7 or higher, the majority of your sentences must be error free. Incorrect use of conjunctions and signal words can be disastrous as they may actually change the meaning of what you want to say to the opposite.
- too many students lack basic sentence writing skills and then attempt to write much higher level sentences with no confidence, resulting in confusing paragraphs. Think of it this way: you can’t build a house if you don’t know how to use a hammer to drive a nail in straight.
- there is no shortcut to writing. This is probably why students are sometimes angered when they ask me, “how can I score higher on the writing test?”, and my initial response is, “ummm, be a better writer!”.
At REV, I apply a bottom-up approach to writing. First, teaching the basics of academic writing and then how to apply them to the IELTS Tasks.
2. Practice and Feedback: This is hands down the most important point for anyone wanting to improve their writing.
- no matter how much you practice, unless you have proper feedback from someone who knows the test and how it’s scored, it will not help you much. This is where REV can help you. One of the reasons I love teaching IELTS at REV is that we realize that small class size benefits students. You will find other IELTS classes at larger schools around Victoria, but you will also find classes of 16 students or more. This means that the teachers, however good they are, do not have the time to assess and give proper feedback on students’ writing. At REV, I always try to provide specific feedback tailored to help you understand your weaknesses and areas to improve on. Larger schools would love to have you as a ‘repeat customer’. At REV I want you to take the program once, and then hopefully I’ll never have to see you in class again! Lol!
Come in anytime to talk with myself or any of the awesome teachers at Real English Victoria!