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IELTS Writing: Boost your score by reading

IELTS Writing: Boost your score by reading

‘Reading and writing cannot be separated from each other: the more in-depth reading you do, the more in-depth writing you will eventually do.’

The University of Washington points to a clear link between reading and writing. Reading exposes you to different styles; it shows you how grammar is used correctly; and it helps you to build vocabulary and use it accurately. As the IELTS Writing paper has been referred to as the most difficult paper, all of these skills can help to improve the way you write. But to get the maximum benefit for your IELTS Writing test, and boost your band score, you need to use reading as a source for focused writing activities. Read on for an example of how you can do this.


In IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, you will describe a chart or a process. Where do you find the language to do this? Let’s start by reading this article from the UK’s Independent newspaper on the topic of the global middle class. Here’s your task:

  1. Print out the article and read it.
  2. Take a pen and underline every mention of quantities or proportions, or how they change (for example, 88% of…, just over a tenth, … rose significantly).
  3. Now copy down each sentence that includes one of these examples, and write a parallel sentence on a different topic underneath it. In this exercise we are focusing on language, rather than the interpretation of the graph. So it doesn’t matter whether your sentences are true or not; what’s important is that you practise using the words.

Take a look at these examples:

Original sentence:
The middle-income population nearly doubled between 2001 and 2011.

Parallel sentences:
The population of rhinos in Kenya nearly doubled between 2005 and 2015.
Over the same period, the population of elephants more than doubled.

It is important you get into the habit of using this language correctly so when it comes to the test, you are already comfortable using it.

Here are three more original sentences to get you started. Try writing two parallel sentences for each.

  1. The middle classes amount to just over a tenth of the global population.
  2. By 2011, over half of the world’s population lived on a low income.
  3. In Africa and Central America, middle class populations barely rose.

How does this help?

In this exercise first you read, then you write. Why this two-step approach? It’s because to get the greatest benefit from reading, you need to use the text as a source for a writing activity. Once you get into the habit of reading and practising using a variety of reading materials, you’ll feel much more comfortable writing and much more prepared to face the different topics in the IELTS Writing test. You will also pick up a lot of new words, phrases and ideas from reading a variety of texts. Remember, there is no quick fix to learning English. It takes time and effort.


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