|“Hi. I have a doubt or two about Writing paper. The Long essay part. It is mentioned that we should write with a minimum of 250 words. Is there a maximum word limit as well? Because I have a tendency to write essays reaching up to 500 to 600 words.” — email from a Road to IELTS user.|
For some candidates, it is very tempting to write as much as possible during the Writing test — they want to really showcase their range of vocabulary and their ability to write long sentences. But do long essays really get you a better band score? In this post, we’ll look at what you can do to get the best Writing score.
No bonus points
Let’s get straight to the point: while it’s true that there is no official IELTS answer on the maximum word limit in the writing tasks, you won’t get bonus marks for going over the minimum word count. Remember: the IELTS Writing test is only partly about how brilliant your ideas are. It is mainly about how effectively and precisely you can communicate through writing.
So, don’t write paragraphs about one trend in a graph and forget about the rest – avoid irrelevant elaborations. You need to make every word count. Describe the trends. Compare. Present the data in a clear and concise manner so that the examiner can understand you well enough without needing to look at the chart. It is essential you understand the task types before you take the test. If you look at the marking criteria, you can find exactly what you need to do to get the score you need.
Spend your time wisely
The maths is simple: write more and you will have less time to check and proofread. It is generally recommended that the number of words that you write should be around the same as what is asked for in the task. So, ideally, you should aim for 150-170 words in Task 1 and 250-275 words in Task 2. It is a lot better for you to spend the extra time proofreading, checking and rechecking your work than it is to spend the entire time writing. The Writing test is not about quantity — it is all about quality and accuracy. You have to remember that the more you write, the more chance there is for you to make a grammatical, or spelling error.
If you think it’s in your nature to ramble on and overwrite, then you should learn how to plan your essay. Set a time limit for each point you want to write for. Pick the three most rational points you can come up with and use them to show your grammatical and vocabulary range.