Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Do you think you can lose points on the IELTS Exam because of handwriting?

No, not really!

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how your essay is graded on the IELTS Writing Exam.

A listener wrote in with this question:

“I have one unclear point about IELTS. In the podcast, you two said that we had better not use cursive writing on the IELTS writing section. However, when we write, letters are not completely in the block style either, are they. I mean, like these handwritten letters of Obama’s. So, my question is, is it OK to use some seemingly cursive-like letters, like circling ‘i’ or cursive ‘r’ at the end of some words.”

The episode this listener is referring to is IELTS Energy Episode 50.

In that show, we talked about a student who had extremely messy handwriting, and wrote in cursive. The fact is, it’s easier to be lazy when writing in cursive. So, in this one case, the student should try to print in block letters.


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Most people these days use a mix of cursive and block letters when they write. There’s nothing wrong with doing this on the exam. You’re not graded on your handwriting. Your essay simply has to legible.

Plus, all examiners are teachers, which means they have years and years of experience reading messy handwriting.

However, having said that, be aware of writing too lazily, because if the examiner can’t read a word, it will be assumed that it is a spelling error and could count against your vocabulary score.

The most important thing here is that you do need to practice your handwriting, seeing as, these days, we are not used to typing.

When you are practicing your essays, try to use IELTS answer sheets. Never type your essays, as this is not valid test practice.

What do you think of today’s advice?

Leave us a note in the comments section below!

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