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

Today we talk about 4 ways your IELTS writing may go off the rails on exam day.

We had a lovely comment from a student that inspired this episode:

My writing is verbose. I cannot recap my ideas.

“Verbose” is an excellent high-level word that means wordy, or using too many words to express your ideas.

Just as a side-note, another amazingly high-scoring word is “cacophony”, which means too much noise.

This comment catalyzed our thoughts about 4 ways that having too many words ruins your score, and how to solve these issues.

Problem 1: Too Many Words

If you want a high score, you can’t do this on exam day!

Listen to this episode to find out why.

Stick to the guideline of 150-180 words for Task 1, and 250-280 words for Task 2.

Problem 2: Sentences that are Too Long

Some students want to show complicated grammar by having really long sentences.

There will be more grammar mistakes, for one. Also, your ideas will be jumbled and unclear.


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This forces the examiner to read the sentence a few times to understand what you want to say.

Perhaps in your culture, long, flowery sentences are valued, but not in English!

To correct this, limit yourself to no more than 2 clauses in a sentence. Then, work with an IELTS professional to gradually expand some of these sentence into more complex structures.

Problem 3: Unclear Ideas

Writing too much often leads students to wandering off topic.

Check back to the test question to make sure that you are still focused on the key ideas from the test question.

Problem 4: Repeated Ideas

If you write too much, you will probably end up paraphrasing and repeating ideas from the previous sentence.

Proofread your work for repeated ideas. When you see it, cross it out and delete it from your essay!

Have you had these problems? How did you solve them?

Share your experience in the comments section below!


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