Hi, I’m Justin. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn how to answer task one of the IELTS general writing exam. In the general IELTS writing exam, task one involves writing a letter. Usually, you have to do three things in your letter. You have 20 minutes and you need to write at least 150 words. In this lesson, you’ll see how to plan and write an effective general task 1 IELTS answer. You’ll learn simple strategies you can use to write a better answer and improve your IELTS writing score.
Let’s start by looking at a sample question: Your neighbour has been making a lot of noise recently. This has been causing you problems, and you want to ask them to stop. Write a letter to your neighbour. In your letter: – ask for an explanation for the noise – explain the problems this has caused for you – say what will happen if the problem is not solved Pause the video if you want more time to look at the question. Let’s begin by looking at what you need to think about before you write. Planning for IELTS general task one answers is easier than for other IELTS writing tasks. All general task one questions have the same structure. This means that your answer can have the same structure every time.
The question asks you to do three things. Each point can go in its own paragraph. So, your answer will have three short paragraphs, like this: Then, you need a short introduction. For this question, you can just write a single sentence to explain why you’re writing, like this: I am writing to complain about the noise levels coming from your apartment in recent weeks. The introduction might be different in other tasks. For example, if you’re writing to a friend, you’d write something much simpler. There is one more thing you need to think about when planning: tone. When we say ‘tone’, we mean how formal or informal your letter should be. Task one of the general IELTS writing exam is the only place where tone is clearly mentioned in the scoring scheme.
You need to write in an appropriate tone, and your tone needs to be consistent. What tone do you think you need here? Should your letter be formal, neutral, or informal? Probably, your letter will be somewhere between neutral and formal. You’re writing to your neighbour, so you don’t need to be incredibly formal, but you’re also writing to complain, which adds formality. In our experience, one of the most common mistakes with task one answers is not getting the tone right. Either candidates choose an inappropriate level of formality, or they mix different levels in the same answer. Both of these mistakes will hurt your score. So, before you write anything, think about how formal your letter should be. Now, you have a plan; let’s write our first paragraph! Look at the beginning of a letter: Dear Emily, How’s it going? I’m actually writing because I have some issues with noise coming from your apartment. I would like to demand an explanation for the noise levels.
I mean, what on earth are you doing that’s so noisy? I can hardly have a conversation with someone sitting next to me, because it’s so loud. Please inform me what is occurring. Pause the video if you want more time to look at the answer. Think about whether this is good, or whether it needs some work. There’s a problem with this beginning. Do you know what it is? The problem is tone. As you heard before, it’s a common mistake to mix formal and informal language. Here, you can see very formal sentences, like: I would like to demand an explanation for the noise levels. You can also see more informal language, like: I mean, what on earth are you doing that’s so noisy? The start of the letter also mixes different levels of formality. Writing how’s it going? is a more informal way to start a letter or an email, but if you’re writing to complain, you would almost certainly need to use a more neutral or formal tone.
To get a high score in the general IELTS writing exam, you need to write in a consistent tone. If you want to practice, think about how you could improve the answer you saw before. You can pause the video, and start again when you’re ready. Let’s see how you could improve this answer: Pause the video if you need more time to read. You can see that we’ve got rid of some of the more informal language, like how’s it going? This is also better because it’s consistent without being too formal.
Our original answer included very formal language, like Please inform me what is occurring. You don’t get more points for being more formal; you get a high score by writing in an appropriate and consistent tone. Next, let’s continue by thinking about use of language in your answer. Task one of the general IELTS writing exam is the simplest of all the IELTS writing tasks. This is an advantage, but it also means you need to think carefully about using a wide range of language. Let’s look at this by adding another paragraph to our model answer: This situation is having a bad effect on my entire family. I have been unable to sleep, because of the loud noises even late at night. My son complains that he cannot do his homework. Even our dog has been behaving oddly; she is not eating well and has no energy. This is a good paragraph, and the use of language is already good. However, to get higher scores, you would need to use a wider range of language.
Let’s do two things here. First, look at the five underlined words and phrases. Can you change these words and phrases to make them more detailed and more specific? Think about it—you’ll see some possible answers in a minute. Your second job is to take two sentences and combine them into a more complex sentence. There’s more than one way you could do this, so find an idea which makes sense to you. Think about your answers now. Pause the video if you need more time. Ready? Let’s look: You can see that you don’t need to make big changes. A lot of students think that you need to use a lot of very academic language to get high scores in IELTS. You don’t. To get high scores—even band 9—you need to use a range of language with flexibility and precision. That might include academic language in some cases, but for a letter, that wouldn’t be appropriate. Collocations are very important for your IELTS vocabulary score.
Using collocations like sleep properly, noise levels, lose your appetite, or focus on your homework will boost your vocabulary score. For grammar, we simply connected two sentences with the conjunction while. This adds variety to the sentence structures, which will also help your score. At this point, you need to write one more paragraph. Here, you’re going to see how you can connect your ideas more effectively. There’s a common problem we see with IELTS writing in our students. Students often plan each paragraph separately. Then, they write each paragraph as a separate unit, and the paragraphs don’t have much connection to each other. This will hurt your score; 25 per cent of your score is for coherence and cohesion.
To get a higher score for coherence and cohesion, your writing needs to have a clear progression. That means it needs to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Let’s look at a final paragraph which doesn’t handle this well: I must ask you to reduce the amount of noise you make, and try to keep quiet during the evening when we are at home. If you continue making noise at these levels, I will have no choice but to make a noise complaint to the police and/or to the city council. Regards, Samira Pause the video if you want more time to read the paragraph.
This is not bad, but it doesn’t include any links or references to the other points you’ve made in the letter. It also lacks a concluding phrase, which could provide a strong, clear end to your letter. Let’s see how you could improve this: Can you see what’s changed? Pause the video to read. There are four changes. First, we made a reference to the first paragraph, then we added a reference to the second paragraph. We also avoided repetition by adding a reference to ‘this situation’, instead of talking about noise levels again. Finally, we added a concluding phrase. And you’ve finished! Practice these steps and ideas and you should be able to get a high score in task one of the general IELTS exam.
Here’s a question for you: what do you find most difficult in task one of the general IELTS writing exam? Please let us know in the comments. You can see the full text of the model answer on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. Look for a link in the video description if you’re watching on YouTube. Thanks for watching! See you next time! .
Hi, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English! Do you need band seven in IELTS? Are you maybe stuck at band six or 6.5? If you’ve taken the IELTS exam many times, and you can’t seem to get higher than six in the writing exam, this video is for you. If you’re stuck at band six, then it’s likely that you have some bad habits and ineffective approaches to the writing exam. These are things that might work well at band six, but they won’t help you to get band seven. I’ll show you what these ineffective habits are, and how you can change them. One point: I’ll be focusing on the academic IELTS exam in this video, because most of the students I meet need academic IELTS. If you’re taking general IELTS, most of the advice in this video is still very relevant for you. Also, one more thing: there’s nothing wrong with getting band six! I’m not trying to be rude or discouraging to anyone.
When I say that something is a bad habit, or that you need to change something, I mean if you want to get band in the IELTS writing exam. But first… Do you know how IELTS scoring works? You should. Here’s why: The IELTS scoring system is very specific. The examiners don’t just look at your writing and say, “Hmmm, this feels like a… six!” If you get band six in the IELTS writing exam, there are specific reasons why. There are specific things which you did or didn’t do which explain your score. Similarly, to get band seven, there are specific things you need to do, and not do! Most importantly: these things are very different between bands six and seven. If you keep taking IELTS, and you keep getting band six in the writing, then you can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get a different score.
You need to change what you do. The things you need to do to get band seven in your IELTS writing aren’t magic or some kind of dark secret. They’re publicly available. You can read what they are. You can do it right now! There’s a link underneath the video. I highly recommend you read the scoring criteria and think about what band seven means. At the very least, you need to understand that your IELTS writing score is made up of four different parts: task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource (which means vocabulary) and grammar.
Think now: where are you weakest? What do you need to work on from these four areas? In the rest of this lesson, we’ll talk about each of these four areas. You’ll see common examples of ‘band six thinking’, and you’ll see how you can improve your approach to get a higher IELTS writing score. Let’s start with task achievement. Here are the some ideas that are great for getting band six: “In task one, I need to include every statistic and piece of data.” “In task two, I just need to write something about the general topic in the question.” By the way, to save myself saying ‘task achievement’ again and again, I’m going to call it ‘TA’. Getting band 7 for TA is both easy and hard. Here’s why it’s easy: you just need to do everything which the question asks you to do, and nothing else.
Here’s why it’s hard: most people can’t do that without a lot of practice. TA is also slightly different for task one and task two, so we’ll talk about those separately. Let’s start with task one. Here’s a sample question: The graph below shows the sales of five different food products in the UK between 1980 and 2010. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. If you want some time to look at the question, pause the video. If you’re watching on YouTube, you can see the question on the full version of this lesson on our website: Oxford Online English dot com.
Getting a good TA score depends a lot on what you do before you start writing. You need to analyse the task and make a clear plan. If you start writing without a clear plan, it’s very hard to get a good TA score. In task one, it’s important to find connections or trends in the information you’re given. For example, in this question, how could you connect the data? Here’s one idea: you could group the five products into, first, products whose sales fell over the period (ice cream and frozen burgers), secondly, products whose sales rose (tofu and chili sauce) and finally, products whose sales stayed the same (salted peanuts). Here’s another suggestion: group the five products into big sellers (ice cream, frozen burgers, and also chili sauce at the end of the period), and small sellers (tofu, salted peanuts, chili sauce at the beginning of the period).
Which way do you think is better? Actually, there isn’t one correct way to do this, but you need to do something. You can’t just write about each product, one after another. Well, you can, but you’ll probably get band six for TA! Whatever data you’re given, you need to find connections and put the information into groups which you create. These groups will be separate paragraphs in your answer. This is how your answer will have structure, which is also important for your coherence and cohesion score.
What about task two? Let’s look at a sample question: The most common problem in task two is leaving something out or not covering something fully. To get band 7 for TA, you need to do all of the things the question is asking you to do, and only the things the question is asking you to do. What does that mean here? The task says, ‘discuss both of these viewpoints.’ First, you need to discuss the idea ‘that young people benefit from working while studying at school or university.’ One word here is particularly important. Do you know which one? ‘Benefit’ is a key word here. What does ‘benefit’ mean? How do you understand it in this question? Next, you need to discuss the idea, ‘young people will achieve more by focusing on their studies.’ Again, there’s a key phrase here: ‘achieve more’. What does this mean? You need to have answers to these questions.
IELTS tasks often contain abstract, general words like advantages, benefits, problems, success, etc. To write a good answer, you need to analyse and interpret these words yourself. Here, think about ‘achieve more’. How do you understand this term in this question? Does it mean getting good exam results, learning more knowledge, learning practical skills, getting a better job, living a full, satisfying life, or something else? Again, there isn’t one right answer here, but you need to have your own ideas about this. Next, the task says, ‘give your own opinion’. So, you need to explain which side you agree with. Finally, the task tells you to give reasons and include examples. This means that you need to support your ideas. You can’t just say something like: Young people who focus on their studies will achieve more. If you make a point like this, you need to support it somehow. How will they achieve more? What examples can you give to show that this is true? Let’s review: for this question, you need to do four things to get a good TA score: 1.
Discuss the idea ‘that young people benefit from working while studying at school or university,’ and analyse what ‘benefit’ means. Discuss the idea that, ‘young people will achieve more by focusing on their studies,’ and analyse what ‘achieve more’ means. Give your own opinion and reach a clear conclusion. Support your ideas with reasons or examples. If you can do these four things, you can get band 7 for TA in your IELTS writing exam. Remember though, it’s not as simple as it looks. You will probably need to practise to get this right. Next, let’s look at your coherence and cohesion score. I’m going to refer to coherence and cohesion as C&C, to keep things simple. Here are the habits which can limit your C&C score to six: “I need to use more linking words to get a higher score.” “My essay should have an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion.” Let’s look at each point separately. Oh, hey, Oli! How was your IELTS exam? Amazing! I totally nailed it.
I used nevertheless, furthermore, however, in spite of the fact that, AND in addition. My band 7 score is GUARANTEED! No, it doesn’t work like that. First of all, linking isn’t just about linking words. It’s about the logic and flow of your ideas. Look at a sentence: Air pollution is a serious problem. However, food prices are higher than ten years ago. Using however here doesn’t magically make these ideas connected. These two ideas aren’t connected, and you can’t create a connection by using a word like however. Next, there’s nothing in the IELTS scoring system which says you get a higher score for using more linking words. It’s more important to make sure you use linking words accurately. Using more linking words won’t get you band seven. However, using linking words incorrectly will get you band six. So, don’t use linking words just to use linking words. Use them because they fit your ideas.
Don’t think, “I have to use nonetheless to get a high score!” You don’t. Next, let’s look at our second point: paragraphing. Many IELTS candidates use the same structure for everything they write. For example, for task two, most people write an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That might be fine. However, to get band 7 for C&C, you need to “present a clear central topic within each paragraph.” Those aren’t my words. That’s straight from the IELTS scoring scheme. Many students, especially in task two, write paragraphs like this: There are many advantages to … Firstly, … Secondly, … Thirdly, … This kind of writing is likely to get a score of 6 for C&C. Why? Because, if you do this, you’re trying to put too much in one paragraph. That means your paragraph won’t have a clear central topic. So, what’s the solution? First, plan your essay carefully. Make sure you know exactly what you’re putting in each paragraph before you start writing.
Secondly, make sure your paragraph starts with a clear topic sentence. Your topic sentence should be relatively short and simple. If your topic sentence is very long and complicated, then your topic probably isn’t clear. Then, after your topic sentence, spend the rest of the paragraph developing and extending your main idea. This means that you aren’t adding any new ideas or changing the topic in the middle of your paragraph. Also, this means you might need different numbers of paragraphs depending on how many main ideas you have. Do you have two body paragraphs in your essay? That means you have two main ideas. Do you have three main ideas? Then you need three paragraphs! Another point: paragraphs don’t have a minimum length. There’s no such thing as a paragraph which is too short. Paragraphs can be any length. So, let’s review this section.
To get band seven C&C in your IELTS writing exam, you need to focus on using linking words accurately and appropriately. You also need to make sure every paragraph has a clear central topic, which means you shouldn’t try to put many different ideas in one paragraph. Next, let’s look at vocabulary and how you can get to band seven. Here’s a band six idea that students often have: “I need to learn lots of synonyms and uncommon vocabulary. If my vocabulary is bigger, I’ll get a higher score.” There’s one important difference between band six and seven for vocabulary. At band six, you need two things: range and clarity. That means, if you at least try to use some more advanced or uncommon vocabulary, you can get six if your meaning is clear, even if you make mistakes, even if you make lots of mistakes. However, for band seven, you need three things: range, clarity and accuracy. It’s no longer enough just to try. You need to use vocabulary “with flexibility and precision”—again, this is a quote from the official scoring scheme.
You can’t make many mistakes for band seven. You can produce ‘occasional errors’ and still get band seven. What does this mean for you? It means that your priority should be avoiding mistakes. I see many IELTS students trying to learn lots of idioms, phrases, academic vocabulary and so on. But then, they often don’t know how to use this vocabulary well. They use it in their writing, because they think it sounds nice, and their meaning might be clear, but it’s not correct. That’s fine for band six, but not for band seven. So, what should you do? Look, first of all, vocabulary learning is hard work and it’s slow. There aren’t any magic solutions here.
But I’ll give you one tip: When you’re learning vocabulary, focus on quality and depth, not quantity. Don’t try to learn 50 words or phrases. Learn five words or phrases, but really learn them. Spend an hour learning and practising five new words and phrases. Find example sentences. Write your own example sentences. Ask a teacher or whoever you can find to give you feedback. Make sure you know how to use your new vocabulary correctly. Another point: in the exam, if you have a choice between a simple word which you know is correct, and a more advanced or academic word which you aren’t sure about, what should you do? Use the simple word.
Only use vocabulary you’re sure you understand and that you know how to use. This is the opposite to band six. For band six, you can use the more advanced word, even if it’s wrong. But remember, to get band seven, you need to be accurate. You can’t make many mistakes. So, in this situation, take the safe choice! Finally, let’s look at the grammar score and how you can get to band seven.
Here’s the band six idea which students often have: “Grammar’s not so important, so long as people can understand what I mean.” Again, band six and band seven are very different. This is especially true for your grammar score. What’s the difference? Like vocabulary, you need to be accurate to get band seven. At band six, it doesn’t really matter how many grammar mistakes you make so long as your meaning is clear. At band seven, the quantity of grammar errors you make matters.
It really matters! To get band seven for grammar, you need to “produce frequent error-free sentences”—again, these words are directly from the official IELTS scoring scheme. That means if you make a lot of small mistakes, it’s almost impossible to get band seven for grammar. All mistakes count: you use the wrong preposition? It’s a mistake. You forget to use the? Mistake. You forget the ‘s’ on a present simple verb? Mistake. If your writing is around band six, you probably make more mistakes than you realise. So, again, what can you do? First, you need to identify the common mistakes which you make. For this, you need a teacher to show you where you make mistakes in your writing. Every time you do some writing, look at the grammar mistakes you make. Sort them into two categories. One: mistakes with things you don’t know. Two: mistakes with things you already knew. For example, if you write ‘childrens’ instead of ‘children’, this is probably a type two mistake. Most likely, you knew this already. You just made a mistake, because you were in a hurry, or you were tired, or you have a bad habit, or you weren’t paying attention, or something like that.
With type one mistakes—things you don’t know—get a good grammar book and study to fill the gaps in your knowledge. With type two mistakes, put your errors into a digital flashcard app like Anki or Quizlet or something like that. For example: Question: This is one of most serious problems in today’s world. Answer: This is one of the most serious problems in today’s world. Every time you write something, add your mistakes as questions to your flashcard app. Review your mistakes regularly—every day is best! This approach requires a lot of patience, but it’s the only effective way to get rid of those bad habits which can stop you getting band seven in IELTS writing. Okay, so now you should have some ideas about how to get band seven in your IELTS writing exam. There’s a lot of information in this lesson, and there’s also a lot which I didn’t say! Band seven is a high standard, and you should accept that it will take time and work to get there.
Do you have an IELTS experience which you think people could learn from? Please let us know in the comments! Check out our website for more free English lessons, including IELTS preparation lessons: Oxford Online English dot com. Our teachers can also help you prepare for your IELTS exam in online classes. That’s all for this lesson. Thanks for watching, and see you next time!.
Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid. If you need to do the IELTS general exam, I’m sure it’s for a very important reason. Perhaps you’re trying to immigrate to another country, or get admission to a college program, or join a professional training program. Whatever your reason, I know you want to get the highest marks possible. Right? Of course. So I’m going to help you to do exactly that in one particular area of the exam, and that’s in your writing section. Now, in the writing section there are two parts, one is a letter and one is an essay. In this lesson we will focus on how you can get the highest marks possible in the letter-writing section.
Okay? The 14 tips that I’m going to give you I promise you, if you apply each one of these things, step by step you’re going to get more and more marks. Okay? So stick with me and we will go through them. Let’s get started. So, the first thing you have to identify when you read the letter-writing task is: What type of letter am I being asked to write? Is it a formal letter, is it a semi-formal letter, or is it an informal letter? Well, how do you know that? Well, you can know it in a few ways and I’m going to explain them, but one of the ways that you can know it is to look at the second point that you need to understand, is to identify the purpose of the letter because some purposes are more formal than other purposes. All right? For example, some formal letters might ask you to request information; or apply for a job; or complain about a product or a service, maybe to an airline, maybe to a store, something like that; or to make a suggestion or a recommendation.
All right? To a shopping mall, to a restaurant, something like that. These are more formal situations. These are when we are writing to people or companies that we don’t know. All right? That’s the clue: You don’t have anybody’s name, you just have the name of the company. All right. Semi-formal letters might include things like this: Complaining to a landlord; or explaining something, a problem or a situation to a neighbour; or asking a professor for permission to miss an exam or to submit your assignment late. Whatever it is. Okay? The details vary. Doesn’t matter. And here, what’s…? What identifies the semi-formal? The semi-formal we know it’s still a kind of a formal situation, but here we usually do know somebody’s name.
You would know the name of your landlord, or your professor, or your neighbour, for example. Right? So that means something in terms of the way that you write the letter, the language, the tone, the style. All of this is affected by whether it’s formal, semi-formal, or informal. And I’ll explain more to you as we go along. Now, examples of informal letters might be where you’re being asked to invite a friend, or thank a friend, or apologize to a friend, or ask for advice from someone that you know. Okay? Here what’s important is that you really know this person well and you’re probably going to call them by first name. So I’m going to explain exactly how all of this translates into the next step, which is how you begin your letter. So the first step was to identify the type of letter. Second step, the purpose. Now the third step is to open and close the letter correctly.
Once you’ve done steps one and two, you will know how to do this step. Because if it’s a formal letter then you start with: “Dear Sir” or “Madam”, and you end with: “Yours faithfully”. Okay? That’s how it is. If it’s a semi-formal letter, you will start with something like: “Dear Mr. Brown” or “Dear Ms. Stone” or “Mrs. Stone”. “Ms.” Is when you don’t know if a woman is married or not, or if she’s just a modern woman. And you end the semi-formal letter with something like: “Yours sincerely”. Okay? What we’re trying to do is to match up the formality of the situation with these terms that we’re using. Okay? The opening and closing salutations they’re called, these are called. All right? Next is the informal one. So here, you know the person really well, it’s your friend or a family member, and so you know… You’re going to call them by first name.
Right? So you might say: “Dear John”, “Dear Susan”, and then because it’s a warm friendship or relationship, you can end in a warmer way by saying: “Best regards” or “Warm wishes”. Now, what makes it a little bit easier for you and this is a clue is that usually in your letter prompt, in the task that the IELTS exam gives you, they will give you the letter situation and then they’ll say: “Start your letter with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Madam’, or ‘Dear Mr. So-and-so’, or ‘Dear John’.” Now, that helps you a lot because now you know if it’s going to be a formal letter, a semi-formal letter, or an informal letter, and you will know how to end your letter and you’ll also know what to say in your letter and how to say it, which is what we’re going to look at next. Okay, number four: Start the letter appropriately. That means based on whether you decided it was a formal letter, semi-formal, or informal – you need to use appropriate language. Right? Let me give you an example. For formal or informal letters, we could start with something like this: “I am writing to inquire about…” Okay? “I’m writing to inform you that…” whatever the situation is.
Or: “I’m writing in connection with…” Okay? These are some of the standard expressions that we can use when we start formal or semi-formal letters. Look how different that is from the informal ones. Now, what happens in an informal situation? Here we know the people, so first we want to acknowledge the relationship. We don’t start talking about business. Here, these are strangers, we don’t want to waste their time, we don’t want to be friendly here, we just want to get down to business. But here you want to be warm, you want to be friendly because these are people you know.
So you might start with something like this: “I hope you and your family are all well.” Okay? That could be your first sentence. You know what? And in fact in your first paragraph you’re probably just going to talk about nice things, and only in your second paragraph are you going to get down to tell them exactly why you’re writing. Okay? But first you want to say… Tell them… Ask them how they are, and things like that. Another way you could start an informal letter is: “How have you been? It’s been too long since we were last in touch”, and so on.
Okay? This is just to give you some idea. I’m going to later tell you where you can go to refer to sample letters, model letters that you can read so that you really become familiar with the entire format. Okay? All right. Now, number five: Use standard written expressions. What does that mean? Look, the reason it takes you a longer time to write a letter than let’s say someone who has been speaking and writing English all their life is because we have picked up the standard expressions that are used when we write, and you need to try to do that. That will save you a lot of time and it’s very important, of course, on an exam to write as fast as possible.
It’s also important all your life to write email as fast as possible. So, by learning these standard written expressions you will be able to get higher marks and save time and effort. So what are some of these standard expressions? Well, let’s look at one example when we are asked to apologize about something. So if it’s a formal situation, you could say something like: “My sincere apologies for missing the meeting” or “missing the conference”, something like that. Okay? If it was an informal situation and you’re writing to a friend or something like that, you could say: “I’m very sorry for missing your wedding.” Okay? See, you’re still apologizing, but when it’s formal you use certain expressions, and when it’s informal you’re going to use other kinds of expressions.
But these are still expressions which you can learn. And again, you can download a list of these kind of expressions from the resource that I’m going to tell you about. Now, let’s say you are asking for something, you’re making a request, if it’s a formal situation you could say something like: “I’d be grateful” or “I would be grateful if you could please send me the information as soon as possible.” Okay? For example. And if it’s more informal you could say: “Could you please send me the book as fast as you can?” Okay? So you see that the tone varies based on whether it’s formal, informal, or semi-formal. Okay? Let’s look at some other points. Okay, number six: Use correct spelling. Now, you’re going to say to me: “Rebecca, I know that”, and I know you know that, but unfortunately sometimes even on the IELTS students are still making mistakes on words like these which you know you’re very likely to use so you want to make sure that you really know how to spell these words. Of course you can’t know every word you’re going to use, but there are some words you can definitely know will probably be there.
So, for example: “sincerely”, people forget the “e”; “faithfully”, people forget that there’s two l’s; and “connection”, people forget that there are two n’s, that kind of examples. Okay? So just read over… When you read over many sample or model letters you will see and you will find the words which appear very often, and make sure that you know how to spell those words so that you get higher and higher marks which is our goal. Okay, number seven: Divide the letter, your letter into paragraphs.
Now, I know you know that, but let’s just review it. So of course you will have an introduction and you will have a conclusion, and usually IELTS letters in the 20 minutes that you have and in the situation that they’ve asked you to write about, usually IELTS letters have about four paragraphs. Okay? So, introduction, then a second paragraph will be describing the problem or the situation, the third paragraph will move into the solution or what action you’re asking someone to take, and the last one is the conclusion, just the ending. Okay? So make sure you divide your paragraphs… Your letter into paragraphs. Now, when you do that there are two ways to do it. One way is to indent to show that you’re starting a new paragraph.
What does it mean to indent? To start a little bit from the left side. Okay? So don’t start here, start inside. Or you can start every paragraph from the left, what we call flush left, but then you have to leave a line in between to show that this is in fact a different paragraph. Otherwise they… The examiner will think that you’ve written one solid piece of writing in your letter instead of writing in paragraphs. Okay? So make sure you do that. Next: Use clear, legible handwriting. Now, on the IELTS in case you didn’t know, you have to actually write by hand. You can’t use a computer. So you have to make sure that your handwriting is clear and legible. “Legible” means that someone can read it. Don’t write like a doctor, even if you’re a doctor because then the examiner will not be able to understand and won’t be able to give you all the high marks that you want.
So, make sure… Also some people when they’re cursive… For example, when you write with cursive writing-okay?-handwriting which is joined. Right? Some people have difficulty with some of the letters, like “n” and “r”. For example, an “n” or an “r”, if you don’t make it properly it could look like another letter, and then to the examiner that could look like a spelling mistake and then you would lose marks. So make sure your handwriting is clear for this reason that you don’t want the examiner to consider it a spelling mistake, because then they have to reduce your marks.
Okay. Next, you are asked to write and you should write 150 words. How do you know what 150 words is? By practicing and checking lots of times, so practice writing letters. If I had an IELTS exam coming up, I would write a letter and an essay every single day so that I’d feel completely comfortable and confident, I know exactly what I’m going to do, and that’s what you go ahead and do.
And then you will have a feeling and a knowledge of what 150 words is. Okay? Make sure you know. Because if you write less than 150 words, you will lose marks. If you write more than 150 words, you will not lose marks. Okay? So make sure you write at least 150 words. But what’s also important, I said here that if you write more you’ll get… You’ll still be fine, you won’t lose any marks, but you don’t want to spend too much time because you need to finish in about 20 minutes. As I mentioned at the beginning, there are two tasks in your writing section, the letter plus the essay.
The essay is worth twice as many marks, so you want to make sure that you leave enough time, about 40 minutes for your essay. Right? This is also very important. All the marks count. They check… They give you marks separately for the letter and they give you marks separately for your essay, and then they give you a separate score for that, and finally they combine everything. So everything matters, but make sure you finish this part, the letter in 20 minutes. And again, the way to be able to do that is to practice. Practice and practice and practice. So you will write 150 words in 20 minutes and so on.
Okay? With the paragraphs and all the other rules that I told you about. Okay. Now, number 11 tells you to include all three bulleted points. What do I mean by that? If you have looked at some sample letter tasks that appear on the IELTS exam, they give you the situation and then they give you a second section which says: “Include this information in your letter”, and they tell you three points. They’re usually bulleted points. Okay? When they have a little dot like this it means it’s a bullet. And you must do those things. If you don’t do one of these you will definitely lose a lot of marks. So, for example, suppose it was a letter that you’re being asked to write to a landlord. It might say… Or, sorry. You want to write a letter, let’s suppose, to your landlord because the neighbour is making a lot of noise every night and you’re having a lot of problems. So they will say: “In your letter explain the situation”, so you have to make sure you do that. Next: “Describe why it bothers you.” Tell them you’re a student.
I mean, you need to make up a lot of information here. They don’t tell you exactly what to write. Everyone on that… In that examination hall is going to write a different letter, but you have to include certain points. And third, maybe suggest a solution. What are you going to do? So if you leave out one of these, you will lose marks. So don’t do that. Always make sure whatever they have asked you to include, you include, and then include whatever else you have time for that makes sense according to the task you have been given. Okay? And a few more important points which we will cover next. Okay, the last three points, which are also very important for you to get that really high score.
Here we go. We’re going to start from here and go upwards. Okay? There is a reason behind this. Okay, number 12: Understand the scoring criteria. What does that mean? You’re going to get your points, or mark, or grade based on certain things that the IELTS examiners want you to do in this task. So let’s understand what those four things are. Number one is task achievement. That’s a big word which simply means they want you to do everything you’re supposed to do in the letter. Do all. Give a full response. Remember those three points and everything? Make sure you include all the bulleted points, you do what they ask you to do. And that you should write at least 150 words. You will see that in their criteria a lot of the details of it is what I have covered also for you in these 14 points.
All right. Coherence and cohesion. “Coherence” means that you present your ideas logically, it makes sense, you used paragraphs that are structured. Okay? And “cohesion” means that it all goes together in a way that makes sense. For example, your ideas should make sense, they should sort of stick together. And you should use standard expressions that we talked about for apologizing, for thanking, for making a request and so on. Okay? The third point is Lexical resource they call it. What does that mean? That means they want to make sure that you’re using your vocabulary correctly, naturally, fluently. Okay? Lots of varied vocabulary. Not the same words again and again. The last one, they also want to make sure that you use correct spelling. They do minus marks if you get… Make spelling mistakes. Okay? So be careful of that. We’ve talked about it before. And the last one is grammar range and accuracy.
They want you to use varied grammar structures. All right? To write different kinds of sentences; simple sentences, complex sentences, compound sentences. All right? Don’t just write the same kind of sentences. And use correct punctuation and capitalization, which goes with proper English writing. Okay. Now, let’s go upwards. What’s the other really, really important thing that you need to do to get very high marks in this letter-writing section? Write a letter every day. Practice and practice this letter writing. But there’s a second part to that. Practice and get your letters or letter checked by an IELTS teacher. Ideally, an IELTS teacher. Not only an English teacher because not every English teacher has IELTS experience or understands this exam, or the demands of this exam. So the best… Always try to get the best teacher you can get who really knows what you need to do. So, try to get your letters checked by an IELTS teacher because if you keep practicing every day and nobody checks it, that’s tricky. Okay? There are two sections of this exam which you can really cannot prepare for by yourself according to me, and I’ve been teaching for a long time, so they are speaking and writing.
Somebody has to give you feedback. When you get that feedback you will know what you need to improve and correct to get that higher score and also to improve your English. So make sure you get some feedback somewhere along the way so that you know what’s strong and what’s weak. Okay? And last: Read model letters from reliable sources, but don’t memorize them.
Okay? Don’t memorize. Don’t try to memorize the entire letter because you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get. But it will help you a lot to read sample letters and only from reliable sources. For example, I wrote a website called www.goodluckielts.com and there, there are many sample letters, sample letter topics, and you can be sure that the English there is perfect. Unfortunately there are a lot of websites today, and not all of them have perfect English even in their so-called model essays or model letters.
Okay? So make sure whenever you go to a site that it is a site that you can be sure of so that you learn the right things and don’t do any of the wrong things. Okay? So, what do you do now? Well, I suggest these things: Go to our website at www.engvid.com. Why? Because there you can download for free a resource which will contain all 14 of these points-okay?-for you. So in case you didn’t write them down, don’t worry, I’ve written them all down for you clearly. Plus you will get those expressions, those standard expressions that I mentioned you need to use to make your letter writing easier. You also will get sample letter topics so that you get some idea of what is a formal question look like, a semi-formal, an informal. And also sample letters, which I’ve written for you. Okay? So please grab that resource. It’s free and it’s available for you, for anyone who wants to download it.
Okay? And while you’re there also check out our website because we have lots and lots of other resources which can help you, and lots of videos and lessons which can help you do better on your IELTS. And subscribe to my YouTube channel because that will really help you improve your grade in terms of very many aspects that go into making a really good English speaker and English writer. All right? I wish you all the best with your IELTS and with your English. Thanks very much for watching. I know you’re a serious student, and I’m sure you’re going to do well. All the best. Bye..