8 Reasons you're NOT getting 7+ in IELTS Writing

There are basically two categories of reason why people don’t get their desired IELTS writing score. Either their level isn’t good enough or their exam technique isn’t good enough. In this lesson I’m going to show you 8 of the most common reasons why students don’t get band 7 or higher in their IELTS writing.

1. Insufficient Vocabulary

The first reason why students don’t get their desired score is that they have insufficient vocabulary. If you find yourself repeatedly using the same words or struggling to express your ideas clearly, this will be lowering your score for lexical resource.

So, what can we do about it…

Well, you’ll need to improve your vocabulary. Now, you don’t just need to improve your general vocabulary; you need to improve your IELTS writing vocabulary. The first thing I would recommend is to learn from model essays. At englishprotips.com you’ll have model essays on all of the common topics that appear in IELTS.

Here is what I would recommend: 

  1. Read the essay
  2. Do the gap fill
  3. Keep a record of the useful vocabulary
  4. Use it in your own practice essays


2. Grammar Accuracy

When I evaluated student essays, the most common reason why I didn’t give band 7 was for Grammatical Range and Accuracy. Grammatical Range and Accuracy makes up a quarter of your IELTS score. However, even if one of these criteria is band 6, it’s going to stop you from getting band 7. So, imagine if you get 7 for Task Response, 7 for Coherence and Cohesion, 7 for Lexical Resource, but 6 for Grammatical Range and Accuracy. Well, you’re going to get overall band 6.5. Now, as part of your Grammatical Range and Accuracy score, you’re assessed on two things, the range of grammar you use and the accuracy of that grammar. I believe that it is the accuracy of grammar that stops most people from getting band 7.

So, what’s the best way to improve accuracy?

The best way is to get your essays assessed. IELTStutors.org are very experienced teachers and can assess your essays. However, if you’re wanting to save money, there are some ways to get basic grammar checking.

Free Grammar Checking

➡️ https://writer.com/punctuation-checker/

➡️ https://www.grammarly.com/punctuation-checker

➡️ https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt

You need to understand that you’re not going to get an accurate IELTS score, but you will get some good insight into the grammar mistakes that you’re making.

From my experience, the most common grammar mistakes that people make are with articles, subject verb agreement and tenses. I have a lesson in my Task 2 Writing Course that will go through the most common grammar mistakes that students make. 

Now, the next set of reasons why students don’t get the score they aiming for is because of their exam technique. 

3. Misunderstanding the Question

If you misunderstand the question or miss out on one of the parts of the question, this will dramatically lower your score. I would recommend that you read the question carefully and make sure you understand what it is asking. Again, reading the model essays at englishprotips.com will help you to see relevant and high-scoring essays.

4. No Position in the Introduction

Most IELTS questions ask for your opinion. When they do, you should write your opinion in the introduction and conclusion.

For example, if you get a question like this.

In many countries, parents are deciding to have children later in their lives. Do you think the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

You need to give your opinion in the introduction. So you could say something like this:

Across many societies, parents are having children at a later age. This increased age gap has a number of effects, including for the parent-child relationship. Despite clear disadvantages of this trend, I would argue that the advantages of having children later in life are more significant.

The examiner can clearly see your position.

Now this becomes more difficult when you get a question like:

Traffic congestion is a growing problem in many of the world’s major cities. Explain some possible reasons for this problem, and suggest some solutions.

In this case, you’re not explicitly being asked for your opinion. However, you are being asked to suggest some solutions. As a result, I would recommend that your opinion clearly states your solutions. You can say something like:

Most of the world’s major cities have serious traffic congestion, making life difficult for local citizens. One cause is overcrowded cities; another is the lack of alternative transportation options. To alleviate these issues, local councils should focus on improving public transportation and encouraging alternative ways of travelling around the city.

I would actually recommend that you experiment with writing your introduction after you’ve written your essay. That way you’ll know what your opinion is and how best to summarise your ideas. 

5. Not Developed Ideas

When the examiner reads your body paragraphs, they’ll be checking that your “ideas are relevant, fully extended and well supported.” So for each idea, I recommend that you have a Topic sentence- where you introduce your idea- and then at least one more sentence where you give an example or develop your idea and ideally a link as well where you relate your idea to the exam question.

If you want more help with how to write body paragraphs, the Task 2 IELTS Course will help you. 

6. Not Logical Paragraphs

You have to do is to divide your essay into logical paragraphs. Each essay should have an introduction, at least two body paragraphs and a conclusion. A good idea is to have each idea in it’s own body paragraph and to use linking words like “Furthermore”, “In addition” and “However” to link the ideas in your body paragraphs.

7. New Ideas in your Conclusion

Your conclusion should do two things.

  1. Restate your ideas 
  2. Restate your opinion

There should be nothing new. Many students lose marks by adding a new idea in their conclusion. Even if you suddenly think of the best idea to answer the question, don’t add it to the conclusion. 

8. Running Out of Time

Running out of time is a serious concern in the IELTS test. You have one hour for Task 1 and Task 2. Here is what I would recommend:

  1. First of all, do lots of timed practice. You need to know that you can write both tasks in one hour.
  2. Secondly, make sure you leave at least 4 minutes to read over your writing to spot mistakes and typos.
  3. Thirdly, do the computer based IELTS test: most people can type much faster than they can write by hand and you can also easily delete text and move it around.
  4. Finally, have a clear structure for all of the common essay question types.

Again, you’ll find that in my Task 2 Writing Course.

Improve your IELTS Writing with my IELTS Task 2 Course!


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