10 Most Helpful Tips for Achieving a Better Band Score in Writing

  • Read the questions very carefully. Often the question will ask you to do three or four different things, aside from the main question. Write them down and make sure you address all of them in your answer. The IELTS examiner will be checking for this.
  • Practice writing tasks within the given time limits. It really doesn’t matter if you can write a beautiful answer in two hours. Always recreate the conditions of the exam as closely as possible, when doing any kind of practice exercises.
  • Plan before you write. Even though you feel under pressure for time, spend the first few minutes planning your writing. Decide what you’re going to say and how you’ll expand on it. When you know what to write, you can concentrate on how to write it best. Experiment with the great variety of outlining and mind-mapping techniques to help you sketch out a plan quickly. I’d recommend allocating up to 5 minutes for planning your essay.
  • Write in an organized way. When you’ve planned in advance, you’ll end up with a more organized, logical piece of writing, which will earn you higher marks. There are many ways to be organised – linear, circular, etc. – but in the end the final product must be cohesive which means that there must be a clear flow from the introduction through the body to the conclusion.
  • Stay on topic. You will be penalised if you stray off topic. This is where the initial few minutes of planning can help you a great deal.
  • Divide your writing into paragraphs. It is confusing to be faced with a block of writing, with no divisions. You wouldn’t expect to read a magazine article or book like this. Always divide your writing into paragraphs. Depending on the essay type, two or three paragraphs for the body of your essay.
  • Write clearly. This is not the time or place to experiment with new vocabulary or idioms. Use simple, clear English to get your ideas across in a powerful way.
  • Write legibly. Though marks are not granted or taken away for poor or messy writing, the examiner should be able to read what you have written without undue difficulty.
  • Spell correctly. Yes, this does affect your score so avoid careless mistakes. A careless mistake is when you have spelt the same word in various ways in the same piece of writing or when you misspell a word which is already given in the exam topic and all you have to do is copy it correctly. That’s not okay. Watch for this when you’re practising and resolve to overcome it.
  • Edit your essay. This part is often neglected by students, but it can end up paying out for you. Make sure you don’t just randomly review your essay. Understand your weaknesses and check specifically for them.

Example of a Writing Task OET for students to practice during Christmas holiday

You are a health professional at the Royal North Shore Hospital. Read the case notes and complete the writing task as follows:


Patient: Mr James NaismithOET_Writing

DOB: 25.12.1940



Symptom A, symptom B, symptom C

Examination shows sign A and sign B

Diagnosis: disease A

Prescribe drug A 25mg tid


Reports compliance with therapy A

Symptoms B and C are worse

Examination shows sign C

Increase dosage of drug A 50mg tid


Chronic condition A since 2002

Surgery A in location A – 1996

Episode of acute condition A in 1995, resolved


Father died of disease B at age 65

Social history:

Widower, lives alone in Sydney Retirement Solutions

Quit smoking in 2005

Emergency contact is son who lives in Homebush, mobile: 0555 555 555

Plan: refer to specialist to discuss possibility of therapy A

Using the information in the case notes, write a letter of referral for further investigation and discussion of a new management plan to the specialist Dr Michael Jordan, at 55 Main Street, Newtown.

In your answer:

–          Expand on the relevant notes in complete sentences

–          DO NOT use point form

–          Use letter format

The body of the letter should be approximately 180-200 words

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