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How can you improve your writing?

Read this article from Cambridge English on improving your writing for the IELTS Academic Writing test and beyond.
© UCLES 2018
Now you have seen some IELTS Academic Writing tasks, and the quiz in Step 1.11 has helped you understand how IELTS examiners assess writing. So how can you improve your own writing?
Of course, the answer to this question is different for each learner. But here are three pieces of advice that we think are very important. These are things that you can keep in mind as you study and prepare for the test.

Understand your own strengths and weaknesses

In this course we show you how your skills are assessed in the IELTS test. We hope you will use this information to help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and how you can improve.
This week, we have seen the assessment criteria that are used in IELTS Academic Writing. Try to use these to check and improve your own writing. Ask yourself questions like:
  • Have you answered the question fully?
  • Is everything you have written relevant?
  • Is it easy to follow your writing?
  • Did you use a good range of vocabulary and grammar?
You can find more questions like this in this pdf. If you want to go into more detail, use the IELTS band descriptors for Task 1 and Task 2. You may want to ask your teacher to help you with this. Which descriptors do you think match your writing? Look at the band you are aiming for – what do you need to do to get there?
You can also use online tools like Write & Improve. Submit your written work and Write & Improve will mark it and give you feedback on spelling, vocabulary, grammar and style in seconds. You can amend your work and resubmit it to improve your writing. Click here to go to the section for IELTS Academic writing tasks.

Understand what you need to write

This is important advice for writing in general as well as in IELTS. To prepare for the test, make sure you understand exactly what you will need to do. We talked about this in Step 1.5, and you can find out more on the IELTS website. When you’re taking a test, make sure you read the question carefully and understand exactly what you’re being asked.
When you’re writing in the ‘real world’ and not in a test, you need to make sure you understand who you’re writing for and the purpose of your writing.
And you also need to be aware of the style of your writing. The style of English for an email to a friend is very different to an academic essay. Later this week, we will learn more about academic English and how people use written English at university.

Think of writing as a process

When you write, you need to do several different things, including the following:
  • Think of ideas and decide what you are going to write
  • Plan and organise your writing
  • Write
  • Check your writing, and maybe change or improve it.
In the test, make sure you plan your writing before you begin – think about what will be in each paragraph. Then allow time for checking and improving your writing at the end.
And if you do some writing for homework, think of your first complete draft as the start of the process, not the end. Read your writing, think how you can improve it, ask other learners and your teacher for advice, then try to make your writing better.
Improving your writing is not quick or easy, but we think you will be more successful if you can take charge of the process, and be aware of your own learning.
© UCLES 2018
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