We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip main navigation

How will IELTS Writing prepare you for higher education?

Watch Gad Lim, from Cambridge English Language Assessment, explain some similarities between the IELTS test and writing at university.
Well, you now know that IELTS Writing is scored on a number of different criteria - whether you’ve done what you were asked to do, whether what you’ve written is well-organised and makes sense, and whether you’ve used the English language well in doing this. These are actually the same things that your university professors will be looking for, so it is good to pay attention to these whether or not you’re preparing for IELTS. Let’s say a professor asked students to write an essay about 17th-Century literature. And let’s say John produces a response like this - Dear Professor Smith, I think Shakespeare is awesome. Yours sincerely, John. Would you say that John has actually fulfilled the requirements of the task in this case?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, he has written something that’s on the topic, but what the professor has asked for is an essay, not a letter. Letters and essays are different forms of writing, what we call genres. And each genre has features that make them different from other genres. At university, it is important to produce the type of writing that is asked for whether it’s an essay, a lab report, a research proposal, and so on, and so forth. Similarly, in the IELTS Writing test, it’s worth thinking - what type of writing am I being asked to produce? What features does that type of writing typically have?
Second, in English there are words like ‘and’ or ‘but’ which are very small but make a difference because they indicate a completely different relationship between the ideas before and after it. We call them discourse markers. Some of them are longer, such as ‘therefore’ and ‘however’, and some of them are actually phrases. When you say ‘in other words’, for example, that’s a discourse marker. In preparing for the IELTS Writing test, you might be tempted to focus just on the big words, but it’s equally important to focus on these little words. These, and make sure that you’re using the right discourse markers to organise your ideas effectively.
Watch Gad talking about the IELTS Writing test and some aspects of writing at university.
As Gad says, the way that IELTS Academic Writing is assessed is actually very similar to the things that your professors at university will be looking for. Try to answer these questions:
What can you do to improve both your IELTS Writing and your academic writing for university?
Are there any genres of writing that you would like to get better at?
This article is from the free online

Inside IELTS: Preparing for the Test With the Experts

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education