My students always ask me how to improve their IELTS writing scores. It’s not an easy question to answer, but fortunately there are many ways it can be done. Below, I’ll show you some areas to focus on in order to boost your writing skills.

Know the Sentence Types

It’s really important that you know the difference between a simple sentence and a compound sentence. You don’t need to know the terminology, but it is important that you can form full sentences. Knowing the sentence types means being able to avoid these cardinal sins of writing:

Vary your Sentence Length

Once you know the different types of sentences, you should practice using them. The most difficult one is the compound-complex sentence, but even if you don’t know that, you can still get a good score with a mix of simple, compound, and complex sentences. The key is varying the length and type of sentence so it sounds natural. Look at this example:

Firstly, children watch too much TV. It’s bad for their health. It can make them addicted. They will spend too much time indoors. This can make them fat.

The sentences are all short and could easily be mixed together into more interesting patterns:

Firstly, children watch too much TV, which is bad for their health. This habit can cause them to become addicted, resulting in them spending too much time indoors and thus getting fat.

Learn the Punctuation Rules

Everyone seems scared of punctuation in English. However, it’s not that difficult. The comma is the hardest to learn the rules for, but if you can get a grasp of the most basic rules, you can craft a very effective IELTS essay. The most important one is the full stop (known in America as the period) and so you should start with that. It can also be useful to know semi-colons but they are not essential.

Here’s a handy tip: Never use an exclamation mark in the IELTS exam!

Remember Collocations

Students preparing for the IELTS exam always want to study lots of vocabulary. This is understandable as vocabulary is important for understanding and making yourself understood. However, knowing a word’s meaning is very different from being able to use it. Learn a word in context and you will be able to apply it more easily. When you are learning vocabulary, pay attention to what words commonly go together. Remember: accuracy is the most important thing for Lexical Resource.