Of the four parts of the IELTS exam, most people find that writing is the hardest. In fact, even incredibly skilled candidates struggle to get a score that matches the other parts of the test.

In today’s article, I’m going to explain how you can improve your writing score with the help of my writing correction service. I will do so by outlining 6 actionable steps to take.

Step #1 – find out what you’re doing wrong

This should be obvious, but many people don’t realise it. They just keep writing practice essays and hope that they improve. When they take the real IELTS test, they find that their score barely increases and sometimes even goes down.

To actually make real progress you must seek expert feedback. That feedback should give specific information about your strengths and weaknesses, alongside guidance about how to solve these problems.

Common IELTS writing problems include:

  • Vague language that fails to convey specific or accurate meaning.
  • Grammar problems in areas such as subject-verb agreement, pluralisation, article use, and verb tense. (Here‘s a list of common grammar mistakes.)
  • Problems with cohesive devices.
  • Structure.
  • Writing too much.
  • Spelling, word choice, word form, and commonly misused words.
  • Following certain advice too rigidly, leading to logical problems. (For example, closely paraphrasing the question and then agreeing or disagreeing with yourself.)

If you want to find out what’s wrong with your essays, reports, and letters, then consider using my writing correction service. It’s fast, affordable, and offers far more detail than any other service currently available.

Step #2 – make a realistic plan for improvement

Once you know what’s wrong with your writing, then you need to make a plan for fixing those problems.

This plan needs to be realistic. I recently had a young woman submit several essays that were around band 4.5 to 5. She told me that she needed to get a band 8 in just three weeks, but of course that would never be possible. Instead, you should think about making incremental improvements over a longer period of time.

First, divide your weaknesses into minor and major problems. By that, I mean problems that will have a small or big impact on your score:

Minor problemsMajor problems
Most punctuation errors
Spelling mistakes in difficult words
Slightly awkward transitions
Not hyphenating a compound adjective
Most verb tense errors
Spelling mistakes in easy words
Illogical transitions
Using the wrong form of a word

Now you can focus on fixing the major problems. Doing this will help you to improve your score more substantially than spending a long time on minor issues.

It is also worth thinking about how long certain problems can take to fix. Some are very easy but some can take a very long time.

Problems you can quickly solveProblems that take more time and effort
Overusing cohesive devices
Writing too many or too few paragraphs
Not developing ideas fully
Using unrealistic ideas
Misusing a certain word
Repeating some words and phrases
Writing overly long introductions and conclusions
Most grammar problems (verb tense, article use, etc.)
Spelling mistakes
Underdeveloped ideas
Illogically linked clauses
Generally poor use of vocabulary (including collocation)

Of course, this will partially vary from one person to the next. Some people find it easy to learn grammar but most find it very hard. Generally, though, poor grammar can take many months and likely years to fix, whereas poor structuring can be fixed in a matter of hours or days.

Once you have divided your problems into these categories, you can form a plan of action. Work consistently to rid your essays of major problems like subject-verb disagreement, verb tense mistakes, and article misuse. Focus on fixing these over a long period of time. Meanwhile, you can work quickly to eliminate small issues.

Step #3 – find suitable practice material and advice

I have said many times on this website and on my various social media channels that the world of IELTS teaching is a cesspit. Sadly, the majority of IELTS tutors online can hardly speak English and most of them don’t even understand the exam! (You can see my reviews of various IELTS services here.)

This makes it extra important to find good resources. In fact, I would mostly suggest ignoring specific IELTS websites and instead going to reputable grammar ones. These include:

You can also look into dictionaries and other resources for learning vocabulary:

You can also look for some useful textbooks and other printed materials, if you prefer. There are many good apps and YouTube channels as well.

Above all, avoid anyone who makes crazy promises (“boost your score in just 15 minutes!”) and focus on high-quality materials by reliable individuals and institutions.

Step #4 – do limited and full practice

Limited practice means doing specific exercises to deal with specific issues. For example, you might find a good book or app that allows you to practice verb tenses. You could benefit from doing lots of these exercises in order to become better at verb tense use.

On the other hand, full practice refers to writing longer passages, such as whole IELTS essays. It is important to do this regularly as your test date nears. This allows you to get used to the practice of writing whole essays and also helps you get a feel for the time constraints.

If you balance these sensibly, you will find that your specific problems are solved whilst your overall writing skills improve.

Step #5 – periodically have your essays assessed

You need to get an expert to check your score from time to time, so that you know these two things:

  1. Is my writing score getting better?
  2. Am I making any new mistakes?
  3. Am I making progress with my original problems?

It is very important to think about all of these issues.

You could check the first one by doing a real IELTS test, but it’s very expensive and you don’t get detailed feedback, so it’s usually a waste of money.

The best thing is to get an IELTS expert to check your score. With my writing correction service, I offer full corrections, alongside detailed feedback, suggestions for improvement, and a sample band 9 answer. My service is also much, much cheaper than the real test!

When you periodically have your writing assessed by an expert, you can keep track of your progress and work to eliminate the sorts of mistakes that typically hold people back. It can help you to make your studies more effective. Instead of focusing on the wrong things, you can focus on areas that actually allow you to improve quickly.

Note: Don’t fall into the trap of repeatedly taking the test and assuming that you will get a higher score. It’s not a sensible approach.

Step #6 – continually optimise your studies

Considering all of the above, you must remember not to become complacent or lose focus on your goals.

Always be willing to tackle new problems or take new approaches to old problems that are not being fixed quickly enough. For example, if your grammar is very slowly improving but your overall score is not, then be willing to invest more effort into improving other parts of your writing skill. IELTS writing is assessed in four areas:

Although we should never give up on improving our grammar, it does take a long time to build these skills and it might be worth devoting some additional time to problems that could lower your Coherence and Cohesion score, such as repetition, overuse of cohesive devices, poor progression, illogical grouping, faulty referencing, and so on. If you have some of these problems, they might easily be fixed, which could allow your Coherence and Cohesion score to improve, thereby improving your overall score.


IELTS writing can be really difficult but taking a sensible approach can make it easier. Stop following the nonsense advice you see on YouTube and Instagram and instead take a realistic approach based on expert feedback.

Concentrate on finding and fixing weaknesses over a reasonable period of time. Remember that IELTS is basically just an English test! There are no shortcuts to fluency, but there are definitely things you can do to make your journey less troublesome.