What many students don’t realise is that success in the IELTS, essentially, depends on your ability to follow instructions. As simple as that sounds, being incapable of following instructions precisely could cost you valuable points. Here are 8 IELTS tips on the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.
1. Size does matter!
In terms of the written task, it comes as no surprise that length is crucial. When instructions mention a minimum number of words (250 for the essay and 150 for a report or letter), work that does not meet that minimum will be penalised. Similarly, another common mistake is to answer over the amount given. If the task says “Not more than 3 words”, then answering in 4 or 5 words will, without a doubt, cost you.
2. Writing more doesn’t guarantee more marks.
Another misconception is that writing a longer essay will ensure success in IELTS; however that is definitely not the case – longer essays give room for more mistakes, as the number of words and sentences increase.
3. Less will equal less.
In terms of the written task, again, length is crucial. When instructions mention a minimum number of words (250 for the essay and 150 for a report or letter), work that does not meet that minimum will be penalised.
4. Change the subject? Change your marks.
Occasionally, students will be asked to write about a topic they don’t know or understand, and so to compensate for the lack of knowledge, they will try to change the subject. Whether that be slightly or completely, writing about a different topic is unacceptable. Writing about the wrong topic will unfortunately, no matter how beautiful your piece is, result in a zero. So don’t do it.
5. Good memory isn’t always good.
Knowing that some topics sometimes repeat, students with good memory will try and memorise essays. This seems like it’d be the sure-fire way to succeed, right? Wrong. Examiners are trained to recognise memorised works, and are told to disqualify the work in question, on the spot.
6. Accents do not matter.
It’s the pronunciation that counts. IELTS is a test for non-native English speakers, and therefore cannot, and would not penalise people for having an accent. Some cannot distinguish the difference between speaking with an accent and mispronouncing words – however, no matter how thick your accent is, if the words are pronounced incorrectly, your marks will suffer.
7. There is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ idea.
Many students fret about expressing the wrong ideas, and having their marks lowered because of it. The truth is though, no idea is wrong – the important factor is the way in which they are expressed, not the idea itself.
8. Cohesion, not connectives.
One of the criteria in the essay marking section is that of coherence and cohesion, so how better to demonstrate this than to use connectives? The overuse of connectives is a pretty prominent problem; examiners will pick up on it and you will be penalised.
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