The official IELTS by IDP app is here! Download it today.


The ability to articulate your thoughts with precision and brevity is a skill that sets the foundation for your success in the IELTS test. With clarity, you can express your thoughts in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner, while conciseness ensures you convey your message without unnecessary elaboration.

These qualities are not only fundamental for effective communication but are also crucial for achieving a high score in both IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2. Read on for invaluable writing tips and strategies to enhance these skills and gain insights that will be instrumental in learning how to write well and clearly.

The pillars of clear writing

Simplicity, directness, and purpose

At the core of clear writing are simplicity, directness, and a well-defined purpose. Simple language ensures accessibility, directness maintains focus, and a clear purpose guides the reader through the text, ensuring engagement and comprehension. In order to achieve a Band 9 in the IELTS Writing test, understanding the audience and their needs is crucial. Examiners look for evidence of your ability to communicate effectively, which is why clarity, facilitated by these elements, is indispensable.

Understanding the audience

Your writing should always be tailored to meet the expectations and understanding level of your intended audience, in this case, the IELTS examiners. They expect responses that are straightforward, well-organised, and directly answer the given prompts in the IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2. A clear understanding of the audience's expectations is the first step toward achieving clarity.

Strategies for achieving clarity

Achieving clarity in writing is not just about the words you choose or the structure of your sentences; it's fundamentally about being crystal clear on what you want to say. This foundational step is often overlooked, yet it's crucial for ensuring that your writing is focused, coherent, and, above all, clear. Let's explore the strategies that can help you achieve this level of clarity, ensuring your message resonates with precision and purpose.

1. Being clear about what you want to say

Before pen meets paper (or fingers greet keyboard), take a moment to reflect on the core message you intend to convey. This step is about distilling your thoughts, honing in on the primary ideas you want to communicate. Ask yourself what the purpose of your writing is, what you want your readers to understand, and what action you want them to take after reading your piece. This clarity of intention will serve as your north star, guiding each word and sentence you craft. It ensures that every part of your writing serves a purpose, aligning with the overall message you wish to deliver.

2. Choosing simple words

Simplicity is the soul of clarity. Opt for simple, straightforward words over complex or technical jargon, unless the topic demands such specificity. Using language that's accessible to a broad audience ensures that your message is not lost in translation. This is especially important in both the IELTS Writing Task 1 and the IELTS Writing Task 2, where clarity and comprehension are paramount. Here’s an example to illustrate this point:

  • Complex: "Individuals endeavouring to enhance their linguistic capabilities might find it advantageous to immerse themselves in the plethora of resources accessible for elucidation."

  • Simplified: "People looking to improve their language skills could benefit from using the many available resources for learning."

This example shows how replacing complex words with simpler alternatives can make the sentence much more accessible to a wider audience, ensuring the message is clear and easy to understand.

3. Writing in active voice

Active voice makes sentences clearer by showing who is doing what. It's more direct and engaging than passive voice, which can sometimes lead to confusion or wordiness.

  • Passive voice: "The book was read by the student in one night."

  • Active voice: "The student read the book in one night."

Switching from passive to active voice makes the sentence clearer by directly stating who is performing the action, thus engaging the reader more effectively and making the writing crisper.

4. Balancing clarity and complexity

It's essential to balance complexity with clarity when constructing sentences, especially in contexts like tests where your writing proficiency is being assessed. Although the IELTS writing band descriptors encourage the use of "a variety of complex structures," it does not mean every sentence must be lengthy or convoluted. The aim is to demonstrate linguistic flexibility and precision without sacrificing the reader's comprehension. Here are some examples of shorter complex sentences that are clear and easy to follow:

  1. Despite the rain, the game continued. This sentence is complex because it contains a subordinate clause ("Despite the rain") and a main clause ("the game continued"), but it is concise and straightforward.

  2. Before she leaves, she always checks the weather.

    Here, the complexity arises from the time clause ("Before she leaves"), adding depth to the main action without complicating the sentence's overall understanding.

  3. Although he was tired, he finished his homework.

    This example includes a contrastive subordinate clause ("Although he was tired") paired with a simple main clause, showcasing the ability to link ideas effectively without overwhelming the reader.

  4. If you save your work frequently, you won't lose data. The sentence demonstrates a conditional structure, linking cause and effect in a clear and concise manner.

  5. Having finished the report, she decided to take a break.

    This sentence uses a participle phrase ("Having finished the report") to provide background information succinctly before presenting the main action.

Embracing conciseness


Conciseness is a virtue in writing that involves expressing your thoughts succinctly, striking a balance between brevity and completeness. It requires you to hone your ability to distil ideas to their essence. It enhances the effectiveness of your message and is particularly valued in IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2, where you're often required to present complex information or arguments in a concise manner.

Techniques for conciseness

Conciseness in writing is not merely about reducing word count – it's about enhancing the potency of your message, ensuring that every word earns its place on the page. This efficiency is crucial in contexts like the IELTS exam, where clarity and brevity are paramount. We share techniques that can help you craft succinct, powerful prose.

1. Eliminating redundancy

Redundancy can sneak into your writing in various forms – repeating the same information, using unnecessary adjectives or adverbs, or employing cliches that add no real value. To combat this, scrutinise your writing with a critical eye. Look for phrases where you've said the same thing more than once, even if it's in a different way, and choose the strongest, most direct expression.

  • Example Before: "The report was both comprehensive and thorough."

  • Example After: "The report was comprehensive."

In this revision, eliminating redundancy sharpens the sentence, making your writing more concise.

2. Being precise

Precision in language choice is key to conciseness. Vague or general words can blur your message, forcing the reader to guess at your meaning. Instead, select words that convey your ideas accurately and vividly. This not only reduces the need for lengthy explanations but also strengthens your writing.

  • Example Before: "A lot of people visit the park on weekends."

  • Example After: "Hundreds visit the park on weekends."

The revised sentence uses precise language ("hundreds" instead of "a lot of people"), offering a clearer, more concise picture of the situation.

3. Trimming fluff

Fluff refers to superfluous words or phrases that don't contribute to your main message. These can be filler words, overly wordy expressions, or unnecessary qualifiers. Trimming fluff involves evaluating each word and phrase for its contribution to your message and removing those that do not add value.

  • Example Before: "It is important to note that the CEO, in fact, decided to resign for personal reasons."

  • Example After: "The CEO resigned for personal reasons."

The revised sentence cuts out the fluff, streamlining the statement to its essential message. And when it comes to trimming the fluff, be ruthless. If a word or phrase doesn't add value, let it go.

Organising for impact

A masterpiece of writing is not just about the words themselves but how they're arranged. A coherent structure is vital for clear and concise writing. Structure your content with the reader in mind, using headings, bullet points, and paragraphs to guide them through your narrative. When evaluating the IELTS Writing band scores, coherence and cohesion are essential criteria, reflecting the writer's ability to organise ideas logically and connect them smoothly, ensuring the text flows naturally from one point to the next.

An outline is a roadmap to clear, concise writing, ensuring each section builds upon the last to create a cohesive, compelling argument. Outlining your ideas before you begin writing is a highly recommended practice, as it helps organise your thoughts and ensures a logical flow of information.

Editing for clarity and conciseness

The revision stage is crucial in the writing process, as it's where your work evolves from good to exceptional. This transformation occurs through meticulous editing, with a particular focus on clarity and conciseness. To refine your drafts, it's essential to adopt a critical perspective, identifying areas for improvement and making precise adjustments. Utilising various tools and techniques can significantly streamline this process, making your editing efforts more effective. Embrace the practice of revising multiple drafts; each round of edits takes your work a step closer to the ideal of perfection. This iterative process is key to enhancing the overall quality and impact of your writing.

Understanding common mistakes

When aiming for excellence in writing, you need to be aware of common pitfalls. These missteps, often subtle, can drastically diminish the effectiveness of your communication, impacting both clarity and conciseness. We explore these common mistakes in greater detail to understand how they can obstruct understanding and detract from your main message:

  • Overcomplicated sentence structures: In an attempt to write in a more sophisticated style or formal way, writers sometimes construct sentences that twist and turn, weaving through complex clauses and meandering phrases. While complexity in language can be a sign of depth, overly complicated sentence structures often achieve the opposite effect. They make it challenging for readers to follow the writer's train of thought, leading to confusion and frustration.

  • Excessive use of jargon: Jargon refers to specialised terms used within a specific profession, field of study, or interest group. While jargon can be useful for communicating precisely in specialised contexts, its excessive use in general writing can alienate readers unfamiliar with the terminology. It's important to gauge the audience's familiarity with the subject matter and adjust the use of specialised terms accordingly, opting for more general language when necessary to ensure inclusivity and understanding.

  • Failure to stay on topic: Staying focused on the main topic is fundamental to both clarity and conciseness in writing. Diverging into tangents or including irrelevant information can dilute the central message and confuse readers. It's essential to regularly check that each sentence and paragraph contributes directly to the topic at hand, removing or revising content that strays from the core message.

Mastering clarity and conciseness: your pathway to IELTS success with IDP

Writing with clarity and conciseness is crucial for success in the IELTS Writing test. By integrating the strategies and techniques discussed, and diligently practising with IELTS online exam practice tests, you can significantly improve your writing skills. You’ll find plenty of free official resources using the IELTS by IDP app. Remember, the journey to writing clearly and well is continuous. As you prepare for your IELTS test, keep these writing tips in mind, and consider booking your test with IDP to take the next step towards achieving your communication goals.