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Why IELTS Writing is difficult: how to score well


If you are sitting for the IELTS test, you might find the writing component difficult, especially if it's your first time writing so extensively.

With a strict time limit with specific tasks to accomplish, it’s easy to fumble the ball and make mistakes during the writing test.

To overcome this challenge, you will need to understand the common pitfalls candidates make, analyse why you are committing them and then take concrete steps towards attaining your dream score.

Here’s why the IELTS writing test seems difficult and what you can do to come out on top!

Why the IELTS writing test is tough and how you can ace it

1. Your understanding of grammar needs improvement

Grammar is the bread and butter of the English language. It is a system of rules that allows you to structure your sentences better.

If you have trouble with tenses and verb use, your understanding of grammar needs to improve.

For example, ‘your’ vs ‘you’re’ are used in completely different contexts. ‘Your’ is a determiner that describes or adds to a noun.

Here are some examples:

  • Is this your car?

  • How were your holiday travels in December?

  • Do you know how fast your car was going?

While you’re is a contraction–a shortening–of the phrase ‘you are’. Such as: you’re welcome or you’re my best friend!

Good grammar is essential to ace your IELTS writing test, and a great way to start practicing is to begin reading extensively. If you encounter verbs, adjectives and tenses that seem unfamiliar, be sure to note them down and start to practice writing them.

2. You can’t seem to write in your own words

Borrowing ideas and concepts can be a great way to start or frame an argument. However, you’ll need to write them in your own words in order to sound more authentic in your IELTS writing test.

Thankfully, once you master the skill of paraphrasing, you’ll be able to effectively transform ideas and weave them into your own narrative!

One way is to start using synonyms. This means changing words with other words with the same meaning.

Take this sentence for example: “I am heading to France for a holiday with my family. We are going to have a fun time around Paris.”

By using synonyms and injecting more descriptive words, you can easily write the sentence in your own words such as:

“I am flying off to France for a well-earned vacation with my family. We are excited to tour around the bustling city of Paris!”

Suddenly the sentence is transformed and full of colour! Here are more strategies to help you better write in your own words.

3. You write too slowly

Many candidates find the IELTS writing test difficult because they write too slowly. If you find yourself running out of time or struggling to put the pen down, it’s time to write faster!

The fastest way to accomplish this is to start taking timed tests under real examination conditions. This will simulate the stresses that you will face on test day itself.

In addition, you’d also want to write something every day and develop that into a habit. It can be as simple as a few paragraphs that address a popular topic or writing down what you did for the day.

The key here is to get comfortable with writing the way you expect to take the exam. If you are sitting for the pen and paper format, then writing on a notepad daily works.

However, if you prefer the computer-delivered format, then you’ll want to start typing on your laptop.

4. You are being too neutral without a distinct position

During your IELTS writing test, you’ll be required to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

There is a temptation to stay neutral and balanced in your opinion. While this might seem that you aren’t offending anybody or the middle-ground will appeal to your marker, that is not the case.

Not only will you risk going off-topic, your arguments will be less convincing and your essay might not dive deep enough to explain your position.

You won’t be marked or judged on your position but on how well you write and convey the information in your essay.

By taking a clear stance, you will be able to better draw on your experience and opinions while adding valuable depth to your ideas.

5. You can’t connect ideas fluidly

Connecting ideas is important. It allows you to link from one narrative to another and allows you to join sentences and paragraphs together. This helps readers to have a better understanding of the overall story.

In order to accomplish this, you can start using transitional devices or linking words in your writing.

These include words like:

  • whereas

  • although

  • also

  • moreover

  • furthermore

  • in addition

For example, the transition device ‘for example’, which started off this sentence is actually a linking word! It allows the writer to introduce the idea of linking words with real-life samples.

By utilising linking words, you’ll be able to strengthen the quality of your sentences as well as the structure of your ideas. They become easier to understand and allow your reader to easily grasp the gist of your writing in the IELTS test.


Better prepare for your IELTS with official preparation materials

Sitting for your IELTS test can be difficult and tough, but with our resources, you can even the odds and attain the band score you desire for your dream course.

Here are some of our preparation materials for you:

Be sure to practice them and invest enough in your IELTS preparation before sitting for the test!

Develop your IELTS listening, reading and speaking skills here

Having difficulty with the other components of your IELTS test? Fret not, here are our resources to help you get a leg up.

Why you find the IELTS Listening test difficult

Why you find the IELTS Reading test difficult

Why you find the IELTS Speaking test tough


Ace your IELTS writing test with IDP today

While it might seem that the IELTS test is becoming more difficult, that really isn’t the case. It’s better to focus on what you can control.

By understanding your weaker areas in the IELTS writing test, you’ll be able to better practice and score better on your next attempt.

Ready to take your test? Get started with IDP.

Besides being the official co-owner of IELTS, IDP offers convenient test locations and free test preparation materials to support you. Learn why you should take your IELTS test with us.

Book your IELTS test today to begin your journey.