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common ielts writing mistakes

Common IELTS writing mistakes and how to avoid them

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a critical exam which could change your life for reasons such as working and living abroad. However, it is easy to make mistakes if the below-mentioned points have not been considered. Getting lower test scores may be the reason for an organisation’s rejection of your application, which highlights the importance of this article. 

IELTS have researched and published on their website that candidates usually score lower on the IELTS Writing test than they do on the other language skills (i.e. speaking, reading, and listening). The article discusses mistakes that students make when taking the IELTS writing test. It also offers tips on how to learn from them, so they are avoided.

Remember: It is natural to make mistakes in IELTS exams because of the pressure it brings. But, if you recognise them early and work to correct them, you can easily overcome them. Common difficulties include:

  • Not following the instructions. Make sure you follow the instructions that are provided at the beginning of each section. For example, the task may say, You should spend about 20 minutes on this task”or “Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant”, and the most common, “Write at least 150 words”. Before you answer, take some time to fully recognise what the task is expecting you to do. Read the instructions two or three times if you are still unable to understand it. 


  • Your answer does not answer the question. In the exam, you will have limited time to arrange and structure your argument. Before you begin answering the question, make sure you plan the structure of the essay. This will help you create a well-organised answer. After you have completed a task, make sure you proofread your answer, and make changes if needed. Proof reading is extremely important, but only a few students do it. It will help you correct any errors made in your writing, so it is recommended.


  • Not keeping to the word count. Follow the word count when you are completing your IELTS writing tasks. If you have a task of writing a letter or report of 150 words, do not go over or under this! To make sure you stick to the word count, it is highly advisable to count the words after finishing a task.


  • Having limited vocabulary means you wouldn’t be able to express yourself, meaning your answers wouldn’t be as accurate as you would like it to be in your IELTS writing answers. This means, if you use the same vocabulary throughout a task, you might receive a low score. Be confident in your answers by taking general English classes in an English language school or enrol onto IELTS exam preparation classes. The teachers will tell you what to expect in the writing tasks 1 and 2- giving you confidence.


There’s a theory that practising any skill for 10,000 hours is enough to make you skilful and knowledgeable. However, I am not advising you to practise for this many hours, but why not invest a few hours a day in working for something you can be proud of? 

Author: Uwais, English Teacher