5 Main IELTS Writing Mistakes

COMMON IELTS WRITING MISTAKES and Tips how to avoid them to ace on your IELTS Exam

5 Main IELTS Writing Mistakes

Today we’ll go over the top 5 IELTS Writing Mistakes: Preparing and sitting for an IELTS  writing exam can make you feel nervous and stressed. We understand what you may feel and are here to help you prepare, gain confidence, avoid mistakes and do the best you can in your test.

Here are some of the IELTS writing mistakes you must avoid

IELTS Writing Mistake 1: Being too specific

  • When you use too specific examples in your writing, you lose points.  For example, you can’t mention a person, company, poll, invention, or anything else.  It will appear as if you memorized the example or copied and pasted it, which does not demonstrate your English theory to the examiner.  The examiner wants you to explain why and how you did it.
  • Also, there is a mark for task response, how you answered your questions, elaboration, cohesion, and structure.  Please explain if it is not your explanation and you have completed tasks 1, 2, 3, and 4.  The examiner has no reason to mark what has been copied and pasted for you.  Further, always have an answer ready based on your theory.


IELTS Writing Mistake 2: Avoid  Being Too General

Over-generalization: it is a mistake to write generally while failing to be specific enough about the topic.  There should be a precise position throughout the response, demonstrating a well-developed answer to the question with relevant, extended, and supporting ideas.

IELTS Writing Mistake 3: Having an Unusual Structure

The IELTS examiner looks at how you structure your writing and link your ideas between paragraphs.

The following are examples of specific IELTS writing  mistakes to avoid:

  • Organization: the sequence of ideas is not clear or logical.
  • Cohesive devices: there are too many linking words and phrases used, always at the beginning of each sentence
  • Paragraphing: there may be too many or too few paragraphs, and some one-sentence paragraphs
  • Central topic: each paragraph lacks a precise, major issue that is developed logically.


Organize information and ideas logically and manage all cohesion aspects effectively, using paragraphs sufficiently and appropriately.

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IELTS Writing Mistake 4: Not Being Unique

While doing IELTS writing, don’t use everyday words.  Use a broad vocabulary with natural and sophisticated control of lexical features; minor errors occur only as slips.

IELTS Writing Mistake 5: Task Response

It is important to note that your final score is affected by how you respond to the IELTS question; however, two key factors are important for ensuring you get a high score for IELTS Task Response:

  • Fully answering the question
  • Developing and extending your ideas

1.  Fully Answering the Question

First, fully answering the questions is critical because misinterpreting the question and failing to respond appropriately can be fatal to your IELTS Task Response Score.

The following are the penalties:

  • Your response bears no resemblance to the topic or question – Band 3.
  • The question was misunderstood, but some ideas are related to it – Band 4.
  • The question has been comprehended but only partially addressed – Band 5.
  • Completely answered, but some sections are more thoroughly covered than others – Band 6.
    Band 7, on the other hand:
  • Band 7: All aspects of the essay question are adequately covered, and ideas are extended and supported.

2. Developing and expanding your ideas 

Secondly, developing and expanding ideas is equally important to get a good IELTS Task Response score, but there is no point in doing so if your ideas are incorrect because you misunderstood the question!

Notably, the key starting point for a high IELTS Task Response score is fully answering the question.

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Use the checklist below to ensure that your writing contains all positive characteristics.

Task Response

  • Did you adequately answer ALL parts of the question in your task response?
  • Are all of your suggestions and assistance directly relevant to the question?
  • Did you avoid making broad generalizations about the subject?
  • Is the examiner aware of your exact thoughts, and do you present them clearly throughout the essay?
  • Did you provide specific examples to support your claims [rather than preliminary research and survey results]?
  • Did you write more than 250 words?


Cohesion and coherence

  • Can the examiner quickly follow your ideas from the beginning to the end of your essay?
  • Is there a clear progression [introduction, main ideas with supporting examples, conclusion]?
  • Did you use a variety of linking words and phrases?
  • Did you avoid repetition and begin each sentence with a linking device [First…Second…Third]?
  • Did you correctly use the referencing [These issues…] and substitution [problems/issues]?
  • Did you use a sufficient number of paragraphs?
  • Did you develop each idea in a separate paragraph?
  • Is there a distinct introductory and concluding paragraph?


A lexical source

  • Did you employ a wide range of on-topic vocabulary?
  • Did you make specific vocabulary choices?
  • Did you avoid memorized language, clichés [double-edged sword], and sayings?
  • Did you use the correct collocation [environmental problem | global issue]?
  • Did you use appropriate uncommon words like [harmful to | cultural diversity | measures]?
  • Have you corrected your spelling errors?
  • Did you double-check for typos?
  • Did you use the correct form of the required word [adverbs, nouns, adjectives, and verbs]?


Grammatical range and precision

  • Did you use simple and complex structures correctly?
  • Did you employ a variety of structures [conditional, present perfect, relative clauses, and modal verbs]?
  • Did you avoid using long, complicated sentences?
  • Are your sentences free of errors?
  • Did you use proper punctuation?
  • Did you use capital letters to begin sentences and proper nouns?
  • Did you use commas where necessary in your complex sentences?
  • Did you use full stops (.) to end your sentences?

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