Why you should always focus on quality in the IELTS test

When approaching a detailed graph in IELTS Writing Task 1 or planning your essay in Task 2, it would be a good idea to select your information carefully. Content plays a very important role in how your answers are assessed.

Let’s take an example with IELTS Academic Writing Task 1:

Contractor Disclosure, FY 2014, 1st Half
DoD Inspector General via Compfight

With a pie chart like the above, it is almost impossible to describe every single piece of information within the tight 20 minutes and condensed to a 150 minimum word limit. It is tempting to squeeze all that information in, to make sure that everything is covered. However, this is not the purpose of Task 1. There is a reason why the instruction below is given in each IELTS Writing Academic Task 1 paper, and it is the candidate’s job to make sure that they follow it:

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

A key word here is to “select”. Here is an idea to remember:

Quality is better than Quantity.

What your assessors are looking for is development. A Band 8 script:

presents, highlights and illustrates key features clearly and appropriately

Source: https://www.ielts.org/~/media/pdfs/writing-band-descriptors-task-1.ashx

What IELTS candidates need to remember are key features, not all features. Pick on the main characteristics of the graph and develop or expand on it to provide some depth. Do not list. Do not repeat the same structure mechanically about different parts of the graph.

The same applies to IELTS Writing Task 2.

Many governments think that economic progress is their most important goal. Some people, however, think that other types of progress are equally important for a country.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Source: Cambridge IELTS 11

Now, in your planning stage, if you have a long list of ideas of why economic progress is important and why this is not so for other people, you should avoid including all of these ideas in your writing. For example, if you have 10 ideas in your plan, it is not a good idea to write all ten in your essay. You will need to discriminate: which points are important for you to mention? Which ones are not? You certainly cannot afford the time or the word count to go overboard with your ideas and number of words! You need to choose.

And what about IELTS Speaking?

In Parts 2 and 3, it is important that the candidate keep going for as long as possible. However, at the introduction stage in Part 1, the speaker should try to keep their responses short, but not too short. 3 to 4 complex sentences should do nicely. For example, if you are asked,

What important things did you do last year?

you should avoid talking about 11 different important things that you did. The point is to think about at least two events and talk about them. No need to ramble on and on about all the other things that happened last year. Remember, your examiner is looking for depth in your answers, how you deliver them, rather than how much information you can provide.

I hope you have found all these useful.

Until next time!

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