How to manage time in IELTS writing

How to manage time in IELTS writing

How to manage time in ielts writing
How to manage time in ielts writing

How to manage time in IELTS writing

Time’s up! What to do if you run out of time in the IELTS writing exam

This is one of the most common questions I get about the IELTS writing test, after all, it is a common concern and it is a good question to ask.  There are 3 ways to look at this concern; I just focus on one task (make sure it’s an extremely good piece of work) and not attempt the other task; I attempted both task 1 and 2, then end up not finishing both; I finish one task and not finish the other.

Imagine this – there’s five minutes left in the exam and you are only halfway through your second body paragraph! What do you do?!   WRITE A CONCLUSION.

You absolutely HAVE TO write a conclusion to save your Task Response score. Without one, you are almost certain to receive a 5.0 for TA as the examiner will decide that even though you have presented a position, there have been “no conclusions drawn”. And for most test-takers, a 5.0 for TA means kissing goodbye to any hopes of a 7.0 overall.

Although I would agree that the second task does have a heavier bearing on the total score, and scoring well on that task will certainly boost your total score; I will not advice devoting the whole hour to try and make sure that you will come up with “the best” task 2 that you can.

Even if you do perfect the second task and let’s say that the bearing of the second task is about 2/3 of the total score, you will roughly only get a total of say a band score of 6; of course, you could also be wrong in assuming that you got the second task perfected and get an even lower total score.

Attempting to finish both writing task is best, but if you had to choose to leave a task unfinished, I would advise you to finish the second IELTS writing task and attempt to complete as many tasks as you can on the first IELTS writing task.  The reason behind finishing at least one task is that the word count and a proper conclusion is part of the marking system; not finishing both tasks will incur a big penalty on your total band score.

How do I improve my writing speed to finish both tasks?

· Practice with a timer, it is important to note that you may need to practice for a long time before taking the IELTS exam. 

· Read about current events and practice writing about them. 250 words in 40 minutes include the planning in the 40 minutes, you aren’t given extra time to plan about the topic.

· Practice with any graphs, charts and tables that you can find on the net. 150 words in 20 minutes again include the planning in the 20 minutes.

· Practice writing a letter; letters to family, telling them about your daily life; letters to your boss, asking for a promotion or a raise; you can pretty much write a letter about anything and you don’t have to send it to them.  20 minutes for every letter with at least 150 words.

· Quickly finish the sentence you’re writing in the second body paragraph (NEVER leave an unfinished sentence.

· Leave 3 or 4 lines space (so you can come back later to finish this paragraph if you have time.

· Go and write your conclusion (remember to give an opinion if you have been asked for one)

· If you still have some time, go back and complete the second body paragraph (but only start a sentence if you are sure you have time to finish it!)

· Breathe!!!

Also, if you spend too much time on Task 1 and realise that you probably won’t have time to finish your essay, then it is MUCH BETTER to write a shorter first body paragraph (especially in a Discuss Both Sides essay as this will NOT be your opinion) and a more extended second body paragraph. Examiners expect to read your strongest arguments just before the conclusion and by having a more detailed 3rd paragraph you will be hopefully able to rescue your C+C score as well as your mark for TA.

Of course, you are going to manage your time properly so this definitely won’t happen to you – right?! Good luck! 


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