It is not unusual for students to make mistakes when learning, but it is how we bounce back and learn from those errors that defines us. When taking the IELTS exam though, there is no room for error. Here are five common mistakes and how to avoid them.
5 common mistakes in the IELTS exam
1. Spelling mistakes
Spelling is one of the most common mistakes in the IELTS writing and listening exams. Although you listen to the answers correctly, if you cannot spell the words properly, you cannot give the right answer - and you will lose marks. Enrich your vocabulary and always check spelling.
2. Time management
Many students find themselves working against the clock during the IELTS exam by not managing their time correctly.
It is important to know the exam format - how many questions you have to answer in each component, and how much time you have for each. Furthermore, the IELTS exam requires students to approach the questions strategically. Learning strategies and techniques to handle different types of questions and manage your time efficiently is a key feature of IELTS preparation.
3. Writing too few words
For IELTS Writing Task 1 you must write at least 150 words, and for the Task 2, 250 words.
This is an absolute minimum and without it, it is highly unlikely you will score above 5.5. There is no maximum word limit; however to achieve a high grade (7.5 or above) it is advised to write 170 words for Task 1 and 280 words for Task 2.
4. Unclear Layout
The clarity of your essay is graded not only on the grammatical and linguistic structures you use, but also on the layout of your essay. If the examiner cannot read your work, you will get no marks. To make your essay as clear as possible, always double space your essays and ensure it is clear where each new paragraph begins.
Punctuation is also vital - while it is good to use long sentences in academic English, sentences that are too long (more than 2.5 lines) are not appropriate in English. It is important to use the correct punctuation at all times, including commas (,), full stops (.), apostrophes (‘) and semicolons (;). In the academic IELTS exam, it would be inappropriate to use an exclamation mark (!) in either of the writing tasks.
5. Confusing adjectives and adverbs and nouns
This is an easy mistake to make as many word formations in English are irregular.
For example - you need to say, “There was a rapid (adjective) growth (noun) in sales” but “Sales grew (verb) rapidly (adverb).
- adjective + noun
- verb + adverb of manner
In order to avoid this type of confusion, it is advised to learn your vocabulary with examples and in context.