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Hi, I'm Oli.
Welcome to Oxford Online English!
Do you need band seven in IELTS?
Are you maybe stuck at band six or 6.5?
If you've taken the IELTS exam many times,
and you can't seem to get higher than six

in the writing exam, this video is for you.
If you're stuck at band six, then it's
likely that you have some bad habits and ineffective

approaches to the writing exam.
These are things that might work well at band
six, but they won't help you to get band

seven.
I'll show you what these ineffective habits
are, and how you can change them.

One point: I'll be focusing on the academic
IELTS exam in this video, because most of

the students I meet need academic IELTS.
If you're taking general IELTS, most of
the advice in this video is still very relevant

for you.
Also, one more thing: there's nothing wrong
with getting band six!

I'm not trying to be rude or discouraging
to anyone.

When I say that something is a bad habit,
or that you need to change something, I mean

if you want to get band 7.0 in the IELTS writing
exam.

But first…
Do you know how IELTS scoring works?
You should.
Here's why:
The IELTS scoring system is very specific.
The examiners don't just look at your writing
and say, “Hmmm, this feels like a… six!”

If you get band six in the IELTS writing exam,
there are specific reasons why.

There are specific things which you did or
didn't do which explain your score.

Similarly, to get band seven, there are specific
things you need to do, and not do!

Most importantly: these things are very different
between bands six and seven.

If you keep taking IELTS, and you keep getting
band six in the writing, then you can't

keep doing the same things and expect to get
a different score.

You need to change what you do.
The things you need to do to get band seven
in your IELTS writing aren't magic or some

kind of dark secret.
They're publicly available.
You can read what they are.
You can do it right now!
There's a link underneath the video.
I highly recommend you read the scoring criteria
and think about what band seven means.

At the very least, you need to understand
that your IELTS writing score is made up of

four different parts: task achievement, coherence
and cohesion, lexical resource (which means

vocabulary) and grammar.
Think now: where are you weakest?
What do you need to work on from these four
areas?

In the rest of this lesson, we'll talk about
each of these four areas.

You'll see common examples of 'band six
thinking', and you'll see how you can

improve your approach to get a higher IELTS
writing score.

Let's start with task achievement.
Here are the some ideas that are great for
getting band six:

“In task one, I need to include every statistic
and piece of data.”

“In task two, I just need to write something
about the general topic in the question.”

By the way, to save myself saying 'task
achievement' again and again, I'm going

to call it 'TA'.
Getting band 7 for TA is both easy and hard.
Here's why it's easy: you just need to
do everything which the question asks you

to do, and nothing else.
Here's why it's hard: most people can't
do that without a lot of practice.

TA is also slightly different for task one
and task two, so we'll talk about those

separately.
Let's start with task one.
Here's a sample question:
The graph below shows the sales of five different
food products in the UK between 1980 and 2010.

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

where relevant.
If you want some time to look at the question,
pause the video.

If you're watching on YouTube, you can see
the question on the full version of this lesson

on our website: Oxford Online English dot
com.

Getting a good TA score depends a lot on what
you do before you start writing.

You need to analyse the task and make a clear
plan.

If you start writing without a clear plan,
it's very hard to get a good TA score.

In task one, it's important to find connections
or trends in the information you're given.

For example, in this question, how could you
connect the data?

Here's one idea: you could group the five
products into, first, products whose sales

fell over the period (ice cream and frozen
burgers), secondly, products whose sales rose

(tofu and chili sauce) and finally, products
whose sales stayed the same (salted peanuts).

Here's another suggestion: group the five
products into big sellers (ice cream, frozen

burgers, and also chili sauce at the end of
the period), and small sellers (tofu, salted

peanuts, chili sauce at the beginning of the
period).

Which way do you think is better?
Actually, there isn't one correct way to
do this, but you need to do something.

You can't just write about each product,
one after another.

Well, you can, but you'll probably get band
six for TA!

Whatever data you're given, you need to
find connections and put the information into

groups which you create.
These groups will be separate paragraphs in
your answer.

This is how your answer will have structure,
which is also important for your coherence

and cohesion score.
What about task two?
Let's look at a sample question:
The most common problem in task two is leaving
something out or not covering something fully.

To get band 7 for TA, you need to do all of
the things the question is asking you to do,

and only the things the question is asking
you to do.

What does that mean here?
The task says, 'discuss both of these viewpoints.'
First, you need to discuss the idea 'that
young people benefit from working while studying

at school or university.'
One word here is particularly important.
Do you know which one?
'Benefit' is a key word here.
What does 'benefit' mean?
How do you understand it in this question?
Next, you need to discuss the idea, 'young
people will achieve more by focusing on their

studies.'
Again, there's a key phrase here: 'achieve
more'.

What does this mean?
You need to have answers to these questions.
IELTS tasks often contain abstract, general
words like advantages, benefits, problems,

success, etc.
To write a good answer, you need to analyse
and interpret these words yourself.

Here, think about 'achieve more'.
How do you understand this term in this question?
Does it mean getting good exam results, learning
more knowledge, learning practical skills,

getting a better job, living a full, satisfying
life, or something else?

Again, there isn't one right answer here,
but you need to have your own ideas about

this.
Next, the task says, 'give your own opinion'.
So, you need to explain which side you agree
with.

Finally, the task tells you to give reasons
and include examples.

This means that you need to support your ideas.
You can't just say something like:
Young people who focus on their studies will
achieve more.

If you make a point like this, you need to
support it somehow.

How will they achieve more?
What examples can you give to show that this
is true?

Let's review: for this question, you need
to do four things to get a good TA score:

1.
Discuss the idea 'that young people benefit
from working while studying at school or university,'

and analyse what 'benefit' means.
Discuss the idea that, 'young people will
achieve more by focusing on their studies,'

and analyse what 'achieve more' means.
Give your own opinion and reach a clear conclusion.
Support your ideas with reasons or examples.
If you can do these four things, you can get
band 7 for TA in your IELTS writing exam.

Remember though, it's not as simple as it
looks.

You will probably need to practise to get
this right.

Next, let's look at your coherence and cohesion
score.

I'm going to refer to coherence and cohesion
as C&C, to keep things simple.

Here are the habits which can limit your C&C
score to six:

“I need to use more linking words to get
a higher score.”

“My essay should have an introduction, two
body paragraphs and a conclusion.”

Let's look at each point separately.
Oh, hey, Oli!
How was your IELTS exam?
Amazing!
I totally nailed it.
I used nevertheless, furthermore, however,
in spite of the fact that, AND in addition.

My band 7 score is GUARANTEED!
No, it doesn't work like that.
First of all, linking isn't just about linking
words.

It's about the logic and flow of your ideas.
Look at a sentence:
Air pollution is a serious problem.
However, food prices are higher than ten years
ago.

Using however here doesn't magically make
these ideas connected.

These two ideas aren't connected, and you
can't create a connection by using a word

like however.
Next, there's nothing in the IELTS scoring
system which says you get a higher score for

using more linking words.
It's more important to make sure you use
linking words accurately.

Using more linking words won't get you band
seven.

However, using linking words incorrectly will
get you band six.

So, don't use linking words just to use
linking words.

Use them because they fit your ideas.
Don't think, “I have to use nonetheless
to get a high score!”

You don't.
Next, let's look at our second point: paragraphing.
Many IELTS candidates use the same structure
for everything they write.

For example, for task two, most people write
an introduction, two body paragraphs, and

a conclusion.
That might be fine.
However, to get band 7 for C&C, you need to
“present a clear central topic within each

paragraph.”
Those aren't my words.
That's straight from the IELTS scoring scheme.
Many students, especially in task two, write
paragraphs like this:

There are many advantages to … Firstly,
… Secondly, … Thirdly, …

This kind of writing is likely to get a score
of 6 for C&C.

Why?
Because, if you do this, you're trying to
put too much in one paragraph.

That means your paragraph won't have a clear
central topic.

So, what's the solution?
First, plan your essay carefully.
Make sure you know exactly what you're putting
in each paragraph before you start writing.

Secondly, make sure your paragraph starts
with a clear topic sentence.

Your topic sentence should be relatively short
and simple.

If your topic sentence is very long and complicated,
then your topic probably isn't clear.

Then, after your topic sentence, spend the
rest of the paragraph developing and extending

your main idea.
This means that you aren't adding any new
ideas or changing the topic in the middle

of your paragraph.
Also, this means you might need different
numbers of paragraphs depending on how many

main ideas you have.
Do you have two body paragraphs in your essay?
That means you have two main ideas.
Do you have three main ideas?
Then you need three paragraphs!
Another point: paragraphs don't have a minimum
length.

There's no such thing as a paragraph which
is too short.

Paragraphs can be any length.
So, let's review this section.
To get band seven C&C in your IELTS writing
exam, you need to focus on using linking words

accurately and appropriately.
You also need to make sure every paragraph
has a clear central topic, which means you

shouldn't try to put many different ideas
in one paragraph.

Next, let's look at vocabulary and how you
can get to band seven.

Here's a band six idea that students often
have:

“I need to learn lots of synonyms and uncommon
vocabulary.

If my vocabulary is bigger, I'll get a higher
score.”

There's one important difference between
band six and seven for vocabulary.

At band six, you need two things: range and
clarity.

That means, if you at least try to use some more advanced or uncommon vocabulary, you can get six if
your meaning is clear, even if you make mistakes,
even if you make lots of mistakes.

However, for band seven, you need three things:
range, clarity and accuracy.

It's no longer enough just to try.
You need to use vocabulary “with flexibility
and precision”—again, this is a quote

from the official scoring scheme.
You can't make many mistakes for band seven.
You can produce 'occasional errors' and
still get band seven.

What does this mean for you?
It means that your priority should be avoiding
mistakes.

I see many IELTS students trying to learn
lots of idioms, phrases, academic vocabulary

and so on.
But then, they often don't know how to use
this vocabulary well.

They use it in their writing, because they
think it sounds nice, and their meaning might

be clear, but it's not correct.
That's fine for band six, but not for band
seven.

So, what should you do?
Look, first of all, vocabulary learning is
hard work and it's slow.

There aren't any magic solutions here.
But I'll give you one tip:
When you're learning vocabulary, focus on
quality and depth, not quantity.

Don't try to learn 50 words or phrases.
Learn five words or phrases, but really learn
them.

Spend an hour learning and practising five
new words and phrases.

Find example sentences.
Write your own example sentences.
Ask a teacher or whoever you can find to give
you feedback.

Make sure you know how to use your new vocabulary
correctly.

Another point: in the exam, if you have a
choice between a simple word which you know

is correct, and a more advanced or academic
word which you aren't sure about, what should

you do?
Use the simple word.
Only use vocabulary you're sure you understand
and that you know how to use.

This is the opposite to band six.
For band six, you can use the more advanced
word, even if it's wrong.

But remember, to get band seven, you need
to be accurate.

You can't make many mistakes.
So, in this situation, take the safe choice!
Finally, let's look at the grammar score
and how you can get to band seven.

Here's the band six idea which students
often have:

“Grammar's not so important, so long as
people can understand what I mean.”

Again, band six and band seven are very different.
This is especially true for your grammar score.
What's the difference?
Like vocabulary, you need to be accurate to
get band seven.

At band six, it doesn't really matter how
many grammar mistakes you make so long as

your meaning is clear.
At band seven, the quantity of grammar errors
you make matters.

It really matters!
To get band seven for grammar, you need to
“produce frequent error-free sentences”—again,

these words are directly from the official
IELTS scoring scheme.

That means if you make a lot of small mistakes,
it's almost impossible to get band seven

for grammar.
All mistakes count: you use the wrong preposition?
It's a mistake.
You forget to use the?
Mistake.
You forget the 's' on a present simple
verb?

Mistake.
If your writing is around band six, you probably
make more mistakes than you realise.

So, again, what can you do?
First, you need to identify the common mistakes
which you make.

For this, you need a teacher to show you where
you make mistakes in your writing.

Every time you do some writing, look at the
grammar mistakes you make.

Sort them into two categories.
One: mistakes with things you don't know.
Two: mistakes with things you already knew.
For example, if you write 'childrens'
instead of 'children', this is probably

a type two mistake.
Most likely, you knew this already.
You just made a mistake, because you were in a hurry, or you were tired, or you have
a bad habit, or you weren't paying attention, or something like that.
With type one mistakes—things you don't
know—get a good grammar book and study to

fill the gaps in your knowledge.
With type two mistakes, put your errors into
a digital flashcard app like Anki or Quizlet

or something like that.
For example:
Question: This is one of most serious problems
in today's world.

Answer: This is one of the most serious problems
in today's world.

Every time you write something, add your mistakes
as questions to your flashcard app.

Review your mistakes regularly—every day
is best!

This approach requires a lot of patience,
but it's the only effective way to get rid

of those bad habits which can stop you getting
band seven in IELTS writing.

Okay, so now you should have some ideas about
how to get band seven in your IELTS writing

exam.
There's a lot of information in this lesson,
and there's also a lot which I didn't

say!
Band seven is a high standard, and you should
accept that it will take time and work to

get there.
Do you have an IELTS experience which you
think people could learn from?

Please let us know in the comments!
Check out our website for more free English
lessons, including IELTS preparation lessons:

Oxford Online English dot com.
Our teachers can also help you prepare for
your IELTS exam in online classes.

That's all for this lesson.
Thanks for watching, and see you next time!
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5 Tips to Get Band 7 in the IELTS Writing Exam - IELTS Writing Lesson

1071 Folder Collection
Jessieeee published on November 6, 2018
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