IELTS Writing Task 1 - Academic

Why is my writing grade not improving?

If your IELTS Academic Writing grade is between 5.5 and 6.5 and you cannot improve it, the following comments might give you some ideas about what the examiner is looking for and what you need to do. The following comments refer to Academic Writing Task 1:


Candidates who get lower grades often fail to see the difference between important points and supporting evidence. It is usually possible to find two or three key points (especially with statistical information) and to use information from the chart, table etc. to support these points. Candidates who score below band 6.0 often give all the information equal importance or include information which is less important and leave out more important things. Some candidates try to include everything, and this is usually not a good idea.

Many candidates struggle to write a clear and concise introduction which explains the topic.


Candidates at lower grades often struggle to organise the key information into clear paragraphs with a main point and support. This is connected to the comment above about TASK ACHIEVEMENT. Ideas are not always logically related. Candidates sometimes fail to use linking words and phrases to show how information in one sentence or paragraph connects to information in other parts of the text. However, some candidates over-use words and phrases like ‘Nevertheless’, ‘In addition’ or ‘In stark contrast’.

Candidates with lower grades usually fail to connect ideas, words and phrase with pronouns and similar words.


Many candidates who get a grade below 6.5 either use very basic or very repetitive language to describe statistics, processes or trends. If more complex words and phrases are used, they are often inappropriate or wrong.

Many candidates cannot write a clear introduction without copying quite a lot from the question, and many candidates repeat words and phrases regularly. Weaker candidates often fail to use more complex phrases such as the collocation ‘to remain relatively constant’.


Candidates who get lower grades usually write in simple sentences. If they try a sentence with two or more clauses, it is usually inaccurate.

Candidates who get a grade of 5.5 or lower often make basic errors with verb forms and, in particular, fail to use simple past tenses to describe simple past actions. If you are describing something which happened in the past in your IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing, you should use a simple past tense unless you are very sure that another tense is better. In tasks which require candidates to describe processes, passive forms are very useful and candidates who get lower grades often don’t use them.