Checklist for editing your IELTS Writing
Writing
Checklist for editing your IELTS Writing

Do you forget to leave time to check your writing at the end of a timed IELTS practice? Catching those mistakes that are easily corrected can make all the difference to your band score. Today, I'm going to give you a checklist of 10 things to look out for as you review your work. Before that, let’s quickly review some facts about Writing in IELTS.    Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read checklist for editing your IELTS Writing     Read the instructions carefully and underline the important parts of the task. Remember, you must paraphrase the task, don’t just copy it out.  Make a plan, just some rough notes, that you can follow and stay on task.  Memorised answers are obvious and never answer the task fully so avoid them.  Write your answer once, there is no time to draft. Leave 3-4 minutes at the end to go through and edit your work. Corrections don't subtract from your band score as long as the whole answer is legible and it's easy to see what the correction is, it counts towards a better grade. That last one is the hardest for many people. It can feel like there’s hardly time to write a full answer in the test, let alone edit too. To make things easier I have created a checklist of 10 areas to look at when editing. 1. Overall Structure – have you addressed all parts of the task? Read the task again and remind yourself of the key points (they should be underlined already). 2. Paragraphing – do you start a new paragraph for each new idea?  If you have forgotten to use paragraphs, mark them clearly in the correct place and write ‘new para’ in the margin.  (Click to enlarge) 3. Coherence – have you linked your ideas clearly so they are easy to follow? You can find some great information and activities in Sophie’s blog series on ‘Misusing Linking Expressions’. 4. Style – have you used a formal or neutral style of English? Avoid abbreviations, slang, contractions, colloquialisms and idioms. Remember that this is a test, the examiner wants to see that you can use English beyond chatting with friends.  (Click to enlarge) Now check your answers against the below: (Click to enlarge)   5. Tenses –  are your tenses consistent? Your writing will be assessed for grammatical accuracy, using the wrong tense is a common mistake. (Click to enlarge) Check against the answers below: (Click to enlarge) 6. Prepositions – are your prepositions correct?  When you are learning new words be sure to learn which prepositions they collocate with. Learning chunks of language rather than single words really helps with this. Take a look at Liz' blog about this. (Click to enlarge) 7. Articles – have you missed out an article or added one where it is not needed?  A, an and the are such important words in English and they can be so hard to get right.  Here is a blog post I wrote about using the definite article you might find helpful.    8. Subject-Verb agreement – have you changed the verb to agree with the subject of the sentence? This is one of the most common errors students make. You need to think about whether the ‘subject’ is plural or singular and change the verb accordingly. Uncountable nouns are singular for subject-verb agreement.  9. Spelling – have you made spelling mistakes that could be avoided? It’s hard to spot your own spelling errors so looking out for particular words you often get wrong can help. If you do make a mistake simply cross it out and write the correct word above.  (Click to enlarge) Did you get these right? (Click to enlarge) 10. Punctuation – have you got full stops, capital letters, etc. where you need them? Don’t let punctuation be your downfall. Simple things like capital letters, full stops, question marks and commas make a real difference to your accuracy and the readability of your writing.  (Click to enlarge) Check your corrected sentences with the answers below:  (Click to enlarge) I hope that you have found this blog post and the activities helpful. I really believe that taking 3 or 4 minutes at the end of an IELTS Writing task to review your work and make quick corrections can make all the difference. By getting into the habit of checking these 10 areas of your writing it will become faster and easier. You will start to recognise the kinds of mistakes you make and perhaps even stop making them. So why don't you start today? Find an IELTS task that you have written recently, and go through it thinking about the 10 items on this list.  Can you improve it at all? Have fun editing! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

24 July, 2020

Checklist for editing your IELTS Writing

Checklist for editing your IELTS Writing

Do you forget to leave time to check your writing at the end of a timed IELTS practice? Catching those mistakes that are easily corrected can make all the difference to your band score. Today, I'm going to give you a checklist of 10 things to look out for as you review your work. Before that, let’s quickly review some facts about Writing in IELTS.

 

Listening Icon Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read checklist for editing your IELTS Writing

 

 

  • Read the instructions carefully and underline the important parts of the task. Remember, you must paraphrase the task, don’t just copy it out. 
  • Make a plan, just some rough notes, that you can follow and stay on task.  Memorised answers are obvious and never answer the task fully so avoid them. 
  • Write your answer once, there is no time to draft.
  • Leave 3-4 minutes at the end to go through and edit your work. Corrections don't subtract from your band score as long as the whole answer is legible and it's easy to see what the correction is, it counts towards a better grade.

That last one is the hardest for many people. It can feel like there’s hardly time to write a full answer in the test, let alone edit too. To make things easier I have created a checklist of 10 areas to look at when editing.

1. Overall Structure – have you addressed all parts of the task?

Read the task again and remind yourself of the key points (they should be underlined already).

2. Paragraphing – do you start a new paragraph for each new idea? 

If you have forgotten to use paragraphs, mark them clearly in the correct place and write ‘new para’ in the margin. 

Checklist - Example 1

(Click to enlarge)

3. Coherence – have you linked your ideas clearly so they are easy to follow?

You can find some great information and activities in Sophie’s blog series on ‘Misusing Linking Expressions’.

4. Style – have you used a formal or neutral style of English?

Avoid abbreviations, slang, contractions, colloquialisms and idioms. Remember that this is a test, the examiner wants to see that you can use English beyond chatting with friends. 

Checklist - Activity 1

(Click to enlarge)

Now check your answers against the below:

Checklist - Activity 1 Answers

(Click to enlarge)

 

5. Tenses –  are your tenses consistent?

Your writing will be assessed for grammatical accuracy, using the wrong tense is a common mistake.

Checklist - Activity 2

(Click to enlarge)

Check against the answers below:

Checklist - Activity 2 Answers

(Click to enlarge)

6. Prepositions – are your prepositions correct? 

When you are learning new words be sure to learn which prepositions they collocate with. Learning chunks of language rather than single words really helps with this. Take a look at Liz' blog about this.

Checklist - Activity 4

(Click to enlarge)

7. Articles – have you missed out an article or added one where it is not needed? 

A, an and the are such important words in English and they can be so hard to get right.  Here is a blog post I wrote about using the definite article you might find helpful.   

8. Subject-Verb agreement – have you changed the verb to agree with the subject of the sentence?

This is one of the most common errors students make. You need to think about whether the ‘subject’ is plural or singular and change the verb accordingly. Uncountable nouns are singular for subject-verb agreement. 

9. Spelling have you made spelling mistakes that could be avoided?

It’s hard to spot your own spelling errors so looking out for particular words you often get wrong can help. If you do make a mistake simply cross it out and write the correct word above. 

Checklist - Activity 5

(Click to enlarge)

Did you get these right?

Checklist - Activity 5

(Click to enlarge)

10. Punctuation – have you got full stops, capital letters, etc. where you need them?

Don’t let punctuation be your downfall. Simple things like capital letters, full stops, question marks and commas make a real difference to your accuracy and the readability of your writing. 

Checklist - Activity 6

(Click to enlarge)

Check your corrected sentences with the answers below: 

Checklist - Activity 6 Answers

(Click to enlarge)

I hope that you have found this blog post and the activities helpful. I really believe that taking 3 or 4 minutes at the end of an IELTS Writing task to review your work and make quick corrections can make all the difference.

By getting into the habit of checking these 10 areas of your writing it will become faster and easier. You will start to recognise the kinds of mistakes you make and perhaps even stop making them. So why don't you start today? Find an IELTS task that you have written recently, and go through it thinking about the 10 items on this list.  Can you improve it at all?

Have fun editing!

Emma

Emma Cosgrave

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

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