What is the examiner looking for in an essay?
To get a good score, first you should know how the examiner evaluates your essay. Your essays are marked on the following 4 criteria. They give separate marks for each criterion from 1-9, and then add them and divide the total by four to reach your writing score.
All parts of the question must be addressed. That is, if it is a ‘discuss both views’ essay, you must discuss both views in the question. If it is an advantages-disadvantages essay, you should discuss both sides (merits and demerits) If the question asks you opinion, write your clear opinion. Also, you should develop your arguments.
Cohesion and coherence:
This means the examiner checks if your essay is well organized. That is, have you organised your essay into clear paragraphs? Are the paragraphs containing clear ideas? Are the ideas connected? Is there a logical flow in your essay?
Are you using topical vocabulary? That is, vocabulary related to the topic discussed. Are your words too simple and too common? Vocabulary doesn’t mean high sounding and complicated words. (See Vocabulary section)
Grammatical range and accuracy:
This means you need to use a range of sentence structures that is, simple, compound and complex sentences accurately. Also, your grammar and punctuation are checked.
How many words? How many paragraphs?
As for the number of words, write at least 250 words. But relax, they won’t count words unless the essay looks very short. And yes, all words including ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ and any number you write are counted as one word. That is, if they count.
There are no fixed rules for the number of paragraphs. But ideally, write 4 or 5 paragraphs.
In Task 1 (academic IELTS), two types of graphs are given. That is, those in which values change over a period of time and those in which values do not change. (Also, less frequently, diagrams and maps are asked.)
In the first type, you need to describe the trends; that is, if the values increase or decrease or remain steady.
In the second type, you need to compare values by saying which is the highest, which is the lowest, which is more, which is less etc.
Word limit and paragraphing :
Write 150 words. And as in essays, here also, it is better if you write four paragraphs- one introduction, two body paragraphs and a summary.
What should I write in the introduction paragraph to graph answers?
Write one sentence only, which should be a paraphrasing of the graph question. Avoid copying long phrases from the question.
Remember, do not write any comments, reasons for the changes that you see in the graph. Report only what is given in the graph.