Here are a few “words to the wise” for those who wish to take the IELTS. This advice applies specifically to the written test; less formal language is acceptable in the spoken test, but not for the written test, as a general rule.
This is a list of things you should NOT do.
- DO NOT use letters as substitutes for words like people do for SMS
messages (texting) and other Internet writing. There is no faster way to completely blow your chances at good grades by writing “I think u r correct.” Do not do this. For the love of God, do not do this.
- DO NOT use slang in your IELTS written test. It is a wonderful thing to know slang, to recognize slang, and to be well versed in the nuances of slang. It is very bad to use slang on a formal writing test. Be disciplined and separate slang from your formal writing habits.
- DO NOT use contractions. At least, do not use them here. Yes, even using contractions can cost you points. Do not write “don’t” in place of “do not” – at least, not here. Save contractions for your speaking, for casual messages, and for any situation that is not fully formal.
- DO NOT use informal English. Again, it is wonderful to know English idioms, expressions, proverbs, etc.; these are much used, and much abused, in everyday English language writing in media of all kinds. Save informal English for those roles. Do not mix it with your formal writing for this test. Show the tester that you can live without informal English if you must; demonstrate that informal English is not a crutch for you.
I have listed these “do not do” items in the order of their severity. If even using informal English can get you in trouble, using “u r” in place of “you are” is absolutely guaranteed to get you in deep, deep trouble.
Good written English for the IELTS test is a matter of learning good habits and having the discipline to stick to them until the test is finished. Learning good written English takes time and effort, but your efforts will all be for nothing if you do not avoid these four deadly sins.
Do not do these things, and you will already be much more likely to do well on not only the IELTS written test, but any other written test you may face.