In this post, we will discuss what IELTS examiners are looking for when they grade you for “Grammatical Range and Accuracy” in Writing Task 2.
Grammatical Accuracy: The ability to use correct and precise grammar with control. Mistakes that impact communication are considered more severe mistakes.
Grammatical Range: Being able to use a variety of sentence structures, tenses, and other items to convey intended meaning.
Knowing what examiners what helps you to set a clear goal, so that you know WHAT you are working towards - not preparing blindly and taking the exam blindly.
Therefore, it makes complete sense for us to take a look at the IELTS Band Descriptors for Grammatical Range and Accuracy (Band 6 to 9) right now.
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If your aim is a band 7, you need:
- “a variety of complex structures”
- “frequent error-free sentences”
- “control of grammar and punctuation” though you may “make a few errors”.
For a target score of band 6, you need:
- “a mix of simple and complex sentence forms”
You are allowed to:
- make “some errors in grammar and punctuation" but "rarely reduce communication”.
This means that if your errors prevent the examiner from understanding your idea easily, you will not be able to get band 6.
PART ONE: ACCURACY
To illustrate the meaning of accuracy, read the 2 sentences below carefully.
Note: Many students tell me they want to “give” IELTS exam when they truly mean they want to “take” the IELTS exam!
The More Serious Mistake
Both are grammatical errors, but were you absolutely confused when you read the second sentence? How can a person “give” an exam? The examination board “conducts” the exam, but students “take” an examination.
Due to the fact that the second sentence confuses readers, it is a more severe mistake compared to the first sentence.
Grammatical errors are especially difficult to correct because it is like breaking a bad habit you have been formed over many years. It takes a lot of effort and time to overcome these bad habits and start forming good habits.
The Good News
I understand the difficulties students face, so I have come up with a quick and proven method to write accurately and quickly. Under the exam conditions, you only have 40 minutes to complete Writing Task 2. This includes time needed to planning, writing and checking.
Hence, my method is to use writing frameworks that help you to save a lot of time, as well as write more accurately because all you have to do is to follow a template! Read more about it here! 😉
Do You Make these 10 Grammar Mistakes?
Still, you should learn what the common grammar mistakes are because you need to know the basics.
90% of students make these Top 10 Grammar Mistakes. Make sure you read this article as well if you are serious about improving your English grammar!
PART 2: GRAMMATICAL RANGE
Next, you need to have a wide enough Grammatical Range. There are many ways to demonstrate your grammatical range.
One of the key ways is to use complex sentences. However, that doesn’t mean you should use long, complex sentences throughout your writing. It will affect your “Coherence” score as it may make reading difficult.
The way you control the mix of simple and complex sentences should be natural and fluent.
Let me show you how you can transform a boring, simple paragraph into one that has more structural range:
"There is another way forward. [Simple Sentence] Museums and historical sites can change the approach to presenting information on history. [Simple Sentence] For example, museums could use high-tech methods such as multimedia to make exhibitions more attractive. [Simple Sentence] For historical sites, the context could be told in an engaging way that is relevant to the lives of the locals." [Simple Sentence]
There are 4 separate simple sentences in the previous paragraph. Let’s transform them into 2 sentences. I’ll highlight the key linking words and phrases:
"Another way forward is for museums and historical sites to change the approach to presenting information on history. [Simple Sentence] For example, museums could use high-tech methods such as multimedia to make exhibitions more attractive whereas the context of historical sites could be told in an engaging way that is relevant to the lives of the locals." [Complex Sentence]
Do you see how there is a better mix of simple and complex sentences in the transformed paragraph? This is what is meant by grammatical range.
Note: There are others ways to increase your grammatical range, such as playing with modal verbs, comparatives, passive tense and conditionals.
A Smart Way to Improve
I always tell my IELTS students that there are those who work HARD, and there are those who work SMART.
A smart way to use better grammar is to start using templates that are prepared by qualified IELTS teachers. Using the wrong template can cause you to make other errors (e.g. not addressing the task fully, making other grammatical errors, etc.).
If you want to see how I teach my students to use writing templates in my IELTS preparation course, go here and get my template for free.
All my students love these templates because really cut down preparation time a lot!
Here is a quick summary of what we have covered today:
- You can set more meaningful study goals if you know what examiners want (from reading all the exam band descriptors, like the one provided above).
- Not all grammatical errors are equal. Those that confuse readers are more serious errors than others.
- Increase grammatical range by varying sentence structures.
- Using pre-written templates by qualified IELTS trainers can help you to achieve both grammatical range and accuracy in a much shorter time.
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