Hey! My philosophy as a teacher is that the only way to increase your IELTS score is to work hard on improving your language skills and academic techniques. But, I would be lying if I said that I haven’t learned a few shortcuts over the last 17 years that can help students to quickly move from 6 to 7 in IELTS writing! So, in today’s blog post, I want to share my top 5 IELTS Grammar Tricks.
1. Don’t use “because”, use “as” or “since”
What, that’s it? Yes! Too many students rely on “because” to create a reason clause, but more than one or two in an essay can feel repetitive. Mix “because” with “as” and “since” to immediately boost your range of complex sentences.
- Many children are impatient because they are spoilt by their parents = 6.0
- Many children are impatient as / since they are spoilt by their parents = 7.0
☠️ Danger: Many students try to replace “because” with “due to”. This is a good idea if you finish your sentence with a short noun phrase, but it can sound very unnatural if you follow “due to” with a long phrase. It is better to use an “as” or “since” clause instead:
- Many people today are overweight due to poor diet. = natural
- Many people today are overweight due to relying too much on fast food. = unnatural
- Many people today are overweight as they rely too much on fast food. = natural
2. Don’t use “This”, use “which”
Nothing makes me cry more than seeing a student start a sentence with “This” – it is such a wasted opportunity. Result relative clauses are one of the easiest ways to add complexity to your language. If you want to start a sentence with “This”, STOP, add a comma, and then use “which” with a SINGULAR VERB.
- The price of housing has risen considerably over the last twenty years. This means that many young people can’t afford to get on the property ladder. = two simple sentences = 6.0
- The price of housing has risen considerably over the last twenty years, which means that many young people can’t afford to get on the property ladder. = one complex sentence = 7.0
☠️ Danger: Result relative clauses are an excellent way to boost your score, but if your sentence is already long, it can be better to stop 🛑, and start a new one.
- When people are given too much choice, they tend to become overwhelmed and find it difficult to settle on one particular option without feeling a sense of regret or worry. This can mean that people defer making a choice, or never feel satisfied with their end choice.
Don’t think that the longer your sentence is, the “higher” your score will be! Remember, your goal as a writer is to make sure your sentences are as clear and concise as possible.
Looking for help with IELTS grammar? We have a dedicated 10-hour course that is specifically designed to show you the structures needed for a 7.0+ Click here to watch the first three lessons for free.
3. Don’t use “and then” in your thesis statement, use “before + gerund”
Now, I am not a big fan of ending introductions with thesis statements that tell the examiner what you are going to do in the essay. Why? Well, I think that they are unnecessary (of course that’s what you are going to do!) and most examiners associate these memorised sentences with low-level students But, if you are going to include one, use this trick to boost your GRA score.
- In this essay, I will examine the causes of global warming and then examine its effects. = 6.0
- In this essay, I will examine the causes of global warming before examining its effects. = 7.0
4. Don’t use “For example”, use “Take X for example”
Being able to use examples to support your arguments is an important IELTS skill. However, a lot of students automatically just use “For example” or “For instance” to introduce them. Instead of doing this, why not use the expression “Take X for example”. This is my favourite transition as it can be used in two ways:
- As a short sentence to add impact to your argument (so we stop after using it)
- As the beginning of a relative clause (so we continue after using it)
- For example, the pollution levels in China are so high that in some cities it is impossible to walk outside without wearing a mask. = 6.0
- Take China for example. The pollution levels are so high, that in some cities, it is impossible to walk outside without wearing a mask = 7.0
- Take China for example, where in some cities the pollution levels are so high that it is impossible to walk outside without wearing a mask = 7.0+
☠️Danger: Notice here that my example did not include a fake statistic. You do not need these. It is a well-known fact that China has high levels of pollution, so that is all I need to say. Changing this example to include fake research would just weaken its effectiveness (because no examiner would believe that a student has accurate data about Chinese pollution in their memory bank!!!!) Click here to read more about how to give good examples.
5. Add “ultimately” to your conclusion
One way of improving your GRA score is using adverbs. Students often overlook these words as they are not “necessary” in a sentence, but they are often a sign of a high-level writer. If you have to give your opinion in a conclusion, then one simple way of adding an adverb to your essay is using “ultimately” in the conclusion – it leaves a GREAT final impression on the examiner! All you have to do is add it after “I believe that”.
- I believe that social media can only be seen as a negative influence on society. = 6.0
- I believe that, ultimately, social media can only be seen as a negative influence on society. = 7.0