IELTS Grammar

These pages are here to help you with your IELTS grammar, mainly for writing.

However, it can obviously help with your speaking and also with your reading as it is easy to misunderstand what you have read if you are confused by different sentence structures.

All grammar for IELTS is important, but there are some specific things that are directly related to IELTS.

The explanations and exercises will highlight these so you can see how they are relevant.

Why is grammar important?

There is no actual grammar test section in the IELTS test, but you are still graded on this by the examiner in the speaking test and writing test.

These are specifically what you are graded on in each test:

Writing:

  • Task Achievement / Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Speaking:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunication

So as you can see, grammar makes up 25% of each test.

However, it is also important for the 'lexical resource' part. This is your use of such things as your vocabulary, idiomatic vocabulary, and collocations.

You will be marked down on this if you are making mistakes with such things as word forms (e.g. using a noun form instead of a verb form) so this is also grammar related.

This is not to suggest that you should focus only on grammar as the other elements such as fluency in your speaking and your ability to answer the question and organise your response in the writing are a major part of the marking.

But it is clearly important to work on improving your IELTS grammar, and this is often the part candidates have the most problems with and the thing that brings their score down.

 

How is the grammar for IELTS writing marked exactly?

In order to work on improving your IELTS grammar, it is useful to understand how it is marked.

For each of the parts of the exam highlighed above, you are given a band score (so you get four scores) and these are then averaged to get your overall score for your writing.

For example:

Writing:

  • Task Achievement / Response - band 6
  • Coherence and Cohesion - band 6
  • Lexical Resource - band 6
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - band 5

    Overall score = 5.5

The table below shows the two sections on lexis and grammar. These are adapted from the public band descriptors and show you what the examiner is looking for.

The column on 'grammatical range and accuracy' is exactly as from the public band descriptors, but the 'lexical resource' column just picks out the parts related to grammar.

 

Writing Band Descriptors for Grammar

Band Lexical Resource Grammatical Range & Accuracy
9 Sophisticaled control of lexical features; rare minor 'slips' occur
  • Uses a wide range of structures with full flexibility and accuracy; rare minor errors occur only as slips.
8 Produces rare errors in spelling and / or word formation
  • Uses a wide range of structures
  • The majority of sentences are error-free
  • Makes only very occasional errors or inappropriacies
7 Occasional errors in word choice, spelling, and / or word formation
  • Uses a variety of complex structures
  • Produces frequent error-free sentences
  • Has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors
6 Some errors in spelling and / or word formation, but they do not impede communication
  • Uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms
  • Makes some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication
5 Noticeable errors in spelling and / or word formation that may cause some difficulty for the reader
  • Uses only a limited range of structures
  • Attempts complex sentences but these tend to be less accurate than simple sentences
  • May make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation may be faulty; errors can cause some difficulty for the reader
4 Limited control of word formation and / or spelling; errors may cause strain for the reader
  • Uses only a very limited range of structures with only rare use of subordinate clauses
  • Some structures are accurate but errors predominate, and punctuation is often faulty
3 Errors may severely distort the message
  • Attempts sentence forms but errors in grammar and punctuation predominate and distort the meaning
2 Essentially no control of word formation and / or spelling
  • Cannot use sentence forms except in memorised phrases
1 Can only use a few isolated words
  • Cannot use sentence forms at all

 

Understanding the descriptors

If you study the table you will notice phrases near the top such as 'rare', 'occasional' and 'few' in reference to word form and grammatical errors.

Near the band 6 range are phrases such as 'some', and then 'noticeable' and 'causing difficulty' as you go down lower.

You can also see that it is important to be:

  • Getting your word forms right
  • Understanding how to write complex sentences
  • Expanding your range of grammatical structures you can use
  • Using grammar accurately (i.e minimising your error density).

So the pages you'll find here link to explanations and exercises on IELTS grammar to help you improve your score and your grammar.

This is a new section so there are only two IELTS grammar lessons so far.

Start with this one on sentence clauses.

When you understand these, move on to learn more about sentence structure, specifically simple, compound and complex sentences.

This lesson then explains in more detail about complex sentences, which are essential to be able to write correctly for a higher band score.

One type of complex sentence you can learn about here is adverbial clauses.

Follow this link to learn more about modal verbs and how they are commonly used in IELTS for writing and speaking.

Keep an eye on this page though as it will be updated further. Good luck!

 

 

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Other Grammar Lessons:

Sentence clauses

Sentence structure

Complex sentences

Adverbial Clauses

Relative Clauses

Noun Clauses

Modal verbs

Subject Verb Agreement

Gerunds

Infinitives

Gerund or Infinitive?

 

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