A common problem for candidates between band 6 and band 7

Oct 5, 2018

Pauline Cullen Author

A common problem for candidates between band 6 and band 7

Oct 5, 2018

I was recently asked to comment on an essay written in answer to the recycling question from an earlier post. 

The sample answer has a common problem for candidates stuck between band 6 and band 7: the writing contains a mixture of different levels.  To use a sports analogy, this is like a tennis player who is learning a new, more advanced tennis shot, and is not ALWAYS successful in making the shot.  The tennis player will only achieve success when he or she can make the shot consistently. The same idea applies to reaching a higher level in IELTS writing.   


The first image below shows the sample answer with some general comments. There are language errors found at band 5 and band 6, but there are also examples of higher level language. I have used different coloured highlighting to show this. 

To practise, try to correct any errors you can see in the language.


The answer also has problems when it comes to Coherence and cohesion.  Look again at the first body paragraph. The ideas in this paragraph are not in a logical order, which makes the ideas difficult to follow and will keep the score below band 7.

The following order is more logical and therefore easier to follow:

  1. Recycling of household waste should begin in the home
  2. (However,) not everything can be recycled
  3. (So,) the government should educate people about this
  4. (Furthermore,) in order to increase recycling, the government should also make separating waste mandatory.

Compare this to the current order:

  1. Recycling of waste should begin in the home
  2. The government should make people classify waste
  3. Not all products can be recycled
  4. Recycled and non-recycled waste should be classified
  5. The government should teach people about waste

Notice that we cannot add cohesive devices (However, Furthermore, etc.) to show how these ideas are connected because they do not follow on logically from each other.

There is a problem with the final sentence of each body paragraph in the essay. Try to identify the problem and suggest a correction. 

You can check your answers by looking at the detailed feedback and corrections below.

Remember, you will only achieve band 7 or above when you can consistently write at that level. This will only occur when you write something because it is the best or clearest way to express your ideas, rather than because it is something you have seen others write.

Read my free book to find out more about how to improve your writing: The Key to IELTS Success



  1. Miriam

    Thanks Pauline for your free e-book,i’v received clarification on a lot mistakes i’v been making. Please could you critic my introduction to this task 2 essay topic seen in your book.
    Many people believe that playing video games is a waste of time and can even have a negative effect on the health of players. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

    Could playing video games pose any serious risks? Numerous individuals point out that such an activity is a distraction and has the livelihood of causing ill effects on the well-being of those who play them. I partly agree with this viewpoint and will throw more light on this.

  2. saika

    Thanks a lot

  3. nasibeh

    Dear Paulin,
    I am a candidate who is trying to reach band 7 in writing. I post my writings here. It wiuld be great if you might comment on them.

    Letter to council for the dirty street:
    • Explain why it has become dirty recently
    • What problem it has caused
    • Giving some suggestions.

    I am an inhabitant in (the) “X” street and am writing to complain about the street being dirty.
    As you probably know, there is a building construction project in our vicinity which has been started recently. It seems the workers of it do not care about the discipline of the street, because, after unloading materials, many rubbish—including broken brickes, plastic bags, and unusable woods—are left on the ground. The other point which worsenes the situation is that because of the traffic they have caused, rubbish collecting process has face some problems and is not done regularly.
    The most annoying …. For citizens is the dust which enters our houses, causing dirt and sometimes allergic reactions. Also, the large dustbins in the street are often full and smell very bad, making people annoyed.
    For solving the first problem, namely the building project, sending a warning letter to its manager is proposed. They might consider it and revise their unloading procedure. For the second problem, please make sure that your employees collect the rubbish in this area frequently, by giving reports to you everyday.
    I look forward to the problems being solved soon,
    J. Smith

    Today, the Internet and TV have created the chance for ordinary people to become famous. Is it a positive or negative development?
    40 minutes, 250 words at least.

    Advancements in technology have brought the opportunity of being famous to all people, especially by using TV and the Internet. This development, in my opinion, can be considered as (a) positive modification.
    In the past, only those who were inordinary or had special skills had the chance to become well-known. Nowadays people can easily be the title of news in TV or their pages in social networking websites can be among the most-visited. That it is possible to become famous without so much effort makes adolescents think of being prominent and enjoying its advantages, from being treated wherever they go to the opportunity of getting a well-paid job. As a result, they might fail to pay enough attention to their studies and loose their golden time of youth for stablishing a satisfactory future, for they are busy trying to become famous, which is still hard. This is because they would not be able to continue their education in a good field and qualify a decent job. If they consider the fact that not everyone can become famous, they would think twice about it.
    From another point of view, the more individuals become famous, the more role models would be introduced to the world. Thanks to the Internet, famous persons can post many videos themselves or be captured by others and posted to the Internet. People, especially the young, like to copy the behaviors and lifestyles of their favorite stars, and they can encourage their fans to develope good habits—including buying eco-friendly products, showing respect for the elderly, and helping people in need.
    In conclusion, I believe that people can choose how to use this development. If they want to use it properly, there are many positive potential for serving (the public).

    • Pauline

      I’m afraid I don’t have time to give individual feedback at the moment as I am writing my new book. When that is finished I will again post questions and give feedback on the answers.


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