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Written Exams and Assignments

INFLUENCING FACTORS IN EXAMS

Real world problems are always at least a little more complex than what we would like. Exams pertain to assess our ability to perform in a certain subject. Inevitably they also assess our ability to communicate, use the language at hand and our typing skills or penmanship. Any test of language is a little less susceptible to these problems. As language is the thing being assessed the knowledge of a subject is not being held back by our ability to communicate it; our ability to communicate is the very point of the venture. None-the-less there are some factors that influence the results, and a few common errors that do hold us back.

TASK RESPONSE:

This is basically how well you answer the question. Candidates should give an answer that is relavent to the question, and then adequately supports their position for/against or (sometimes) providing a neutral comparison. It is possible to pass with minimal supporting argument, but an IELTS result of more than 7 requires support that is substantially coherent.

COHERENCE AND COHESION

This looks at one’s ability to organize an essay logically, to sequence information, to form paragraphs and basically structure your communications. Organizing each paragraph around one central notion and putting them in an order that reaches a coherent position in the final paragraph is usually a good principle for writing an exam essay. Occasionally some experts in the language use more complex structures for essays; occasionally there are two ideas juxtaposed in one paragraph, or the structure of the essay repeats itself and re-examines the question from multiple angles. However, this is best left for experienced writers not working under exam conditions. It is best not to take any risks in IELTS exams and stick to reliable methods.

LEXICON:

This is your accurate use of vocabulary and sentence structure. It is an advantage to use more advanced word and sentence structures, but this will backfire if you use them inaccurately, or if any sentences are clumsy. It is slightly better to use short sentences over long, but avoid any situation where the same sentence structure is repeated throughout the essay. The correct use of Conjunctions (but, and, for, so… etc.) is recommended, especially if they are correlated conjunctions (either … or, rather … than, not only … but also … etc.). Avoid using conjunctions at the beginning of sentences; this is not actually a grammatical mistake, but it is considered a mistake by some examiners who will not hesitate to deduct marks.

GRAMMATICAL RANGE AND ACCURACY:

This overlaps with Lexicon, but where lexicon is more concerned with the individual words (vocabulary); the grammar is more concerned with the structure of sentences. Correct use of plurals, ‘is’ versus ‘are’, ‘who’ versus ‘whom’, ‘which’ and ‘that’, ‘there and their’ is recommended learning, though even native language speakers tend to get a few of these wrong. If you are rewriting something it is very easy to add information and not realize the sentence needs further modification to accommodate the initial change. When changing ‘There is one major factor …’ into ‘There are two major factors…’ many people will slip up and write ‘there is two major factors…’.

Of course, while language/communication exams do a fairly good job of testing our language/communication abilities there are still a few other factors that might have a negative influence. Our handwriting can hold us back, and this tends to be a little hard to change. Occasionally one can take an alternate test like TOELF, which requires a computer typed response rather than a written one. If your typing skill exceed your handwriting skills this can be a suitable alternative. Else, if your typing is limited, you may simply have to work harder on basic factors like penmanship or computer skills. While these can seem to have an unfair impact on your results we must remember that such basic skills are necessary in almost any occupation and are part of what is actually being assessed.

Contact New Start IELTS and maximise your chance of a better IELTS result.

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