Ask any writer or author what you need to do to improve your writing and I guarantee they will say two things:
- Practise writing
- Read more
Rather like Yin and Yang, reading and writing are inextricably linked and, just as reading does not exist without writing, you cannot be a better writer without first being exposed to reading. Any academic writing tutor will tell you this.
But why is this so? And how will it help you in your IELTS preparation?
Well, in answer to the first question, it’s all about exposure. The more we see something, the more familiar and ingrained it becomes. When we read, we are exposed to many stylistic features of writing such as how complex sentences are constructed, how transitions are used to connect ideas in sentences and paragraphs, how different texts begin and end and how paragraphs are organised within according to the writer’s agenda. Basically, reading teaches us how writing works. This will happen subconsciously to a degree and even more so if you pay conscious attention and read deliberately.
Furthermore, reading is the very best way to expand your vocabulary. Reading exposes you to words and ideas in context, which is fundamental to providing meaning and proper usage. Developing an advanced set of vocabulary in this way will significantly improve your communication skills and your ability to express yourself fluently and articulately in written form.
Reading widely and generally will help you in the following ways:
- It will expose you to a wide range of grammar in context and this is a much more effective way of acquiring language than simply studying grammatical rules.
- Reading will widen your vocabulary and help you understand the nuances (subtle differences) of English.
- If you pay attention to how text is organised, you will improve your summarising skills which will help you both with IELTS reading tasks and when planning and drafting your IELTS essays.
Since reading exposes us to writing that is better than our own and helps us to improve, reading model answers for Task 1 and Task 2 is a great way to advance your writing skills for your IELTS Writing exam.
This strategy will help you specifically by:
- Exposing you to the specific features of coherence and cohesion within Task 1 and Task 2 style essays so that you can apply them in your own essays and improve your score in Coherence & Cohesion.
- Showing you how the writers have selected examples, reasons and consequences to support their main idea.
- Introducing you to a range of specific structures, phrases and lexis that you can use in your essays, which will help to raise your score in Lexical Resource.
So in conclusion, since everything you learn as a reader, you can use as a writer, you should read as much as you can in general to improve your English overall, and read lots of model answers in particular, to better write your own answers in the exam.