The Differences Between Band 6 and Band 7 in IELTS Writing Task 2

Many of the students who come to my website and join my courses are stuck at Band 6 or 6.5 for IELTS Writing, and they want to know the answer to this question:

How do I get from Band 6 to Band 7?

Well, there are 5 key differences between Band 6 essays and Band 7 essays.

Key Difference #1

In Band 6 essays, some ideas are inadequately developed.

In Band 7 essays, all ideas are developed.

So, to get a Band 7 for Task Response you must make sure that you explain and illustrate all of your ideas (e.g. the reasons for your view, the reasons for the views in a discuss both views essay, the problems, the disadvantages).

If you fail to explain any of your ideas, you will be stuck at Band 6.

Key Difference #2

In Band 6 essays, there is clear overall progression.

In Band 7 essays, there is clear progression throughout.

Progression means: “is your essay going somewhere?”

Band 6 essays get from A to B, but they might wander around a bit:  some arguments might go in circles, some sentences might repeat something already said.

In Band 7 essays, EVERY sentence adds something new to the essay. There is no repetition.

So, to get a Band 7 for Coherence and Cohesion, EVERY sentence in your essay must have a purpose. Don’t keep repeating yourself, and make sure your argument is clear.

Key Difference #3

In Band 6 essays, some cohesion is faulty or mechanical.

In band 7 essays, cohesion is generally appropriate.

Cohesion means things like transition signals, referencing, substitution and conjunctions.

Band 6 essays tend to use cohesive devices in quite a rigid way, and some cohesive devices, especially transition signals, may be used incorrectly.

Band 7 essays tend to use cohesive devices correctly, even though they may be used too often, or not enough.

So if you want to get Band 7 for Coherence and Cohesion, be careful not to make mistakes with transition signals and referencing. Just use transition signals you know well; you don’t need to use ‘advanced’ words like “nevertheless” or “notwithstanding”!

Key Difference #4

Band 6 essays tend to lack vocabulary which has a precise meaning.

Band 7 essays contain some vocabulary which has a precise meaning.

So, to get a Band 7 for Lexical Resource, select nouns and verbs that have a precise meaning, but also use words in combination, since “traffic congestion” has a more precise meaning than “traffic”.

Key Difference #5

Band 6 essays tend to use a restricted range of complex grammatical structures, and may rely heavily on complex sentences.

Band 7 essays use a variety of complex grammatical structures, including complex noun phrases, complex verb phrases and complex verb patterns.

So, to get a Band 7 for Grammatical Range and Accuracy, use these other types of complex grammatical structure. But try to use them accurately, since too many errors could keep you at Band 6.

Here’s a quick summary of these 5 key differences. (Click on the image for a full-size version.)

differences between ielts band 6 and band 7

So that’s how to get from Band 6 to Band 7 in IELTS Writing Task 2.

I hope this helps you, and thank you for reading!

Posted in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Charles Cornelius is a PGCE and CELTA-qualified teacher and former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. He has worked for some of the major English language schools including International House, IDP and The British Council. He holds a MA in Education from the University of Bath. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 70,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

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