Common mistakes candidates make in the IELTS test

Getting your desired band in the IELTS test is something difficult and frustrating even if you are confident in your English skills. There are many challenges you have to deal with. Due to ignorance, students end up getting low scores on the IELTS test. 

Moreover, people book their IELTS test over and over hoping to get a band 7 or 8 but end up getting 6 because they take it easy and don’t pay attention to it. There are so many things you need to focus on such as spelling, structure, grammar, punctuation, etc.

In the IELTS test, each section has a weightage of 25% therefore it is important to give equal importance to all four sections. You need to follow a more holistic approach to prepare for this exam. 

Here in this article, we have mentioned the mistakes that many candidates do in their IELTS test. 

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Mistakes candidates make IELTS writing module:

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1. Poor handwriting:

Although your handwriting has nothing to do with your scores. Examiner does not evaluate the candidate based on handwriting, but it has an indirect impact on your scores.


The script you write in your writing and listening test is the only medium of communication between you and your examiner. If the examiner is unable to understand your handwriting, you might lose your score. 

2. Writing too little or crossing the word limit:

(Write at least 250 words for the IELTS writing task 2)

Writing too little or adding unnecessary extra details, both approaches are not good for your writing. 

(Don’t ever think that writing more is better)

Writing more increases, the chance of mistakes due to which, your score may decline. Moreover, it can waste your precious time and you will not be left with enough time to check your essay and correct your mistakes. 

On the other hand, some candidates think that by writing less they can avoid mistakes. This is also not a good approach because when you write short you sometimes skip the important details, and your script lacks the development of important ideas.  

3. Not writing in paragraphs:

Most of the students do not use the technique of paragraphing in IELTS writing. They do not divide their content into sufficient paragraphs.

Why it is important to write in paragraphs?
  • Paragraphs help to convey the message in an organized way
  • You can provide a proper structure to your writing
  • Paragraphs are aesthetically pleasing and show the chain of thoughts

4. Incorrect format:

Another mistake that candidates commit is not explaining separate ideas in each paragraph. They do not know how to start the topic, or what to discuss in the introductory paragraph. The correct formatting of your paragraphs must be in this sequence

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

(Do not use the headings, sub-headings, numbers, and bullet points)

5. Use of contractions:

Most of the students use contractions in their writing. Contractions make your writing informal. You need to be more formal during IELTS writing. 


He’s done a lot of work today-incorrect

He has done a lot of work today-correct

6. Incomplete or unclear answer:

Most of the time candidate provides a partial or unclear answer. Give a good time to read the question and try to understand what has been asked and then write accordingly. In the same way, if your opinion is unclear it has an adverse effect on your performance because the examiner will not understand what your opinion is. The examiner must get a clear understanding of your opinion at the end of your writing. 

  • Be clear about your opinion and stick to that opinion throughout your writing
  • Don’t merge your opinion with others’ opinion
  • Use personal pronoun

Mistakes candidates make IELTS speaking module:

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1. Going silent upon the question:

The candidates make this mistake very often. You can take a few seconds to gather thoughts in your mind but making complete silence is something intolerable for the examiner and results in the form of a low score.

2. Extra use of discourse makers:

Candidates sometimes consciously or unconsciously use lots of filler words such as well, then, you know, I mean. Excessive use of these words creates a bad impression on the examiner. So, you need to focus on grammar structures to avoid this mistake.

3. Writing the whole answer in speaking part 2:

When candidates are given a card with a question on it in speaking part 2, they try to write the entire answer on it which they are supposed to speak. Therefore, it gets difficult for them to complete it within a minute. 

How should you do this?

Write the outline and the important words so that you can get an idea that what to speak. 

4. Not making eye contact:

Making eye contact has nothing to do with your English speaking but it shows your confidence, and it has a lot of impact on your score. You need to understand that making eye contact is beneficial for you because you can monitor the reaction of the examiner and can modify your answer accordingly.  

5. Focusing on certain accents:

Candidates from different parts of the world try to adopt either a British or American accent. They don’t simply focus on speaking English and waste their time learning English with these particular accents. 

You should have a goal to clear the interview and not speak English with a British or American accent. 

6. Poor pronunciation:

Pronunciation accounts for 25% of IELTS speaking tests so it should not be overlooked. Having clear pronunciation is crucial for spoken communication. The listener should not have trouble hearing your words.

7. Repeating the question:

Repeating the question seems like parroting the question means you are mimicking but not understanding the examiner’s speech. The best practice is to paraphrase the words and structure of the question. It is a fast-track route to a higher score. 

Mistakes candidates make IELTS reading module:

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1. Neglecting instructions:

Candidates make the mistake of not reading the instructions carefully. Reading the instructions should be the very first step while starting the test.

2. Reading the whole paragraph:

You will have very limited time for the test. People make the mistake of reading the whole paragraph without using the reading techniques. Techniques to learn to skim and scan are the best techniques to avail the limited time at its best benefits. 

3. Focusing on unknown vocabulary:

You don’t have to know the meaning of every single word written in the passage. The purpose is to answer the question. People during tests waste their time knowing the meaning of unknown vocabulary. 

Mistakes candidates make IELTS listening module:

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1. Giving attention to distractors:

Your attentiveness is checked during the test by giving you distractors. Those who pay attention to the distractors, lose their concentration which disturbs their whole listening process. 

2. Leaving blank space:

It is not good to leave blank spaces because there is no negative marking. Whether you write wrong or leave a space, you will lose marks in both cases so the suggestion is to write at least something and try your luck. You might write the right option. So, it is better to make guess. 

3. Not listening to the whole passage:

Jumping to the answer without listening to the whole passage can be wrong because sometimes you think that you know the answer, but it can be incorrect.

Wrapping up:

 In this blog, we have tried to mention all the mistakes that candidates generally make in their IELTS test in all four sections. No doubt this test is difficult but you can give yourself a chance of success by not doing the mistakes mentioned above. 


Rafiya Zahrah

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