An Acronym for IELTS Success

September 26, 2017 by Ashlee Fisher

The writing section of the IELTS test is a daunting task for most students. Some candidates try to read the question once and write for the whole 60 minutes, while others spend too much time thinking about what to write and then rush to complete the task. With the right strategy, test takers can be successful on writing task 1 and 2. The acronym P.O.W.E.R. will help guide you through the writing process.


Take some time before putting pencil to paper and plan out your writing. Read the question (either task 1 or 2) and make sure you understand it fully as well as what the objectives of the question are. Understanding the question fully means knowing what the vocabulary means as well as the overall topic. Also, for task 2, you need to know what style of essay you should be writing. Think about all of these aspects before you start writing. Planning should take about one to two minutes for either task 1 or 2.


Now that you know, or at least have a good idea about the question and what it’s looking for, take some time to outline or jot down your ideas before you start creating full sentences. Outlining allows you to see which ideas, examples, and points go well together. It also helps you to understand if your ideas make sense for this question. Finally, it allows you to see you if you have included all the necessary information the question is looking for. An outline results in a more cohesive and coherent writing task. This should take a couple of minutes for an Academic task 1 as you can circle trends instead of jotting down ideas. For General task 1 and task 2, take around three minutes to outline your thoughts and ideas.


Once you’ve planned and made an outline, you can begin to write your task. This portion will take the most time; however, it will now be much faster because you have done most of the work by creating a plan in the outlining stage. Spend approximately 10 minutes on writing task 1 and 30 minutes on task 2, using most of that time to write the body paragraphs, as they are the most important part of your writing.


Many candidates write until the very last moment, without taking a second to review their work. Do not do this. Take time to edit your work. Although it can be difficult to edit your own work, you may find a simple mistake that you wouldn’t normally make, which could affect your score. The editing process should include checking your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Checking for mistakes in these areas is crucial because these kinds of errors will reduce your score. Although editing takes time, I recommend spending approximately three minutes to quickly look over your work.


Revising is the final key to getting a higher score. Take your time and read your writing thoroughly. Make sure your writing is on topic and that the examples you provide make sense. Keep in mind that a well-written essay that’s off topic may not receive a high score. Revising should only take roughly two minutes if you have planned ahead and made an outline because you’ll already know that your thoughts and ideas make sense and that they’re appropriate for the topic.

Using P.O.W.E.R for task 1 and 2 will help to set you up for success in the writing section. The end result will be a more well-rounded, well thought-out, and error-free writing task. Try to incorporate all aspects of P.O.W.E.R: Planning, Outlining, Writing, Editing, and Revising, when you practice and on the day of the actual test. We’re sure you’ll be able to see the difference that these helpful time management tips will make.

Ashlee has been involved in the ESL world for over ten years and has now planted her roots in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nothing gives her more pleasure than watching students and candidates reach their language and IELTS goals.

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