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Video: Common errors


In this IELTS writing course you will find a number of different lessons that will help you improve your academic writing. In this lesson, we will look at some of the basic points you need to consider. Let’s look back at the bad paragraph you saw at the beginning of this lesson. The first rule of academic writing is that you should avoid contractions such as don’t and hadn’t. Writing the complete word such as do not is better academically, and also adds an extra word to your word count. The second point for academic writing is that you should avoid using phrasal verbs such as give up. A phrasal verb is created when using a verb and another word together to create a particular meaning. It would be much better in this example to use a word like ‘concede’. Academic writing also means that you should avoid emphasising with capital letters or being too direct. Using a word like stupid for example, will definitely lower your academic presentation. You should also avoid emphasising with exclamation marks. Although you may be asked for an opinion in academic writing, you are not being asked to show emotion and your writing should remain formal at all times. Another area in which this paragraph is weak is that the candidate has used the same word twice. You should avoid repeating the same vocabulary as much as possible, either by finding a different word or by changing the structure of the sentence. In this paragraph, for example, instead of using quit a second time, the candidate could have said ‘abandon their studies’ or were ‘unable to continue studying’. The final point about academic vocabulary is to use the most academic vocabulary possible. For example, the candidate has started a sentence with but. Changing this to ‘However’ would have been far more academic. Another example of poor vocabulary in this paragraph can be seen in the final words – in academic writing, avoid phrases that carry no information such as ‘or something’ .