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What’s the difference between Band 5, Band 6, and Band 7 writing?

These are official writing samples from IELTS. I’ve colour-coded the errors based on their seriousness, i.e. based on how much they affect your score.

  • Yellow = Awkward language/minor grammar issue
  • Orange = Moderate language/grammar issue
  • Red = Serious language/grammar issue

Even without reading them, you can tell the difference from a distance.

Band 5

IELTS writing task 2 Band 5 sample

IELTS Official Writing Task 1 Sample – Band 5. Errors are highlighted: yellow represents awkward language or minor grammar issues; orange represents moderate language/grammar issues; red represents major language/grammar issues.

The examiner gave this a Band 5 for the following reasons:

  • It’s too short and low on detail. There are no specific references to the data.
  • Overall, it’s difficult to understand.
  • There are major sentence structure problems (highlighted in red).

Band 6

IELTS writing task 2 Band 6 sample

IELTS Official Writing Task 1 Sample – Band 6. Errors are highlighted: yellow represents awkward language or minor grammar issues; orange represents moderate language/grammar issues; red represents major language/grammar issues.

The examiner gave this a Band 6 for the following reasons:

  • Some information is missing.
  • Some information is inaccurate.
  • Cohesion problems: connections between some ideas are unclear.
  • Awkward language
  • Lack of sentence structure variety

Band 7

IELTS writing task 2 Band 7 sample

IELTS Official Writing Task 1 Sample – Band 7. Errors are highlighted: yellow represents awkward language or minor grammar issues; orange represents moderate language/grammar issues; red represents major language/grammar issues.

The examiner gave this a Band 7 for the following reasons:

  • Lack of sufficient detail in the general overview
  • Awkward expressions
  • Minor issues with word forms
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