What is word count?
Word count is the length of your written piece, it may be a novel, a story, a blog post or an answer in your IELTS Writing test. A short story is usually over a thousand words but doesn’t go over 20,000 words. With novels, it usually ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 words. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix written by J.K. Rowling has 257,000 words. It really depends on the story.
In IELTS Writing rule, writing task 1 requires 150 words, while the task 2 needs you to write 250 words. You lose marks for not achieving the required word count. Task 1 tests your ability to analyze data objectively without giving your personal opinion. Task 2 mostly requires a subjective writing piece on a fairly general topic.
Students frequently exceed the minimum word counts by a very wide margin, which creates a bad score in their test. Instead of concentrating on giving a good answer, students write beyond what is important, thinking that they are making extra marks. This is not usually the case.
How important is word count in IELTS Writing?
Extremely important. Sticking to the word count gives you a chance to keep a tight answer. Answering the question in your IELTS Writing is not about having so much to say but it is about saying something worthwhile. Excess verbiage is the problem that afflicts most IELTS examinees even in IELTS Philippines.
Here are some tips on dealing with word count:
- Don’t throw extra words into your essay just to make your answer longer. The examiner will know this.
- Master time-management. Do not spend too much time on one question. You are more likely to make grammatical errors if you keep writing over the word limit because you didn’t pay attention to your allotted time. You will also need the time you have for planning and checking your answer. Use your time wisely.
- You are being judged on quality, not quantity. It is best to focus on making your answer the best it can be, rather than the longest it can be.
- Practice. In an IELTS Review Center, you can be assured of getting the practice even in writing.
- Don’t copy the whole parts of the question. Repeating the question will only make the examiner subtract these words from your word count. In EILTS Writing, you are being judged on your ability to paraphrase using synonyms, so try to fully equip yourself with the skill and you will avoid copying.
- Do not repeat sentences. It’s so much better to write something new than to repeat the exact words again. When they run out of time, students tend to repeat themselves. Don’t make this mistake.