Does handwriting matter in IELTS?

Having good handwriting is always regarded as a benefit, and as students, we were obliged to write a lot of copywriting in order to acquire this skill. Is handwriting necessary for an English proficiency test like the IELTS?

Handwriting is important when taking the Pen and Paper IELTS, which requires you to write your answers on a sheet of paper. Excellent handwriting will help you get a higher mark because your writing will be easier for an examiner to read and comprehend.

handwriting in IELTS

Handwriting plays distinct roles in various portions of the IELTS exam, but it is fundamental in the writing module.

What is the significance of handwriting?

Your handwriting’s neatness and legibility are important factors in achieving higher band scores. For instance, if an examiner goes through a stack of answer papers in order and comes across an answer sheet with neat and tidy handwriting, they will be able to read and correct it without trouble.

Consider another answer sheet, which is written in a haphazard and unintelligible manner, requiring the examiner to strain to make out each word. Naturally, the examiner would prefer to assign higher grades to the answer sheets with superior handwriting. Remember that an examiner will not bother to read and understand unreadable handwriting.  Even if all of your answers are correct and you have produced a strong and supple response, it is useless if it is incomprehensible.

Thus, in the IELTS Writing in General and Academic, one must maintain good, readable handwriting for the examiner to be able to read your answer correctly; what good is it if you have written a very thoughtful, well-organised answer, only to lose marks on something as trivial as ‘handwriting,’ which could be easily improved?

How can I avoid losing marks because of poor handwriting?

Since poor handwriting can contribute to lower scores, it is critical to master a few ways to overcome this challenge.

1. Clear writing 

Even if your handwriting isn’t particularly lovely, you can avoid losing score. This can be accomplished by writing in a legible manner. Confirm that all of the alphabets you write are readable, particularly those at the end of a word such as ‘e’, ‘t’, ‘g’, and so on, which can easily become virtually unrecognisable when you write quickly. Those who use cursive writing should be potently careful about being clear as it is easy for your writing to look gibberish. 

2. Writing instruments

You may use either a pen or a pencil for the writing part, but only a pencil for the listening and reading module responses. Choosing the appropriate pencil shade is critical for readable writing. It is preferable to use a pencil of deeper shade than a lighter shade because it will be difficult for an examiner to comprehend your writing if the pencil is too light.

Remember to properly delete a term, and the word you write in its place should be clear enough for the examiner to read. If you’re using a pen, make sure you strike through it several times to let the examiner know it’s a deleted term.

Always select a pencil that is comfortable for you to use and practise with the same type of pencil beforehand. If candidates are not used to writing quickly and smoothly with a pencil, it is typically perceived as a challenge. As a result, practising with the proper pencil is essential. You should also sharpen your pencil properly so that it does not break in the middle of a sentence.

3. Regular practise 

If you want to enhance your handwriting, you must practise every day. Always practise answering questions in an official IELTS model answer script so that you are confident and will not make any mistakes during the exam. This is especially crucial for the listening and reading modules because the answers are written on an OMR model sheet.

Take some time each day to practise writing on a sample answer sheet paper and time yourself. You will also know how many words you will take up in a single line based on your handwriting style, and hence whether you are writing within the word limit.

When filling out the Answer Sheet, try not to go over the lines. When you practise on a daily basis, you will improve your speed as well as your handwriting, allowing you to write clearly and appropriately under pressure. Sloppy and shabby handwriting will give the examiner the idea that you don’t care about your exam.

Can I write in capital letters? 

For listening and reading, you can write the entire response in capital letters. If you are concerned that your handwriting is not legible and that you may lose your score as a result, this is a safe bet. When you write in block letters, the likelihood of the alphabets being unreadable decreases dramatically. This way, you may be certain that you will not be penalised for your handwriting. However, practise writing in capital letters in the answer script beforehand. Never try anything new during your actual exam.

For the writing task, you must compose your essay in lowercase letters, but use capital letters as required. There are various capitalization norms that you must observe when writing your essays and letters/reports.

  1. A new sentence should always begin with a capital letter.
  2. When writing Days Months Country City, you must begin each word with a capital letter.
    • Days 
    • Months 
    • Country
    • City 
  3. The names of famous places or monuments must begin with a capital letter.
  4. Capitalise the pronoun ‘I’ regardless of where it appears in the sentence.
  5. NATIONALITIES and LANGUAGES begin with a capital letter as well.
  6. ACRONYMS must be in uppercase letters if used.
  7. Never use both uppercase and lowercase letters in the same term or sentence. (For example, instead of CaR or CAr, write CAR (full uppercase) or car ( full lowercase)
  8. Never use capital letters for linking words like but and because, as they should never be used to start a sentence.

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Even though handwriting may appear to be the last thing on your mind as you study for the IELTS exam, it is an important component to consider. Even if your writing is excellent, it will be rendered ineffective if an examiner cannot effortlessly read and comprehend it. As a result, constant practise on developing your handwriting to be decipherable and lucid is essential in achieving a high band score.

Shruthi Raveendran

I am Shruthi Raveendran, a TEFL-certified IELTS/PTE and ESL tutor who has 8+ years of experience working in the education industry. I am a passionate writer, logophile and film enthusiast

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