Ielts Band 5 Essay Starters

Learn how your IELTS writing task 2 is marked and the difference between band scores 5, 6, 7 and 8 with tips to improve your score. You need to understand the 4 marking criteria used by the examiner to fulfill the requirements of the score you want. There is a penalty for being under the word count: see link at bottom of page. Tips

Don’t just read the band score you want. Read all the band score descriptions to learn how you lose marks and how you gain marks.

4 Marking Criteria for IELTS Writing Task 2

The examiner will assess your IELTS essay using the 4 criteria below. Each criterion is worth 25% of your total marks for task 2. You will be given a band score for each criteria and then a total score for task 2. See bottom of page for example of scoring.

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
  • Grammatical Range & Accuracy

Task Response

This task 2 marking criterion is about your answer to the IELTS essay question, your main ideas and how you develop them.

Your score will increase if you:

  • pay attention to ALL issues in the essay question
  • write about the issues rather than just the general topic
  • answer the essay question with relevant main points
  • plan your supporting points so they don’t go off the topic
  • write over 250 words

 Coherence and Cohesion

The IELTS examiner will check the organisation of your essay, the paragraphs and your use of linking devices.

Your score will increase if you:

  • have either four or five paragraphs but not more and not less
    • this means you should have two or three body paragraphs only
  • have just one central topic in each body paragraph
  • organise your ideas logically
  • use a range of linking words
  • avoid errors in linking words

Lexical Resource

Your use of vocabulary, your paraphrasing, your spelling and the number of mistakes you make will be assessed in this criterion.

Your score will increase if you:

  • pay attention to collocations (which verb matches which noun)
  • paraphrase carefully to avoid errors
  • use a range of words appropriate for the topic
  • spell words correctly
  • avoid making errors (errors will lower your score – see table above)
  • avoid using informal language

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The IELTS examiner will give you a band score for your sentence structures, the tenses you use, your control of grammar and also the number of mistakes you make.

Your score will increase if you:

  • use different grammar tenses (conditionals, perfect tenses, passive voice, past, future etc)
  • pay attention to word order in your sentences
  • use a range of sentence structures
  • use the correct punctuation (full stops and commas)
  • avoid errors in grammar (errors will lower your score – see the table above)
    • common grammar errors: articles, plural nouns, uncountable nouns, word order)

Example of Writing Task 2 Scoring Calculated

You will get a band score for each of the above criteria and then a total score for task 2. Here’s an example:

  • Task Response: Band 6
  • Coherence & Cohesion = Band 7
  • Grammar: Band 6
  • Vocabulary: 6

Total Score for IELTS Writing Task 2: 6 + 7 + 6 + 6 = 25/4 = 6.25. This score will be increased to 6.5. To calculate your score, add all scores together and divide by 4.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Band Scores 5, 6, 7 & 8: Differences and Tips

All IELTS Band Scores Explained

Penalty for Under Word Count

Note: The information above is taken from the band score descriptors published by IELTS. To learn about band scores 1-9, please see the public band score descriptors for writing task 2 published by IELTS.

Recommended Pages for IELTS Writing Task 2

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, model answers, lessons, free videos and more.


IELTS Task 2 writing sample answer Band 5 Essay 3

Band score: approximately 5.0

Task: Task 2

The answer below has been rated purely based on the public IELTS descriptors. Click the word or words in red to see the correction, and scroll to the bottom of the page to read our comments on the report.

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

The mark of a successful person is to be wealthy and have a successful career.


To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

Nowadays, both education and experience are regarded as useful for success , two seperate clauses cannot be joinged with a comma – either a full stop or semi colon ( ; ) some people say that education is much better than experience, while others think that experience is much more useful, thus many people have different ideologies concerning the matter of jobs for younger students. So thus delete ‘thus’these both ‘both these’ views will now be discussed.

AdvertisementFirstly, let's speak about this is too conversational for Task II – it needs to be more formal academic education. Almost eighty percent of the delete this people believe that education is needed to pursue a good career avoid using random, unsupported statistics, and thus this linking word is being overused in this essaythe result of ‘as a result’ many youngsters are given academic education, be it at home or school. Education is said to be the source of power; if a person has good ‘a good’ education and is very literate, then wealth and respect is always this it too strong – it is not always there there for him. ‘Knowledge is power’, is a very famous quote, it is easily understandable don’t use generic quotations in Task II, it means that education and literacy always this is too strong – ‘often’ gives you avoid personalisation – change to ‘a person’ wealth and respect. So thus delete – repetition education is very useful and so it promises a very successful life.Advertisement

Then comes the argument of experience, you can’t combine two indpeend clauses with a comma – either use a semi colon or start a new sentence again experience is also a very useful thing avoid empty language like ‘thing’ – change to ‘quality’ or ‘tool’, which is seen and counted delete this – it is overly longamong employers. The jobs which offer the most most what? Be specific – money, opportunities, fulfillment require, usually, a minimum of at least 4-8 years experience, again, avoid random statistics so thus repetition many youngsters and teenagers are given the experience of work, so that later on they don't avoid abbreviations in Task II – write the full words (do not)have trouble in seeking jobs, later this has already been said at the begining of the sentence. So normally experience too gives aid for this is not commonly used in this context – ‘can support’ people who need a job, and makes ‘can make’ a good combination with education.

Lastly I would just like to say that too informal both education and both experience are good and useful in their own way, and our are not better than each other, they are equally good, and make an extremely useful combination a lot of repetition here.

(281 words)



The word count is good, but the main problem is that the writer has not addressed the topic. The Task required a response about whether success can be measured by having wealth and a good career, but the writer has focused on education and experience. Some sentences also need to be presented in a more formal manner (‘First, let’s speak about….’)

There are errors with punctuation that make the essay difficult to follow at times (such as the first line of the introduction).

The essay also needs more examples to support the points made in the paragraphs.

However, some good vocabulary has been used.

For more student answers, click here

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