Many people who need band 7 seem to get stuck at band 6.5, especially in the writing test. I've written about this here and here, but a student asked me to give a bit more advice about how to move from 6.5 to 7.
As I said in the lessons linked above, band 6.5 in writing is very close to band 7, so you only need to make a small improvement in the quality of your essays.
But where will this small improvement come from? Here are some tips:
- First, if you want to make this small improvement quickly, I don't recommend that you focus on grammar. Improving your grammatical accuracy is probably going to be a slow and gradual process.
- So that leaves us with 3 possible areas for improvement: task response, coherence and cohesion, and vocabulary.
- In my experience, the secret to improving in all three areas is planning. A good plan will ensure that you answer the question, and that your answer is coherent and well structured. Hopefully it will also contain some good ideas (i.e. vocabulary).
Look at the essay plan in this lesson and the resulting essay that I wrote here. Without a good plan, I find it very difficult to "improvise" a coherent essay, so I'm sure that you do too. Give yourself more planning time (around 10 minutes), and you'll write better essays.
A couple of notes about the advice above:
- Maybe you have read my lessons about 10-minute plans and 13-sentence essays, but are you really following this advice? I've taught many students who used my methods well in lessons and homework tasks, but "crumbled" under the pressure of a real exam and went back to their "old ways". Is this happening to you?
- If you are following all of my advice about planning and writing 13-sentence essays, maybe your problem is writing task 1, not task 2.