How to get a 7 on your IELTS essay – use sentence variety

Fotolia_7397306_XSIf you look at the band descriptors for both Task 1 and Task 2, you will find that under Grammatical Range and Accuracy,  you should “use a variety of complex structures” to get a 7+. You want your writing to be interesting and varied for your reader.

Here’s a checklist for creating sentence variety:

1. Vary the sentence structures and clause connections.

  • Simple sentences – one independent clause

ex.  Students need to learn about money.

ex.  Students need to learn about money, but it isn’t taught in school.

{independent clause}, but {independent clause}.

ex. Schools do not teach financial education to our children; as a result,  many young graduates today are in a lot of credit card and school loan debt.

{independent clause}; as a result, {independent clause}.

  • Complex sentences – 1 independent clause with 1 or more dependent clauses (dependent clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions, e.g. although, even though, whereas, while,if, unless, because, as, since, so/such … that, now that, once ,etc.)

ex. If  we want our children to become independent, they need to learn about budgeting and saving money.

{dependent clause}, {independent clause}.

  • Compound-complex sentences – 2 or more independent clauses and at least 1 dependent clause.

ex. Because I feel nervous, I don’t know what to write when I look at the question, so I just start to write without planning my essay.

{dependent clause}, {independent clause + dependent clause}, so {independent clause}.

2. Vary the length of your sentences. Mix short and long sentences. Sometimes a short sentence that follows some long sentences can have a dramatic impact on the meaning you intend. Too many long sentences make it difficult for the reader to follow. And too many short sentences make it too choppy and therefore unpleasant to read.

3. Use different ways to begin a sentence:

  • Begin with a dependent clause:

Although some people feel parents should teach their children about money, I believe financial education should be taught in school.

Hoping to pass their final exam, the students studied all  night. (“Hoping to pass their final exam” is an -ing participle phrase that refers to “the students”)

Driven with determination, the students studied hard all  night. (“Driven with determination” is a past-participle phrase that refers to “the students”)

Optimistic about the exam, the students were able to have a good night’s rest the night before.(“Optimistic about the exam” is an adjective phrase that refers to “the students”)

  • Begin with a prepositional phrase:

With the help of government subsidies, many first-time small business owners can grow successful businesses.

  • Begin with an infinitive:

To become truly independent, people must have some financial knowledge. 

As you practice your writing, why not revise an old essay and do a check list of sentence variety?

Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 


I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

Posted in Grammar, IELTS Writing, Writing Task 1, Writing Task 2 Tagged with: , , ,
4 comments on “How to get a 7 on your IELTS essay – use sentence variety
  1. ranno says:

    hi, I have written ielts 4 times I got 7+ score in all other modules other than writing I am struggling to get 7. I am stuck in 6 band please help me. I cannot understand my mistake.

  2. Nashimul Reshad says:


    Your blog is one of the best that i got from the internet. I like include that I am continuously getting BAND score 6 in writing, which I need to improve. To get a good score, i need your comprehensive suggestions and advice. Please help me.


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