5.5 can be a frustrating result in the IELTS writing paper. You might find yourself getting the 6.0 you need in the other papers but you keep getting 5.5 in the writing paper. We’re going to look at each marking criteria in turn to see what might be going wrong.
Perhaps the most likely cause of getting 5.5 is Task achievement. For both Part 1 and Part 2 of the writing paper you need to answer the question clearly. In Part 1 this means you clearly state the overview (what are the main features or trends that you can see) and some supporting detail. In Part 2 make sure your answer to the question is clear in either the introduction, conclusion, or both. If your answer isn’t clear to the examiner you won’t get a 6.0.
The second thing the examiner looks at is the coherence and cohesion of your answer. Are you ideas organised logically? Are they connected together effectively? In Part 2, do you have effective paragraphs that deal with one main idea each? To do well in this criteria make sure you spend some time planning before you start writing so you can think about how your ideas are connected together. Remember to use a range of conjunctions (what is more, furthermore, additionally, moreover).
The next criteria is your use of vocabulary. This takes in things like spelling, so make sure you learn to avoid your common spelling errors. You should also be careful with prepositions as effective use of phrasal verbs can be a big help. It’s also vital that you try to use a range of vocabulary and make full use of synonyms and alternative ways of saying the same thing. The examiner is looking to see how wide your vocabulary is so show as much as you can.
The final thing the examiner will look at is your grammar. You make think that to get a 6.0 you need to avoid mistakes and so you may try to keep your language simple and error free. However, you are more likely to get a 6.0 by trying to use more complex language and making mistakes rather than using very basic language perfectly.
The best advice to avoid 5.5 is to take some time to work on your common errors and in the test itself spend a bit of time planning and use the widest variety of language you can. Good luck!