Tips on How to Succeed in English Writing Tests

Do you want to learn how to ace your English writing test? Or would you like your business letters to be more polished? Effective writing requires great control of the use of language as well as great attention to detail.

If English is your second language, don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling with writing because writing isn’t easy—even for native speakers.

Before you pick up your pen to write, think first about whom you’re writing it for and what you want to achieve. If you start off this way, then it would be easier for you to organize your ideas. Now let’s get down to details.


Strong writing skills come with practice and determination. As you may already know, there are many benefits when you work consistently on building your writing skills. These include doing great in writing case studies if you’re a student, creating excellent essays, and passing an English writing test. Improving your skills will also help you make good emails, business letters, and articles.

Do well with the following tips and you’d see great results:

1) Improve vocabulary and spelling.

You need a lot of words to express yourself successfully in writing. Learning one word each day goes a long way.  When you study one word a day, learn its right meaning, spelling, and the opposite meaning. Also, learn how to use it appropriately, and write at least one sentence using that new word.

2) Improve reading skills.

So, to write effectively, read more! Expand your knowledge so that when you write, you can talk about various topics. And your work will have more “meat” or meaningful content.

Expanding reading also makes you come across different styles of writing such as creative writing for fiction, formal writing for business letters or academic papers, and straightforward writing for reports.

3) Start practicing writing on a daily basis.

Pick a topic and describe it in three to four sentences. The idea really is to establish a habit and train your brain muscles for writing. You can start off by doing light writing exercises like commenting on blog posts or Facebook statuses.

4) Use online resources to improve grammar.

You can look at different websites and watch YouTube videos related to grammar. I know, grammar is a pain. But you don’t have to know all of it right away. Learn and familiarize a grammar rule one at a time. There’s no use rushing through your grammar lessons.

5) Let someone check or edit  your work.

Get someone, or a friend, who is good in English. Have them correct your writing. They can tell you what mistakes you’re making so that you’d get better.

Once you’ve built up your brain muscles and developed the habit of writing, you will no longer feel at a loss next time you’re required to write.

So, here now are simple and easy tips to remember when you are already writing your piece. These tips are applicable for formal writing, such as English test, business, and academic. Remembering these pointers will help you succeed in TOEFL and IELTS writing.


1) Avoid using really, a lot, very, and so as quantifiers of adjectives.

Concise and accurate writing is the key here. You don’t want to use words that don’t hold any important meaning and would only make your work long. Make sure to use words that are strong and will support your theme and structure. For example,


very hard:   difficult

very scared:   terrified

so cold: freezing

very tough: challenging

really angry: furious

  • Many people from rural areas think living in the city is very hard.
  • Many people from rural areas think living in the city is difficlut.

Don’t use There is or  There are.

When you write, you want your sentences to be to the point, concise, and strong. Don’t use “noise” or unnecessary words in your sentences. This is the same principle as #1.


There are many problems that new parents face, especially in caring for the infant at night.


New parents face many problems, especially in caring for the infant at night.



There are many projects that the new mayor implemented during his first year.


The new mayor implemented many projects during his first year.


Do not use Passive Voice in sentences, use Active voice.


The pageant was won by Miss Norway.


Miss Norway won the pageant.

The passive structure weakens your sentences. They will also appear awkward. Too much use of passive voice can cloud the meaning of your sentences.  So, what’s a passive voice?

The subject, or actor, of the sentence, is no longer active but is acted upon by the verb.

Going to the farm, the blue car is being driven by Greg(Object + verb + subject)

With the active voice, however, the subject or actor actively performs the action or is the one acting on the verb.

Greg is driving to the farm in his blue car(Subject + verb + object)

In academic writing or English tests, you want your sentences to be strong. So if you can help it, try and use the active voice.

Do not use contractions, instead, write the word in full as this is more formal.

DON’T              DO

Isn’t           :       Is not

Haven’t     :       Have not

Hasn’t       :      Has not

Don’t     :      Do not

Can’t     :      Can not

Shouldn’t :     Should not

Couldn’t   :     Could not

Wouldn’t  :     Would not

Use strong verbs.

Using the noun form of a word makes your sentence weak.

He offered help to the beggar who was sitting outside his office.

Using the verb form of the word, instead of its noun form, will make your sentence strong.

He helped the beggar who was sitting outside his office.

(noun form) He made emphasis on the three points in his presentation.

(verb form)  He emphasized the three points in his presentation.

(noun form) My children enjoyed their interaction with other kids.

(verb form)  My children enjoyed interacting with other kids.

DON’T           DO

objection : object

discussion : discussed

investigation : investigate

invasion : invade

interruption : interrupt

interaction : interact

depression : depress

excitement : excite (excited)

With these tips on the Do’s and Don’ts, plus the daily habit of writing, I am pretty sure that writing your next essay will just be a breeze!

I have a passion for the English language because it is such a powerful tool for creativity and personal development. I've been writing articles since I was in High School. I represented my school in English writing competitions in the city, regional, and national levels. When I was in college, I wrote a short story which was published in the University Literary Portfolio. In 2006, I worked as a call center agent in Cebu City. In 2007 up to 2008, I worked as an English accent trainer in a startup call center company. I have also been offering ESL lessons as a freelance tutor since February 2016.