what is the meaning of off-topic? How to make sure that the writing tasks are not off topic?


If you are planning to take the IELTS test , which is the International English Language Testing System, which is commonly known as the IELTS test, you should be knowing several factors which could increase or decrease your score drastically. Of the many factors that lower your score in the writing test specially, there is one common Criterion which must be satisfied in order to get a high score and that is staying on the topic. In this article, we shall understand what is the meaning of staying on the topic or what could happen if you go off topic.

There are four sections in the IELTS test, whether it is the IELTS academic module or it is the IELTS general training module. The main components of the test are the listening, reading, writing and speaking test respectively. All the test takers who are attempting IELTS test have to answer the questions which are divided into these four divisions and finally the score is given based on the performance in these individual components.

Now, let us understand some of the basic features of the IELTS writing test. The IELTS writing test differs from the academic test to  the general training test. In accordance with this, the writing test is divided into academic Writing and the general training writing.

In the academic writing test, the candidates should finish writing a report as well as an essay within a time duration of 60 minutes. In the  general training version of the test, the test takers have to complete writing a letter and essay within 1 hour.

While they are doing so, there are certain rules and procedures to be followed by everybody so that you score well.

1. The first and foremost point that has to be remember is that write in such a way that the essay on the task 1 follows a minimum word count and it is not underlength.

2. Focus on the theme of the essay and the letter of the report write in accordance with the given question prompt only. Do not write anything other than what you are asked to write about.

3. Use the appropriate grammar to represent your point or your opinion, and while doing so, use a wide range of grammar to support your statements.

4. Do not try to memorize the essays the letters or the reports. This is one very serious factor which made even let your band score to fall down to zero.

5. Do not in use common vocabulary multiple times. The IELTS is based on English and hence you have to show that you don’t know the range of vocabulary related to the topic and how to use them appropriately in the correct context suitably.

6. Read the question thoroughly to understand what exactly is being asked. Based on your understanding of the question, develop the responses completely supporting statements and examples which are relevant to the question.

7. Ensure that your writing is legible. Illegible handwriting is considered as an error.

8. Spelling mistakes, if noticed repeatedly, will surely lead to lower scores.

9. Last but not least, punctuations play a very important role in the IELTS writing test. Many test takers are not aware of the fact that this punctuations will justify the meaning of the complete sentence and hence, if they are not used properly, the whole meaning of the sentence may change.

So, now that you are aware of what are the various factors that will lead to decreasing your score in the IELTS writing test, latest now focus on one of these factors which is off topic.

Off topic is a very serious issue that has to be kept in your mind when you are writing the exam. There are several reasons why your score will be lowered if the essay deviates from the original topic. Here are some of the major reasons.

1. If the topic is about a particular theme, and if the candidate is not sticking to the topic, then the whole idea the essay does not make any sense. The sole purpose is defeated. This will be taken into account as a serious factor for lowering the score.

2. Some candidates will not deviate from the topic wantedly. It just happens because they are not aware of the topic and hence they write about some other topic. We shall consider the following example to understand this point in detail.

Let us imagine that the given essay question is about global warming. Global warming is a negative scenario. It means that due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide released from various sources, the earth’s temperature is increasing, what is leading to a situation global warming or heating up the Earth surface. The candidates are expected to write the points which are related to this situation of global warming.

But, if you are not aware of what global warming is, and you mistake the question for globalisation, that would be a very serious error. Globalisation, unlike global warming, is a positive situation. Globalisation is nothing but development of all the countries around the globe leading to Rapid development.

If you carefully observe, the first one, that is global warming, has to be dealt with in a negative ideology, where has the second one which is globalisation has to be sent on a positive note. These are two contrasting or two different topics. If you confuse one with the other, then that is called off topic.

How to stay on the topic?

The main thing to consider while writing the essay is that you should be aware of the various topics that are commonly given in the test. Some of these topics are

a. Education

b. Environment

c. Society

d. Security and safety

e. Language

f. Business

g. Online shopping

h. Place of living

i. Economy

j. Government

The next point is to gather the ideas and the vocabulary related to these topics. When you collect the vocabulary relevant to this, you can use them for both writing and speaking tests. Staying on the topic is very important, and you should try to focus on this for the whole writing test.


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