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Grammar for IELTS : Top Rules & Best Books

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

grammar for ielts

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most widely accepted language proficiency exams that test the candidate’s familiarity with the English language in four aspects: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Candidates taking the exam are evaluated on the nine-band scale, where 9 is the highest band score and 0 is the lowest. 

To get a decent band score in IELTS, students must develop a fine hold on their grammar.  Even though grammar is not tested directly in the exam,  it impacts the overall band score of the candidates. Before we move further by knowing the tips to improve grammar in each section, let’s start by knowing the importance of grammatical range in the exam.

Grammar for IELTS- Why is it important?

There is no direct focus on grammar in the IELTS, but you will need good grammar for IELTS writing, speaking, listening, and reading sections. Grammatical structures and components will help you clearly express your ideas in the listening and reading sections.

Of course, for speaking and writing sections, you will need to demonstrate grammatical competence strongly. You should be able to appropriately use passives, tenses, gerunds, infinitives, articles, and determiners. Knowledge of adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, pronouns, and punctuation is also essential.

IELTS Grammar Syllabus

There is no set syllabus that students must go through to prepare for the IELTS exam. However, they are advised to go through these topics to understand the grammatical structure better;

  • Nouns
  • Adjectives
  • Prepositions
  • Modals
  • Pronouns
  • Article rules
  • Tense
  • Metaphors and similes
  • Degree of comparison rules.

Now that you have an idea about the general grammatical structure that students should be familiar with to get a decent score in IELTS. The assessment of each section and the role of grammar is given in the table below.

Section Assessment criteria 
IELTS Speaking section: This section usually lasts for 11 to 14  minutes. It consists of three rounds that the candidates evaluate based on their speaking skills. The examiner assesses the candidates based on their pronunciation, fluency, and confidence. To score good bands in the speaking section, candidates must have a fair understanding of grammar. 
IELTS Listening Section: In the listening section, candidates listen to recordings of native speakers based on which they are supposed to answer 40 questions. They are allotted 30 minutes to solve this section. 

The examiner evaluates the candidates based on their ability to grasp detailed facts in a short period. Good command of grammar can help produce appropriate responses in the allotted time. 


 

IELTS Reading Section: The reading section includes three parts where candidates get 60 minutes to skim through the passages and answer 40 questions. The candidates are evaluated based on their ability to understand the passage and answer the questions within the allotted time. Proper grammatical knowledge would go a long way in helping the candidates with the same. 
IELTS Writing Section: In this section, the candidates are supposed to finish two writing tasks in 60 minutes. The examiner evaluates the candidates based on four distinct criteria: grammatical range and accuracy. 

 

IELTS Grammar - Writing Band Descriptors

For every component of the writing section of the IELTS examination, you will get a band score. The average of these scores will lead to your final score in the writing section. For example, if someone gets band-6 scores in three subsections with a band-5 score in one subsection, the total will be 5.5.

Here is a brief look at the band descriptors:

Band TypeLexical Resource Accuracy and Grammatical RangeTask Achievement Coherence and Cohesion 
9.More sophisticated with better control over word usage. Only a few minor mistakes.

Proper use of diverse 

grammatical structures with minimal errors.

The task requirements are met, and a fully developed response is presented.


 

Skillfully managed to achieve consistency in the task. 
8Only some rare spelling or word-formation mistakes.Makes several types of structures, with most sentences being free from errors. There are only a few occasional mistakes.
  • The task requirements are covered, and the key features are 

appropriately presented. 


 

The information and ideas are logically sequenced, and all

aspects of cohesion are managed. 


 

7Occasional mistakes in spelling, choice of words, and formation of words.Complex grammatical structures and sentences are used. The sentences are frequently free from errors. Grammar control is good, and so is punctuation. However, some errors do occur periodically.

Achieve the task requirement, show a clear overview of main trends, and highlight the key features.


 

 

There is a logical  progression in information and 

ideas. Appropriate use of cohesive devices. 


 

6Errors in forming words and spelling, although they do not hinder overall communication.Utilizes both simple and complex sentences. There are some errors made in punctuation and overall grammar. However, the candidate can express meanings clearly.Requirements of the task are achieved, the overview is presented with the appropriate information, and the key features are highlighted.

The flow of ideas and information follows a coherent progression. Cohesive devices are effectively used


 

5Makes errors in word formation and spelling. It may lead to a few problems for readers.Limited range of sentence and grammatical structure. Complex sentence accuracy is lower. Punctuation and grammar errors are more frequent.Generally addresses the task without following the proper format. Details are mechanically presented without any clear overview. Some keys were covered inadequately. Lack of overall progression in the information presented. Cohesive devices are inaccurately used 
4Control is limited over forming words and spelling. Readers will face more difficulties.Limited structure usage with subordinate clauses being used rarely. Some structures may be accurate, although punctuation is prone to errors.

The task has been addressed, but key features are not addressed. Some of the details included may be

Irrelevant or repetitive.

Lack of coherence between the ideas and information that has been presented. Basic cohesive devices are inappropriately used. 
3The core meaning may be changed due to frequent errors.Tries forms of sentences, but there are frequent punctuation and grammar errors that may change the meaning of sentences.

Fails to address the task that might have been misunderstood. Writes confined ideas that may be repetitive. 



 

Ideas are not reasonably presented. Usage of cohesive devices is limited, and those used are irrelevant. 
2No control over spelling and formation of words.Unable to use proper forms of sentences. Usage only in cases where some phrases have been memorized or learned.The answer is hardly relevant to the task.There is an apparent lack of organization in the attempted task. 
1.Can use only a few isolated words. Unable to use any form of sentences.The answer does not relate to the task.Inability to communicate any message. 

If you carefully observe these descriptors, you will understand the importance of the following:

  • Accuracy in word forms.
  • Writing complex sentences.
  • A diverse range of grammar structures.
  • Accurate grammar and punctuation.

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Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

Top Grammar Rules for a Higher Band Score 

Here are some important grammar rules that will help you improve your grammatical skills and score more in IELTS:

  1. The simple aspect: This is the foremost rule that you must follow. In the IELTS speaking section, the examiner asks general questions about yourself. While answering the questions, you must make sure that you use the correct verb tense and aspect. There are two types of verb tenses; simple and continuous. If you talk about ordinary things, you use simple tenses. However, if you are speaking about something happening at the time of speaking, you would use the present continuous tense. This rule also applies to part 1 of the writing section, where the answer demands the description of graphs and diagrams. 
  2. Use of The Present Perfect and Simple Past Verb Tenses: In the IELTS Speaking section, candidates must have to talk about their past events related to them. They also have to decide whether those events align with the present. Therefore they must become mindful of the tense they use while speaking. Practicing tenses regularly can help them pass this section. 
  3. Passive voice and its relevance: Passive voice helps in giving a more formal touch. You can always choose to be along with the past participle, i.e., spoken (speak) or written (write). For example, Three more courses were selected last year. Both writing tasks in the IELTS test will require the usage of passive voice, especially in the reports.
  4. Absorb modal verbs: These verbs express crucial elements in sentences. Some of them include may, might, or even could. They may indicate uncertain but possible future actions. For example,
  • We could be early if we travel non-stop, or I may wish to spend my time reading. 
  • I might want to shift to another country if the conditions are favorable. 

Modal verbs will help you in the listening and reading sections of the IELTS examination. You can also use these verbs for generalizing or probability. 

5. Using ‘the’ definite article is essential for describing aspects/people that the speaker already knows. For example,

  • Can you put the washing machine on? 
  • We are not going by helicopter
  • 6. Adjective comparison: Adjectives could be used as often as you describe things, people, and a situation. The appropriate use of adjectives will be helpful in the writing and speaking section of IELTS. While answering the questions in both sections, you may also need to compare the adjectives using superlatives and comparatives. For example, It is a safer bet for everyone, or It is the safest option for all residents. 
  • 7. Avoid spelling errors: There may make some spelling mistakes in the IELTS exam. For example, writing an extra ‘l’ in adverbs or adding ‘ing’ to ‘ed’ verbs. To avoid such mistakes, ensure that you practice well by solving the sample question papers. 

Tips to Improve Grammar for IELTS

A basic knowledge of correct grammatical structures goes a long way in helping the candidates get the desired overall band score in IELTS. To improve your grammar for IELTS, you can follow some of the following tips;

  1. Start reading literary materials: The more you indulge yourself in reading distinct literary materials, the more ideas you’ll gain about the grammatical range used in the text. Start by spending at least one hour reading a newspaper or any book you prefer. Take a note of the formation of sentence structure. Also, try reading the sentences with pauses and pronunciations to get the grammar right and become familiar with your intonation patterns. 
  2. Listen to podcasts: Listening to podcasts could be a helpful way to work on your grammar while preparing for the IELTS exam. There are several podcasts on Spotify that you can listen to learn useful tips. Some of these podcasts are the IELTS podcast, Magoosh IELTS, and IELTS with Fiona.
  3. Practice writing on an everyday basis: Along with reading books and newspapers and listening to podcasts, start writing on the topics that interest you. Check the grammatical range and accuracy of every piece you write. In the beginning, you might make many mistakes, but eventually, you will develop an understanding of making grammatically correct sentences. 
  4. Learn synonyms: Another effective way of enhancing your grammatical skills is to learn new words and synonyms every day. Start writing them and frequently revise so that you remember. This practice will help you write efficiently in the writing section and answer questions more fluently in the speaking section. 
    Be mindful while using the punctuation marks: Punctuation marks are an essential part of IELTS Writing. To score good bands in the writing section, the candidates should take care of punctuation marks. The wrong punctuation mark can totally change the entire meaning of the sentence. For example, Eat your dinner and Eat, you’re dinner is two different sentences because of the punctuation marks.

Know More:

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Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

IELTS IDIOMS GUIDE
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Best Grammar Books for IELTS

There are many options if you are looking for the best grammar book for IELTS. Some of them include the following:

  • Oxford Practice Grammar Advanced, G. Yule
  • Basic English Grammar, Betty Schrampfer Azar
  • English Grammar in Use, R. Murphy
  • Grammar for IELTS, D. Hopkins, P. Cullens
  • Collins Grammar for IELTS (Advanced)
  • Oxford Practice Grammar Intermediate, J. Eastwood
  • Get IELTS Band 9 Grammar Secrets
  • Achieve IELTS Grammar and Vocabulary
  • Cobuild English Grammar (Advanced)
  • Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CD by Diana Hopkins
  • Focus on IELTS by Sue O’Connell
  • The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS Student’s Book with Answers with DVD ROM- Vanessa Jakeman, Amanda French, and Pauline Cullen

Booster Programs

To prepare the aspirants for their study abroad journey, upGrad Abroad has launched a 12-week-long booster program that assists students in IELTS preparation, Academic Writing, Profile Building, University Application,  Education Loan, and Visa process. The program also features an International Faculty Masterclass where the leading subject matter experts and corporate leaders share their experiences with the students.

Download IELTS Sample Papers

Reading sample test
Writing sample test
Ielts sample paper1

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some valuable tips for following the Grammar for IELTS?

Some useful tips that aspirants can practice to ace the IELTS grammar are; learning the appropriate use of the tenses, speaking in passive voice, utilizing practice modules to exercise changing active voice to passive voice, avoiding the unnecessary usage of modal verbs, and drafting sentences using proper articles and adjectives.

How can I improve my IELTS writing grammar?

Some of the best practices to improve your grammar for IELTS writing are; learning synonyms, using the tenses appropriately, and practicing the sample questions. The more practice you do, the better you would get in identifying the mistakes and rectifying them. 

Does grammar matter in the IELTS speaking section?

Yes, grammar matters in the IELTS speaking section. Candidates are evaluated based on their fluency and pronunciation. A fine hold over grammar helps with fluency, which eventually clarifies the responses.

What type of grammar is needed for IELTS?

The IELTS exam does not test the grammar of the candidates separately. However, candidates must possess basic grammatical knowledge to get a good band score.

How to improve grammar for IELTS?

Some of the valuable tips you can follow to improve grammar for IELTS are; reading books and newspapers, listening to podcasts, practicing writing on an everyday basis, learning synonyms, and taking care of the punctuation marks.

Which grammar topics are common in IELTS?

The most common grammar topics for IELTS include Nouns, Modals, Adjectives, Pronouns, Articles, Tenses, Metaphor and Simile, Degree of comparison, etc.

What are some popular books you can refer to get good bands in IELTS?

Some popular books you can refer to get good bands in IELTS are Cambridge Grammar for IELTS Student’s Book, Grammar For IELTS, Cobuild English Grammar, English Grammar in Use, Collins Grammar for IELTS, etc.

How can I improve my grammar for IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2 ?

Some effective tips you can follow to improve your grammatical skills to score better in IELTS Writing are; to learn some basic grammar rules, solve sample questions every day, learn synonyms and revise them regularly, listen to podcasts and take the help of youtube tutorials. Some of the top youtube channels you can refer to are Fastrack IELTS and IELTS Liz. These tips work for both, Task 1 and Task 2.

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