Grammatical range and accuracy is perhaps the most misunderstood grading criterion in IELTS writing. The clue is in the name: it is not enough to not make mistakes (accuracy), you also need to use a variety of grammatical structures (range). Too often candidates focus only on the mistakes.
Accuracy of grammar
Accuracy is not a simple idea and it can be though about in 2 ways.
How many mistakes
One key here is to understand that examiners look at how many error free sentences you write. For example, to get band 7, you need to be able to write “frequent” error free sentences. This means that basic grammar such as articles which you need for every sentence is very important.
What kind of mistakes
Not all mistakes are equal. The basic rule is that you need to be more accurate with simple grammar than complex grammar. For example, to get band 5 in the writing, you need to attempt more complex structures, but these do not have to be as accurate as simple structures.
Range of grammar
This is as important as accuracy. It is important to use not just a range of structures but also to use more complex structures too. It is important to understand that this grammar is not just about tenses, but also about how you organise your sentences.
Two suggestions for more complex grammar:
- If clauses are very useful for explaining and giving examples
- Relative clauses (who/that/which/when etc) will also impress the examiner and are a good example of more complex grammar.