This is a guest post from Tish Kirkland of Yes! IELTS. Tish is an IELTS expert and is able to give you an insider’s view of what does and does not work in IELTS. I particularly like her advice here. She not only explains an important detail about something very practical in the exam, she also puts it in the context of a big point: the need to plan your writing well.
In case you’re wondering, Tish is available as a highly professional IELTS tutor. Almost everyone, whatever their level, can benefit from some help and I suggest you read the testimonials from some of Tish’s happy students.
In answer to whether crossing out (striking through) is acceptable: yes it is, as long as it is neat and tidy. There should not be lots of black lines with one or two non-crossed out within a paragraph of mainly crossed out words.
Remember, the examiner isn’t going to read something that is crossed out: they are only concerned about your end message, not about the process. When marking dozens of essays, an examiner is not going to take special time/effort to read under crossed out lines.
What about using an eraser (rubber)? A gap left when erasing is also acceptable, as long as the word has been completely erased. Basically, you want to make it as easy as possible for the examiner to read your text. It’s easier on the eye to skim over clearly crossed out words, rather than skip over gaps which may or may not be completely blank.
Personally, I prefer crossing out because it is clear that the word has been deleted. It’s OK to cross out a whole sentence, or even a whole paragraph if you need to – and (more importantly) if you have time.
Ideally, if you plan your essay well, you should not need to be crossing out except in the final (checking) stages of your 40 minutes, and that should only be to make minimal alterations to minor grammar or spelling mistakes. This is one reason why taking time at the beginning of your writing process is essential to your exam success.
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