Punctuation Practice for IELTS
The importance of using correct punctuation
Punctuation is extremely important in the IELTS test. For an example take a look at the writing test criteria under the section Grammatical Range and Accuracy for the following bands:
Band 5: "may make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation may be faulty; errors can cause some difficulty for the reader"
Band 6: "makes some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication"
Band 7: "has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors"
As you can see, too many punctuation errors could make all the difference to which band score you end up getting. So, if you are aiming at band 7 or above, how many mistakes can you make? Well, "a few" means 1 or 2 in the whole 150+ or 250+ words. Preferably, you'll make none.
So preparation is key.
Whenever you are reading in English, whether it is for work, study, or pleasure, rather than just moving on to the next thing you had planned, take a moment to study the punctuation the author has used. You do not need to make any notes (although you can if you wish); simply pay close attention to the punctuation used. If you make this a regular habit, you will internalise the rules of English punctuation automatically and come the exam you will be able to punctuate to a level which matches your other writing skills.
Take a look at the paragraphs below. Both are excerpts from model answers for IELTS writing test Task 1. However, they have had their punctuation removed. See if you can add back in.
overall the number of people living in the cities shown in the graph increased significantly between 1970 and 2010 while the population of all five cities grew some cities saw a much larger increase than others for example while bombay experienced a four and a half fold increase from 5 million to approximately 27 million new york saw a growth of just 3 million over the same 40 year period
the two pie charts give the percentage of total world wide online sales for five retail sectors in 2008 and 2018
the overall trend for this ten year period is clear sales in the films and music sector grew while sales in the other four sectors shrank the travel sector saw the largest decrease shrinking from 37% of total sales to just 29%