Deleting Words in IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing. Is it ok to delete words in IELTS writing? Read recommendations about this below.

Many students ask me:

  1. Is it ok to delete words and make corectons corrections to your writing?
  2. Can I write news words above using the “∨” sign to insert the new word?
  3. If your writing is messy, will you get a lower score?



Deleting Words

It is completely fine to delete words in your IELTS writing. Is it natural that might want to change a word when you proof read your writing or when you have made a mistake. Many students put a line through the word they want to delete – make sure it is a strong thick line so it is easy to see. You want the examiner to be able to see clearly that the word has been deleted.

Adding Words using “∧”

It is fine to add new words into your sentences. However, make sure it is easy to read. You should not need to do this often if you plan your essay properly. You should not start writing your essay until you have a very clear plan with all ideas and supporting points planned.

Messy Writing

If the examiner can’t read your writing, then the words or sentences that can’t be read will not be counted. This means it could have a serious impact on your score. So, make sure your deleted words are clear, new words are easy to read and that your handwriting is legible. It might help to practise handwriting your essays before the test.

All the best




  1. Hello Liz,
    I want to thank you for all free lessons and information you share. All informations are useful and it helps me a lot. Wish you best

  2. Anyone can give me some link for IELTS vocabulary please.

  3. Hi Liz,
    I really love the way you simplified the writing task 2 lecture. I encourage those intending to write the test to purchase your lecture.
    I want to know if its fine to quickly write the essay in the question paper and then neatly transfer it to the answer sheet in order to avoid cancellations and errors while writing.

    • If you plan your essay thoroughly, you will not make so many mistakes and you won’t have so many corrections. You certainly won’t have time to write the essay twice. But planning, you will have time for. You should plan each paragraph, each idea, all supporting points and plan your paragraphs. When you start writing, all your ideas are already planned and you only need to think about how to write them in English. Not one sentence should be unplanned. But you definitely don’t have to write each sentence twice.

  4. hi liz,
    One of my friend suggested me to use a pen ( an erasable pen) instead pencil for the writing task which could give a good impression to the examiner. Would this help in writing task ? Excuse me if this question has been asked by someone earlier. Thank you.

  5. Abhishek Jain says

    Can I write my plan on the question paper or the answer sheet and rub it afterwards?

  6. Hi Liz, am I allowed to erase some words after the time is up if I didn’t have enough time to complete the sentence? So that there isn’t an incomplete sentence at the end of my essay.
    Also, what if i just needed to add one extra word after the time is up, should i go ahead and add it?

    • You cannot touch your paper to change anything or add anything after the time is up. If you try to do it, it is called cheating. When the exam is finished, it is finished and you can do nothing more. This is an international test with strict rules.

  7. Hi Liz
    by looking at your advanced writing task 2 lessons I have seen a sentence “As people ,we do not
    live, work or socialise apart from others.” Please could you tell me what this means
    thank you for your advanced lessons

  8. Laeeqa Maher says

    I just wanted to confirm if we can use eraser when writing with pencil.


    Mam, can i use idioms like, elbow grease, add string to bow, hot potato, couch potato, jack of all trades, catch 22,if these are make sense acc. To essay part 2.furthermore,can i use directions in pie chart? Pls reply soon… Big learner of yours

  10. Does writing in all caps while responding writing task affects band score?(my hand writing is not legible)

    • I recommend writing your answers in all capital letters for listening and reading – not for the writing test.

      • Hi Liz, I like the idea of writing in all capital letters. Let’s say, I write all my answers in capital letters but what if the audio says that “in small letters” like e-mail or websites. Does it have any problem? Thanks a lot!

  11. Your passion towards ielts lessons is appreciated.


  12. In my opinion, it is okay to make corrections by making NEAT cancellations. As long as there is no shading and roughness in d name of correction.

    I also do not see a problem with using omission mark to add omitted words. It is an accepted sign in English Language in punctuation marks. I tried to put dis in bracket but cldnt find it on my keyboard as I noticed ur own sign faced up instead of down as used my country.

    Lastly, one could lose score due to messy writing! As a teacher, I get discouraged and uninterested when marking bad/poor writing works how much more when d work is messy!

  13. Tx so much Liz. Your website has been quite helpful for my ielts preparation.

    My question, for d writing test is it really advisable or mandatory to use pencil instead of pen? I am not a pencil person!

  14. Barnabas Gyang says

    Liz, in my own opinion, there is nothing wrong in cancelling any error made and using the’ v’ tag to write above provided the writing is very clear that the examiner can see and read clearly.
    pertaining whether a candidate can loose marks if his or her work is dirty, i want to say even if am an examiner and student write a messy work that am finding difficult to read, i will definitely fail that student.

  15. Hi Liz we can use pencil to avoid such mistakes i think we should not use the symbol to inset words as we are writing on sheet

  16. Writing means carving something, one would want to be precise about sending his message with some kind of notion on readers mind. Notion might get affected by any sought of corrected error.

    But mistakes can happen.

  17. I think the best way to write ielts writing is with pencil so that when their is a mistake you just ease it but in a condition where there is not enough space you can add using the v sign below.

    • This is the best choice; however, writing with a pencil could greatly reduce the speed. Let me know if anyone have the same concern.

  18. I have a question though. If there is insufficient space to insert a sentence between lines, can we draw an arrow and point it to a location where that sentence was written?

    Dear Liz,
    Best if you could share your opinion.

  19. I believe that using ‘^’ symbol and inserting a word or two should not bring the score down. The only important thing is that your writing should be legible.

  20. Priya verma says

    I perceive making corrections is not at all wrong but making it messy is to be avoided so better to use pencil.

  21. Is the question for candidates who have attempted IELTS?

  22. The examiner can not penalise you if you made a correction in your writing. It will become messy but it is better to correct your sentence rather than leave it wrong because if you do it will affect your band score.

  23. According to my view, we must use pencils to getrid from the mistakes, as we cut off the words it will be a problem in counting..

  24. I don’t think it will lower your score but it is better if you avoid doing this in writing

  25. I had a query…if the following is the answer in writing or listening test what will it be considered one word or five words…….

    “The United States Of America”

  26. Eman Elshekh says

    Hi liz,
    Firstly, I wanna thank you for your precious effort with us.
    Kindly, I have a question in wtiting task 2.

    It has been suggested that every one in the world wants to own a car, a TV, and a fridge. Do you think the disadvantages of such a development outweigh its advantages? Give your opinion?

    In this question will I write about the disadvantages and advantages of the only examples he mentioned (car, fridge, and TV) or about the development in our life in general?

    I am waiting for your answer.
    Thank you in advance.

  27. jiji prakash says

    Try to avoid corrections, inserting words using ^ and a messy paper will of course reduce your band score. There is no doubt in it.

  28. Prakash Perumal says

    It’s better to insert the right words rather than the incorrect sentence.

  29. M. Golam Faruk says

    I think use of pencil and eraser is best way to write correctly. Because by using those we can easily edit our words.

  30. I think that’s why pencil is preferably used because one can easily erase any mistake with an eraser but if one is using pen, just rule a line on the mistake neatly and continue. Please, correct me if am wrong

  31. Abdul Sattar Shaikh says

    I think using ^ may create ambiguity and examinar could be frustrated if used many a times.
    The writing task should br clear must not contain any word cutting or adding with the use of uppar or lower symbols.
    We should use pencil in writing task so that we can erase and correct rather than cutting and using symbols.
    Hope I am right.

  32. The best approach should be to use pencil, so that you can erase easily.

  33. Dear Liz, thank you so much for creating this very useful site. I took my Speaking exam yesterday and the L, R and W today, here in Manila, Philippines under IDP (Acad, UKVI). Here are the questions I encountered in speaking and writing sections:

    part 1
    1. do you work or do you study?
    2. what’s the best for you to work?
    3. how often do you use dictionary?
    4. what will you do if someone give you a dictionary?

    My question though: is it acceptable that during part 1 the examiner made me talk a lot? I was bothered at first because I trained myself to provide 2-3sentences in each question but he kept making hand gestures suggesting “go on, talk more”. I’m pretty sure I answered his questions directly and elaborated them. I was expecting part 1 to be relaxed, 20-30seconds answer per question, and will do the long talk in part 2.

    Part 2
    °A good photograph of you
    >who took it?
    >when was it taken?
    >where was it taken?
    ff-up question: do you like yourself being taken a photograph?

    Part 3
    1. Is it necessary for a mobile phone to have camera?
    2. With access to technology, people can now edit photos. What are the effects?
    3. A lot of people are taking photos. What’s the impact?
    4. Photos are available on mobile phones, tablets, and computers. Do you think that in the future, printed photos will be unnecessary.
    5. Which is better photos in mobile phones or printed ones.

    Task 1
    Line graph about number of enquiries received by Tourism Information office, in one city from Jan to June 2011.
    mode of communications are: telephone, by letter/email and in person

    Task 2
    Some people believe that sports team eg. football are more beneficial than individual sports eg. tennis and swimming. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    That’s how I remember the questions, but, maybe not exactly the same format or wordings.

    Listening and Reading were pretty easy. I am worried of my task 2, I answered them fully but not sure if my arguments were strong/clear and well elaborated.

  34. Answers:
    1) No… As we r expected to use pencil this error can b rectified.
    2) it is possible… Though wrong but during the time of final revision, sometimes we experience such additional words. So its okk.
    3) not exactly. As every individual have their own style it cannot b expected. However
    Good writing attracts n generates the interest of reading. So better to write neatly

  35. Damilare Akinrinmade says

    if there is room to write with Pencil then that should be seriously considered else avoid it or minimize it.

  36. I think that’s why it’s preferable when you use a pencil instead of a Biro /pen in the writing test, so that you can neatly erase to make corrections.
    I believe the neater your work,the better. The examiner might be upset and not take take to read what you’ve written and mark you down.

  37. I my opinion corrections should not be a problem at all, similarly using “v” sign to insert words might not affect on your bands. But messy writing, due the fact that it might irritate the examiner to read will put negative impression and ultimately can cause problems in getting your desired band.

  38. Vimal Kamothi says

    Hi Liz,

    I think it is better to use pencil in writing as it is easy to remove the words and re-write the corrections.
    If Pen is used, it is fine to have 3-4 corrections, but if there are more corrections then it is not easy to read the essay and may lower the band score.

    Thanks & Regards

  39. I think one should avoid cancelling and striking the incorrect word. I think it would be better to use an eraser instead as this would not only make the paper look neat and confident but also would avoid any distraction to the examiner/reader created by cancelling and rewriting .

  40. Is it ok to delete words and make corectons corrections to your writing? Yes
    Can I write news words above using the “∨” sign to insert the new word? Yes. Even you can put * and write at the bottom as seperate para
    If your writing is messy, will you get a lower score? Yes

  41. I think it doesn’t really affect your ielts score . May be if you make them too often which makes it hard to understand then I agree that it will lower your band score

  42. Mathew Antony says

    1.Ithink so . 2Using a caret is ok is my guess. I don’t think it will have an impact on your score. 3. If it is too messy, it makes the reading difficult for the examiner, so probably will be the difference between a 6.5 and 7

  43. A Surprized question😯

  44. Hi Liz,

    As per my knowledge, we can erase and re-write in case of pencil. However, if its with a pen, to some extent, we can correct the spelling as long as the corrections are very minor.

    Yes we can use a ^ sign to insert a new word. I have used in my essay and it did not affect my score. So I believe that we can use ^ sign.

  45. I think it is ok to make correction unless it is messy and difficult to read. The important thing here is to avoid grammatical/spelling mistake. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  46. I think corrections are not allowed.
    Poor handwriting if words can be read is no problem.

  47. Hii mem,

    Confusion is that excellent handwriting impact on writing band score?

  48. Yes , it is fine to insert or correct words, the condition is your hand writing should be legible

  49. In my openion, I will prefer to use pencil in my writing that way if I make any mistakes I can erase and re-write.

  50. Abdul Razak says

    1. We are allowed write using pencils, so we can erase the words and rewrite.
    2. We are allowed write using pencils, so we can erase the words and rewrite.
    3. Our handwriting should be legible, examiner should be able to understand what we are writing. Otherwise we lose marks.

  51. Yes… might be it take too much space and you end up writing less words ..

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!