Do you often feel helpless with English grammar when preparing for the IELTS exams, especially in writing? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. English grammar is said by many students in Taiwan to be the most difficult part in their exam preparation because of all the different verb conjugations, tenses, punctuations, and prepositions. So what can one do to brush up their English grammar skills? Here are a few tips I’d like to share today to help you becoming more confident with English grammar.

First, make sure you know what a clause is. This also includes knowing the differences between a dependent clause and an independent clause. Then make sure you know the different types of sentences in English, namely simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.  Once you are familiar with these sentence types, you can practice writing different sentences and have a peer or a teacher to check for you. Also, when you are practicing IELTS writing, either task one or two, you can always check how grammatical correct your sentences are by asking yourself what kind of sentences you are writing.

Secondly, familiarize yourself with the various verb tenses. The important ones for most IELTS tasks are present simple and continuous, present perfect, past simple and past perfect, and future tenses. A good reference book to go to would be ‘English Grammar in Use’ by Raymond Murphy (Cambridge). Another very good book to use is ‘Grammar for IELTS’ by Diana Hopkins & Pauline Cullen (Cambridge). You can use the same practice strategies by writing sentences in different tenses and ask someone to check it for you. Another very good practice is to look at different IELTS writing tasks for both task one and two, and think about what kind of verb tenses are needed to complete the task. 

Finally, don’t push yourself too hard. It will take some time to build up your grammar skills to be a more confident test taker. Remember, everything you do to practice English helps. Listen to the different grammar being used in different situations, and practice a range of IELTS test tasks will all be very helpful.