Deleting words & editing your work in IELTS

I am often asked by my students:

1. Is it acceptable to make corrections to your writing in the IELTS writing?

2. Can I write new above using a “v” symbol to indicate where I want to place the word?

3. Will I lose points if my handwriting Is messy or untidy?

4. Is it okay if I delete some words after the time is up if I did not have time to complete my sentence?

5. Can I use an eraser if I am writing with a pencil?


1.       First of all, it is totally acceptable for you to delete/cross out/ erase words from your IELTS writing. It is totally normal that once you have finished your writing you will desire to change a word choice to either improve your writing or to correct a mistake. Typically, students cross a line through the word which they wish to change.

2.       It is okay for you to insert new words in your sentence. Though, you should ensure that your essay is easy to read and follow. Try to avoid doing this regularly throughout your essay as it will make it hard to read. A good way to avoid this problem, is to plan your essay before you begin writing. This means that you will have done most of your thinking before you start helping you to minimise mistakes.

3.       If the examiner is unable to understand what you have written, then the words or sentences which are not clear will not be counted. This could have severe consequences for your score. Please, ensure that your deleted words are clear, your new words are easy to understand and that your handwriting is overall easy to read. It is strongly recommended that you practice your handwriting skills before your exam. Give an essay to a friend and see if they can understand your writing.

4.       After the exam has finished and your time is up you are not allowed to make any adjustments. If you do continue to write, it will be viewed as cheating and you could face serious repercussions with regards to your test.

5.       Yes, you should be able to use an eraser if writing with a pencil. However, please double check with your test centre before your exam.

Good luck!

Richard Forrest