12 Top Writing Tips for the Oxford Test of English

student writingDo you sometimes struggle putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys!) when writing in English? Many students find English a difficult language to master, before they even start to worry about spelling, sentence structure or using the right tone of voice, so if this is true you’re not alone!

To help you to overcome your writer’s block, and feel as prepared as possible when you take the Writing module of the Oxford Test of English, we’ve pulled together a list of tips and advice, and have even created a Writing Tips study guide to help you get ready.

Follow these tips and you’ll feel more confident than ever about getting a great writing result when you sit the Oxford Test of English.

Make a plan

  1. Make a weekly schedule of when – and what – you will practise. Whether it’s an hour a day, or three evenings a week, putting a structure in place will really help you to tick off those objectives, and feel fully prepared when it comes to sitting the test.
  2. Find a ‘study buddy’ – another English learner who you can practise with. Ask your ‘study buddy’ to check your work and offer to check theirs, after all a second pair of eyes could help to spot mistakes you may have missed.

Make sure you know what to expect

  1. Download the Oxford Test of English practice tests and answer keys to get used to the different kinds of questions you will find in the test.
  2. Study the sample responses in the answer keys so you can learn what the examiner will be looking for in your response.
  3. Take the Oxford Test of English demo so you know what kind of questions to expect when you do sit the test, and how it feels to take it on a computer.

Know how to answer the questions to the best of your ability

  1. Show off your vocabulary! Make sure to use your own words – don’t just copy phrases and sentences from the questions or tasks in front of you; examiners will be more impressed.
  2. Using the right level of formality is also really important – think about whether you are writing to a friend, someone you don’t know well or someone you don’t know at all. For example, if you are writing to a friend, use informal language as you would normally, but if you are writing to someone you don’t know very well, you should use neutral or formal language.
  3. Make sure you answer each question fully – sometimes you will be prompted to write about more than one thing. You will lose marks if you do not answer all parts of the question, so read it through several times before you start your response to make sure you cover all the bases.

Practise makes perfect!

  1. Get into the habit of writing in English by writing emails to your ‘study buddy’, or connecting with native English speakers on social media. If you want to, you could also change the default language on your phone or social media accounts to English so you can learn new words without even realising it.
  2. If you keep a diary, why not try writing down your thoughts in English, or start a blog? Writing about topics you feel passionate about will help it to feel more natural when you have to write in English in a test environment.
  3. Use a clock to time yourself answering practice questions. Check how long you are given to answer each question, then keep doing this until you are comfortable writing for the same amount of time that you will be given to write your answers in the actual test.
  4. Practise typing your responses, rather than writing them with a pen and paper. You will need to type your responses when sitting the Oxford Test of English, and this will also help prepare you if you need to use English in the workplace, or as you continue your studies.

Download our Oxford Test of English Writing Tips!

Our Writing Tips guide is designed to help you get the best possible score in the Writing module of the Oxford Test of English.

It has four sections – one for each part of the test: Email, Essay, Magazine Article, and Review. Each section has advice on how to answer the questions in the test, and exercises to help you put these tips into practice.

button to download writing tips guide

Are you looking for fun ways to test your English level while studying at home? This article recommends a variety of easy-to-use tools and techniques you could use to help you track your progress.


Author: Oxford University Press ELT

Every year we help millions of people around the world to learn English. As a department of the University of Oxford, we further the University’s objective of excellence in education by publishing proven and tested language learning books, eBooks, learning materials, and educational technologies.

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