Does Bad Handwriting Affect My IELTS Score?

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On the record, handwriting does not have anything to do with the evaluation procedure for IELTS. Yet, handwriting is firmly connected to the process of marking indirectly.

Bad handwriting can affect your IELTS score in listening and writing modules, as the only medium of communication between you and the examiner is developed through your script. If your IELTS examiner cannot understand your writing because of your poor handwriting, you might be automatically penalized as she or he may misunderstand your answer.

You may try Fifty Ways to Practice Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Students to practice and improve writing with pen and paper and typing. By applying these methods, you will write more, write faster, and write more correct and more interesting papers and letters.

There are different styles of handwriting. Yet, you don’t need to bother with the handwriting styles. What you should consider is whether your handwriting is good or bad. In this post, I will talk about how bad or poor handwriting can affect your band score in IELTS.


3 Types of Handwriting: Cursive, Manuscript, and Calligraphy

Any writing that is done by hand with instruments like a pen or pencil is called Handwriting. It is also called penmanship. There are different types of handwriting: cursive, manuscript, and calligraphy.

The Cursive Style of Handwriting

Cursive Style of Handwriting

If successive letters are joined one after another, it is called the cursive style of handwriting. They are usually written in curved lines and are commonly used by many academic and non-academic writers.

The Calligraphy Handwriting/Decorative Style

Calligraphy Style of Handwriting

Another style of handwriting is called calligraphy, a form of art also known as the decorative style of handwriting. This form is not used in our daily writing but rather used for specific purposes as it takes too much time to write in this style.

The Manuscript Style of Handwriting

Manuscript Style of Handwriting

If the letters are separated as we find them in block letters is called the manuscript style of handwriting. This is the most common form of handwriting, widely used in every kind of writing: academic and non-academic.

In IELTS, this kind of handwriting is encouraged by most instructors. Besides, many test-takers also write in the cursive style, which is also acceptable to British Council and IDP.  

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What Is Good handwriting for IELTS

Handwriting is one of the very important features of one’s writing in IELTS. If one’s handwriting is good, she or he can easily catch the attention of the examiner. If you answer all the questions correctly but in poor handwriting, the examiner may misunderstand what you actually mean by your writing. 

However, don’t get confused between good and beautiful handwriting. Your writing does not require to be as beautiful and accurate as typed words; rather, if you can make it readable to your examiner, that’s enough. 

It would be best if you do not put your examiner in trouble reading your script with unclear and messy handwriting. And remember, she or he will never make any extra effort to understand what you have written in your script. If your answer is correct, but the examiner cannot read it, it will consider a wrong answer. Let’s make a checklist for ensuring good handwriting. Good handwriting:

  • is readable without making any extra effort.
  • contains necessary spaces between words and paragraphs.
  • is free from overwriting.
  • does not look messy.
  • requires maintaining a proper size of letters, not too big or not too small.
  • involves a standard number of words on a page, not more than 150 words.   

How to Improve Handwriting for IELTS

As you have already realized the necessity of good handwriting, I am sure that you want to improve your handwriting. You don’t need to worry about your handwriting anymore. It can be mastered by following some simple but effective ways that I am about to mention here. 

Sometimes you may find practicing monotonous and tedious as well, but you should not give up. Practice is the key! Never forget that Slow and steady wins the race. 

Practice Handwriting Regularly Can Certainly Improve Your Handwriting


You probably have heard that “practice makes a man perfect.” This is also applicable for the improvement of your handwriting as daily practice can surely enhance your handwriting quality, writing skills, and speed as well. The more you practice at home, the more your handwriting will be better. 

While you practice for IELTS at home, you should always be careful about readable handwriting. Many candidates don’t bother with their handwriting while practicing writing tasks at home or at a learning center.

As practicing at home does not expose them to a similar kind of environment as an actual test, they don’t feel like maintaining good handwriting. Here they make a blunder. 

While practicing writing for IELTS, you can easily practice handwriting at the same time. You don’t need to put extra time and effort exclusively into handwriting. Whenever you write something, no matter whether it is the practice or the actual test, be careful about your handwriting. Gradually, you will develop good handwriting, I bet.     

Think before You Write Anything

Think before You Write

No matter where you write, you should not write anything whimsical so that it needs to be erased later. If you keep writing and erase them too frequently, as a whole, your writing will look messy. So, whatever you want to write, be sure that you will not erase it later. Yet, there will be some unavoidable situations when you have to do it. But don’t overdo it. 

Get Feedback About Your Handwriting from Others


Feedback is very important for a learner because sometimes it is found difficult to assess own self. To know how your handwriting is, you can show your writing to your teachers, colleagues, friends, and family members as well. They can say whether your handwriting is readable or not. You may not ask for feedback for the contents, but of course, for the handwriting. No doubt!

Spelling and Diction Have a Lot to Do with Handwriting

Most of our handwriting looks messy because of the frequent changing of words. Sometimes, while writing, we write a word and immediately feel to change it. We erase the previous word and put in the new word. And if it happens several times in one writing, the whole page will look overwritten and chaotic.

Even if you change the spelling of too many words in your writing, you will find your writing too messy. So, be careful about your diction and spelling.   

Be Careful about Writing Instruments: Pen or Pencil

Writing Instruments

IELTS allows both pen and pencil to write on the answer script. It is always better if you can use a pencil to write so that you can erase and replace the erased word with a new one. But if you are confident that you don’t need to change anything, you can use a pen.

If you use a pencil, make sure it is sharpened enough. And don’t forget to keep a sharpener and an eraser with you. Erase any wrong word completely and replace it with the new one.

If you use a pen, try to keep more than one. And if you again need to erase any word or want to bring changes in your writing, cut the wrong word completely with a straight line and write the new word. 

Different candidates may have different choices of pens. There are different pens on the market. Pick one that you feel confident and comfortable writing with.  

Some Quick Tips So That Your Handwriting Looks Alright in IELTS

  • Practice writing at least a paragraph daily.
  • Try not to go over the lines in the answer sheet.
  • Provide proper space between the words and paragraphs.
  • Try to avoid the cursive style of writing. 
  • Don’t indent your paragraphs. Just leave a space between two paragraphs.
  • Check and recheck before you submit.

In Conclusion

Though handwriting in IELTS directly doesn’t affect your IELTS band score, you must take care of it. If your examiner finds it difficult to understand what you write, you will certainly be in trouble.

So, try to understand what good handwriting means. Clear and comprehensive handwriting is crucial to any sort of writing: academic or professional.

Thanks for reading.

Happy learning.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 7 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

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