punctuation marks in ielts writing test

It is hard to imagine good writing without proper punctuation. A sentence, a paragraph will have at least a period, a comma, or other punctuation marks. Without proper punctuation it would be confusing for the readers to read and understand perfectly well. There are 14 punctuation marks but we may not use all of these marks in the IELTS Writing test  but most of them may appear in almost all of the sentences that we write.

Make meaningful sentences with right punctuation marks

Punctuation should be parallel. It shall follow all the rules. You can’t add a comma, a dash anywhere you want. You will have to be very specific in use of punctuation marks.

Check out the given sentences.

Incorrect: The students, the rank holders from Anna Mary School-went on an excursion last week.

Correct: The students, the rank holders from Anna Mary School, went on an excursion last week.

When you would like to separate things, ideas or elements within the same sentence, you will have to use commas.

Additionally, you use it in letter writing after salutation and closing.

  • Martha wanted green, black, and blue scarves.
  • Dear Ms. Anna,

It is used to separate two different and complete sentences.

  • They bought the ice cream, and they gave it to the beggar.

Use of Dash (en dash and em dash)

An en dash (–) is a punctuation mark that appears more often in writing, almost all types of writings. Whether you are writing an essay, an article or a letter, you will have to use it to make your writing perfect.

Dash such as en dash (–) is used to connect numbers or to connect different elements of a compound adjective.


Princeton–New York trains.
Well, em dash (—) is a bit longer than en dash. It is more often used to show a break in a sentence or an idea, a thought, etc. It is used to introduce a phrase (that is generally added to provide more details, more emphasis, etc). It is used to separate two different clauses.

Check out this sentence.

They wanted to buy only three packets of detergents—but the shopkeeper persuaded them to buy 5 packets.

Use of Colon

Wondering where you have to use colon? Well, it is simple. Generally, it appears at the end of the main clause.


List: I have five friends: Mary, Suzan, Martha, Jennifer and Lohan.

Elaboration: They have decided to move to a new house: they have been given permission to sell their old house.

Using a Semicolon

Most of the candidates get confused about where to use a semicolon. But, its use is simple. Generally, it is used for equal emphasis.

If there is a compound sentence that doesn’t have coordinating conjunction, using a semicolon to join related independent clauses is recommended.

John replied to my question abruptly; He seemed disturbed.

You will use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb with the goal to join two clauses in a compound sentence.

The party hall was very crowded; however, the host presented gifts to every visitor.

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