The difference between a band score 8 and a band score 6.5 essay


Why do some essays get a band score 8 and others only get a score of 6.5? Firstly, let’s review the criteria used to determine whether an essay meets a higher or lower score.

  • A score of band 8 will result if the candidate:
  • addresses all parts of the writing task sufficiently in at least 250 words.
  • creates a well-developed response with specific examples to support the main ideas
  • uses connectors to sequence points in a logical manner.
  • uses paragraphs in a cohesive format
  • writes with a variety of vocabulary and uses accurate grammar

Now, let’s take a look at two examples with the same essay title that received different scores. Here’s the first paragraph of an essay that received 6.5:


Many students travel to other countries for further education. Are the benefits of this experience greater than the disadvantages associated with it?

Since the last fifteen years, there are more students traveling around for to study on international universities. I will investigate the advantages and disadvantages on this pattern in this essay.


In this example, the writer develops the idea that more students are traveling abroad to study. There are six grammatical errors (highlighted) in the use of preposition and tense. Moreover, the introduction is short and the range of language is appropriate but basic. This paragraph deserves a score of 6.5.

Now, let’s take a look at the introduction of an essay with a score of Band 8:


Many students travel to other countries for further education. Are the benefits of this experience greater than the disadvantages associated with it?

There has been an increasing number of students travelling internationally for continued education in recent years. While some people say that studying abroad is a positive experience, others suggest that there are several problems associated for it. I think that the advantages of a study-abroad experience outweigh the drawbacks.


In this instance, the writer provides a more developed introduction with a reference to the pros and cons of studying abroad. Although there is one preposition error, the complex sentence with While is well constructed. The paragraph is coherent and there is a wide variety of language. Moreover, the writer has used synonyms (continued education instead of further education). This type of writing merits a score of 8.

Let’s read the presentation of the first point in the essay that merited a score of 6.5:


First of all, study abroad is very good and you can meet a lot of persons from other place. You can see opportunities to study new subjects you are not seeing at your hometown. While, you should be feeling lonely and feeling homesickness over time. As example, I have had this very experience when I studied in England three years before.


In this extract, the writer has attempted to present a topic sentence with an example, but there are significant grammar and tense issues. An incorrect collocation is used; the writer should have used have opportunities instead of see opportunities. Also, he uses While instead of However. An example of studying abroad is provided, but it is not clear why this example is given or what is shows in relation to the topic sentence. Although this paragraph is understandable, the redundancy (use of seeing twice in line 3), the lack of a conclusive example and incorrect grammar will limit the score to a 6.5.

Now, let’s examine a first paragraph scored at Band 8:


Firstly, a study-abroad program allows the opportunity to experience education in a new culture. For example, the Erasmus program offers European students to attend university in Ireland or another EU country. A student can develop English language skills of the country they are visiting. Furthermore, they can learn in a new system which is different. This is a truly invaluable experience for anyone who wants to enrich their education


This paragraph offers a clear topic sentence which is structurally accurate. The writer then elaborates the topic further by giving a very specific example. An appropriate linking word (Furthermore) develops the main idea. The employment of connectors is precise; the use of vocabulary is varied and appropriate.

To summarize, the essay with the higher score has a cohesive structure, a well-developed answer with specific examples, linking words, wide language range and clear use of grammar