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Many people preparing for IELTS ask if they should set the timer while writing practice essays and stick to it or just allow themselves loads of time and not bother until the real exam. As you can deduce from the post’s title, I advise to try different approaches.

Slow writing

On the one hand, in the course of preparation you can spend days on one essay. Because let’s face it there’s no one out there to stop you from it. But seriously, there are a lot of advantages to it.
Before writing you can research the topic, analyze other people’s opinions, find relevant examples and so on. Learning this information will give you ideas in the real exam.

If you don’t limit your time you can raise the vocabulary and grammar level of your essay. Don’t hesitate to remember some sophisticated expressions in your own language and then find suitable translation into English. Study them afterwards. Think of constuctions and phrases you are likely to be able to use in whatever essay you will have to write in the exam. 
An important point is organization of essays. You should pay a lot of attention to it: practise planning, improving your connection between sentences and paragraphs. Don’t forget to first write more general things and then explain and give examples. Taking your time you can improve the logic not only of the essay you are writing, but also the skill of writing coherently.
Another bonus of unlimited time is that you can correct yourself. Do so while practising and at the time of exam. Notice your frequent weaknesses and train yourself to avoid them. Or at least remember to search for them and make corrections.

Fast writing

On the other hand, practising under the real exam conditions is totally essential. You should realize how it feels to write an essay within 40 minutes. Learn to manage your time effectively. Track your preparedness. But apply a different strategy.
Do not research the topic or bother to come up with brilliant ideas – at the end of the day, your IELTS essay is just a language test. The reason why I recommended to develop your understanding of common topics above (not within 40 minutes) is that it helps you recall at least something. Under the time restriction you should only do as much – just write something so long as it’s relevant and logical. Want a Pulitzer Prize? Think about it outside your 40 minutes essay time!
As regards vocabulary and grammar – focus on what you know and build your content on it. For instance, you know the phrase “juvenile delinquency” and have the topic about parenting – construct an example of flawed upbringing leading to crimes. You got the hint.
In terms of organizing your essay you should strictly follow this strategy. Only think once what to write – while planning, after that just realize the plan. Do not rewrite over and over no matter how maniac a perfectionist you are.
Finally, spend only a couple of minutes to proofread your essay and correct only what is needed, do not embellish anything – if are still writing when the time is over, you are subject to disqualification.
So, these are some tips on how to organize slow and fast essay writing while preparing for IELTS. Feel free to share your own ideas!

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