(a) I can score more than 90% in grammar multiple-choice questions.
(b) I make grammar mistakes when writing essays.
(c) I understand words like “intense” and “fascinating”
(d) I don’t use words like “intense” and “fascinating” in my own writing.
What do your answers show?
You answered ‘no’ to (a). You need to familiarise yourself more with grammar rules.
You answered ‘no’ to (c). You need to increase your vocabulary.
You answered ‘yes’ to (a) and (b). Your discrete knowledge of grammar is at an acceptable level but you are not applying your knowledge.
You answered ‘yes’ to (c) and (d). You have a passive vocabulary which you do not activate when you write.
So how do you help yourself?
If you belong in Category 1 or 2, you need: DISCRETE KNOWLEDGE.
Grammar – a good grammar assessment book will be able to help you. Learn the rules, understand the exceptions and then, practise, practise, practise!
Vocabulary – rather than learning vocabulary through assessment books, read books and take note of the words that you encounter. Then you will understand how the words are used and when to use them.
If you belong in Category 3 or 4, you need: APPLIED LEARNING.
Good news! You already have knowledge. You do not need more assessment type exercises. Instead, push yourself to use the knowledge that you do have.
Grammar – give yourself 5 minutes to check before handing up your work. If you are careful about checking, the 5 minutes can help you produce work that has no careless mistakes.
Vocabulary – practise some of the exercises below:
(1) Pick 10 words that you know but do not use often. Then write a story and make sure that you include all 10 words. Underline the 10 words. This helps you practice flexibility of ideas and activate your vocabulary.
(2) Pick a verb. Then list all the synonyms of the verb that you can find in a thesaurus. Next, write a short story or description where at least 5 of the synonyms are used.
You get the idea! Know which category you belong to and make effective use of your time.