What does the IELTS Writing Test include?

You have 60 minutes to complete two tasks.

Task 1 is 150 words (minimum)
Task 2 is 250 words (minimum)

Academic Task 1: You need to describe visual information (for example, a graph/table/chart or diagram).

General Training Task 1: You need to respond to a situation, for example, requesting information or explaining a situation in letter, for example.

Academic and General Training Task 2: You need to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

You can see examples of the IELTS Writing Test on the IELTS pages.

How do the IELTS examiners decide what score to give you for writing?

Tasks 1 and 2

You need to know what the examiner is looking for in your writing. These are the four questions the examiner will be thinking about when looking at your writing:

1. Task Response

How well do you follow the instructions in the question?

2. Coherence and Cohesion

Are the ideas well organised, linked together and easy to follow?

3. Lexical Resource

Do you use good vocabulary?

4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Do you use good grammar?

Task 2 contributes twice as much to the writing score as Task 1. So Task 2 is worth a lot more.

You can see details about the band descriptors for the IELTS Writing Test for Task 1 and Task 2.

How can you improve your score?

Do you need to feel more confident when you write in English? We believe that the best way to improve your score in writing is to get high quality detailed feedback. You need someone to tell you the mistakes you make in writing. We can offer you a complete correction service on your writing with the detailed audiovisual feedback you need to improve so you can achieve your goals.

There are three important things you need to do to succeed in the IELTS Writing Test:

  1. Firstly, you need to develop your ability to use the English language and writing skills, including grammar and vocabulary. Are you ready for the IELTS Test? Don’t take the IELTS Test before you are ready! Taking the test before you are ready is not useful and is expensive. How can you improve your English language level and writing skills?
  2. Secondly, you need to get to know the IELTS exam and learn good strategies. What do you need to do in the IELTS Writing Test, and what are the best strategies for you to get a good score?
  3. Finally, you need to practise and get high quality feedback so you know how to improve your writing. How can you practise? Do you need to get the feedback you need on your writing so you can improve your score and achieve your goals? Click here.

Taking a look at points 1, 2 and 3 in detail:

Point 1 – Improve Your Skills

Are you ready for the IELTS Test? How can you improve your English language level and writing skills?

You must develop your general level of English and then your IELTS Test techniques if you really want to improve your IELTS Test score.

Develop good habits. Do you have good study habits?
Study grammar. It takes time and effort to understand and be able to use grammar in a foreign language. If you want to be successful in the IELTS Writing Test, you need to be have good control of English language grammar. One way to improve grammar is to take lessons, but self-study is also important. You can improve your level by yourself. One of the best books for studying grammar for the IELTS Test is Cambridge English, Grammar for IELTS. This book is especially written for learners who want to improve grammar in IELTS writing. However, the book is for learners who already have an upper-intermediate level or above. If you are at a lower level, you should study a lower level book first, for example, English Grammar in Use.

You need to learn how to write good sentences, link the sentences well and write paragraphs.

Read a wide range of texts frequently. Good writers are good readers. Reading will help you improve your writing in many ways, including grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation. Use the texts as models to show you how to write well in English. Focus on sentence structure and see how words are combined together to communicate information and ideas. Look at how text flows, because good flow is what you need to achieve.

Work on developing your vocabulary. In the IELTS Writing Test 25% of the score is for vocabulary. Because vocabulary is so important for all parts of the IELTS Test, we offer you a complete free help section on vocabulary to support you in your preparation for the IELTS Test.

Read aloud what you write (not in the test!). This is a useful technique when you want to check carefully and improve the quality of your writing. If you do this, you will also practise your speaking.

Do you need to get the expert feedback on your writing you need so you can improve your score and achieve your goals?  Take our practice test.

Point 2 – The Best Strategies

  1. What are your common mistakes? Do you need to get the feedback you need on your writing so you can improve your score and achieve your goals? Click here to take our practice test.
  2. Make sure you clearly understand the instructions. Underline the key words. What do you need to do?
  3. Spend up to 5 minutes planning your answer. If you plan your answer properly, your writing will be better organised so you will get a better score. Make sure you think carefully before you start writing. It is very important to do this.
  4. When you finish each sentence, check it before writing the next sentence and link your sentences. You can do this by using linking words like however, although, furthermore, in addition etc. This will give your writing good flow. Examiners are looking for this.
  5. Use formal language
    Make sure you make relevant points. Keep to the topic.
  6. Check your writing carefully for details, spelling, vocabulary and grammar mistakes. Use a pencil in the test so you can make corrections easily.
  7. Make sure you use appropriate tenses with your grammar, if you need to write about past, present or future.
  8. Use a range of vocabulary – verbs, adjectives and adverbs, noun and adjective phrases.

What do you need to do in the IELTS Writing Test Task 1?

Academic Version – Task 1
150 words (minimum)
You will see information/data in a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will need to describe, summarise or explain the information. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event.

What are the best strategies for you to get a good score in the Academic version Task 1?

  1. Check you understand what the visual data shows. What information is given? You do not
    need previous knowledge of the topic. Remember that all the information you need is in front
    of you.
  2. Pay attention to the number of words – at least 150 words in task 1. Aim to write about
    170-180 words.
  3. Spend about 20 minutes on task 1. Manage your time carefully. Plan for 2-3 minutes. Write
    for about 15 minutes. Check your writing for about 2 minutes. Do not spend more than 20
    minutes on Task 1 because you will need the time for Task 2.
  4. Plan 4 paragraphs. Organise your writing so each paragraph has a main topic:

1st paragraph: Start with an introduction. This could be one or two sentences. Describe in your own words what the visual shows. You need to introduce the information. What does the diagram (or chart etc.) show? Do not just copy the words they give you. You need to paraphrase. However, some words need to the same, for example words like ‘chart’ or ‘graph’. Link the title of the data and what the units of measurement (e.g. x horizontal and y vertical axis) represent to show the examiner you can explain this clearly. Write ‘The chart (or diagram etc.) shows….’.

2nd paragraph: Overview. Write about 2-4 of the most important things you can see in the information. These key features are usually the highest and lowest points, and the most significant changes. Look for the ‘big’ information that stands out.
In the Academic Task 1, the instruction always says, ‘Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant’. So, you need to summarise and this is your overview paragraph. What is the big picture? Select just three main features or points that you can see easily from the information presented. This paragraph should not include too much detail. You can include dates but not other number details. The overview paragraph can be just two sentences.

3rd and 4th paragraphs: Supporting paragraphs. These must be organised into separate paragraphs. The next paragraph should take each of the 2-4 significant features you identified in the overview and give more detail. Include data to support your observations in the overview paragraph, but do not write about every detail. Be selective. Support your sentences with the statistics. This section can be two paragraphs.
In Task 1, do not write a conclusion.

  1. When preparing for the test, make notes of adjectives and adverbs in order on a line to show degrees of change (e.g. gradual, sudden etc.).
  2. Be direct. You do not need to write many words and you do not have much time. Get straight to the point.

General Training Version – Task 1

150 words (minimum)
The topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest.

You need to write a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. Depending on the situation, you need to decide if the letter is in a personal, semi-formal or formal style.

What are the best strategies for you to get a good score in the General Training version Task 1?

  1. Read carefully to understand the situation. What’s the purpose of the letter?
  2. Identify if the letter needs to be informal, semi-formal or formal style.
  3. Learn how to open and close letters, depending on style.
  4. Spend 2 or 3 minutes planning the paragraphs and what you are going to write.
  5. Pay attention to the number of words – at least 150 words in task 1. Aim to write about 170-180 words.
  6. Spend about 20 minutes on task 1. Manage your time carefully. Plan for 2-3 minutes. Write for about 15 minutes. Check your writing for about 2 minutes. Do not spend more than 20
    minutes on Task 1 because you will need the time for Task 2.

Academic and General Training versions – Task 2

250 words (minimum)
You need to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem.
What are the best strategies for you to get a good score in Task 2?

  1. What are your common mistakes? Do you need to get the feedback you need on your writing so you can improve your score and achieve your goals? Click here t take our practice test.
  2. Make sure you manage your time carefully. Spend about 40 minutes on task 2 because it is worth twice as much as Task 1. Don’t spend longer than 20 minutes on Task 1 because you will need time for Task 2. You need to do three things in the time limit: plan, write and check.
  3. Get familiar with some of the common topics that appear in task 2. You need to build vocabulary related to topics. What are the most common topics? There are over 50 topics that have been presented over the years in Task 2. The most common ones include:
  • Education
  • Health Globalisation
  • Public Transport
  • Criminal Justice
  • Technology
  • Work
  • Sport
  • Government
  • Spending
  • Development
  • Media
  • Language
  • Food
  • Family
  1. Make sure you are familiar with the common types of tasks. You need to be clear about what you have to do before you go into detail. This meand knowing what you have to do with the given topic.

Some of the most frequent types of tasks are these (or a combination of these):

  • Discuss two opinions
  • Agree or disagree
  • Problems and solutions
  • Causes and effects
  • Causes and solutions
  • Advantages and disadvantages

You need to be able to use language to discuss these things.

  1. Take time to plan your essay, this will make your writing easier and better.
  2. Plan paragraphs. You must include an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion:

Introduction

 

Write just 2 or 3 good sentences. You need to do these things:

  • Describe the topic in your own words.
  • Paraphrase the question.
  • Tell the reader what you are going to write about.
  • Tell them your plan.
  • Your plan is like a road map.
  • Let the reader know your plan so they know what to expect; this makes your essay more structured and focused. Also, for the examiner, reading your essay is more comfortable because it follows a clear plan.

Body Paragraph

 

  • Plan 2 or 3 body paragraphs.
  • Think about each body paragraph having 3 parts.
  • Each body paragraph needs to start with a topic sentence which is relevant to the task; this will tell the reader what the paragraph is about.
  • Then you need to write 2 or 3 sentences to support the topic sentence; explain the idea in the topic sentence. Finally, give some examples.

Conclusion

 

Task 2 needs a conclusion. Link the conclusion back to the task and summarise your points. Show the examiner you have good vocabulary by paraphrasing using different words. Don’t introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Keep it short – 2 good sentences is enough.

  1. Use the word “I” to give your opinion. You don’t have to give both sides to an argument, just make sure you support what you say.
  2. You must write complete sentences, without bullet points.
  3. Write clear paragraphs and make sure each paragraph has a purpose.
  4. Paraphrase the question (don’t just copy the language).
  5. The number of words you write is important so pay close attention this – the minimum is 250 words for Task 2. However, you don’t get more marks for writing more. The quality is more important than the quantity. Don’t waste time counting each word. Just count the number of words on one line and then multiply this by the number of lines.

Point 3 – How can you practise the IELTS Writing Test?

You can access examples of IELTS Test questions and answers on the IELTS web pages.
There is a wide range of IELTS preparation resources and materials available on the British Council web pages.
There are numerous websites with materials to find out about and practise for the IELTS Test so you can get the score you need and achieve your goals.

Summary

How do the IELTS examiners decide what score to give you for your writing?

  • Task Response: How well do you follow the instructions in the question?
  • Coherence and Cohesion: Are the ideas well organised, linked together and easy to follow?
  • Lexical Resource: Do you use good vocabulary?
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Do you use good grammar?

How can you improve your score?

There are three important things you need to do in order to succeed in the IELTS Writing Test:

1. You need to improve your overall English language level

  • develop your general level of English
  • develop good habits
  • study grammar
  • read a wide range of texts frequently
  • good writers are good readers
  • make notes of useful new vocabulary in context
  • read aloud what you write

2You need to know the best strategies for you to get a good score

before the test

  • find out what you need to do, practise and get feedback
  • get familiar with some of the common topics (especially in Task 2)

during the test

  • understand the instructions
  • manage your time carefully
  • plan your answer
  • link your sentences
  • use formal language when appropriate
  • make relevant points
  • check your writing
  • use appropriate tenses
  • use a range of vocabulary
  • write complete sentences, not bullet points
  • pay attention to the number of words

Academic Version Task 1

  • understand what the visual data shows
  • plan 4 paragraphs: introduction, overview and supporting paragraphs (no conclusion)
  • make notes of adjectives and adverbs
  • be direct

General Training Task 1

  • read carefully to understand the situation
  • identify if the letter needs to be informal, semi-formal or formal style, this will affect the grammar and vocabulary you should use
  • learn how to open and close letters
  • spend 2 or 3 minutes planning

Academic & General Training Task 2

  • get familiar with some of the common topics
  • make sure you are familiar with the common types of tasks
  • plan paragraphs: introduction, body and conclusion
  • paraphrase the question
  • use the word “I” and make sure you support what you say

         3. You need to find materials and resources to practise

What are your common mistakes? Do you need to get the feedback you need on your writing so you can improve your score and achieve your goals? Click here.