IELTS Academic Writing Test

Find all the basic information you need to know about the IELTS Academic Writing test in one place.

Here's what I cover on this page:

  • Why choose IELTS Academic?
  • Important facts
  • Test format
  • Skills assessed
  • Sample questions & answers




1) Why choose IELTS Academic?


IELTS Academic is required by universities and professional registration bodies.

You should take the Academic test if you want to apply for a place at a university or other higher education institution in an English speaking country or in a non-native English-speaking country where courses are taught in the English language.

The Academic qualification is also generally preferred by professional bodies in English-speaking countries and required for registration. This is particularly the case in fields such as:

  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Teaching

It is different to the IELTS General test which is for people wanting to work in or emigrate to the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada or New Zealand.




2) Important facts

Task 1 – Write a minimum of 150 words

               Time: 20 minute


Task 2 – Write a minimum of 250 words

               Time: 40 minute 




         Total Time – 60 minutes

Task 2 contributes twice as many marks to your overall score as Task 1.




3) Test format


Task 1 – You are required to write a short essay based on information contained in one of the following:


Click the links for step-by-step lessons with sample questions and model answers.


You will have to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. For example, you may be asked to:

  • describe and explain data
  • describe the stages of a process
  • describe how something works
  • describe an object or event

Task 2 – You must write an essay on a topic of general interest. The essay will be a response to a specific point of view, problem or argument that will be stated in the question.

There are 5 types of Task 2 essay:


Click the links for step-by-step lessons with sample questions and model answers.


Your response to both tasks should be written in a formal style.




4) Skills assessed


As with all elements of the IELTS exam, the IELTS Academic Writing test is marked according to four marking criteria.

These are:

  • Task Achievement – appropriate response to the task
  • Coherence & Cohesion  – the ability to present a well-structured essay
  • Lexical Resource  – the ability to use a range of appropriate vocabulary and to use it correctly
  • Grammatical Range & Accuracy  – the ability to use grammar correctly and to use a range of grammar forms

Each carries 25% of the marks.


The two parts of the IELTS Academic Writing test are designed to assess your ability in different skill areas. The assessment criteria for any specific question will depend on the type of task you are asked to complete, but here is a general overview.

Don’t worry if you feel slightly overwhelmed after reading it. The lessons below contain all the help and step-by-step guidance you need to write high scoring essays and letters. 


Task 1 – Your essay will be assessed in relation to your ability to achieve one or more of the following:

  • organise, present and possibly compare data
  • describe the stages of a process or procedure
  • describe an object or event or sequence of events
  • explain how something works


Task 2 – Your essay will be assessed in relation to your ability to achieve one or more of the following:

  • present a solution to a problem
  • present and justify an opinion
  • compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications
  • evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument



5) Sample questions & answers

In addition to the sample questions and model answers in the lessons listed above, you will find many more in the IELTS Academic Writing test lessons in the menus below.



Want to watch and listen to this lesson?

Click on this video.




IELTS Academic Writing Test Lessons

IELTS Academic Writing Test – Task 1

Academic Writing Task 1 – The format, the 7 question types & sample questions, assessment & marking criteria. All the key information you need to know.

Understanding Task 1 Questions – How to quickly and easily analyse and understand IELTS Writing Task 2 questions.

How To Plan a Task 1 Essay – Discover 3 reasons why you must plan, the 4 simple steps of essay planning and learn a simple 4 part essay structure.

Vocabulary for Task 1 Essays – Learn key vocabulary for a high-scoring essay. Word lists & a downloadable PDF.

Grammar for Task 1 Essays  – Essential grammar for Task 1 Academic essays including, verb tenses, key sentence structures, articles & prepositions.


IELTS Academic Writing Test – Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2 – The format, the 5 question types, the 5 step essay writing strategy & sample questions. All the key information you need to know.

The 5 Types of Task 2 Essay – How to recognise the 5 different types of Task 2 essays. 15 sample questions to study and a simple planning structure for each essay type.

Understanding Task 2 Questions – How to quickly and easily analyse and understand IELTS Writing Task 2 questions.

How To Plan a Task 2 Essay – Discover why essay planning is essential & learn a simple 4 step strategy, the 4 part essay structure & 4 methods of generating ideas.

How To Write a Task 2 Introduction – Find out why a good introduction is essential. Learn how to write one using a simple 3 part strategy & discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.

How To Write Task 2 Main Body Paragraphs – Learn the simple 3 part structure for writing great main body paragraphs and also, 3 common mistakes to avoid. 

How To Write Task 2 Conclusions – Learn the easy way to write the perfect conclusion for a Task 2 essay. Also discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.

Task 2 Marking Criteria – Find out how to meet the marking criteria in Task 2. See examples of good and poor answers & learn some common mistakes to avoid.


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