IELTS General Writing Test

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

Here's what I cover on this page:

  • Why choose General Training?
  • Important facts
  • Test format
  • Skills assessed
  • Sample questions & answers



1) Why choose General Training?


The General test is for people wanting to work in or emigrate to the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada or New Zealand. It is widely accepted for:

  • Visa and employment applications
  • Education at high-school level
  • Non-academic training such as practical vocational courses


It is different to the IELTS Academic test which is required by universities and professional registration bodies.




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 letter requesting information or explaining the situation in relation to a specific circumstance.

The letter must be in one of the following styles as appropriate to the situation:

  • Formal – to someone you don’t know.
  • Informal – to a friend or close family member.


There are 7 common Task 1 letter topics:


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



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

You may use a more personal style than would be required in the Academic Writing Task 2 essay.

There are 5 types of Task 2 essay:


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




4) Skills assessed


As with all elements of the IELTS exam, the IELTS General 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 General 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 letter will assess your ability to engage in personal correspondence and be assessed in relation to one or more of these skills:

  • Elicit and provide general factual information
  • Express needs, wants, likes and dislikes
  • Express opinions (e.g. views, complaints)

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

  • Outline a problem and present a solution
  • Present and justify an opinion
  • 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 General Writing lessons in the menus below.



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IELTS General Writing Lessons

IELTS General Writing Task 1 – Letter

Letter Format – The format, the 7 topics, letter structure, formal & informal, assessment & marking criteria, sample questions. Essential information you need to know.

Letter Writing Tips – Learn top tips on how to meet the assessment and marking criteria and achieve a high score.

Letter Writing Structure – Find out how to use this easy to learn letter structure to write a high-scoring letter. Includes a model answer.

How To Plan a Letter – Learn a simple 5 step process & 6 part letter structure. Also, help to understand the question & generate ideas.

Formal or Informal – How to decide what type of letter to write. Sample questions & 2 model letters.

Letter Writing Vocabulary – Learn useful phrases to help you achieve a high score. Also, know how to start & end your letter.

How To Write an Informal Letter – Step-by-step instructions, simple 4 step plan & 6 part letter structure, model letter.

How To Write a Formal Letter – Step-by-step instructions, simple 4 step plan & 6 part letter structure, model letter.

Letter Topics – Learn the 7 most common letter topics & other popular subjects. Includes 20 sample questions.


IELTS General Writing Task 2 – Essay

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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