The IELTS Writing Test

Find all the basic information you need to know about the IELTS writing test.

On this page you’ll discover:

  • The format of the test
  • Which test to choose – Academic or General
  • Skills assessed
  • Marking criteria


Want to watch & listen? Click on this video.




The Format of the IELTS Writing Test


Timing – 60 minutes


Important facts:

  • The writing test has two parts – Task 1 and Task 2.
  • You must write a minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and a minimum of 250 words for Task 2.
  • Task 1 should take you around 20 minutes and Task 2 around 40 minutes.
  • Task 2 contributes twice as many marks to your overall score as Task 1.


Two versions

There are two versions of the IELTS writing test – Academic and General Training.

Task 2 is the same for both tests, but Task 1 is different.

The main difference is in the style of question and the type of language required to answer it. Here are detailed outlines of the two versions of the test.


Academic Writing

Task 1 – You will be presented with one of the following:

  • Bar chart
  • Line graph
  • Table
  • Pie chart
  • Process diagram
  • Map
  • Combination – charts, graphs, tables

You are required 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.

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


General Training Writing

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.

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.




Which Version of the IELTS Writing Test Should You Take?

 

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.

IELTS Academic 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


IELTS General 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



Skills Assessed


The IELTS writing test is designed to assess your ability in a wide range of skills including:

  • writing an appropriate response
  • organisation of ideas
  • accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar


The assessment criteria for any specific essay 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. This writing section of the website contains all the help and step-by-step guidance you need to write high scoring essays. 


Academic

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



General Training

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



Marking Criteria


As with the other three sections of the IELTS exam – Speaking, Reading and Listening – the IELTS Writing test is marked according to four 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.

We’ll be looking at these marking criteria in detail on other pages in this writing section of the website.

 






More Help With the IELTS Writing Test

IELTS Writing Tips


Academic Writing Task 1

IELTS Academic Writing –  A summary of the test including important facts, test format & assessment.

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.

The 7 Question Types:

Click the links below for a step-by-step lesson on each type of Task 1 question.



General Writing Task 1  Letters

IELTS General Writing –  A summary of the test including important facts, test format & assessment.

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.


Common Letter Topics


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.



The 5 Task 2 Essay Types:

Step-by-step instructions on how to plan & write high-level essays. Model answers & common mistakes to avoid.

  Opinion Essays

  Discussion Essays

  Problem Solution Essays

  Advantages & Disadvantages Essays

  Double Question Essays



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