IELTS Writing

The IELTS Writing test consists of two tasks, designed to assess a wide range of writing skills.

These include how well you:

  • write a response appropriately
  • organise and link your ideas
  • use a range of grammar and vocabulary accurately and appropriately.

There are two versions of the IELTS Writing test – one for Academic and one for General Training. Our preparation materials below can help you develop your IELTS writing skills for both tasks, whether you are taking IELTS Academic or General Training.

Below you’ll find more information about the test format and scoring, as well as top tips, free videos and blog articles, and other resources to help you understand the Writing test and achieve a high score.

If there’s anything else you would like to see, tell us on our social channels.

The Writing test lasts for one hour. Within that time, you must complete two Writing tasks.

The tasks are different for Academic and General Training test takers:

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 requires you to write at least 150 words describing some visual information (e.g. a diagram, chart, graph or table). For Task 2 you must write an essay of at least 250 words responding to a point of view, argument or problem.

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 requires you to respond to a given situation (e.g. by writing a letter) in at least 150 words. You may be asked to request information or explain a situation. In Task 2 you must write an essay of at least 250 words in response to a point of view, argument or problem.

Writing Task 2 carries more marks than Writing Task 1, so you should spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2.

Writing responses are assessed by certified IELTS examiners who will mark your answers based on the following criteria:

  • Task 1 achievement: did you answer the question fully and write at least 150 words?
  • Task 2 response: did you answer all points? Did you provide a balanced argument? Were all your ideas relevant?
  • Coherence and cohesion: is your writing easy to understand? Are your ideas well organised and linked?
  • Lexical resource: did you use a wide range of vocabulary accurately and effectively?
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: did you use a wide range of grammatical structures accurately and effectively?

Each task is assessed independently. Writing Task 2 carries more marks than Writing Task 1 and the two scores are combined to obtain a final band score.

1. Practise each type of Writing task. For example, if you’re taking the Academic test, each time you see a graph, chart or table, study it carefully and practise picking out the major changes that the figure shows.

2. Practise writing quickly and neatly and don’t use bullet points, notes or abbreviations, or prepared answers.

3. Answer each question fully. Work out in advance how much space 150 and 250 of your own words take on a page. This can save you having to count on test day!

4. Leave time at the end of the test to check your writing. Make sure that your facts and language are accurate, and check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.

5. Remember, Writing Task 2 is worth more than Writing Task 1 so spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2.
 

How to prepare for the IELTS Writing test

In Task 2 of the IELTS Writing test, you will be given 40 minutes to write at least 250 words in both the Academic and General Training test.
 
When you’re preparing for your IELTS test, it’s a good idea to practise writing 250 words in your own handwriting (or on the computer if you are taking computer delivered IELTS) before test day. Find out why in Emma’s short video.

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How to write a semi-formal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

If you read my posts on how to write a formal or informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1, you may be wondering what a semi-formal letter is. Well, a semi-formal letter is one that is more neutral in style (neither formal nor informal) and one you may choose to write if you have to ... write a letter to someone you know about something negative (e.g. an apology to a neighbour) write a letter to someone you have a professional relationship with (e.g. a manager at work) Still not sure? Then read on to see an example IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 semi-formal letter. IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 The IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 below from our IELTS practice test series is an example of one where you could write a semi-formal letter. You know that the letter has to be semi-formal or more formal in style because it’s to your manager about something important.    It wouldn’t be appropriate to write an informal letter because you have a professional relationship with your manager and the letter is connected to work. If this wasn’t about IELTS but about a letter to your real manager, you’d have to decide whether your manager would expect a semi-formal letter or a more formal one (or whether he/she would prefer you to talk to them instead). IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 example answer If you read the following answer, you’ll see that the writer writes a semi-formal letter describing the complaints, explaining why the reception area is important and suggesting how it could be improved.   As you’ll see below, the letter also contains features of both formal and informal letters. Semi-formal letters So, what language features should you use in semi-formal letters and which should you avoid? Language features of semi-formal letters include: openings that are neither too formal nor too informal, e.g. ‘Dear…,’ closings that are neither too formal nor too informal, e.g. ‘Regards…’ contractions, e.g. I’m… (instead of ‘I am’) the use of some more formal vocabulary, e.g. ‘receive’ (rather than ‘get’) the use of more personal language, e.g. ...the complaints we’ve received (instead of ‘...the complaints that have been received’) the use of the words ‘suggest’ and ‘recommend’ to make suggestions (instead of a more formal way, e.g. ‘May I suggest…’, or informal way ‘How about...’) Language features you should avoid in a semi-formal letter include: language that’s too formal, e.g. very polite requests like ‘It would be greatly appreciated if...’ language that’s too informal, e.g. informal vocabulary like ‘moan’ instead of ‘complaint’ language that should only be used in texts or on social media, e.g. shortened words like ‘convo’ (rather than ‘conversation’) Check out my posts ‘How to write a formal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1’ and ‘How to write an informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1’ to see the difference between the semi-formal letter above and a more formal or informal one. Best of luck in your IELTS test, Pete

Pete Jones

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Writing
Describing Maps in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

You may be asked to describe a map in Task 1 of your Academic IELTS Writing test. Today we are going to have a look at a test question, talk about some of the specific vocabulary that you would need to answer this question, and then have a go at editing an answer.  Let's start with the question.  (Click to enlarge) The first thing to notice is the dates, 1700 and today. This helps us know what tenses we need to use; present perfect (used to refer to events in the past but which connect to the present), past simple (used to refer to completed actions in the past) and maybe even past perfect (used to refer to time up to a point in the past). We are also asked to make comparisons. From the map, we can see that there is quite a lot of vocabulary for the different features so that helps us out a lot. However, we will need to use verbs that describe changes to a place so let's look at some now.  Can you match the verbs in the box with the definitions? (Click to enlarge) Check your answers here. Here is a model answer for you to read. Unfortunately, this candidate has not taken the time to edit their work and so there are grammatical errors in the text. Can you correct the 10 mistakes? Remember that to do well in IELTS the examiners will be looking for grammatical accuracy so checking your work is crucial. Don't worry if you have to cross out words and replace them with correct words. As long as the Examiner can read your writing it doesn't matter if it's a bit messy. (Click to enlarge) Check your answers here. So there you have it, describing changes to a map. Well done everybody! See you again soon, Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

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Writing
How to write a formal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

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Pete Jones

3 September, 2020

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