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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A year of We Love IELTS – your top picks for IELTS Writing

We know 2020 has been a strange year for most of us! Let's talk about the positives, with We Love IELTS launching in February, we hope we have been a great support to you when preparing for your IELTS Test. We have spoken to thousands of you and over a million of you have joined us on this new platform. We are grateful to our growing community and know many of your will be new here. We thought what better time to share your top blogs for IELTS Writing: 1. 5 ways to improve your IELTS Writing skills Our most popular blog post of 2020 on the IELTS Writing test is by IELTS expert Liz. In the blog post she shares her 5 tips on how to improve your writing skills every day, including a free downloadable checklist to edit your writing. Go and take a look. READ MORE    2. Grammar essentials: past simple versus present perfect At number two on our most popular list is a blog from IELTS teacher Emma that helps you brush up on your grammar for test day. If you’re trying to improve your band score in IELTS it’s essential that you work on improving your general English. We know this can be difficult for some, but Emma’s blog post is a great place to start. READ MORE    3. How to reach band score 7 in IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 If you’re looking to reach band score 7 in IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 then this blog post is essential. In this blog post IELTS expert Pete explains what you need to do to reach this score and shares a Writing Task 1 question and an example answer. You can also watch a recording of a Facebook Live session Pete recorded especially for We Love IELTS. READ MORE  4. How to reach band score 7 in IELTS General Training Writing Task 2  If you’ve seen number three on our list for Writing Task 1, now it’s time to look at another great blog from Pete, this time looking at what you need to do in General Training Writing Task 2 to reach a band score 7. Once again he shares a sample question and example answer for you to practise. You’ll also find a link to a Facebook Live Pete did on the same topic. A must read for anyone taking IELTS General Training. READ MORE  We hope you have found this list useful. You can find our most popular blogs on other IELTS skills on our website.    


16 December, 2020

Describing processes in IELTS Writing Part 1

Fun fact: most of the birthdays in my family are in November and December. That usually means one thing this time of year: a lot of baking! So, as I sit down to start writing, I still have ingredients and recipes on my mind, which explains my examples for today. If you bear with me, I’ll give you my super-popular vegan muffin recipe in IELTS format at the end of the blog. As you may know, in IELTS Part 1 Writing, there are four basic types of tasks you might encounter: development, comparison, processes or maps. The first two of these are fairly common and may even be combined in one task. Therefore, much of the language preparation materials available focus on the type of language we need in describing how things have changed and how they compare to each other. However, occasionally, the task might involve a more unusual set of language. In a recent blog I have looked at what language you should demonstrate if you happen to get a map in the text and Emma has written another blog to help you with key vocabulary for maps. So, today, I’m going to look at what kind of language you need to demonstrate when faced with a process to help you prepare for all eventualities. In this type of writing there are three key areas you should work on to gain a higher mark: tense, voice and a specific type of linking called sequencing. The first thing you need to do, is to look at the tense in which the task is written. Unless the task clearly indicates that the process took place in the past or is a planned process, your main tense would be the present simple. This is obviously good news, because the present simple is by definition ‘simple’. However, there are a couple of things you should pay attention to, including the third person singular ‘s’ and therefore the connection between the subject and the verb. For example: ‘Sophie bakes really fabulous muffins’. This example also shows us why we need to pay attention to voice when we describe a process. Although, it is true that I bake exceptionally well, it is highly unlikely that you will be talking about a person doing things in Part 1 Writing of the IELTS Test. Most of the time, you can’t see who does things in the process picture: The objects and what happens to them are much more important than the person who makes these things happen. By definition, we need the passive in these kinds of situations.     Look at these examples: Somebody adds the oil to the flour.❌ Oil is added to the flour. ✅ We pre-heat the oven. ❌ The banana and soya milk are mixed in a blender. ✅  You might be able to gain some additional marks for using some more complex tenses in particular situations as long as you always remember to use the right voice and as long as your thoughts are linked clearly and the order in which things happen in the process is clear to the reader. In order to be able to do this easily, you may want to study sequencing words and expressions. These include simple expressions such as ‘first’ and ‘then’, but if you prepare well, you can impress the examiner by using some more difficult ones such as ‘subsequently’ or ‘meanwhile’ correctly. So, as promised, here is my recipe for delicious vegan muffins written in the style of a Part 1 Process Writing. You’re welcome! Sophie     Firstly, the oven is preheated to 190°C for fan ovens and 205°C for electric ovens. In the first stage of the muffin production process, 330 grams of flour, 220 grams of caster sugar and two heaped teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda are carefully mixed in a large bowl using a spoon. This mixture is set aside while the egg replacement mixture is produced. In this stage of the process, a blender is used to whip 290 millilitres of vegan milk (e.g. soya) and a large banana into a smooth liquid. Next, the liquid is added to the bowl together with 110 millilitres of vegetable oil and one or two tablespoons of vanilla or almond extract. At this stage any additional optional ingredients are added to the bowl – these might include, for example, cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or poppy seeds. All ingredients are then mixed into a smooth dough using a mixer on a medium setting. The mixture is then poured into a muffin pan or carefully spooned into strong cupcake paper and placed on the middle shelf of the oven for 17 minutes after which the finished muffins are removed carefully and allowed to stand for at least 15 minutes before consumption. (203 words)

Sophie Hodgson

14 December, 2020

Grammar Essentials: Subject and Verb Agreement

To get a good band score in IELTS it is important that your written and spoken language is accurate. As teachers we are always telling our students to check their subject-verb agreements but for many this is a real challenge. Don't worry though, I am here to help! Like most grammar challenges it can be overcome with a few rules and a bit of practice. Let’s get started… In a sentence in the present tense the verb form changes depending on the subject. Let’s look at the verbs LIVE, HAVE, BE and WATCH to review this.   So first you must identify the subject and the verb in a sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb should be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb should be plural.   All very straightforward so far, the challenge comes as the sentences get more complex. Compound Subjects Sometimes two or more subjects are linked to one verb. These are called compound subjects. Depending on whether the subjects are joined with ‘and’ or ‘or’ the agreement will be different. Let’s look at the rules: When subjects are linked with ‘and’, use a plural verb. Both the company director and an employee were involved in the court case. My mother and my father enjoy travelling. When singular subjects are linked with ‘or, either…or, nor, neither…nor’, use a singular verb. Just a card or a balloon is enough. Either the first or second option is ok by me. If all the subjects are plural, use a plural verb. Either the players or the coaches have made a mistake today. If there are both singular and plural nouns, the verb takes the form of the closest subject. Neither the children nor their father wants to move home. Either the equipment or the materials are unavailable today, sorry.   Distance from the verb If the verb does not come straight after the subject it is easy to get confused and make the verb agree with the wrong noun. For example: Teachers who work at the local school was at the meeting. The writer has taken the noun school and agreed with that. The correct subject of the sentence is ‘teachers’ so the subject-verb agreement should be: Teachers who work at the local school were at the meeting.   Collective Nouns Confusingly, we can use singular or plural verbs with many collective nouns. Let me help you to understand why … When a collective noun refers to a group of people our choice of singular or plural verb form often depends on whether we are thinking of the group as an impersonal unit (in which case we use the singular verb) or as a collection of individuals (in which case we use the plural verb). In all of the examples below either form is correct, you just need to be consistent. My family is/are determined to remain here. The team is/are third from the bottom of the league will also be relegated this year. The government need/needs to deal with the crisis in a sensible way.   Corporate bodies normally take a singular verb, like this: The UN says it has no plans to move troops to the war-torn area. Amazon continues to grow despite the Covid-19 epidemic. The BBC has appointed a new director. Important: police and people always take the plural form. People who have invested all their savings in shares are sure to lose out. Police in this area are currently investigating a burglary in the area.     Uncountable Nouns Uncountable nouns describe abstract concepts or nouns that can’t be counted (e.g. research, power, water and vegetation). They always take a singular verb. This equipment has been unusable since last winter. The research bid was successful. Due to unprecedented rainfall this month water has entered many homes.   Language activity: Download our activity worksheet to practice your subject and verb agreement: Worksheet download Once you have completed the worksheet, download the answer sheet to see how well you’ve done. Answer sheet download I hope that this blog post has given you some help with subject-verb agreement. It is an area that many test takers find difficult and one of the first things you should be checking for when you edit your work. If there is another area of grammar that you would like me to write about just send us a message on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. See you soon! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

11 December, 2020

How to write a formal letter

Find out how to write a formal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

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How to write a semi-formal letter

Find out how to write a semi-formal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

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How to write an informal letter

Find out how to write an informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

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