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 answer a process question in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

Many of the tasks you are asked to write for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 include graphs and charts, but what do you need to remember if you are faced with describing a process? In this blog post, we will look at how to organise your answer to a process question as well as some key grammar and vocabulary. What is a process task? (Click image to enlarge) For this post, we’re going to look at the latter form, but the organisation, grammar and vocabulary needed remain the same for a natural process. We’re going to use the process of manufacturing instant noodles as an example, which can be found in IELTS 15 Academic. Look at the image below, what do you notice about the process? (Click image to enlarge) The things to notice about this process are: It has a clear beginning and ending (it is linear rather than cyclical) It has eight stages (or steps) It describes how to manufacture instant noodles There are labels to help you describe the process Where to start? You may want to begin with an overview of the process. Remember, an overview (one or two sentences about the overall and general idea of the task you are describing) is a very important part of your answer – if you don’t write an overview, you may lose points with the examiner. You can see a bit more about the overview in another of my blog posts, Describing the main features on charts in Academic IELTS Writing Task 1. Example: The given process illustrates how instant noodles are manufactured. The process consists of eight separate, linear stages from storage of ingredients to sealing and delivery. Remember! Don’t write a conclusion for Writing Task 1 – the task does not require an opinion so save that for Writing Task 2. Grammar Once you have written your overview (or introduction), then you need to describe each stage of the process. But what grammar should you use? In a process, it is not especially important who does the action, but the action itself is important. For this, we need to use the passive voice. Look at these examples for stage two of the process: The manufacturers mix a combination of flour, water and oil in a mixer. A combination of flour, water and oil is mixed in a mixer. Note: For a process which happens regularly, we need to use the present simple passive. Over to you! Now have a go at putting this sentence into the passive: (Click image to enlarge) Some of the verbs you should use are in the diagram (cooking, drying, labelling, sealing) but will need changing to the passive. (You can see an example answer at the end of this blog post.) For other stages, you need to look at what is happening and choose an appropriate verb – for example, we could say that the flour is transported from storage to the mixer or the dough sheets are cut or formed into strips of dough. Organisation and vocabulary (Click image to enlarge) Here are some examples of sequencing vocabulary: First, / Firstly, / First of all, / The first step Initially, / The initial stage Following that/this, Subsequently, Then, After, / Before, / After that, / Before that, Once [this] have/has been [completed], The next step Now have a look at some example sentences using the instant noodles process as an example: Before the dough is cut into strips, it is rolled into sheets. Following that, the strips of dough are then formed into noodle discs. Once the dough has been formed into noodle discs, they are then cooked in oil and subsequently dried. Note: For more help on sequencing vocabulary and organisation, check out IELTS Vocabulary Up to Band 6.0. Over to you! Why don’t you have a go at using sequencing vocabulary and the correct grammar for the final two stages of the process? You can find some possible answers to below. I hope this has helped with answering a process question for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. Let me know how you get on! Peter (Click image to enlarge)

Peter Fullagar

3 August, 2021

Writing an agree/disagree essay for IELTS Writing Task 2

Knowing how to write an agree or disagree essay is very important because if you get this type of task question in the test and you don't know how to approach it, you might not get a very high score. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? An agree/disagree question is very similar to the one above. Let’s look at two typical agree/disagree essay questions. (Click to enlarge) Can you see how these are similar to my question at the beginning? Both include a statement (= a sentence expressing an opinion) and ask you to what extent (= how much) you agree or disagree with it. OK, so what are you going to do first? Start writing? Absolutely not. After you’ve carefully read the task question and understood the topic, the first thing to do is to ask yourself to what extent you agree or disagree with the statement. There are three possible cases: You agree completely You disagree completely You partially agree (which means you also partially disagree) After that, ask yourself: ‘Why do I think that?’. This is a very useful question because by answering it you will start generating ideas that you will then include in your essay. How many ideas should you come up with? In all three cases the secret is that less is more, so I recommend having no more than four in total. Let’s have a look at an example from Cambridge IELTS 11: (Click to enlarge) I’ve read the question and now I’m going to make some notes before I start writing. Here are my notes: Partially agree - Both needs funding Why? Safety reasons Taxpayers expect government investment in both Two main ideas. Now we have some direction and know where we are going with our essay. Should you now start writing? Not yet. You’ll need to develop these ideas, and the best way to do this is to give explanations, details, reasons and examples. Let’s add these to the notes. Safety reasons - Both roads and trains are widely used / all ages / need to be kept in good condition / if not, risk of crashes / example: Ponte Morandi collapse 2018 – Italy / lots of casualties / could have been avoided with more funding - maintenance / Trains are crowded at rush hour -> a railroad accident might be a terrible tragedy Taxpayers expect government investment in both - governments need to provide good services / citizens pay tax for this / example: train commuters pay to have efficient trains / if not – disruptions - late for work / same is true for road users / example: opening a new highway -> less traffic Notice that I didn’t write full sentences but notes. Keep your full sentences for the essay! If you don’t do this brainstorming exercise before you start writing, the risk is that you’ll write whatever comes to your mind, and your essay will probably be confusing to read.   Introduction Two sentences are enough here. In the first sentence you should paraphrase the task question. In the second sentence say if you (partially) agree/disagree so you immediately let the reader know what you think. Two main paragraphs Why these paragraphs? A paragraph contains ideas about a single subject and using them will make your essay organised, structured and easy to read. When writing an agree/disagree essay there are, again, three possible options: You completely agree - First paragraph: reasons why you agree. 2nd paragraph: other reasons why you agree. You completely disagree - First paragraph: reasons why you disagree. 2nd paragraph: other reasons why you disagree. You partially agree - First paragraph: reasons why you agree. 2nd paragraph: reasons why you disagree. Remember: it’s much better to have few well-developed ideas than a lot of poorly developed ones, so when you write the paragraphs make sure to give reasons, examples and details. All these must be relevant to the reason why you agree/disagree. Conclusion Again, keep life simple and write one or two sentences only. You should briefly repeat and summarise your answer to the question. Don’t introduce information that you didn’t mention in your paragraphs before. We need a conclusion to conclude right? So, don’t introduce other reasons or topics at the end of your text. To sum up: (Click to enlarge) Hope this helps. Good luck! Fabio

Fabio Cerpelloni

15 July, 2021

Modal Verbs Exercises for IELTS on Obligation, Necessity and Suggestions

Hi everyone! I hope you enjoyed my previous blog post. Today we're going to continue looking at modal verbs. If you haven't already read Modal Verbs 1 then I hope you find that a useful resource too. If you've read it already then let's get started! Obligation and Necessity We use the expressions must (mustn’t), have to, have got to, and need to talk about obligation and necessity when there is a need to do something. It might be that rules or the situation make it necessary (an external need) or that the speaker feels it is necessary (an internal need). Let’s take a closer look. Must Must is a modal verb so its form doesn’t change. We use it in the present tense to talk about obligation and necessity. Must is commonly used to express an obligation that comes from the speaker. I must get up earlier – I waste so much time in the mornings. (the speaker is making a rule for themselves) You must come and visit me in Paris. (the speaker wants this) Must is often used on signs, notices and printed information. Have to/Need to Have to and need to are NOT modals so they can change. We use them to talk about obligation and necessity in the past and future as well as the present. My brother works at the hospital, he has to do night shifts every weekend. Have to and need to are usually used when the obligation comes from an external source. e.g. a law or an institution. An obligation that we see as out of our control. All students have to wear school uniform. You have to get a work visa before you apply for the job. Have to is more common in spoken English than must, but both are used in written English. We use have got to in British English (have got to is rare in US English) for external obligation like have to, but it is more informal and more common in speech than in writing. I’ve got to finish this essay, the deadline is 9am tomorrow. (Click to enlarge) No Obligation We use not need to and not have to when there is no necessity to do something. Sometimes you will hear people use need not, this is less common and I don’t recommend you use it. You don’t need to bring food, lunch will be provided by the hosts. (= it is not necessary to bring food) When I was at school we didn’t have to wear a uniform. (= there was no rule about uniforms) You needn’t worry about your IELTS, you have worked hard and will do well. (= there is no need for you to worry)   You mustn’t wait here. (= you are not allowed to wait here) You don’t have to wait here. (= you can go to another place to wait if you want to, or you can continue and not wait at all) (Click to enlarge) Suggestions We can use modal verbs should (not) and ought (not) to, to make suggestions and give advice. If we want to give strong advice we can use must. Here are some examples to show you the difference. You can add adverbs after a modal verb too. You should not listen to the news every day if it upsets you. (= It’s not a good idea) You ought to take some loose change with you. (= it’s a good idea) You must never give your personal details to strangers. (= I feel very strongly that this is important) Formal Written English When you want to give an opinion in formal or academic written English the verbs of obligation, necessity and suggestion that we have looked at in this blog post come in very useful. Here are some examples that you could easily adapt to use in your next Writing Task 2 essay: Governments should take advice from experts before they make new laws. Parents should not let their children play violent video games. Companies ought to allow staff to work more flexibly. Families need to spend more time together. (Click to enlarge) I hope that you have enjoyed doing the activities in this post, the answers are below. If you have any questions then get in touch with the We Love IELTS team via Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel too. Bye for now, Emma

Emma Cosgrave

1 July, 2021

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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