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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5 ways to improve your IELTS Writing skills

Writing is a difficult skill and not just for people learning English or doing the IELTS test but for a native English speaker as well. In our day-to-day life we don't often have to write essays or describe graphs. We’re more used to writing text messages or emails. But there are things you can do to practise and improve your writing.    Listening Practice: Listen to Liz share 5 ways to improve your IELTS Writing skills     Here are 5 ways to improve your writing skills every single day: 1. Read! That’s right, you read that correctly! To improve your writing skill you need to read – everyday! By reading widely, you’ll be introduced to a wide range of words and phrases that are used in a variety of contexts. You will also come across a lot of different grammar structures without actually having to focus on grammar. By being exposed to (presented with) words and grammar used correctly and in context, you too will pick up new words and start using new grammatical structures. When you learn new words or structures, copy and paste them into a document to help you remember them. There are lots of freely available reading resources online. Some examples are: BBC World Voanews (these have the added advantage of being organised by beginner, intermediate and advanced level.) Breaking News English It doesn’t have to be just news, you can read about any topic you’re interested in as long as it's in English! 2. Make your writing POW! So, you’ve read an interesting article and now you can practise writing about the topic. Imagine you read the following article: Spaced Baked Cookies Why not write an essay about space explorations and the challenges faced by astronauts? Or perhaps you could discuss whether you agree or disagree with spending millions of pounds/dollars/yuen on space exploration. Whatever you decide to write about – make sure you use POW!   3. Linking words In the Writing test, the examiner will be looking at how ideas are linked together within sentences and paragraphs. Additionally, they’ll look at how your writing flows. Your ideas need to be organised logically into paragraphs so it’s easy to understand and follow them. This is called coherence. The examiners will also be looking out for cohesion. This refers to the use of linking words which link ideas and paragraphs. Some examples of these are: Firstly, Additionally, Similarly, On the otherhand, When you’re reading the article you’ve chosen, highlight all the linking words you can find. Just double-click on the word and highlight or print off and use a good old-fashioned highlighter pen. Organise the linking expressions you find into groups with similar meanings. For example/for instance, In addition/Additionally/Moreover. This will mean you have a wide range of words which you can use to avoid using the same ones over and over.   4. Checklist When you’ve finished writing make sure to leave a bit of time at the end to edit (check) your writing. Check for spelling, correct subject + verb agreement (They think; Celebrities are; Technology has advanced), paragraphs and most importantly your own common mistakes that you know you make quite often. Here’s a checklist for you to use: Download editing checklist You can do this every day by looking at: restaurant menus (these often have mistakes in English – see if you can spot some), social media posts, emails, magazines – the list is endless. 5. Writing circles Writing can be a sociable thing (really – it can!). The ideas described in this blog are more fun if done with a friend or group of friends. Create a ‘writing circle’ – a group of people who can sit down together to: read each other’s work using the ‘editing checklist’ share new vocabulary you’ve found when reading (see tip 1) use my POW technique. Each person can plan a different task and then pass it on to the next person in the group to write an outline, then pass it on again to write an introduction, then paragraph 1, etc. At the end, you can use the editing checklist to review the piece of writing. See, we said writing could be fun! I hope this blog has been useful (please feel free to use the editing checklist to review this blog?). Happy writing! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

15 January, 2021

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

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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