IELTS tests the candidates’ ability to produce two quite different pieces of writing in a fairly short period of time. The test is divided into two parts and candidates are allowed 60 minutes to complete both parts.

IELTS Academic Writing

The IELTS Academic Writing test takes 60 minutes. Candidates have to complete two tasks, of 150 and 250 words. In task 1, candidates are asked to describe some information in the form of one or more bar charts, line graphs, diagrams, pie charts or tables. In task 2, candidates are given an opinion, a problem or an issue to discuss.

IELTS General Writing

The IELTS General Training Writing test takes 60 minutes. Candidates have to complete two tasks, of 150 and 250 words, as in the Academic module. However, task 1 is always a letter, while task 2 is an essay based on a given topic. The topics of the questions will be of general interest, and no specialist knowledge is required. For example, topics can include travel, accommodation, current affairs, shops and services, health and welfare, health and safety, recreation, social and physical environment.


In IELTS writing test you are assessed on:

  1. Task Achievement (in task 1): This assesses how appropriately, accurately and relevantly your answer meets the requirements of the task.
  2. Task Response (in task 2): This assesses your ability to formulate and develop a position in response to the prompts given in the task.
  3. Coherence and Cohesion: This assesses whether your writing makes logical sense and whether the different parts of your writing are connected to each other correctly.
  4. Lexical Resource: This assesses your ability to use different vocabulary appropriately.
  5. Grammatical Range and Accuracy: This assesses your ability to use different grammatical structures appropriately and accurately.

The overall result is translated into a score on the IELTS nine-band score.

What can I do to improve my performance at the Writing test?
  • Make sure you answer everything that is asked in the question, and that you have written the number of words required. Remember you do not lose marks for writing more but you do lose for writing fewer words than required.
  • This is not a test of your knowledge. You can state your opinions, provided you are able to give evidence to support them.
  • Don’t go off-topic. Underline keywords in the questions to help you know exactly what is required in the answers.
  • Support the points you make with examples (from your own experiences if possible) or data.
  • Write neatly and clearly and check for mistakes before you submit your answers.
  • Write in complete sentences. Do not use bullet points and do not use short forms of words.
  • Do not repeat the same ideas just to reach the word count needed.
  • Task 2 – Make sure you present a balanced point of view giving both the pros and cons of the statement you are asked to discuss.
  • Spend more time on Task 2 – you have to write at least 250 words for this. Plan your answer, giving an introduction, conclusion and writing each new idea in a new paragraph. You may want to do a brief rough draft before you begin your answer.
  • Do not use memorised answers. They probably won’t be relevant to the question asked and examiners can recognise them easily.
  • Do not begin by copying the questions – especially in Task1 where you may have the description of data or bullet points for your letter. This is a waste of time as these parts are not included in your word count.
  • Make sure the tone you adopt is consistent and relevant to the task.
  • Use linking words to ensure that your ideas flow smoothly.

Avoid common mistakes:

  • Spelling (English is often not written the same way it is spoken)
  • Punctuation (e.g. basic errors with using capital letters and full stops)
  • Not using enough paragraphs and not clearly dividing them.