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The IELTS Writing Test

The IELTS writing test lasts for one hour. In this test, you will be given two writing tasks to complete. The tasks you are expected to complete again depend on the path you have chosen.

In task 1 for the ‘Academic’ path, you will be asked to write a short report on a stimulus (such as a chart, table, graph or map) that you have been provided with. In task 1 for the ‘General’ path, you will need to write a letter. Task 2 for both paths is to write a formal essay on a given topic.

Generally, it is recommended to spend 20 minutes on writing task 1 and 40 minutes on writing task 2. For task 1, it is recommended to write a minimum of 150 words, and for task 2 a minimum of 250 words.

Top Tips for Succeeding in the IELTS Writing Test

To help you to prepare well and achieve well in the IELTS writing test, we have developed a list of recommended strategies.

  • The question paper will not be marked. Therefore, you should use space on this paper to jot down ideas and prepare a rough plan for your writing.
  • There is not one set order in which you should complete the tasks. However, generally, it is recommended that you spend 20 minutes on task 1 before moving on to the longer task.
  • It is recommended that you leave one line empty to show the marker where a new paragraph starts.
  • Spellings are essential in the writing task. Incorrect spellings will lead to a lower score.
  • Both UK and US spellings are accepted in the IELTS writing task. HOWEVER, you cannot use both. Decide beforehand whether you will use the UK or US spellings of words and stick to this. If you mix UK and US spellings in your writing tasks, you will lose marks.
  • Punctuation is also crucial in the writing task and will contribute to your overall score. Avoid using complex punctuation incorrectly and instead focus on using full stops and commas correctly.
  • Manage your time well. Writing task 1 is worth a third of the marks of the total paper, so it makes sense to use a third of the time (20 minutes) for this task. If you spend too long on this task, you will be missing out on marks from the more valuable writing task 2.
  • Be sure to plan before you write to ensure that your writing is coherent and flows well. It is recommended that you make a rough plan before you start the writing process.
  • Read the instructions carefully to ensure that you fully understand the task and are responding correctly.
  • Remember to write a MINIMUM of 150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2; otherwise, you will receive a penalty and lose marks. There is no maximum number of words for either task.
  • If you need extra paper – ask for it! Extra paper is allowed, so be sure to ask one of the IELTS supervisors for some additional paper if required.
  • In the IELTS writing test, you can choose whether you wish to use a pen or pencil to write. You should choose one of these and practise using it in the run-up to the test. On the day of the test, make sure you have additional pens or pencils with you in case one runs out or breaks. The exam supervisors are likely to have spares, but it is better to use your own as you will be more familiar with them.

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