As one of the four sections of the IELTS test, the Writing Exam assesses your ability to write responses effectively in English to specific tasks. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with all the necessary information, tips, and strategies to excel in the IELTS Writing Exam.

Summary for fast navigation

Overview of the IELTS Writing Exam

Writing Task 1Writing Task 2

Understanding Task 1 of the IELTS Writing Exam: A Deep Dive

Academic Task 1Understanding the Prompt of Academic Task 1Example Prompt for Academic Task 1Structure of the ResponseGeneral Training Task 1Understanding the PromptExample Prompt for General Training Task 1Structure of the Response for General Training Task 1

Understanding Task 2 of the IELTS Writing Exam: A Deep Dive

Types of Task 2 EssaysUnderstanding the PromptExamples of Prompts (Essay Types)

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Misunderstanding the QuestionOff-Topic ResponsesPoor Time ManagementOveruse of Complex Sentences and VocabularyGrammatical Errors and Spelling Mistakes

An Overview of IELTS Writing Scoring Criteria

Task Achievement/ResponseCoherence and CohesionLexical ResourceGrammatical Range and Accuracy

Practical Tips and Strategies for IELTS Writing Exam Success

Understanding the Exam FormatRegular PracticeSelf-Review and FeedbackVocabulary EnhancementEffective Time Management

Bonus Tip: The Power of Practice and Feedback

Overview of the IELTS Writing Exam

The IELTS Writing Exam is a crucial component of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – a universally accepted English proficiency test. This exam evaluates your ability to write effectively in English in an academic or non-academic context, depending on whether you are taking the IELTS Academic or the IELTS General Training test .

The Writing exam is divided into two sections: Task 1 and Task 2, both of which need to be completed within a total of 60 minutes.

IELTS Writing Task 1

In Task 1 of the IELTS Academic test, you are presented with a graph, table, chart, or diagram, and are asked to describe, summarise, or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, or describe an object or event.

Task 1 of the IELTS Academic test example

For the IELTS General Training test, Task 1 involves writing a letter in response to a given situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal, or formal in style, depending on the context provided. Check our "Letter Writing" blog post for more

Task 1 of the IELTS General Training test example

IELTS Writing Task 2

Task 2, common to both the Academic and General Training tests, requires you to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem. The topics are of general interest, and while the content required for this task depends on whether you're taking the Academic or General Training version, the assessment of your writing will be conducted in the same way.

Task 2 of the IELTS test example

Remember, Task 2 carries more weight in your final band score than Task 1. Therefore, allocating your time wisely between the two tasks is crucial - it's typically recommended to spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2.

Understanding Task 1 of the IELTS Writing Exam: A Deep Dive

The IELTS Writing Exam is divided into two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. Task 1 varies depending on whether you're taking the Academic or General Training version of the IELTS. Let's explore each of these in detail.

Academic Task 1

In the Academic IELTS Writing Task 1, you'll be presented with a graphical representation of data - this could be a line graph, bar chart, pie chart, table, map, or a process diagram. You're required to describe and interpret the information in your own words, summarizing and comparing the data, describing stages of a process, or explaining how something works. Your response should be objective, accurate, and concise, with a minimum of 150 words.

Understanding the Prompt

Every prompt for the Academic Task 1 has two main parts: a visual representation of data and a task description. The task description usually instructs you to "summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant." This means you need to identify the most important aspects of the graph or diagram and present them in a clear, coherent manner.

Example Prompt

The bar chart shows the percentages of the Canadian workforce in five major industries in 1850 and 2020. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Task 1 of the IELTS Academic test example

For this task, you would start by describing the bar chart in general terms: what it shows (the percentages of the Canadian workforce in five major industries), and when (in 1850 and 2020). Then, you would identify and describe the main trends: perhaps there is an industry that has grown significantly over time, or maybe some industries have a smaller share of the workforce in 2020 compared to 1850. Remember to highlight key differences and make comparisons where relevant.

Structure of the Response

A well-structured response to the Academic Task 1 usually contains four main parts:

  1. Introduction: This should be a paraphrased version of the prompt, giving a general overview of the data or diagram you are required to describe.
  2. Overview: This part involves identifying two or three significant trends or features in the graph or diagram and summarizing them. It does not need to contain specific data at this point.
  3. Details: In this part, you will describe the main features in detail, comparing and contrasting data as necessary. Aim to group data logically.
  4. Conclusion: Although not always necessary, a conclusion can sum up the main trends shown in the chart or diagram.

In addition to this, you must ensure that you are using a variety of sentence structures, a wide range of vocabulary, and making sure your response is cohesive with clear paragraphing and linking words.

General Training Task 1

In the General Training IELTS Writing Task 1, you're required to write a letter in response to a given situation. The letter could be formal, semi-formal, or informal, depending on the situation described in the task.

Understanding the Prompt

The prompt for the General Training Task 1 includes a situation and three bullet points detailing what you should include in your letter. It's crucial to address all these points in your letter.

Example Prompt for General Training Task 1

You recently bought a piece of equipment for your kitchen but it did not work. You phoned the shop but no action was taken. Write a letter to the shop manager. In your letter:

  • describe the problem with the equipment
  • explain what happened when you phoned the shop
  • say what you would like the manager to do.

For this task, you would start by stating the purpose of your letter: you're writing because you bought a piece of kitchen equipment that did not work. Then, you would describe the problem with the equipment in detail, explaining what's wrong with it and how it's affecting you. You'd also describe your previous attempt to resolve the issue (the phone call) and how it was not successful. Finally, you'd explain what you want the manager to do: perhaps you want a replacement, a repair, or a refund.

Structure of the Response for General Training Task 1

A well-structured letter for the General Training Task 1 would include:

  1. Opening: The way you open your letter depends on what you need to write about and who you are writing to. You could open formally with "Dear Sir/Madam" if you do not know the person or "Dear Mr/Mrs [Surname]" if you know their name. Alternatively, for friends or family, you can use their first name.
  2. Purpose: After the opening, you should clearly state the purpose of the letter.
  3. Body: This is where you write in detail about the purpose of the letter. For the General Training Task 1, you would expand on the three bullet points in the question. You should organize your letter into paragraphs to make it clear and easy to understand.
  4. Closing: Here, you should conclude your letter with an appropriate phrase, and sign off in a suitable way.

Remember to adapt your language and style for each letter type. A formal letter will have a different tone and style compared to an informal one.

Understanding the unique requirements of IELTS Writing Task 1, whether for the Academic or General Training version, is key to performing effectively in the IELTS Writing Exam.

Understanding Task 2 of the IELTS Writing Exam: A Deep Dive

The IELTS Writing Task 2 is a common section for both the Academic and General Training modules. The test takers are required to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem. The essay should be formal in nature and consist of at least 250 words.

Types of Task 2 Essays

There are various types of essays that you might be asked to write for Task 2:

a) Opinion Essay: This type of essay asks you to express your viewpoint on a given topic. You are expected to support your opinion with relevant examples and reasoning.

b) Discussion Essay: Here, you will be given a particular issue or topic to discuss. You might be asked to discuss both sides of an argument and then give your own viewpoint.

c) Problem and Solution Essay: You will be presented with a problem and you need to suggest suitable solutions. You should also provide explanations as to why these solutions might work.

d) Two-part Question: This type of essay has two different questions that you need to answer.

e) Advantages and Disadvantages Essay: You need to discuss the pros and cons of a particular issue or situation.

Knowing the different types of essays and how to approach each one will help you effectively respond to any Task 2 prompt.

Understanding the Prompt

Understanding the prompt is vital in IELTS Writing Task 2. Each prompt will pose a question or situation that you need to respond to in your essay. It's essential to clearly address all parts of the prompt in your response. Let's delve deeper into this process:

  1. Read Carefully: Your first task when given the prompt is to read it carefully. This might sound obvious, but in the stress of the test situation, candidates sometimes rush and miss key details.
  2. Identify the Essay Type: As stated earlier, Task 2 can come in several formats, including opinion, discussion, problem-solution, two-part question, and advantages-disadvantages essays. By identifying the type, you will know how to structure your essay and what kind of information to include.
  3. Note All Parts of the Prompt: Every IELTS Writing Task 2 prompt has two or more parts. It's crucial to answer all parts fully to achieve a high Task Response score.
  4. Plan Your Response: Once you understand the prompt, spend a couple of minutes planning your response. Identify the main ideas you want to discuss and think about examples or points to support them.
  5. Keep the Prompt in Mind: While writing your essay, constantly refer back to the prompt to ensure you're staying on topic and fully addressing it. It's easy to stray off topic, especially when you're trying to meet the word count. But irrelevant information can lower your score.

Examples of Prompts (Essay Types)

Here are examples of prompts for each type of essay:

a) Opinion Essay

  • Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programs (for example, working for a charity, improving the neighborhood, or teaching sports to younger children). To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  • Many individuals believe that we are too dependent on technology and that it is making us lazier. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  • Some argue that children should be given homework every day, while others believe it should be abolished completely. Discuss your viewpoint.

b) Discussion Essay

  • Some people think that the government is wasting money on the arts and this money could be better spent elsewhere. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  • In many societies, it is becoming more common for people to have jobs that are not related to their degree. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this trend.
  • Some argue that traditional teaching methods are still the most effective, while others believe that digital learning methods are superior. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

c) Problem and Solution Essay

  • In many developing countries, there is a problem with declining quality of air and water from both industry and construction. What measures could be taken to prevent this?
  • Traffic congestion is a major issue in many cities worldwide. What are some potential solutions to address this problem?
  • Cyberbullying has increased significantly with the rise of social media. How can this problem be addressed?

d) Two-part Question

  • In some parts of the world, it is becoming increasingly popular to try to find out about the history of one's family. Why might people want to do this? Is it a positive or negative development?
  • An increasing number of people are choosing to live alone these days. Why do you think this is happening? Is it a positive or negative trend?
  • In recent years, many jobs that were once done by humans are now being done by robots. What are the reasons for this shift? Do you think this is a positive or negative development?

e) Advantages and Disadvantages Essay

  • Many students now have the opportunity to study abroad. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this development?
  • Online shopping is becoming more popular than in-store shopping. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this development?
  • The internet allows us to stay connected with others no matter where they are. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this trend?

The IELTS Writing Task 2 requires strategic preparation and practice to score well. You need to understand the different types of essays, comprehend the prompt effectively, and write a well-structured and well-reasoned response.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Acquiring the skills to write effectively for the IELTS exam is a process that involves understanding not only what to do correctly but also what to avoid. Familiarity with common mistakes made by test-takers in IELTS Writing can provide you with crucial insights into how to improve your writing and boost your score.

In this section, we will five of the most common pitfalls encountered by candidates and provide practical tips on how to avoid them. By being aware of these issues and consciously working to prevent them, you can greatly enhance the quality of your responses and move closer to achieving your IELTS goals.


Misunderstanding the Question

One of the most frequent mistakes candidates make is misinterpreting the question. Misunderstanding can result in an off-target response, which could significantly impact your score.

How to Avoid It

Spend enough time to read and understand the question before you start writing. Identify the type of essay you're required to write and the key elements you need to address in your response. If the question asks for your opinion, ensure to provide it clearly. If it asks for a discussion, be sure to consider all perspectives.


Off-Topic Responses

Straying from the topic at hand is another common error. The examiner wants to see your ability to respond to the question effectively. Providing unrelated content can result in a loss of marks.

How to Avoid It

Create a brief outline before you begin writing. This can help you stay focused on the topic. As you write, continually refer back to the question and your outline to ensure you're not drifting off-topic.


Poor Time Management

The IELTS writing test requires you to complete two tasks within 60 minutes. Candidates often spend too much time on Task 1, which contributes less to the overall score, leaving insufficient time for Task 2.

How to Avoid It

Practice managing your time effectively. A suggested timing would be 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. Practice this timing during your preparation to get used to it.


Overuse of Complex Sentences and Vocabulary

Candidates often believe that using complex sentences and big words will impress the examiner and earn them higher scores. However, this can lead to awkward sentences and misuse of words, reducing the clarity of the essay.

How to Avoid It

Clarity is paramount. It's better to use simpler sentences and words correctly than to misuse complex ones. Use a variety of sentence structures and vocabulary, but ensure you fully understand them before using them.


Grammatical Errors and Spelling Mistakes

Even minor errors can impact your score. Common mistakes include incorrect verb tenses, subject-verb agreement errors, and spelling mistakes.

How to Avoid It

Proofread your essay. Reserve the last few minutes of your test for checking your work. Look for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and ensure your essay answers the question.

Remember, our AI-driven IELTS practice is designed to identify these common mistakes in your essays and provide personalized, corrective feedback. This allows you to learn from your mistakes and continually improve. Regular practice is the key to success!

An Overview of IELTS Writing Scoring Criteria

IELTS Writing Scoring Criteria

The IELTS Writing Test is evaluated based on specific, detailed criteria. By understanding these criteria and aligning your preparation accordingly, you can better meet the examiners' expectations and enhance your score. Let's delve deeper into each of the four primary criteria used to evaluate IELTS Writing: Task Achievement/Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

  1. Task Achievement/Response
  2. This criterion assesses how effectively you've addressed the requirements of the task. For Task 1, this involves presenting a clear overview of the graph, chart, or diagram and including sufficient details. For Task 2, you'll need to provide a clear, detailed, and relevant response to the question.

    The key to excelling in Task Achievement/Response is carefully reading and understanding the task prompt. Spend a few minutes analyzing the task, identifying key features, or brainstorming relevant ideas. Avoid going off-topic, and ensure that your response directly answers the question. Remember, quantity does not replace quality. Your answer should be concise, clear, and to the point, fully addressing the task's requirements.

  3. Coherence and Cohesion
  4. Coherence relates to the overall understandability of your writing, while cohesion refers to how well your ideas are linked. Together, they assess the organization and flow of your ideas and arguments.

    To excel in coherence, ensure your essay has a clear, logical progression. Each paragraph should have a central idea, expressed in a topic sentence, with supporting sentences that expand on this idea. For cohesion, use linking words and phrases, but do it judiciously. Excessive or incorrect use of linking words can make your writing seem forced and may actually decrease your score.

  5. Lexical Resource
  6. This criterion evaluates the range and accuracy of your vocabulary. A wider vocabulary demonstrates your ability to express a variety of concepts and ideas.

    To improve your Lexical Resource score, aim to learn new words daily. Incorporate these words into your practice essays and use them in context, rather than memorizing word lists. However, it's equally important to use vocabulary correctly. Misused words can lead to misunderstandings and will affect your score. Avoid using complex words or phrases if you're not certain about their meaning or appropriate usage.

  7. Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  8. Grammatical Range and Accuracy assesses your ability to use a variety of grammatical structures accurately. It isn't about using complex sentences; it's about showcasing a mix of sentence types and grammatical forms.

    To improve this aspect, review English grammar rules, and practice using them in your writing. Be aware of common grammatical errors and work on those areas. Regularly reviewing your work to identify and correct errors will also help improve your grammatical accuracy.

Understanding the IELTS Writing scoring criteria is essential to guide your preparation and perform effectively on the exam. By targeting your practice towards these criteria, you can improve your performance and maximize your IELTS Writing score.

Practical Tips and Strategies for IELTS Writing Exam Success

Practical Tips and Strategies for IELTS Writing Exam Success

Preparing for the IELTS Writing Exam requires strategic planning, consistent practice, and a keen understanding of common mistakes and how to avoid them. Here are some practical tips:

  • Understand the exam format: Familiarize yourself with the type of tasks you'll need to complete.

  • Practice regularly: Consistency is key. Practice writing tasks under timed conditions.

  • Review your work: Always review your essays and learn from your mistakes.

  • Expand your vocabulary: A wider vocabulary can help you express your thoughts more effectively.

  • Time management: Practice managing your time effectively. Aim to complete Task 2 in 40 minutes and Task 1 in 20 minutes.

Let's look at each tip in detail.

1. Understanding the Exam Format

The first step towards conquering the IELTS Writing Exam is understanding its structure. The test is divided into two tasks, each with different requirements and expectations. Task 1 varies between the Academic and General Training modules. In the Academic version, you'll need to describe a chart, graph, or diagram, while in the General Training version, you're asked to write a letter in response to a situation.

Task 2 is the same for both versions: it requires you to write an essay in response to an argument, opinion, or problem. Knowing the expectations for each task and the criteria used to evaluate your answers is crucial. You can find this information on official IELTS websites or by using resources like our IELTS preparation app.

2. Regular Practice

Consistent practice is key to success. It allows you to become comfortable with the time constraints and the types of questions you'll encounter in the actual exam. Try to practice writing every day, even if it's just for a short period. Time yourself to ensure you can complete Task 1 in 20 minutes and Task 2 in 40 minutes, as this is the timeframe you'll have in the real exam.

During practice, vary the topics you write about. This not only helps you prepare for a wide range of potential exam topics but also aids in broadening your vocabulary and familiarity with different subject matters. Our app provides a vast array of topics to practice and offers immediate feedback, making your practice more effective and efficient.

3. Self-Review and Feedback

An essential part of your practice should be reviewing your own work. This helps you identify repeated mistakes, areas of improvement, and track your progress over time. Pay attention to coherence and cohesion, vocabulary range and accuracy, grammatical range and accuracy, and task response - the key parameters of IELTS Writing marking criteria.

The instant AI feedback provided by our app gives you an objective analysis of your writing and offers you valuable insights into your performance. It pinpoints areas where you can improve and gives you a realistic idea of your current band score.

4. Vocabulary Enhancement

Expanding your vocabulary is integral for the IELTS Writing Exam. The wider your vocabulary, the better equipped you are to express a variety of ideas effectively. Regular reading, using vocabulary flashcards, and learning synonyms for common words can be beneficial.

5. Effective Time Management

Effective time management is paramount. During the exam, you'll need to manage your time to understand the question, plan your response, write it, and then review your work. Practicing under these time constraints will help you develop your speed and writing efficiency.

With these strategies, you'll be well-equipped to succeed in the IELTS Writing Exam.

Bonus Tip: The Power of Practice and Feedback

You might have heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect." This phrase is particularly true for the IELTS Writing Exam. Regular practice is one of the most effective ways to improve your writing skills, as it helps you become familiar with the test format and improve your timing.

However, practice becomes even more powerful when paired with feedback. While practicing, you may be unaware of some of the mistakes you're making or the areas where you could improve. That's where feedback comes in.

To aid your IELTS preparation, we have developed an AI-powered IELTS Writing App. Our app allows you to practice IELTS Writing Tasks 1 and 2 and receive instant feedback on your essays. The AI identifies mistakes, offers corrections, and provides advice on how to improve your writing, allowing you to learn from your mistakes and improve faster.

By incorporating this tool into your study plan, you can elevate your practice sessions to a new level, transforming them into powerful learning experiences. This way, you are not just practicing, but are engaging in informed, targeted practice, accelerating your progress towards your IELTS goals.

Remember, your path to IELTS success is a journey, and each step you take in preparing for the exam brings you closer to achieving your desired score. Good luck!