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Good news, it is now easier for students to find out exactly what is required from the IELTS Writing Assessment Criteria.

While it was announced that from May 2023 there have been changes to IELTS Writing, essentially, the assessment criteria have not changed. The change is that the information about how Writing is assessed has become more accessible and clearer. 

For a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about the new IELTS Writing criteria, watch this video:

Previously, examiners had access to a “confidential version” of the band descriptors, which was more detailed than the “public version”. The confidential version no longer exists. All information is public. Examiners, candidates and teachers can now refer to the same information on how IELTS Writing is assessed.

The four Key Assessment Criteria have not changed. The “new” Key Assessment Criteria and Band Descriptors use more easily understood English. Requirements are stated clearly with minimum academic jargon. This makes life easier for you. You can read exactly what you are required to do to achieve each band score in each category. You are given a band score for each of the criteria and the four scores are averaged.

These are the key requirements in a single sentence:

For Task Achievement, answer the question fully, using the minimum number of words.

For Cohesion and Coherence, write with logical flow, link your ideas and be clear.

For Lexical Resource, use a range of appropriate words and phrases effectively.

For Grammatical Range and Accuracy, use a variety of grammatical structures accurately.

Let’s expand on that a little, using plain English.

Task Achievement for Academic Writing Task 1

For Task Achievement for Academic Writing Task 1, you describe a graph or diagram. You need to choose the most important information, report it accurately with enough detail, and compare differences. 

The Band Descriptors make it clear that in order to achieve above Band 5 for Task Achievement, numerical data must be included and incorporated effectively into the sentences of your response. You should take care to only describe the information depicted in the graph or other diagram, not suggest reasons or include any outside information or speculation

Task Achievement for General Training Writing Task

For Task Achievement for General Training Writing Task, you write a letter. You need to state the reason for writing the letter, address and expand on all three bullet points in the question, and use an appropriate format and tone.

Task Response for Task 2

For Task Response for Task 2, you write an essay. You need to respond to all parts of the question, extending and supporting your ideas. You need to express a clear and developed position and reach a conclusion. It is essential to write in paragraphs, ideally an introduction, two or more body paragraphs and a conclusion. The Band Descriptors stipulate that If paragraphs are not used, you cannot score more than Band 5 for Task Response.

For Cohesion and Coherence, your writing needs to flow logically and needs to be well-organised into paragraphs. You need to connect ideas within and between sentences and paragraphs. Your ideas need to be clear and easily understood by a reader.

For Lexical Resource, you need to use a variety of precise and appropriate language, including idiomatic phrases with few or no misspellings or word formation errors.

For Grammatical Range and Accuracy, you need to use a mixture of simple, compound and complex sentences correctly and appropriately, and have few or no grammatical or punctuation errors.

Because there are no longer any confidential marking criteria, there is no mystery about what you need to do. If you do what is summarised here, you will achieve a good score.

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Do you need more help with vocabulary for IELTS? Read our article and learn tips and hacks to improve your vocabulary to improve your skills in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Best of luck with your studies!

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