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Achieving a high band score for IELTS Writing is a challenge. Even native English-speakers struggle to perform well without preparation and practice. The best advice is “Be prepared”. To excel, you need to know the test well and IELTS marking criteria, prepare thoroughly and practice your skills. 

To improve, you need to be told what you are doing well and shown areas for improvement. Expert markers can provide personal guidance and encourage you. IELTS writing is a specific form of writing aimed at answering an IELTS task question in a particular way.

Read till the end for some top tips on IELTS Writing, how Writing feedback can help you and understand the IELTS Writing criteria. 

Utilise E2’s practice materials

E’2s one-stop learning platform features live classes, videos, practice assessments and mock tests. These will all help you to improve, by pinpoint problem areas and identifying your strengths in IELTS writing.

Writing feedback is valuable!

Once you understand the nature of IELTS Writing tasks and have studied some sample and model answers, you can begin to practice. The more you write and the more you take feedback on board, the more your skills and confidence will grow and improve.

When you undertake E2 practice assessments and Mini Mock-Tests, your marker joins you on your journey. As well as correcting errors, they lead you in your learning, praising you for the parts of each task that you have completed well and drawing your attention to areas in which you can improve.  Getting Writing feedback is important as it can help correct errors that are stopping you from progressing your Writing.

They help by:

  • offering advice and suggestions on how to improve
  • getting to know you through your writing and caring about your progress
  • preventing you from repeating mistakes  
  • helping you to discover effective techniques. 

Understand the test format 

Knowledge of the nature of IELTS Writing tasks is essential. For a Paper-Based Test or Computer-Delivered IELTS, the tasks are the same. The task types are the same. 

Requirements for IELTS Writing task 1 

For both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, you have to answer the Task 1 question and the Task 2 question.

  • Task 1 requires a minimum of 150 words. 
  • You should spend 20 minutes on Task 1. 
  • Task 2 requires a minimum of 250 words.
  • You should spend 40 minutes on Task 2.
  • Task 1 is worth one-third of your score. 
  • Task 2 is worth two-thirds of your score.

What is IELTS General Writing task 1?

To excel in IELTS Writing, you need to know the specific requirements of each task question. 

IELTS General Training Task 1 is a letter. The task question includes three bullet points to which you must respond in the body of your letter. 

Image of example General Training Task 1 question

You live in student accommodation where meals are provided. In the second semester the standard of food has decreased dramatically.

Write a letter to the accommodation officer at the college. 

In the letter, 

• describe the situation

• explain the problem and why it is causing difficulties 

• say what changes you would like to see

Write at least 150 words. 

You do NOT need to write any addresses. 

Begin your letter as follows: Dear Sir or Madam…

Know how to start and end a formal letter

If the task requires a formal letter, begin with “Dear Sir or Madam” and end “Yours faithfully”, followed by your name. Start with “Dear …” and finish with “Yours sincerely” and your full name if you are addressing your imaginary correspondent by name. For an informal letter, for example, a letter to a friend, sign off with an informal phrase such as “See you soon”, “Warm wishes” or “Take care”, followed by your given name.

What is IELTS Academic Task 1?

IELTS Academic Task 1 presents you with an image which you have to describe. The image is a graph, diagram, table or map. It may include more than one element. Graphs include line graphs, bar graphs and pie graphs. You have to describe the information illustrated by the graphs, diagrams, tables or maps and make comparisons where appropriate. 

This task requires a description of what you can see on the page. Any opinion or additional information is considered off-topic. You have to write at least 150 words in 20 minutes. With practice, you will find this easily achievable.

The pie charts below show the country of origin of international students in Blue Bay High School in 2009 and 2019.  

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

County of origin of international students at Blue Bay High School 2009

County of origin of international students at Blue Bay High School 2019

What is IELTS Writing Task 2?

Task 2 is the same across IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. 

You write an essay in response to a question in which you discuss a particular topic and offer your own ideas and opinions. 

Image of example question

Task 2 

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. 

Write about the following topic: 

In some non-English-speaking countries, it is compulsory for high school students to study a second foreign language in addition to English. 

Do the benefits of learning three languages outweigh the drawbacks?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words.

Type of essay required for IELTS Writing task 2 

This type of essay often asks you to describe or explain something. The topics are related to the everyday world and don’t require any specialised knowledge. Once you learn the best logical approach and practice with feedback, this type of essay is straightforward. You need to write at least 250 words in 40 minutes.

Did you answer the question?

The most important piece of advice for IELTS Writing, or any test, is “Answer the question”. It doesn’t matter how beautifully you write if you don’t directly and fully answer the question. 

IELTS Writing criteria 

All Writing is marked in four categories, known as Task Achievement/Task Response (TA/TR), Cohesion and Coherence (CC), Lexical Resource (LR) and Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA). Don’t be dismayed by the fancy names. The requirements of the IELTS Writing criteria are simple and straightforward.

Task Achievement

“Task Achievement”, in the case of Task 1, and “Task Response” in the case of Task 2, simply mean “Did you answer the question?” If you answer all parts of the question and write more than the required minimum number of words, you will achieve a high band score.

Cohesion and Coherence

“Cohesion and Coherence” is a measure of how cohesive and how coherent your writing is.

Cohesive writing holds together well and flows logically. Ideas are linked within each sentence, between sentences and between paragraphs. Coherent writing is easy for the reader to understand. Language is used expertly and ideas are presented clearly. Good writing is clear writing, a good mixture of simple and complex sentences. Simple language used well is better than complicated and uncommon language.

Lexical Resource

“Lexical Resource ” is a fancy name for vocabulary. If you use a variety of words well, you will achieve a high score for “LR”. Be very careful with less-familiar vocabulary. Synonyms and parallel expressions are excellent but you must be absolutely sure that you are using less-common words correctly. If in doubt, choose more familiar language.

Don’t make this common mistake 

A common mistakes in IELTS Writing is candidates using long, academic-sounding words because they sound impressive. Words must collocate correctly and their meaning must be precise. If a phrase “doesn’t sound right”, it isn’t. So, if you have never seen or heard a particular grouping of words anywhere before, it is almost certainly incorrect. Use familiar language.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

“Grammatical Range and Accuracy” is the fourth category in which your IELTS writing is assessed. To excel at IELTS Writing, you need to use a range of grammatical structures in order to make sure your writing is not repetitive and interesting to read. 

Use grammar with which you are familiar

Your use of grammar needs to be correct. Use grammar with which you are familiar and confident with. Simple grammar used well is better than complex grammar riddled with errors. 

Check your grammar

Read your writing back to yourself. If you have difficulty following the grammar, the reader definitely will. Use a mix of simple and complex structures. Don’t try to be too fancy. If in doubt, break a longer sentence into smaller, clearer segments. Full-stops and capital letters can be your best friends in making your writing clear, cohesive and coherent.

How E2 can help you 

We have helped over 1.9 million students pass their high-stakes English test, and you can be next!  Many test candidates find that IELTS Writing is challenging. 

A Writing Intensive package can help you target your Writing weaknesses and improve fast. .

Inclusions in the Writing Intensive are:

  • 100+ of practice questions
  • 25 live classes 
  • 6 assessments with expert feedback

Or you can start a free trial in IELTS with the below inclusions:

  • 3 x FREE Sample Live Classes
  • Practice Questions
  • Overview & method Lessons

Get Writing feedback from E2 teachers 

When you follow an E2 course, expert IELTS teachers and markers closely work with you to address your particular needs, building on your strengths and helping your improvement areas.  All mock tests and teacher assessments come with detailed feedback to help you improve fast. Detailed feedback comes from your teacher, and you will receive within 48 hours.

If you are prepared and organised, there is no need for late-night cramming. Study and practice less over the last few days before your test. Too much last-minute study is counterproductive. Taper off, like an athlete training before an event. Watch your favourite English-language movies. Listen to your favourite English-language music. Get plenty of sleep. Drink water. Exercise. Rest and relax. Eat healthily.

On test day, be confident and relaxed. You’ve got this. Arrive early. Relax. Chat with the other candidates in English. You have practised many times so you know exactly what to do. Have fun and put in your best performance.

Keen for more practice? Read our article about IELTS Writing topics. Have some fun, write down some ideas and plan how you would approach the essay topics. 

Also, check out our IELTS Writing video and learn how to take an IELTS band score 6 to band score of 8+!

If you haven’t already completed our fully guided IELTS mock test. Jay & Mark will walk you through all IELTS tasks, allowing you to test your skills! Best of luck!

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