This article will give you a quick guide on how to excel in IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2. Getting a high score in the Writing section of the IELTS test is not easy. These tips will help you to achieve your goal!
What is IELTS Writing?
The IELTS Writing test assesses your ability to write two different writing tasks (Task 1 and Task 2) within 60 minutes. Writing well in the IELTS test requires specific skills and lots of practice. Even if you are confident at writing in English, it’s always a good idea to prepare carefully.
The #1 tip 🏆
The number #1 tip to excel in IELTS writing is that you must be prepared for the test! Do some practice tests and have them assessed so you can know your current level. Then you can work out how much you need to improve before you do your official IELTS test. If you are currently a band score of 6, and you need an 8; you will need to improve 2 band scores. That is your learning goal!
Set your goal with a goal download PDF
Preparation is essential if you want to achieve a high score, so why not consider a study plan to get ready for your test? This can keep your study on track by setting daily or weekly goals and providing checklists according to each of skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
IELTS General or Academic?
There are two different types of IELTS tests – General Training and Academic. General Training is often used for migration purposes, while Academic is needed for university applications. While Writing Task 2 is basically the same on these two test types, there is a big difference in the writing task 1 item.
Task 1 (General Training) requires you to write a formal, semi-formal or informal letter that requests information or explains a situation.
Task 2 (Academic) requires you to describe a graph, table, chart, or diagram.
IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 – Writing tips
In Task 1 General Training, you must write a letter in approximately 20 minutes. You will need to analyse the question, plan your answer, write your answer and check your answer in only 20 minutes, so you need to work quickly! You must write at least 150 words.
Learn the basic letter structure that you can use for all 3 letter types.
· Body 1
· Body 2
· Body 3
· Sign off
As there are 3 different types of letters (formal, semi-formal and informal), you will need to slightly modify this structure to match the required type of letter.
It’s good to keep the below in mind when writing your letter:
Formal letters – You are writing to someone you don’t know
Semi-formal – You are writing to someone you know, but you are not friends or family with them
Informal – You are writing to a friend or family member
Spend NO MORE THAN 1 minute to plan your answer. A very common problem is that students will waste 3-5 minutes planning and then they don’t have enough time to finish their letter. Practise planning in 1 minute only. Use an alarm to check that you only take 1 minute.
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 – Writing tips
In Task 1 Academic, you need to review a visual image and describe the important features. There are a variety of different task types, such as line graph, bar chart, pie chart, table, map, process and mixed charts. You must write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.
Learn the 4-paragraph structure that is used to write all Task 1 Academic answers.
· Key Features 1
· Key Features 2
Make sure you have practised all the task types. Many students focus on one or two types and are not prepared for other types. This is very risky because you don’t know which task type you will have until you are doing your test. You must be ready to answer all task types.
Learn the difference between dynamic graphs (which change over time) and static graphs (which are one moment in time). It’s essential to know the difference so you know what to focus on when analysing the task and writing your answer.
There are two task types which are very different compared to the others. These task types are processes and maps. These task types don’t include data and require you to analyse in different ways.
For processes, remember to answer three questions in the Overview.
1) How many stages are there?
2) What is the first stage?
3) What is the last stage?
Then, divide the total number of stages in half. Answer the first half in Key Features 1 and the second half in Key Features 2. Use sequencing words to connect your stages, as well as the passive voice.
For maps, divide each map into two (e.g. north/south, or east/west). Compare the first and second map, and review what has changed. Remember that you must include all changes in your answer. After you have divided each map in half, write about the initial situation and then subsequent changes in one part of the map (e.g. north) in Key Features 1. Then, write about the initial situation and changes in the other part of the map (e.g. south) in Key Features 2. Try to use the passive voice.
DON’T forget to include lots of data in the Key Features paragraphs. This is important if you want to get a high score. Even though maps don’t include data, remember to check the dates of the two maps (e.g. 1950 and 2000, or 1980 and 2010). Most IELTS maps are from the past, but it is possible to see a map that includes either the present time (e.g. 1980 and Now) or the future (2000 and 2050). If the map is from the present or the future, this will affect the verb tenses that you use to describe the map.
If you want to revise grammar, E2 offers skill building classes in our weekly live classes. You will be able to boost your scores in Speaking, Listening and Writing through our weekly classes.
IELTS Writing Task 2 – Essay writing tips
The Task 2 essay is similar for both General Training and Academic questions. You need to write at least 250 words in approximately 40 minutes. Your essay is your response to a point of view, argument or problem.
Prepare to analyse the question and plan your answer, write your essay and then check over your own writing in about 40 minutes.
To do this, you must learn the simple and effective 4 paragraph essay structure.
Not only do you need to learn the structure of each paragraph, but you also need to understand the role of each sentence. When you know the role of each sentence in every paragraph, it is much easier and faster to write. This role is dictated by the essay question type. There are different essay questions types that are possible, such as Opinion (e.g. Agree/Disagree), Discussion, Problem + Solution, Advantages & Disadvantages, and Double Question.
The question type is very important because it tells you how to structure your answer. For example, if the question is Agree/Disagree, in Body 1 you will describe your first idea, and in Body 2 you will describe your second idea. If it’s Advantages & Disadvantages, Body 1 states the two advantages while Body 2 is the two disadvantages.
You must learn the 5 different sentence structures of single idea body paragraphs and double idea body paragraphs.
Time is money
Watch for your time. 40 minutes is not a long time, so you need to use every minute effectively. Follow the structure and make sure you know each sentence’s role. Practise writing each part of the essay (Analyse and Plan, Intro, Body 1, Body 2, Conclusion) within a specific time limit.
Good luck for your next IELTS exam!
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Sasha is an IELTS preparation teacher with E2. He is a former examiner with over 20 years’ teaching experience.