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If you’re preparing for IELTS, you first need to know which test you’re going to be taking. IELTS has two versions: General and Academic. If you’re not sure which one is best for you, read this blog!

Are you taking IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

When it comes to IELTS Writing Task 1, the General and Academic tasks are completely different.  There are, however, a few similarities. Let’s start by looking at those.

IELTS Writing Task 1: The Similarities

Wordcount and Timing

For both General and Academic Task 1s:

✓     you must write at least 150 words.

✓    you should spend no more than 20 minutes on it.

Scoring and Weight

Your Task 1 is scored by an examiner. There are four criteria:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range & Accuracy

Check out the public version of the marking criteria here. The only criterion that has different requirements for General and Academic versions is ‘Task Achievement’. When you look at this criterion, you’ll see a small ‘A‘ for Academic or ‘GT‘ for General Training in some places. This is because the tasks require you to do completely different things. In General Task 1, for instance, you’re scored on how clear your purpose is and how appropriate your tone is. For Academic, you’re not scored on these aspects but on other things like the overview and the inclusion of data.

Task Achievement is the only area that has different criteria for General and Academic Task 1s.

IELTS Writing Task 1: The Differences

Now that we’ve seen what’s similar between the two IELTS Task 1s, let’s look at what’s different. And the short answer is…everything!

So, let’s deal with them separately.

IELTS Academic Task 1 – What is it?

You’re asked to describe facts or figures from one or more graphs, charts, tables, process diagrams or maps. You should write in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style and include the most important and relevant points in the diagram. Some minor points or details may be left out.

What does it look like?

This is an example of an Academic Task 1 prompt.

Your job is to describe the charts, including the most important and relevant parts.


  • Include an overview (a description of the main trends, stages or differences)
  • Describe the key features; the most significant things you notice
  • Use data (if included in the task) in your description


  • Don’t describe every single detail
  • Don’t use lists or bullet points; make sure you write in full sentences
  • Do not speculate or make predictions (eg: don’t explain the trends, just describe them!)
  • Don’t include irrelevant detail
  • Don’t make errors when describing the data; edit super carefully

Writing Task 1 – Task types

IELTS General Task 1 – What is it?

You are presented with a situation and required to write a personal response in the form of an informal, semi-formal or formal letter. The situation is always a common, everyday one such as: writing to a landlord, applying for a job, writing to a friend to invite them to your birthday party, etc. You are told what information to include in the form of three bullet points.

The style of writing and the tone depend on who you are asked to write to (eg. a friend or a future employer) and how well you are supposed to know them.

What does it look like?

This is what a typical General Task 1 prompt looks like. This one is a letter to a friend so you would write an informal letter.

Read the prompt carefully so you know what kind of letter you need to write.


  • Make your purpose clear from the beginning of the letter
  • Use a suitable tone; not too formal if writing to a friend and not too friendly if writing to someone you don’t know
  • Cover each bullet point in sufficient detail


  • Don’t use lists or bullet points
  • Don’t memorise samples; your examiner will recognise the memorised content
  • Don’t miss a bullet point!

That’s a good start!

Thanks for reading this article, you’re clearly motivated to learn your do’s from your don’ts and that’s great! However, as is the case with all forms of education, the more you learn the more questions you have! Join us at E2Language for both. We have answers but we also craft some of the highest quality, exam-level practice questions so our students are informed, prepared and polished! Sign up to E2Language today!

Written by Alex IELTS Expert and Head of E2Language IELTS

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