An Introduction To IELTS Writing Tasks

All You Need To Know To Understand The Requirements Of The IELTS Writing Test, General and Academic.


IELTS Writing Overview Infographic

(Click image to enlarge)

Read the rest of this page and then go straight to guides for each of these test areas here:

How To Do IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

How To Do IELTS General Writing Task 1

How To Do IELTS Writing Task 2 General and Academic


IELTS Writing Assessment Criteria

Both IELTS Writing General and Academic, task 1 and task 2 are marked according to four very similar criterion, namely:

♦   Task Achievement – 5 (full explanation)

♦   Coherence and Cohesion – 6 (full explanation)

♦   Lexical Resource – 6 (full explanation)

♦   Grammar Range and Accuracy – 7 (coming soon)


But What Does That Mean For YOU? 

Well, it means you have to do those 4 things very well to get high bands. But, what exactly do they mean?

You can see exactly what these 4 criterion mean in the official mark schemes here:

IELTS Writing Task 1 Band Descriptors (General and Academic)

IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Descriptors (General and Academic)

However, as you can see, they are not easy to understand!

Understanding them though, is one of the keys to success in IELTS writing, as it means you can give the examiners exactly what they want.

What IELTS Examiners Want To See…

Here is my more user friendly version of what the examiners want to see in your writing:

Did you answer all parts of the question? Or did you just focus on the part of the question you liked best, or did you completely forget the second part?

If you did then you have not fully answered the question and your score will not be as high as it could be.

Did you develop your answers enough? Did you add clear explanations and examples where appropriate. A short response is unlikely to be fully developed enough for bands 6 and up.

Have you organised your ideas in a logical manner and in a sensible order?

This generally means using paragraphs to group ideas and starting and finishing with an introduction and conclusion. Using topic sentences also helps greatly here.

Are you using a range of vocabulary or are you repeating the same words again and again?

For example, instead of repeating the word ‘athlete’ you could say: sportsmen (or women), professional sports-players, elite level competitors and so on.

Doing this demonstrates your range of vocabulary and scores higher grade bands.

Are you using the correct form of the word?

There is a big difference between the words: environment, environmental, environmentalist and environmentalism, can you use the correct form at the right time, with the right spelling?

Do you have a mix of simple and complex sentences?

The world we live in is amazing. The world we inhabit is amazing, it has a wide variety of species of both plants and animals and furthermore it has an ever changing climate adding to the diversity

IELTS Writing Band Scores

Your writing band score for each task is worked out by adding together your score (remember it is out of 9) for each of the 4 criteria explained above and dividing it by 4. For example:

♦   Task Achievement – 5

♦   Coherence and Cohesion – 6

♦   Lexical Resource – 6

♦   Grammar Range and Accuracy – 7

The overall band score for that task would be: 6 (5+6+6+7 = 24 and 24/4 = 6).

It is important to understand therefore that each of the criteria are just important as the others!

So, do not focus just on improving your grammar, you need to focus on all four aspects to improve your score most rapidly.


IELTS Writing Strategies

It is important to become familiar with the different types of writing tasks that you may face. Even if your written English is already very good the writing tasks are trickier than they first look and need practicing.

The good news is they all follow a similar pattern, there are 5 different styles of IELTS task 2 essays to write (see info-graphic above) and all IELTS Academic writing part 1 questions involve describing/summarizing or explaining a graph, chart, table, diagram or flow chart and IELTS General writing part 1 requires a letter..

Becoming familiar with each of these is not so tricky, and will make you more relaxed in the exam. It also prevents you from making any silly mistakes like misunderstanding the question instructions if you have tackled that style of question previously.


More Good News…

Further good news is that there are 10 common topics that come up time and time again in all parts of the test. This means that if you focus your vocabulary building and practice around these topics it will be highly likely to improve your band score.

The Most Common IELTS Topics:

1. Technology

2. Health

3. Development

4. Government Spending

5. Environment

6. Globalization

7. Youth Crime

8. Criminal Justice

9. Education

10. Public Transport

If you read newspaper article and magazines about these topics it will help you formulate your own thoughts and opinions so you will not be short of ideas on test day.

So, if part 2 and 3 of your speaking test are about one of these topics you will already have a good idea of what to say and of the appropriate vocabulary and phrases to use.

You may also be able to remember points from the articles to use as examples in your essay main body paragraphs. That’s another good reason to watch the news and documentaries in English on an ongoing basis.

Overall repetition and practice of the different types of questions and having an experienced IELTS teacher give you feedback is the best way to prepare for your exam.

How To Do IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

How To Do IELTS General Writing Task 1

How To Do IELTS Writing Task 2 General and Academic



Free Practice/Sample IELTS Writing Materials General And Academic

Writing Practice Test General And Academic – British Council

Writing Practice Test Samples General And Academic –

Writing Practice Tests General And Academic – IDP Australia