The Academic Writing module of IELTS consists of two writing tasks of 150 and 250 words each. Task 1 requires you to describe some data or a diagram. Task 2 requires you to write a short discursive essay, usually presenting your opinion on a particular issue.
Both writing tasks must be completed in 60 minutes. It is up to you how much time you spend on each task. You must write in pencil on paper – there are no computers involved.
IELTS Writing Task 1: Describe a diagram
Time: 20 mins (recommended). Words: 150 minimum
In this task, you are shown a diagram or set of data and you have to write a short report identifying the main features and making comparisons where relevant.
The chart below shows Internet use at Redwood Secondary School, by sex, from 1995 to 2002.
Write a report for a university professor on the main features of the chart and make comparisons where relevant.
Other examples of IELTS Writing Task 1: A table showing accident statistics; A line graph comparing sales at four companies; Two maps showing a town’s development over 30 years; Several diagrams showing different models of bicycle.
IELTS Writing Task 2: Discursive essay
Time: 40 mins (recommended). Words: 250 minimum
In this task, you have to write about your opinion on a particular issue, or about both sides of an argument. The question will make it clear which approach you should take.
It is widely believed that people’s ability to learn new things decreases with age and that companies should actively recruit younger employees who have greater potential to learn.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
Other topics covered in IELTS Writing Task 2 may include: education, health, technology, work, or the media. Sensitive topics such as politics or religion are avoided.
You do NOT need any special knowledge of these issues, only the ability to present ideas in a logical format with clear links and an appropriate style of language for academic discourse.
Typically, you will write a four- or five-paragraph essay beginning with an introduction and ending with a conclusion.
In IELTS Writing, Task 2 is more important than Task 1, so you should spend more time on Task 2.
How IELTS Writing answers are scored
Task Achievement or Response: Do you answer the question fully: do you write enough words, cover the main points, and have a clear position?
Coherence and Cohesion: Do you organise your ideas into paragraphs and connect them with linking words?
Lexical Resource: Do you make good use of vocabulary: is it relevant to the topic and appropriate to academic writing?
Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Do you make good use of grammar and punctuation: do you attempt complex sentences and avoid too many mistakes?
Each of these four criteria is worth 25% of your IELTS Writing score.
Five exam techniques for IELTS Writing
1. Always make a paragraph plan before writing. In Task 1, each paragraph should deal with one aspect of the data. In Task 2, each paragraph should contain one main idea.
2. Avoid repeating the same words too many times. Paraphrase the questions and vary vocabulary as much as possible in both IELTS writing tasks.
3. In Task 1, do not attempt to explain or present reasons for the data. You should only describe what it shows.
4. In Task 2, remember that you can write about other people’s ideas as well. Practice using reporting verbs and passive structures to give your writing a more academic style.
5. Mistakes are much more obvious in writing than in speaking. You should be continuously working to improve your English grammar while preparing for IELTS.
Now Practice IELTS Writing
On this site, you can find many IELTS Writing practice questions with sample answers. Study them carefully and note how each answer is scored.
When you’re ready to have your own answers scored, try our online IELTS Writing practice test, which comes with full correction and advice for improving your IELTS Writing score.