IELTS Writing Practice

IELTS Writing: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The questions below are among those most frequently asked about the Writing module of IELTS. If you are looking for basic information about the structure of the Writing module, you should probably read IELTS Writing: Introduction first.

What’s the difference between the General Training Writing module and the Academic Writing module?

In the General Training version of IELTS, Task 1 requires you write a letter. In the Academic version of IELTS, Task 1 requires you to write a report on a diagram. In both versions of the test, Task 2 is the same: a discursive essay.

What should I write in the introduction to Task 1 of the Academic Writing module?

The introduction should describe the diagram or data overall. This usually means paraphrasing the question, i.e. restating the question in other words. Try to include all important information such as time periods, countries and other important divisions in the data. If there is a clear main feature, you can point this out in the introduction too. Otherwise, save your descriptions of these features for the body paragraphs.

Why is it so important to paraphrase the question?

If you repeat the question word-for-word in your introduction, these words will not be counted as your own and your word count will be lower as a result. You should always change at least a few words in the questions or rewrite it completely.

Should I give my opinion in the introduction of Task 2?

Read the question carefully first. If the questions asks you simply to agree or disagree, then you should state your position clearly in the introduction. If the questions asks you to discuss both sides of an argument, you should save your own opinion for the end. If the question includes to an expression such as To what extent or How far, you may decide yourself whether to begin with a strong opinion or take a more balanced approach to begin with and state your final opinion later.

How many words and paragraphs should I write?

For Task 1, three or four paragraphs totalling 150 words is sufficient, In Task 2, you should write four to six paragraphs (depending on the number of ideas you have) and at least 250 words.

Do I need to write a conclusion in Task 1?

It is certainly very helpful to add a one- or two-sentence conclusion that restates the overall topic and main features of the data. This is especially important if there is more than one set of data as you will gain extra marks if you make a direct comparison of the two. However, a conclusion is not an absolute requirement and it may be better to skip it and move quickly on to Task 2 if you have already written 150 words.

Do I need to write a conclusion in Task 2?

Absolutely, yes. Your conclusion should restate the overall topic and your main idea, briefly summarise the main point of each body paragraph, and end with a comment of some kind. Without a conclusion, your essay may lack coherence and this will bring down your score.

What will happen if I don’t write 150 or 250 words?

You will be given a penalty for this and your overall score in IELTS Writing will be at least half a band lower as a result.

Should I try to write more than 150 or 250 words?

In IELTS Writing, there is no maximum number of words. However, you will not get a higher score if you write more words than required. For that reason, you should stop writing when you have reached the limit AND written a satisfactory conclusion.

Should I count the number of words I have written?

No. This is not your responsibility and would be a waste of your time. Before taking the test, you should practice the Writing module enough times to be able to know when you have written a long enough answer without actually counting the words. In Task 1, this would be a short introduction plus two substantial body paragraphs and perhaps a short conclusion. In Task 2, you should aim to write an introduction of several sentences, two to four substantial body paragraphs, and a conclusion of several sentences.

How are IELTS Writing scores calculated?

The examiner will pay attention to four main areas: (1) How fully you answer the question overall; (2) How well you link ideas within the text; (3) The range and accuracy of vocabulary you use; (4) The range and accuracy of grammatical forms you use.

What IELTS Writing score is required for university entry?

It varies by university and many do not specify a requirement for each module. However, you should be aiming to achieve a score of at least 6 in IELTS Writing if you intend to study at an English-speaking university. A band score of 5 may be sufficient for some foundation and presessional English courses.

How can I raise my IELTS Writing score?

Check out other posts about writing on IELTS Academic for advice on writing techniques, useful language and understanding the scoring criteria.


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