Writing

Complete Guide to IELTS Writing

The Academic IELTS Writing exam requires you to respond to two question prompts in one hour. IELTS Writing Task 1 involves writing a report based on information contained in one or two visuals (such as charts or graphs). Task 1 is a very predictable exercise. Therefore, once you master the basic pattern of a good IELTS Writing Task 1 response, you can apply it every time! To help you master IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, we’ll look at the basics of Task 1, analyze sample questions, give tips to boost your score, and share our favorite practice resources.

IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 is the second of two writing tasks on the IELTS. Even though Task 1 is by no means easy, most students find IELTS Writing Task 2 more challenging. The purpose of this guide is to help you master the IELTS Writing Task 2 skills you need in order to do well on this important section of the IELTS exam. In addition to the basics of IELTS Writing Task 2, we’ll cover how to organize your essay, the question types you’ll see on test day, and share our favorite practice resources.

Handwritten Responses

The IELTS is a pencil and paper exam, so your responses will be handwritten. It is essential that you handwrite (don’t type!) your practice essays for Task 2. Writing by hand helps you develop a sense of pacing. In other words, you will learn how quickly (or slowly!) you write with pencil and paper in English.

Importantly, as you’re probably aware, precious points will be deducted if you do not meet the minimum word requirements in the Writing section. But it is a huge waste of time to actually count your words on exam day. If you take the additional step of using official IELTS Writing Task 2 response sheets (download and print them here), you can see how many words you typically write on each page. You won’t have to count because you will know what that number of words looks like on the IELTS answer sheet.

Timing

Writing speed varies a lot from student to student. How you allocate time depends a lot on how fast you can write. The more you practice Task 2 responses, the quicker you will become. Your goal should be to allow enough time for these three things:

As you practice, try very hard to cut down on the amount of time it takes to plan your responses before writing. Some students can take up to 10 minutes to brainstorm and plan. For most people, however, using 10 minutes at the beginning will take away too much time from writing and editing. I usually recommend three to five minutes of planning as a reasonable target. The more practice questions you answer, the faster you will become at generating ideas before you write.

Academic/Formal Writing

The IELTS expects you to use an academic/formal writing style. This means you should use the same kind of language that you would when writing a report for work or an essay for school. Obviously, you would avoid using “slang” words. You would also write in complete sentences and use proper punctuation. Here are some additional features of academic/formal writing to keep in mind for Task 2: