Here are the most frequently asked questions about IELTS writing test.

 

Question:

How many parts to the writing test are there?

Answer:

There are two parts. Writing task 1 is a report or letter and writing task 2 is an essay.

 

Question:

How long is the IELTS writing test?

Answer:

It takes a total of 1 hour. You should spend 20 minutes on writing task 1 and 40 minutes on writing task 2.

 

Question:

What is the difference between the General Training test and the Academic test?

Answer:

The general training test is mainly for people who want to migrate to a foreign country. For this test, students need to write a letter for task 1 and an essay for task 2.

The academic test is mostly for people who want to enter college or university. Most people take this test. For this test, students need to write an academic report for task 1 (based on a bar chart or other types of graphs) and an essay for writing task 2.

 

Question:

What is the difference between the paper based writing test and the computer delivered writing test?

Answer:

In the paper based IELTS test, you need to write your writing tasks by hand on paper. You can use either a pen or pencil for your writing test.

In the computer delivered IELTS test, you need to type your answer on the screen.

 

Question:

Is the computer delivered writing test easier than the paper based writing test?

Answer:

There is no difference in the level of difficulty between paper based and computer delivered IELTS writing tests. However depending on your personal preferences, you might find one format easier than the other. For example, some of my students had poor handwriting and were struggling with their writing scores. When they switched to the computer delivered test, they improved by 0.5 - 1 band score.

If you are comfortable using a computer and have good typing speed, then computer delivered IELTS might be a better format for you.

 

Question:

Can I have extra paper for planning and making notes?

Answer:

You should make notes and plan on the question paper before you start writing. You are not usually given extra paper for planning.

 

Question:

Should I do writing task 1 or writing task 2 first?

Answer:

Writing Task 2 is worth twice of Writing Task 1. So it is best that you spend the first 40 minutes writing task 2. However, if you choose to start with writing task 1, it is your choice. Do what works best for you.

 

Question:

Should I leave a space at the start of a paragraph?

Answer:

No, it is not necessary to do that. It is better to leave one empty line between your paragraphs to help the examiner identify the paragraphs.

 

Question:

What is IELTS Writing Task 2?

Answer:

For writing task 2, you must write an essay which is over 250 words and you have 40 mins to do this. IELTS will provide you with the essay question.

 

Question:

How long does writing task 2 take?

Answer:

It is recommended to take 40 mins to plan and write your essay.

 

Question:

Can I spend more than 40 mins on my essay?

Answer:

You can decide the length of time to spend on your essay but I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 40 mins on it.

 

Question:

What is the difference between the General Training writing task 2 and the academic task 2?

Answer:

There is very little difference. Both the GT writing task 2 and the academic are essays which have similar topics, the same format and techniques. The only difference is that the GT essay question is slightly easier than the academic test.

 

Question:

How much is writing task 2 worth?

Answer:

It is worth double the marks of writing task 1. So, make sure you give yourself the full 40 minutes to write your essay.

 

Question:

What kind of essays are there in writing task 2?

Answer:

There are a number of different essay types: opinion essays, discussion essays, advantage /disadvantage essays, solution essays and direct question essays. Some teachers give these essay types different names. Go over the Frequent IELTS essay topics page which has the most frequently as ked essay questions.

 

Question:

How is writing task 2 scored?

Answer:

It is marked by an examiner who will assess you on 4 criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Vocabulary and Grammar. Each criteria is equal and worth 25% of your task 2 marks. Here is a link to learn more about the assessment criteria

 

Question:

Do I need to give my opinion in the essay?

Answer:

Only give your opinion if the instructions ask for your opinion. For example, Do you agree or disagree? this is clearly asking for your opinion. Don’t give your opinion if it doesn’t ask for it. Read the instructions carefully.

 

Question:

How long should my essay be?

Answer:

You must write over 250 words but there is no upper limit. It is best to keep your essay between 250- 300 words.

 

Question:

What happens if I write under 250 words for my IELTS essay?

Answer:

You will receive a penalty from IELTS if you are under the word count. This will affect your band score for the criterion of Task Response.

 

Question:

How many paragraphs should I have?

Answer:

You can have either 4 or 5. You must have an introduction and conclusion. You can have either two or three body paragraphs.

 

Question:

Do I need a conclusion?

Answer:

Yes, you do. It is vital that you conclude your essay. If you think you are running out of time, then jump to your conclusion.

 

Question:

What kinds of topics will I get in writing task 2?

Answer:

There are common topics which appear frequently in the test. Follow this link to see a list of common topics for writing task 2.

 

Question:

Should I write the title of the essay on my answer sheet?

Answer:

No, you shouldn’t. The examiner has the essay title so you do not need to repeat it on your paper. Your first sentence should be the beginning of your essay.

 

Question:

Is spelling important?

Answer:

Yes, the examiner will check your spelling. It is part of the criterion of vocabulary.

 

Question:

Is punctuation important?

Answer:

Yes, it is. This is part of the grammar marking criterion.

 

Question:

What's the difference between an IELTS essay and a normal essay?

Answer:

There are quite a lot of differences. Firstly, you’ve got a time limit of only 40 minutes. Secondly, you’ve got a specific word count of over 250 words. Thirdly, IELTS is testing your English grammar and vocabulary – you have to demonstrate particular skills and ability to get a particular band score. Fourthly, there is a particular essay structure and use of linking devices that is recommended to follow. Lastly, you need to get used to the different types of essay questions and how to address the tasks fully to get more marks. So quite a lot of differences really.

 

Question:

Can I use a pen or a pencil for writing?

Answer:

For IELTS writing, you can choose whether to use a pen or pencil – it’s your choice.

 

Question:

Can I get extra writing paper if I run out of space on my answer sheet?

Answer:

Yes, you can.  Put your hand up and the exam supervisor will come to you. You can then ask for more writing paper.

Question:

How many types of writing task 1 are there?

Answer:

There are many types for the academic IELTS test. Here are the main types: diagrams, maps, building plans, bar charts, line graphs, pie charts and tables. It is also possible to get more than one type in your task 1 test. However for the General Training test, you only need to write a letter.

 

Question:

How much is writing task 1 worth?

Answer:

It is worth only one third of your marks for IELTS writing. Task 2 is worth twice as much.

 

Question:

What's the difference between the academic test and the general training test in task 1?

Answer:

In the general training test you have to write a letter whereas in the academic test you must write a report based on a chart.

 

Question:

Is the general training task 1 marked the same way as the academic task 1?

Answer:

No, there is a difference between the way one of the four criteria is marked. Task Achievement, which accounts for 25% of your marks, is assessed differently in the general paper and academic paper.

 

Question:

Can I take more than 20 minutes to write my task 1?

Answer:

You must manage your own time in the writing test. It is highly recommended that you don’t take more than 20 minutes to write task 1.

 

Question:

How can I organise the information in my academic writing task 1?

Answer:

Always organise your information into the following paragraphs for task 1:
1. Introduction
2. Overview (key features)
3. Body Paragraph A (accurate detail in a logical order)
4. Body Paragraph B (accurate detail in a logical order)

The more you practice and develop a technique for each kind of task 1, the quicker you will write.

 

Question:

Do I need to compare and contrast data in each body paragraph for academic writing task 1?

Answer:

No, you don’t. The instructions say to compare and contrast where relevant. It is not always appropriate to compare and contrast everything. In fact, it can sometimes make your report very confusing to read. You must decide if the data should be reported only or compared and contrasted when you look at the chart and plan your writing.

 

Question:

How can I write the introduction?

Answer:

The introduction is quite formulaic and can be learned. You look at the information given by IELTS and paraphrase it. You also need to add the dates, countries etc. It is usually short and no more than two sentences.

 

Question:

Should I write a conclusion?

Answer:

You need write an overview for writing task 1. The overview can be written in the introduction paragraph or in the conclusion. If you have already written the overview in the introduction then you do not need to write a conclusion.

 

Question:

Will the examiner check my spelling?

Answer:

Yes, the examiner will pay attention to your spelling. This is part of the criterion of vocabulary. If you have a lot of spelling mistakes, you will get a lower score in that criterion.

 

Question:

Should I put only two key features in my overview?

Answer:

It depends on the chart, some charts have more than two key features so you will need include all of them in the overview. There is no fixed rule about how many key features to have.

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