IELTS test information

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IELTS Writing Test

The IELTS Writing test is the third part of the exam. It lasts 60 minutes and consists of 2 tasks. The test format is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training:

Academic IELTS

Task Word count Advised time limit Task description
1 Minimum of 150 20 mins Describing visual information, often presented as a bar chart, table or graph.
2 Minimum of 250 40 mins Presenting arguments and opinions in a discursive essay relating to a topic of general interest.

General IELTS

Task Word count Advised time limit Task description
1 Minimum of 150 20 mins Responding to a situation with a letter, e.g. asking for / giving information or explaining / complaining about a problem.
2 Minimum of 250 40 mins Presenting arguments and opinions in a discursive essay relating to a topic of general interest.

If you need professional feedback on your writing skills before your IELTS test, enrol on an iPass course: IELTS writing or IELTS writing plus

It is fundamental to have your writing tests corrected and commented by professional teachers like Jenny and Nigel. They know how the test works and they can give you some excellent hints to improve your skills. I really recommend their courses, which helped me to get my 7.5 overall band score (7.5 listening, 9 reading, 7 speaking and writing).

Rosa, Italy

Frequently asked questions

Is the IELTS test completed in one day?

The Listening, Reading and Writing components of the test are always completed immediately after each other and in that order.

What can I bring into the examination room?

Only pens, pencils and erasers. Mobile phones must be switched off and placed with personal belongings in area designated by the test supervisor. You also need to bring the same identification documents that you provided when you registered for the IELTS test, as they will be checked by the test administrator and the speaking examiner and must match the information on your application form.

Does it matter if I take longer than 20 minutes to complete Task 1?

No, but 20 minutes is the recommended time that you should allow. If you use more time then you may not have enough time to complete Task 2 successfully.

Will I lose marks if I don’t write the minimum number of words?

Yes, you will be penalised because it is not possible to complete the task effectively in fewer words than the minimum requirement. However, you will not be penalised for writing more so you should aim to write just over the minimum for each task.

Will I be given extra paper to make notes on?

No, so you should use the question paper to plan your answer before you start writing on your answer sheet.

What happens if I run out of paper?

You can ask the exam supervisor to supply more paper if necessary.

How is the Writing test assessed?

The writing tasks are assessed according to the following 4 criteria; task achievement/response; coherence and cohesion; lexical resource; grammatical range and accuracy. There are separate band score descriptors for Task 1 questions and Task 2 questions.

Will I be penalised for spelling mistakes?

Yes. Accurate spelling is part of the grammatical range and accuracy criteria, so it’s a good idea to check your answer for spelling mistakes when you’ve finished writing.

Does Task 1 carry the same marks as Task 2?

No. Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the overall writing score.

What can I do to get a high band score in the IELTS writing test?

Preparation and practice are the keys to getting a good band score. We recommend that you take one of our tutored IELTS writing courses so that you can get your writing tasks assessed by an IELTS expert before taking your test.

Our team of IELTS trainers have helped hundreds of IELTS candidates worldwide to improve their IELTS writing score and they're waiting to help you too!

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Elena, The Netherlands

I became an iPass member to help me become a registered nurse in New Zealand. And it worked! I needed a minimum of 7 in each category but I did even better with 8.5 – 7 – 7.5 - 7

Elena, The Netherlands

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