IELTS writing task: Overview, pattern, examples, tips & tricks

Updated on: Sep 12, 2023

The International English Language Test System (IELTS) is a standard assessment for candidates to assess their level of proficiency in the English language. IELTS is a widely recognised exam across the world for international students and the working population. The exam is accepted as proof of English language proficiency in more than 11,000 educational institutions in several countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and France, among others. The IELTS exam contains four sections that determine the language skills of the candidate. Let’s break down the elements for the IELTS writing tasks.

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IELTS writing section: An overview

No. of tasks2
Word limit (in words)150-250
Total band score9
Duration (in minutes)60
Is the syllabus the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?No

IELTS writing pattern 2023

No. of tasks: 2

Total duration: 60 minutes

The IELTS exam pattern consists of two descriptive essays between 150-250 words, which you are required to complete in 60 minutes. You can find some questions in the form of a graph, chart, or diagram, where you should interpret and describe the data with respect to the task requirements.

IELTS writing syllabus 2023

While the pattern of the writing section is the same for the Academic and General Training versions, the IELTS exam syllabus differs. Both versions have different questions, so make sure you prepare for the IELTS version you have applied for.

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IELTS writing syllabus 2023

TaskDurationIELTS AcademicIELTS General Training
Task 120 minutes

A data interpretation task where you have to write an essay relevant to the data provided. 

The question might request you to describe the data, a certain stage in the process, and others.

A letter-writing task, where you should explain an issue or request certain data.

The letter may be in a personal, semi-formal, or formal writing style.

Task 240 minutes

An interpretation essay, in which you are required to express your point of view or argument on a problem.

You can use relatable examples to support your point or opinion.

Keep the tone formal, and write the essay in an academic style.

An essay in which you must put forth your point of view for an argument or a problem.

You can add a personal touch to the essay.

IELTS writing score guide

The IELTS writing section follows a band scoring method ranging from 0-9.

IELTS band scoreDescription
9Expert user
8Very good user
7Good user
6Competent user
5Modest user
4Limited user
3Extremely limited user
2Intermittent user
0Did not attempt the test

Also read: Your quick guide to IELTS scores

IELTS writing test: Grading criteria

  • Task achievement or response
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

IELTS writing tasks

The IELTS writing tasks analyses your writing skills in the English language, evaluating your ability to express your opinion and ideas clearly and effectively. Remember, the concept of the tasks differ for IELTS Academic and General Training, so prepare for the version you have applied for.

IELTS writing task 1

IELTS academic writing task 1

  • The task requires you to write an essay of at least 150 words on the question given.
  • The question can be in the form of a graph, data, or other visual formats.
  • IELTS writing task 1 contributes 33% of the total writing section scores.
  • The task evaluates your ability to organise, compare and present relevant information in the essay.
  • You might also be required to describe a process, a sequence of events, or explain a procedure.

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IELTS general writing task 1

  • The task includes questions that require a personal response from the candidate.
  • The letter should be at least 150 words in length. The tone can be formal, semi-formal, or personal.
  • The questions include a letter to be sent about problems in college accommodation, in-house facilities, and others.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Questions and Answers

Here are some common questions for IELTS writing task 1.

  • Explain the process shown in the diagram.
  • Analyse and describe the pie chart.
  • Describe the contents present in the table.

IELTS writing task 2

IELTS academic writing task 2

  • The task requires you to write about a topic for at least 250 words in an academic style.
  • You must provide clear, relevant, and well-organised content, and it is necessary to stay focused on the topic.
  • You can support your opinion with relatable examples and ideas.

IELTS general writing task 2

  • The task requires you to provide an essay of at least 250 words in a semi-formal or neutral tone.
  • The essay would ask you to give an opinion or express your point of view about an issue or problem.
  • You can express your opinion by adding factual information, providing ideas, or a solution. 

IELTS writing task 2 topics

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Healthcare
  • Science and technology
  • TV, music, and media
  • Relationships

Also read: How to crack IELTS in 3 months: Tips and strategies

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Frequently asked questions

How can I get an 8 in IELTS writing?

Here are some tips to help you obtain a band score of eight in the IELTS writing tasks.

  • Keep the answer relevant to the question.
  • Make sure to cover all parts of the question.
  • Arrange the essay in a logical order.
  • Use proper vocabulary and refrain from making grammatical errors.

Can I retake IELTS writing only?

Yes, you can retake IELTS writing only. It is possible to retake any specific section in the IELTS exam.

What is a common mistake in IELTS writing?

Here are some common mistakes candidates make during the IELTS writing test.

  • Incorrect format.
  • Insufficient paragraphs.
  • Missing out on addressing the question.
  • Grammatical errors.
  • Content irrelevant to the question.

How many tasks are there in IELTS general writing?

The writing section in the IELTS General Training version consists of two writing tasks.

What is the difference between writing tasks 1 and 2?

IELTS writing task 1: Writing task 1 is an interpretation essay in IELTS Academic and a letter-writing task in General Training. The tasks have a word limit of 150 words.

IELTS writing task 2: Writing task 2 is an essay task where the candidate is required to convey their point of view or opinion on an issue or problem. The essay should be at least 250 words.