Writing Hints & Tips

  1. Task 2 is worth more: Writing Task 2 is longer and thus is worth more points than Task 1, so be sure to spend time on it.
  2. Vocab is key in Writing Task 1: In the Academic Writing Task 1, the graphs, tables, charts, diagrams, etc can look frightening at first, but there are a lot of easy-to-learn vocabulary words and phrases that can be memorized. What’s more, once you have learned these words, you can use them for any Academic Writing Task 1 essay. In the General Training Task 1 Writing, the vocabulary is different because it is a letter. You must focus on formal and informal letter writing vocabulary. In both the Academic and General Training Writing (both Tasks 1 and 2), connectors (however, moreover, conversely, in other words, etc) are crucial.
  3. Academic Task 1…only analysis, no opinion: Writing Task 1 should constitute formal analysis, which means there should be no personal pronouns (no I, you, we), no opinions from the writer (no I think, in my opinion). It is useful to focus on passive sentences and more indirect sentences starting with the subject ‘It’ (It is obvious that the sales increased over the given period of time).
  4. Outline: It can be difficult to organize your thoughts without a plan. Spending a minute to write an outline at the beginning is an easy way to save time towards the end.
  5.  Be careful of the word count: It is time-consuming and difficult to count the words of your essay. Practicing before taking the test can help you develop an internal rhythm that will help you to understand when you are approaching the correct word count. The minimum word count for Task 1 in both IELTS tests is 150 words, and for Task 2 it is 250 words. Points are taken if fewer words are written.
  6. Analyze Academic Task 1: Look for trends and important or interesting changes. Generalize trends and mention important trends again in the conclusion. Always make note of important or interesting changes (for example, highs and lows, or peaks and troughs, are easy observations to make).
  7. Follow the directions in General Training Task 1: Forgetting to talk about one of the prompts is a quick and easy way to get bad marks.
  8. Use a variety of vocabulary: After you have used a vocabulary once, try to find a synonym for it. For example, if you have already written ‘increase’, try ‘rise’ or ‘go up’, and if you have used ‘large decrease’, try ‘significant decrease’ or ‘considerable ‘decrease’. Remember that points are awarded for using a variety of vocabulary.
  9. Practice Test Writing and Time Yourself: Before taking the test, do timed writings. Aim for 18 minutes for Task 1 and 35 minutes for Task 2. That leaves you a whole seven minutes of review time.
  10. Write clearly: Many test takers have poor handwriting. If the IELTS examiner cannot read a word or sentence, he or she will not spend time trying to figure it out. They will mark it wrong and you will lose points.
  11. Leave time to review your writing: Leave time at the end s that you can review your essays and look for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors.
  12. Know IELTS writing topics: Be familiar with common IELTS writing topics: technology, social media, education, crime, environment, poverty, health, health care, cell phones, internet.
  13. Transition and connecting words: Study and know important transition and connecting words. Some examples are those for addition (indeed, in fact, furthermore), contrast (whereas, even though), or change gears (even so, conversely, on the other hand).
  14. Paraphrase: Paraphrase the question and words given in the prompt. Do not copy the vocabulary and phrases into your essay. This will lose points instead of gain them. If possible, paraphrase both the grammar and vocabulary.

IELTS General Training Test Writing

Task 1 from the Writing Module of the General Training Test is different from that of the Academic Test.

Task 1 of the General Training Test requires a letter to be written. The letter must be no fewer than 150 words in length. 20 minutes is the recommended amount of time to be spent on this task. The essay should consist of minimum three, maximum four paragraphs.

Task 2 of the General Training Test and Academic Test are the same. The essay must be a minimum of 250 words. It is recommended that approximately 40 minutes be spent writing the essay. The minimum number of paragraphs should ideally be four, maximum five.


The Writing module of the IELTS Academic Test has 2 sections and lasts a total of 1 hour. It is recommended that test takers spend approximately 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. The reason is that Task 1 is shorter, requiring a minimum of 150 words, and Task 2 is a bit longer, requiring 250 words. Moreover, Task 2 is the more important task in that it is given more importance with regards to your final Band Score.

The Writing module of the Academic Test is a bit different than that of the General Test. Task 1 in the Academic Test requires students to write an essay in which they analyze a graph, table, chart, diagram or map. The student must lay out the essay in a very specific fashion.

Writing Task 2 is the same in the Academic and General Tests. This task generally requires students to write an opinion essay in which they choose a side of an argument and defend their thoughts, siting relevant examples and real life experience.