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If you’re interested in living or working in Australia, you may need to achieve a particular band score in one or more of these IELTS components for your study, visa application and professional registration: 

The IELTS band score you need to achieve will depend on the visa, employer or university requirements that apply to your situation. If you need a higher band in the IELTS Writing section (or you just want to improve your overall IELTS score), there are things you can do to improve your band score.

What is the IELTS Writing test?

The IELTS writing test is made up of two tasks. 

Writing Task 1 

Writing Task 1 is slightly different depending on whether you are an Academic or General Training test-taker, however, both responses must be 150 words or more. Writing Task 1 is worth one-third of your overall writing band score.

General Training test-takers will be asked to write a letter based on a situation outlined in the IELTS test. Examples of letters you may be asked to write include:

  • A letter to a friend

  • A complaint to a company

  • A request to an employer

Academic test-takers will be provided with a chart, diagram or graph. The test-taker will be asked to analyse and explain the data in their own words. This answer must be written in a formal style. 

Writing Task 2 

Writing Task 2 is the same for both General Training and Academic test-takers. In Task 2, you will be asked to write a formal essay in response to a statement or premise.  Your essay must be 250 words or more in length. Writing Task 2 is worth two-thirds of your overall Writing band score.

Types of essays to expect in your IELTS Writing Task 2

No secrets to how your IELTS test is marked

At IELTS, we want to help boost you to the next level. That’s why we share with you how we test, how we mark your work, and what is important. There are no secrets to how the Writing test is marked, everything is transparent.

The marking scheme is based on the following four criteria. Each of the criteria is worth 25% of your total mark for each task.

  • Task Achievement:

     

    This assesses how well you have answered the question that was asked.

  • Coherence and Cohesion:

     

    This assesses how well you have organised your ideas and how well you have linked them together.

  • Lexical Resource:

     

    This assesses your range of vocabulary and your ability to use it accurately.

  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy:

     

    This assesses your ability to use grammar correctly and to produce sentences that are grammatically correct.

Each criterion is marked on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest score. The overall band score is calculated by averaging the scores for each criterion.

Download the IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2  assessment criteria

Tip 1: Study the assessment criteria

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The best way to impress the examiners is to understand what they’re looking for.

The band descriptors for both Writing Task 1 and Task 2 can be downloaded for free. These resources outline the skills and behaviours that a test-taker needs to demonstrate for each band score (and for each of the four assessment criteria).

Tip 2: Plan your time

Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 when it comes to calculating your final writing band score.

With this in mind, plan to spend about 40 minutes on Task 2, and 20 minutes on Task 1. If you spend too much time on Task 1, you may find yourself unable to finish Task 2 which will result in a lower overall Writing band score.

Tip 3: Read the task outline twice

It’s important to fully understand the tasks that you are completing.

IELTS examiners will give higher scores to test-takers who fully address all parts of the task, and show that they have well developed answers on the topic.

Highlight or write down the different elements of the task scenario or question and make sure you address all of these in your answer.

Tip 4: Draft your answers

Spending some time planning your answers can help you achieve higher marks for the coherence and cohesion assessment criteria.

Examiners look for evidence that you can organise your ideas logically. Aim to cover one key topic in each paragraph and read your essay or letter to make sure the ideas flow well together. 

Tip 5: Show off your vocabulary

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IELTS examiners look for evidence that you can use a wide range of vocabulary correctly. You can improve your vocabulary by reading from different English language sources such as:

  • Magazines

  • Newspapers

  • Blogs

Look up any words you don’t know and practise using them before your test. If you find yourself using the same words over and over, think about any other words that you could use instead.

Tip 6: Use a mix of sentence structures

Aim to use both complex and simple sentence structures in your Writing task answers. Even if you’re comfortable using complex sentence structures, make sure these are broken up by some short, simple sentences.

Using too many complex sentence structures can make your test answers sound clunky.

Tip 7: Perfect your punctuation

Using the correct punctuation in the right places is extremely important. The correct punctuation can help your test answers flow in a way that showcases your English fluency.

If you’re not sure what a certain punctuation symbol means, keep things simple and avoid using it if you can.

Tip 8: Know when to use formal language

Formal language uses a professional or academic tone that you might use while at work or university. Informal language is the more casual tone which you might use when speaking to your friends. If the task you’re working on requires formal language, you should avoid using:

If you are taking the Academic Writing test, Tasks 1 and 2 must be answered using formal language. General Training test-takers should use formal language for Task 2, however, Task 1 may require formal or informal language.

Tip 9: Take some practice tests

Achieving a great IELTS score takes time and planning. You can’t just book and take your test in a matter of days – no matter how strong your English skills are. Successful test takers create a schedule to help them study everything they need to know before they sit an IELTS test. They make time to practise all four English skills – ListeningReadingWriting and Speaking – as they know that each one is different.

If they have trouble with a topic, they attend a FREE Masterclass with an IELTS expert who can teach them how to improve. And, when they’re almost ready to take IELTS, they will complete as many practice tests as they can find. 

So, when there are hundreds of resources to help you study, where do you begin? Click here to access your go-to guide to IELTS preparation. All of our most important materials – both free and paid – are listed here, divided by category.

Tip 10: Get a study partner

If you know someone else who is preparing for the IELTS, see if they’d like to study with you. Having a study partner is a great way to make sure you don’t skip study sessions and it can be helpful to share ideas and feedback during your time together.

If you don’t have a study partner, you can receive personalised feedback and a tailored improvement plan from an IELTS expert. Try IELTS Writing Assist, it's an official IELTS mock Writing test from IDP Education for test takers who need to boost their Writing score. 

So, what do you get when you buy IELTS Writing Assist?

  • Access to a Mock IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2

  • Feedback on your IELTS tasks

  • A detailed action plan with areas where you can improve within 3-5 days

Need help booking your test?

Ready for test day? Book your IELTS test today and get one step closer to living, working or studying in Australia!

Whether you need to find out who accepts IELTS, or you want to know how to access free official IELTS practice material, we're here for you. Contact us if you have any questions about your booking, or need support getting ready for your test.