For some people, the IELTS writing test can be the most challenging part of the test. You can’t pick the topic and are only given limited time to complete, not 1, but 2 writing tasks! The pressure is on, especially for people who often experience writer’s block or simply don’t like writing. In this article, I will try to help you achieve your target score in the IELTS Writing test.

The IELTS writing test module contains of two compulsory tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. In Task 1, you must summarise and compare information from a graph, chart, table or diagram, or a combination of these, and Task 2 is a topic on which you have to write a discursive essay. The topic may be in the form of a statement or a question.

Task 1 tests your ability to analyse data objectively without giving an opinion, whereas Task 2 usually requires a subjective piece of writing on a fairly general topic. In addition, it is worth noting that the exam is not testing knowledge of English language, but rather competence in using English. In other words, it is not testing your memory. Awareness of this might help reduce some of the problems that many test takers have in the IELTS writing test exam.

In the exam, the minimum word limit for Task 1 is 150 words and you need to spend about 20 minutes on this part of the test. Task 2 must be at least 250 words, on which you need to spend about 40 minutes. In both Tasks, there is no upper word limit. Note that if you write less than 150 words for Task 1 and less than 250 for Task 2, you will lose marks.

It is very important that you try to keep the word limits, and perhaps write just a little more. Many test takers frequently exceed the minimum amounts by a very wide margin, which creates several problems. Rather than concentrating on producing a good essay, they write beyond what is necessary, thinking that there are extra marks for writing more. This is usually not the case. You could write between 150-180 words for Task 1 and 250-300 for Task 2. While practising for the IELTS writing exam, count the number of words you write per line and then work out how many lines you need to reach the 150/250 word limit. It may surprise you how little you have to write!

During the actual written exam, you should spend enough time analysing the question, writing your essay, and spare 3-4 minutes in the end of each task checking your writing for grammar or spelling mistakes.

Task 1 or Task 2 first? Students frequently ask whether they should do Task 1 first or Task 2. This obviously depends on the individual. It is probably wise, however, to do Task 1 first. From the psychological point of view, it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you have finished it.

Last but not least, note that the examiner will assess your writing using detailed Band Descriptors which can be accessed here. The assessment covers Try different writing practice sets and use the descriptors to measure your progress. Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy.  Try different writing practice sets and use the descriptors to measure your progress. “Practice makes perfect” and that is very true in IELTS Writing test.

More articles writen by our expert IELTS trainer Sally Dewi