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Academic Writing: What is the IELTS Writing test?

The Writing test takes 60 minutes. There are two tasks to complete.

Task 1: It is suggested that about 20 minutes is spent on Task 1, which requires candidates to write at least 150 words.

Task 2: This task requires at least 250 words and should take about 40 minutes. Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.

Responses must be given on the Writing Answer Sheet and must be written in full. Notes are not acceptable as answers. Responses to both tasks must be written in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style.

Test takers may write on the Question Paper but this cannot be taken from the test room and will not be seen by the examiner.

In Task 1, test takers are asked to describe some information (graph/ table/ chart/ diagram) and to present a summary of this information in their own words.

Depending on the type of input and the task suggested, test takers are assessed on their ability to:

  • organise, present and possibly compare data
  • describe the stages of a process or procedure
  • describe an object or event or sequence of events
  • explain how something works.

In Task 2, test takers are presented with a point of view or argument or problem. Test takers are assessed on their ability to:

  • present the solution to a problem
  • present and justify an opinion
  • compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications
  • evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.

Topics are of general interest and suitable for test takers entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Test takers should support their ideas with evidence based on their own knowledge or experience.

In both tasks, test takers are assessed on their ability to write a response which is appropriate in terms of content, the organisation of ideas, and the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar.

Each task is assessed independently.

Assessment of writing performance is carried out by examiners trained and certified by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia or IELTS USA.

Scores are reported as a whole band or half band. Detailed assessment criteria have been developed, which describe written performance at the nine IELTS bands.

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