IELTS Academic Writing Exam Tips


The rationale behind the writing tasks is to assess examinees in terms of the quality of the content they can write for a topic or context with proper time management. Other areas that are judged are breadth of vocabulary, accuracy of grammar, and the structure and arrangement of ideas. There are two tasks and each is assessed independently. The topic or context is chosen according to the basic standard set for undergraduate and postgraduate studies and general professional abilities.


Instructions/Dos & Don’ts

Task 1:

  • Examinees are tested on how accurately they can process and describe visual information (graph/chart/table/diagram) in their own words.

  • The task requires examinees to write a description using at least 150 words in 20 minutes.

Task 2:

  • Examinees are required to present their point of view on an argument or premise.

  • The word limit is a minimum 250 words within 40 minutes ideally.

  • The topic may be academic or semi-formal/neutral and requires a matching tone in the essay.

  • The essays are expected to be a discursive consideration of all related issues.

  • Examinees should read all the instructions well. They should also read the task carefully and manage their time well to complete the essay.

For example, if the topic leans towards a specific aspect of computers, the focus should be primarily on that specific aspect and not a general discussion about computers.


The Following Apply to Both Tasks

  • Examinees will be severely penalised for plagiarism - if any of the test takers need to quote, due format and credit must be presented.

  • They will also lose marks if the answer is irrelevant and unconnected with the given topic or premise. Writing style involving bullet points or notes or any other short form will also be penalised.

  • Copying from the question paper will result in the essay not being assessed.


Assessment Parameters for Articles/Essays

Task Achievement - Task 1:

This assesses whether the test taker has followed the basic instructions accurately, i.e. whether the essay is relevant, written in full text form, and contains a minimum of 150 words.

Since Academic Writing Task 1 is based upon a defined input, the essay/description is a factual note written on expected lines. In other words, it is simply an information-transfer task that translates visual content into prose. There is no room for out-of-content information processing or imaginative writing.

Task Response - Task 2:

The second task tests examinees to ideate and develop a position respecting a given topic or premise as a question or statement. Answers must contain at least 250 words to avoid being penalised.

Ideas presented should be based upon evidence and can be conveyed using examples drawn from the examinee's life experience.

Coherence and cohesion (same for both):

This refers to the overall clarity and fluency of the written sample. Under coherence and cohesion, essays are assessed based on how the idea and the language have been combined.

Coherence means linking ideas through logical sequencing.

Cohesion refers to appropriate use of cohesive devices (for example, logical connectors, conjunctions and pronouns) to make the conceptual and referential relationships between and within sentences clear.

Grammatical range and accuracy (same for both):

Aspects such as sentence structure, range of grammatical tools, punctuation, etc. are assessed under this category.

Lexical resource (same for both):

This pertains to the depth and quality of vocabulary used in the essay to present the idea accurately and appropriately.


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