IELTS General Writing Exam Tips

IELTS General Writing Task 1: Letter/Application Writing


Task 1 of the General Section assesses the letter or application writing skills of the candidate under standard English letter-writing conventions. Letters written are examined for:

  1. Clearly stated purpose

  2. Appropriate tone and accuracy of language used

  3. Whether bullet points are presented, highlighted and extended

  4. Appropriate Format – letter format

Examinees will be told in the instructions who they are writing to. If instructions suggest beginning a letter with “Dear Sir or Madam” this is a signal to be formal, using a formal tone.

IELTS General Writing Task 2: Essay Writing


In Writing Task 2, examinees write a semi-formal/neutral discursive essay to present more abstract and complex ideas using an appropriate range of vocabulary and grammatical structures to suit the topic. Topics are chosen from the context of general interest, such as: why the bonding within families is not as strong as it was in the past; how communities could be brought closer; how adverse environmental issues can be solved; whether smoking should be banned in public places; who should pay for the care of old people, etc.

The instructions for the task will include required information about a point of view, argument or problem.

Task 2 has twice the weightage in the final Writing Band Score compared to Task 1. So, examinees failing to attempt this task will lose their chance of scoring well in the exam.


Instructions/Dos & Don’ts

  • Examinees are assessed on their ability to follow English discursive writing conventions:

    • the order in which to put information

    • the style to use

    • beginning and ending discursive writing

    • breaking ideas into paragraphs

    • presenting and linking information coherently and cohesively; and

    • using language accurately and appropriately

  • Examinees may be guided on how to discuss the premise by providing some basic factual information, outlining and/or proposing a solution, evaluating evidence and ideas and justifying an opinion.

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


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 response:

The second task tests examinees to ideate and develop a position on 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, responses 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 piece to present the idea accurately and appropriately.

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