Different question types
The IELTS writing test is split into the IELTS Academic Writing exam and the IELTS General Writing exam, if you know specifically which type of test you will take you should browse to the specific page on this site. There are separate pages for Part 1 Academic Writing, Part 1 General Writing, and Part 2 (Academic and General versions are the same). Note that I also provide a service to check your IELTS writing.
How the writing test is graded
Your writing test is graded by an IELTS examiner and marked from 1-9 in accordance with four key criteria, as follows:
Task Response: this concerns whether you addressed all parts of the topic and answered all parts of the question. It also assesses whether you fully developed the main points of your answer.
Coherence & Cohesion: Coherence refers to your writing being easy to understand and cohesion refers to the way it fits together – such as the quality of your sentence structure, paragraphing, and use of connective devices.
Vocabulary: To score highly you must use higher level words, pay attention to collocation, and also control your word endings (correctly use the right form of a word like don’t use a noun where a verb is needed).
Grammar: To score highly you need to use a variety of sentence types (simple, compound, complex) and also avoid grammatical errors, such as with articles and prepositions and sentence order especially when they make your writing difficult to understand.
Special Note: In some instances errors can count in two categories; for example, many grammatical errors also result in a lower score for coherence. On the positive, it is useful to learn lots of connective devices because they can count for Coherence & Cohesion as well as vocabulary. Part of your self-study should be aimed at efficiently using your time to maximize your grade.
The public version of the IELTS writing test criteria task 1
The public version of the IELTS writing test criteria task 2
Tips Skills and Techniques for the Writing Test
To improve your score in the IELTS writing section, you should focus on the following areas:
- Understanding the different question types, and responses required, especially for task 1 (diagrams!)
- Understanding how the writing test is graded
- Planning an answer (I always like to think of 3 main points I will make about the topic)
- Learning the best way to structure an answer
- Practicing writing clearly and cohesively
- Improving paraphrasing and parallel constructions (how to score well for vocabulary)
- Learning to use Nominalisation (turning verbs into nouns)
- Broadening vocabulary (task 1 requires a lot of language related to describing trends and useful words that can be used in many essays)
- You must write 150 and 250 words for task 1 and 2…work out how many words you write per line on official IELTS writng paper. writing-answer-sheet-task1-new, writing-answer-sheet-task2-new
- You need to do a lot of writing practice and receive feedback from a trained professional about the quality of your writing. You especially need a lot of feedback on the appropriateness of word choices (not only if they are correct – but also if they are natural) and feedback on grammar – one of the best ways to learn is through error analysis – which is a focus on correcting any errors that are frequently occurring.