IELTS Writing strategies

Spend 20 minutes on Task 1 (150 words) and 40 minutes on Task 2 (250 words). Task 2 is longer than Task 1 and is worth twice as many marks.

Task 1


Before you write

  • Read the task and make a mental summary of the key points and overall trends/stages.
  • Why? Because if you misinterpret the data or diagram, you will lose a lot of marks for content.

As you write

  • Introduce the information, in a sentence or two, using your own words.
  • Why? Because if you copy the question, the examiner will not count these words.
  • Summarise the key points and use data to illustrate these.
  • Why? Because you will lose marks if you miss key points or fail to illustrate them.
  • Include an overview of the information – either in your introduction or conclusion.
  • Why? Because you will lose marks if your answer does not contain an overview.

How you write

  • Try to show that you can use your own words (wherever possible) and a range of grammatical structures.
  • Why? Because you will get more marks for vocabulary and grammar if you can do this.
  • Divide your answer into paragraphs and use linkers to connect your ideas.
  • Why? Because you will get more marks if you can organise your answer well and use a range of linking and reference words.

When you have finished

  • Count your words to make sure you have written enough.
  • Why? Because short answers lose marks. (There are no extra marks for long answers.)
  • Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Why? Because mistakes in these areas can reduce your marks.

Task 2


Before you write

  • Read the task carefully to decide how many parts it has and what your position is.
  • Why? Because you will lose marks if you do not address all the parts of the question relevantly.
  • Make a quick plan either mentally or on rough paper. Decide on your main ideas.
  • Why? Because the examiner will be looking for a number of clear main ideas.

As you write

  • Introduce your answer in your own words and make your position clear. You may state your position here as well.
  • Why? Because the examiner will not count copied material as part of your total word count.
  • Present your main ideas clearly and use examples to support them.
  • Why? Because you will get more marks if your ideas are clear and well supported.
  • Write a conclusion and re-state your position.
  • Why? Because your examiner will expect to find a logical conclusion and a consistent position.

How you write

  • Try to show that you can use your own words (wherever possible) and a range of grammatical structures.
  • Why? Because you will get more marks for vocabulary and grammar if you can do this.
  • Divide your answer into paragraphs and use linkers to connect your ideas.
  • Why? Because you will get more marks if you can organise your answer well and use a range of linking and reference words.

When you have finished

  • Count your words to make sure you have written enough.
  • Why? Because short answers lose marks. (There are no extra marks for long answers.)
  • Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Why? Because mistakes in these areas can reduce your marks.
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