What’s in the IELTS Academic Writing paper?
There are two Writing tasks and BOTH must be completed.
In Task 1 you have to describe some visual information in your own words (a graph, table, chart or diagram). You need to write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.
In Task 2 you are given a point of view, argument or problem which you need to discuss. You need to write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes.
You must write your answer using full sentences. You must not write your answer as notes or bullet points. You must write your answer on the answer sheet. You are allowed to write notes on the question paper, but this will not be seen by the examiner.
Certificated IELTS examiners assess your performance on each Writing task. There are four assessment criteria (things which the examiner thinks about when deciding what score to give you):
- Task achievement/response
- Coherence and cohesion
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy.
Task achievement (in Task 1) and Task response (in Task 2) includes how accurately, appropriately and relevantly your response covers the task requirements, using the minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2.
In Task 1, all the information you require is given in the diagram.
In Task 2, Task Response includes how well you develop your argument in response to the task, giving evidence and examples which may be from your own experience.
Coherence and cohesion includes how clear and fluent your writing is, and how you organise ideas and information. It includes giving your ideas in a logical order, and using a range of cohesive devices (including linking words and phrases such as ‘therefore’, ‘also’, ‘on the other hand’, etc., and pronouns such as ‘that’, ‘these’, ‘they’, etc.) appropriately.
Lexical resource includes the range of vocabulary you have used, and how accurately and appropriately you use it.
Grammatical range and accuracy includes the range of grammar you have used and how accurately and appropriately you have used it.
|Time allowed:||60 minutes|
|Number of tasks:||2|
|Marking:||Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.|
Tasks 1 & 2
Academic Writing – Task 1
|What’s involved?||In Academic Writing Task 1, you may be asked to describe facts or figures presented in:
You should write in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style.
You should spend no more than 20 minutes on this task. You must write at least 150 words and will be penalised if your answer is too short. While you will not be penalised for writing more than 150 words, you should remember that a longer Task 1 answer may mean that you have less time to spend on Task 2, which contributes twice as much to your Writing band score.
You should remember that you will be penalised if what you write does not relate to the topic. You will also be penalised if your answer is not written as a whole piece of connected text (i.e. you must not use notes or bullet points). You will be severely penalised if your writing is plagiarised (i.e. copied from another source).
You must write your answer in the answer booklet.
|What skills are tested?||This task tests your ability to identify the most important and relevant information and trends in a graph, chart, table or diagram, and to give a well-organised overview of it using language that is appropriately academic in its register and style.|
|How much do I have to write?||A minimum of 150 words.|
Academic Writing – Task 2
|What’s involved?||In Academic Writing Task 2, you are given a topic to write about. Your answer should discuss the most relevant issues. You must read the task carefully so that you can write a full answer that is relevant. For example, if the topic is a particular aspect of the wider topic of computers, you should focus on this aspect only in your answer. You should not simply write about computers in general. You should write in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style. You will need to organise your ideas clearly and make sure you use relevant examples (which can be from your own experience, if relevant) or evidence. You should spend no more than 40 minutes on this task. You must write at least 250 words and will be penalised if your answer is too short. While you will not be penalised for writing more than 250 words, if you write a very long answer you may not have time for checking and correcting at the end and some ideas may not be directly relevant to the question. You may also produce handwriting which is unclear. Task 2 contributes twice as much to your final Writing band score as Task 1. Therefore, if you do not answer this task, you will not be able to achieve a high band score. You should remember that you will be penalised if what you write is not related to the topic. You will also be penalised if your answer is not written as a whole piece of connected text (i.e. you must not use notes or bullet points). You will be severely penalised if your writing is plagiarised (i.e. copied from another source). Finally, you should make sure that you do not copy directly from the question paper because this will not be marked. You must write your answers in the answer booklet.|
|What skills are tested?||This task tests if you can write a clear, relevant, well-organised argument, giving evidence or examples to support your ideas, and use language accurately. You will be assessed on your ability to:
|How much do I have to write?||You must write a minimum of 250 words.|
DOs and DON’Ts
- Make sure that you read all of the information in the questions very carefully and respond appropriately.
- Make sure that you follow all instructions including the number of words that you need to write.
- Make sure that you finish Writing Task 1 after about 20 minutes to allow enough time to answer Writing Task 2.
- Remember that Writing Task 2 carries more marks, so you need plenty of time to answer it.
- Make sure that, for Task 1, you use figures or data from the question paper accurately.
- Make sure that you plan your ideas before you begin to write. For Writing Task 1, stop to locate and select the most important pieces of information. For Writing Task 2, take time to organise your ideas and argument.
- Be sure to provide supporting evidence for any of your claims or views in Writing Task 2.
- Leave time to check your answer for careless mistakes at the end. Try to check for spelling mistakes, verb and subject agreement, singular/plural nouns, tense mistakes and problems of fluency.
- Make sure that all of your ideas are relevant to the question.
- Try to avoid repeating the same words, phrases and ideas too often. Try to use a range of vocabulary. Try to make sure that you do not repeat the same idea too often – make sure you explore different ideas to provide a well-balanced response.
- Make sure you write as clearly as possible.
- Make sure that you produce organised and linked paragraphs and that the style of your language is academic.
- Don’t copy from other people’s work.
- Don’t write less than the required number of words.
- Don’t repeat task instructions in your writing.
- Don’t use note form or bullet points.
- Don’t leave out any required information.
- Don’t waste your time learning essays by heart to use in the exam. You will be penalised for this and you will waste valuable time that could be spent developing good writing skills.
- Don’t simply copy words and phrases from the question paper – try to use your own words at all times by paraphrasing the question.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Where do I write my answers?
Write your answers in the Writing answer booklet. You will not get any paper for making notes, but you may write notes on the question booklet. The examiner will not see this.
Can I write in pen or pencil?
You can write in pen or pencil, but you must write clearly. You may erase/cross out and change parts of your writing, but you must make sure that your work is easy to read.
Should I write my answers in upper case (capitals) or lower case?
You will not automatically be penalised if all your letters are capitals. However, remember that punctuation is assessed in the Writing test and you may be penalised if it is not clear to the examiner where your sentences begin and end.
Will I be penalised if I don’t write enough words?
Yes. You must write at least 150 words for the Task 1 question and 250 words for the Task 2 question. If you don’t write enough words, you will be penalised.
If I make notes, will the examiner read them?
No. You will not get any paper for making notes, but you may write notes on the question booklet. The examiner will not see this.
Are the two tasks both worth the same number of marks?
No. Task 2 is worth more marks than Task 1. Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score.
How long should I spend on each task?
You have 1 hour to write your answers for the two tasks. It is your choice how you divide this time. However, remember that Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score – you may wish to spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. You should plan your work carefully before writing, and you should allow time to check your writing after completing a task or at the end of the test.
Do I need to write a separate introduction and conclusion for Academic Writing Task 1?
In Task 1, you need to describe the visual information and present this information in an organised, coherent way. Therefore, you need to write an introduction, although this can be very short. Also, a short summary of the main trends or features is a good way to finish. Remember that you do not need to guess about the reasons for things in Task 1. (For example, do not write ‘I think this is probably because …’).
Will I be penalised if I do not write a formal introduction and conclusion for Academic Writing Task 2?
There is no separate assessment for introductions and conclusions. However, if you do not write an introduction and conclusion you may be penalised under Task achievement/response and Coherence and cohesion.
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