If you’re interested in living or working in New Zealand, you may need to achieve a particular band score in one or more of these IELTS components for your study, visa application and professional registration:
The IELTS band score you need to achieve will depend on the visa, employer or university requirements that apply to your situation. If you need a higher band in the IELTS Writing section (or you just want to improve your overall IELTS score), there are things you can do to improve your band score.
What is the IELTS Writing test?
The IELTS writing test is made up of two tasks.
Writing Task 1
Writing Task 1 is slightly different depending on whether you are an Academic or General Training test-taker, however, both responses must be 150 words or more. Writing Task 1 is worth one-third of your overall writing band score.
General Training test-takers will be asked to write a letter based on a situation outlined in the IELTS test. Examples of letters you may be asked to write include:
A letter to a friend
A complaint to a company
A request to an employer
Academic test-takers will be provided with a chart, diagram or graph. The test-taker will be asked to analyse and explain the data in their own words. This answer must be written in a formal style.
Writing Task 2
Writing Task 2 is the same for both General Training and Academic test-takers. In Task 2, you will be asked to write a formal essay in response to a statement or premise. Your essay must be 250 words or more in length. Writing Task 2 is worth two-thirds of your overall Writing band score.
No secrets to how your IELTS test is marked
At IELTS, we want to help boost you to the next level. That’s why we share with you how we test, how we mark your work, and what is important. There are no secrets to how the Writing test is marked, everything is transparent.
The marking scheme is based on the following four criteria. Each of the criteria is worth 25% of your total mark for each task.
This assesses how well you have answered the question that was asked.
Coherence and Cohesion:
This assesses how well you have organised your ideas and how well you have linked them together.
This assesses your range of vocabulary and your ability to use it accurately.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy:
This assesses your ability to use grammar correctly and to produce sentences that are grammatically correct.
Each criterion is marked on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest score. The overall band score is calculated by averaging the scores for each criterion.
Tip 1: Study the assessment criteria
Can you help me understand how the IELTS test is assessed?
Hear from IELTS expert, Don, as he talks about the IELTS assessment criteria and official IELTS band scores, to help you perform your best on test day.
The best way to impress the examiners is to understand what they’re looking for.
The band descriptors for both Writing Task 1 and Task 2 can be downloaded for free. These resources outline the skills and behaviours that a test-taker needs to demonstrate for each band score (and for each of the four assessment criteria).
Tip 2: Plan your time
Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 when it comes to calculating your final writing band score.
With this in mind, plan to spend about 40 minutes on Task 2, and 20 minutes on Task 1. If you spend too much time on Task 1, you may find yourself unable to finish Task 2 which will result in a lower overall Writing band score.
Tip 3: Read the task outline twice
It’s important to fully understand the tasks that you are completing.
IELTS examiners will give higher scores to test-takers who fully address all parts of the task, and show that they have well developed answers on the topic.
Highlight or write down the different elements of the task scenario or question and make sure you address all of these in your answer.
Tip 4: Draft your answers
Spending some time planning your answers can help you achieve higher marks for the coherence and cohesion assessment criteria.
Examiners look for evidence that you can organise your ideas logically. Aim to cover one key topic in each paragraph and read your essay or letter to make sure the ideas flow well together.
Tip 5: Show off your vocabulary
7 steps to help you reach a band 7: IELTS Writing Task 2
Let our IELTS Expert guide you through the 7 steps needed to achieve a band 7 in IELTS Writing Task 2.
IELTS examiners look for evidence that you can use a wide range of vocabulary correctly. You can improve your vocabulary by reading from different English language sources such as:
Tip 6: Use a mix of sentence structures
Aim to use both complex and simple sentence structures in your Writing task answers. Even if you’re comfortable using complex sentence structures, make sure these are broken up by some short, simple sentences.
Using too many complex sentence structures can make your test answers sound clunky.
Tip 7: Perfect your punctuation
Using the correct punctuation in the right places is extremely important. The correct punctuation can help your test answers flow in a way that showcases your English fluency.
If you’re not sure what a certain punctuation symbol means, keep things simple and avoid using it if you can.
Tip 8: Know when to use formal language
Formal language uses a professional or academic tone that you might use while at work or university. Informal language is the more casual tone which you might use when speaking to your friends. If the task you’re working on requires formal language, you should avoid using:
If you are taking the Academic Writing test, Tasks 1 and 2 must be answered using formal language. General Training test-takers should use formal language for Task 2, however, Task 1 may require formal or informal language.
Tip 9: Take some practice tests
Achieving a great IELTS score takes time and planning. You can’t just book and take your test in a matter of days – no matter how strong your English skills are. Successful test takers create a schedule to help them study everything they need to know before they sit an IELTS test. They make time to practise all four English skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking – as they know that each one is different.
If they have trouble with a topic, they attend a FREE Masterclass with an IELTS expert who can teach them how to improve. And, when they’re almost ready to take IELTS, they will complete as many practice tests as they can find.
So, when there are hundreds of resources to help you study, where do you begin? Click here to access your go-to guide to IELTS preparation. All of our most important materials – both free and paid – are listed here, divided by category.
Tip 10: Get a study partner
If you know someone else who is preparing for the IELTS, see if they’d like to study with you. Having a study partner is a great way to make sure you don’t skip study sessions and it can be helpful to share ideas and feedback during your time together.
If you don’t have a study partner, you can receive personalised feedback and a tailored improvement plan from an IELTS expert. Try IELTS Writing Assist, it's an official IELTS mock Writing test from IDP Education for test takers who need to boost their Writing score.
So, what do you get when you buy IELTS Writing Assist?
Access to a Mock IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2
Feedback on your IELTS tasks
A detailed action plan with areas where you can improve within 3-5 days
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Whether you need to find out who accepts IELTS, or you want to know how to access free official IELTS practice material, we're here for you. Contact us if you have any questions about your booking, or need support getting ready for your test.