What’s in a score? Breaking down your IELTS results – Part 2


In this three-part series, we’re going to break down how each section of the IELTS test is scored to help potential candidates understand their IELTS Band Score.

In this post, we’ll look at the Academic and General Training versions of the Writing component.

IELTS Writing Assessment: Academic & General Training

Both versions of the Writing component require candidates to complete two mandatory writing tasks. For IELTS Writing Task 1, Academic candidates must write 150 words describing some visual data in the form of a chart, table, graph, or diagram. For General Training candidates, Task 1 requires them to write a letter about a common topic.

For Writing Task 2, Academic candidates will write a 250-word response to an opinion, problem, or argument. General Training candidates are required to write a similar response on a topic of general interest. Candidates have 1 hour to complete both tasks and should spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and about 40 minutes on Task 2.

It’s helpful to be familiar with the Official IELTS Performance Descriptors for the Writing component. This allows candidates to focus their preparation on their weakest areas. Below are the official Performance Descriptors directly from IELTS.

Task achievement

Task 1
This assesses how appropriately, accurately and relevantly the response fulfills the requirements set out in the task, using a minimum of 150 words.

Academic Writing Task 1 is a writing task which has a defined input and a largely predictable output. It is basically an information-transfer task that relates narrowly to the factual content of an input diagram and not too speculative explanations that lie outside the given data.

General Training Writing Task 1 is a writing task with a largely predictable output in that each task sets out the context and purpose of the letter and the functions the test taker should cover in order to achieve this purpose.

Task 2
In both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training versions, Task 2 requires test takers to formulate and develop a position in relation to a given prompt in the form of a question or statement. Ideas should be supported by evidence, and examples may be drawn from the test takers’ own experience. Responses must be at least 250 words in length. Scripts under the required minimum word limit will be penalized.

Coherence and cohesion

This concerns overall clarity and fluency: how the response organizes and links information, ideas, and language. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas through logical sequencing. Cohesion refers to the varied and appropriate use of cohesive devices (for example, logical connectors, pronouns, and conjunctions) to assist in making the conceptual and referential relationships between and within sentences clear.

Lexical resource

This refers to the range of vocabulary used and its accuracy and appropriateness in terms of the specific task.

Grammatical range and accuracy

This refers to the range and accurate use of grammar as manifested in their sentence writing.

IELTS Writing: Model Answers

Check out these Model Answers to Tasks 1 & 2 for IELTS Academic and General Training (Band Score 8+) to get a better idea of what’s expected.

What’s Next?

That’s everything you need to know about how the Writing component of the IELTS test is evaluated. Be sure to check out our explanation of how the Listening, Reading, and Speaking components are scored.

Interested in IELTS Preparation Classes? ILSC offers the IELTS Mastery Program and IELTS Mastery: 6.5 and also has general IELTS preparation and evening classes to get you ready for your test.



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