Essence of IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing Format & Duration

The IELTS exam consists of four sections Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. All the candidates taking the test are tested on these four parameters. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS exam) has two modules, consisting of IELTS Academic & IELTS General Training Exam.

IELTS Academic scores are considered by universities worldwide where candidates apply for UG/PG and other professional courses. Candidates are supposed to check the requirement of the college/university they are applying to and then prepare accordingly.

While IELTS General Training is given by those who plan to move to a major English-speaking nation for work-related training and other purposes.

IELTS Test Format – Writing

IELTS writing is a 60-minute exam which is slightly different for Academic and General training test takers wherein they need to attempt two tasks. The topics in the IELTS Writing section are suitable for candidates planning to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate courses at educational institutions located in English-speaking nations.

Task 1 – The suggested duration of task one is 20 minutes while for the other it is 40 minutes. In the IELTS Academic part, in Task 1, a candidate is supposed to write a summary with a minimum word count of 150 words. In the IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, there could be a variety of illustrations that can be used:

  • Charts and diagrams
  • Multiple charts
  • Process diagram
  • Maps

While in the IELTS General Training Module, in Task 1, a candidate must write a letter of at least 150 words.

Task 2 – Task 2 will remain the same for both Academic and General Training Modules, and it consists of an essay of a minimum of 250 words. Candidates must write an essay in a response to an argument, problem, or point of view. The responses to both tasks are expected in a formal tone.

IELTS General Writing Task 1

In this task, the candidates are presented with a situation. They need to respond to the given situation in the form of a formal/ informal letter with respect to the target audience.

For example,

  • Writing a letter to a friend would be informal while
  • Writing a letter to a government organization will be formal.
IELTS General and Academic Writing Task 2

The essay question for General Training Writing is quite easy as compared to Academic Writing. Although, the writing assessment remains the same for both, General Training writing and Academic writing task. In this task, the candidates are provided with a point of view, argument, or problem. Most of the time, the topics are related to education, environment, finance, lifestyle, etc.

Candidates are supposed to write an essay presenting a solution to the problem, express their ideas, present them in an organized manner and justify their opinions with relevant illustrations.

In this task, the candidates’ ability to present ideas in proper order is checked wherein candidates are expected to cover the information in the right manner while writing and justify arguments with relevant examples.

The IELTS Writing Assessment Factors

To get a good score in the IELTS writing test, the candidates must know what the examiner is looking for. Post understanding the criteria, you can easily use them as a foundation for your practice. Qualifying for the IELTS writing test is not just about working dedicatedly; rather you need to work smartly.

The IELTS Writing tests, which consist of two compulsory tasks including IELTS Writing task 1 and IELTS Writing task 2, are scored based on four different criteria.

The testing criteria in the assessment include:

  • Task Achievement/ Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Lexical resource or vocabulary.

Each of these sections holds a 25% weightage of the overall marks in the IELTS writing test.

Tasks Criteria Description
Coherence & Cohesion It means linking ideas in a proper sequence and Cohesion is making ideal use of cohesive devices. (Cohesive Devices here represent words and phrases that are used to display the relationship between sections of a text, paragraphs, or speech. A few samples of Cohesive devices include – ‘however’, ‘For example’, ‘moreover’ and ‘In conclusion’).
Lexical Resource It checks the range of vocabulary.
Task Response & Achievement It means covering & addressing all the vital points and task needs, explaining them, and supporting them with relatable examples.
Accuracy & Grammatical Range To assess the test taker’s accurate usage and a wide range of complex structures.
Task achievement/ task response (TA)

There are two kinds of tasks in the IELTS writing test. Task one is focused on task achievement while task two is focused on task response. Also, the General and Academic versions of the IELTS exam differ from each other.

IELTS Writing Test Part 1

The test takers get task one general test or letter and get scores in TA based on the following criteria:

  • How well they have presented their thoughts in a clear way?
  • How well they have given the answers to the question asked?

The letter question consists of some hints/pointers to be answered in the answer. All the exam takers must answer all of them adequately, each in its separate paragraph in a formal tone, be it a formal or an informal letter; using slang or informal language is not a good idea in letters.

In part one of the academic tests, candidates need to describe any illustration.

Note: In the IELTS writing test, the candidates’ ability to summarize logically the main features in a minimum of 150 words is checked.

IELTS Writing Test Part Two

IELTS Writing Task 2 takes the form of an essay for both the general & academic exams. The outcome of the IELTS writing exam depends on whether you have responded adequately to all the questions asked.

The essays are usually argumentative in nature and segregated into 5 types:

  • Advantages and disadvantages
  • Agree versus disagree
  • Problems and solutions
  • Discuss both views
  • Mixed/multiple parts

For example,
Researching one’s family tree has become quite trendy. Do you think it’s a positive or a negative development?

So, the candidates must explain whether it’s a positive or a negative trend. This kind of question has two parts and candidates need to address both questions.

Explain all the concepts, develop your reasoning, and advance your thoughts by using examples.

To get a good score for TA, you must present the information smartly, give answers to all the questions, make a clear overview, highlight important features, and support detail using data (Academic task 1). Also, present your clear opinion without any kind of confusing statements.

Coherence and Cohesion (CC)
Coherence

Coherence is the logical sequencing of thoughts & ideas. Make sure the readers can logically follow your ideas as it helps get a good score.

This can happen in the case:

  • You have properly structured the answer and used logical points while writing the paragraphs
  • Your essay must start with an introduction that explains what it is all about
  • Each following idea must have its own paragraph
  • Make sure to include a conclusion.

The overall structure of the essay helps the examiner to follow the thought process of the writer. The ideas mentioned in the paragraphs must be logical and in a proper sequence. Take note not to abruptly present your ideas as it will impact your overall performance. Start with a topic sentence and then compound that using your idea.

For Example,
It is important to encourage local languages in schools/colleges. Do you agree or disagree?

Answer in the situation you AGREE

Yes, I agree with the statement that it is important to encourage local languages in schools/colleges. Every language has its own importance. Encouraging local language is a good initiative. The local languages have its own importance and at many times used as official language in all the government departments for communication, knowledge sharing, promotion, and for many other purposes.

In several states, studying local state language is made compulsory in all the educational institutions functional within the state. The preservation of local languages in schools/colleges is important as it helps protect the culture of the SPECIFIC region. Learning and having a better understanding of local language is a good thing.

Sample Answer in the situation you DISAGREE

On the other hand, in case you disagree; you have to give your reasons for the same.

I disagree with the statement ‘It is important to encourage local languages in schools/colleges’ and believe knowing local language is a good thing but making it compulsory for the studies in school or college is not in the interest of students. According to me, students do not restrict to a local place. He/she is required to go out of his/her town/city for studies or professional course.

Sometime students need to travel abroad for higher studies where his native local language will prove of no use. In my opinion, learning local language in school should be optional and not a compulsion.

To conclude, my statement unlike national and international language local language is also vital. Studying local language can be made an optional choice for students.

Cohesion

The term ‘Cohesion’ means connecting ideas and paragraphs in essay form.

It can be done using linkers as mentioned in the list below:

  • However, whereas, on the contrary, while, etc.- These all words can be used to contrast ideas
  • This is to say, which means – are used to explain a concept
  • To illustrate, for instance, for example – These words are used to illustrate an idea
  • Furthermore, additionally, etc. – Such kinds of words are used to add similar ideas.

Example of cohesion – if a group of classmates goes for a breakfast together to the school canteen and sits on a single table to share snacks, it shows a strong cohesion, i.e. – to sit together.

Both Cohesion and Coherence will be marked as per the test takers’ ability to logically structure the sentences & paras. One must use linking devices to make connections among various sentences parts and among many paras so that it looks logical. Note down that you must not present your ideas abruptly.

The linking words used need to be appropriate & relevant. Don’t use them unnecessarily in a sentence or in the wrong context.

To get a good score in Cohesion and Coherence, the test takers must know the art of managing, writing a paragraph. They must be sure that each paragraph has an important idea. The structure of the paragraph must be mentioned in a presentable way. Try to use various linking devices or connectors and avoid making mistake while linking words.

In this section, the examiner checks the candidate’s paragraphing, organization of information, and use of linking words or connectors.
It is important to look at the two parts of this marking criterion individually to get a detailed idea of their importance.

Grammar

Grammar means the grammatical accuracy of your work. To get a good score in grammar, one must use the correct sentences & combinations, use the correct active & passive voices in the correct combinations, Modal auxiliary words, comparatives, conditionals, and relevant punctuation.

Make sure to use the perfect blend of complex and easy sentences. The test takers can get good scores based on the way they have conveyed their thoughts to the reader.

Let’s first understand the kind of sentence

  • Simple Sentences – When you use simple sentences subjected to one idea, it is described as a simple sentence. For example – Ram waited for the bus.
  • Compound sentences – In a sentence when there are at least two independent sentences that are connected by a comma, semicolon, or conjunction, they are defined as compound sentences. For example, Rajiv is a clever by and he knows it.
  • Complex Sentences – A sentence that is formed by the inclusion of two (2) or more ideas make is defined as a complex sentence. The examiner will look for such words or sentences used in the task. For example, whenever the cold breeze blows, I prefer wearing my brown jacket.
  • Passive Sentences – In passive sentences, the subject is reversed with an object.
    • For Example –
    • Active: Students these days prefer online classes.
    • Passive: Online classes are being preferred by students these days.
  • Question Sentences – The test takers are advised to use one ‘question type’ sentence in their writing. The sentences in which questions are being asked are referred to as question sentences. For example – DIRECT QUESTION, Do you love tea? What is your name? INDIRECT QUESTION – he asked me if I would love to have tea. (It contains no question mark).
  • Conditional Sentence – Conditional sentences are the ones that begin with ‘If’ and express the factual implications or hypothetical situations and their consequences.

The key to getting a good score in the IELTS writing exam is your ability to produce complex sentences. However, ‘Complex’ does not mean ‘complicated’ sentences. Rather a complex sentence is simply a sentence containing more than one clause, sometimes multiple clauses. It includes more than one piece of information. For example, visit a doctor if you are suffering from fever. Jack will carry an umbrella if it rains.

  • Use of varied sentence structures
  • Use the correct tense
  • Putting in the proper verb/adjective order
  • Avoid mistakes as much as possible
  • Use the correct punctuation
Lexical Resource (LR)

To get a good score in the IELTS writing section, it is important to showcase a range of vocabulary to the examiner. To do this, try to use a combination of more formal and uncommon words rather than using informal words everywhere. Above all, it is better to do more practice. The more you practice the better the result.

For example, you can use the word “organize” in place of “start”. Try to use an accurate collocation which means smartly arranging the words in a sentence. For example, we take exams. We don’t give exams. English-speaking people use these word groups naturally and that too without putting much effort.

Try to use different pattern of vocabulary and don’t use them often. Rather you can use similar words or rewrite sentences that have such kind of repetitions, but make sure that the meaning doesn’t get changed.

Also, use the right tone of voice. One must use formal vocabulary in all the tasks unless you are being asked to write an informal letter. For example, replace the word “anyway” with the formal word “nevertheless” to make a great impact on the reader.

To get a good score in Lexical Resource (LR):

  • Use a wide range of vocabulary
  • Avoid making errors in spelling & while forming the words.
  • Accurate vocabulary usage to share the facts
  • Understand similar verbs &nouns (collocations)
  • Avoid any spelling mistakes
  • Avoiding informal language

IELTS Writing Task: Score Calculation

All the 4 sections receive a score varying from 0 to 9 points. After that, an overall mean is calculated to check the task’s total score.

Example of writing task 1 score calculation

Candidates will get a score based on a band score for all the mentioned above IELTS Task 1 Marking Criteria. The entire writing section consists of the total score of writing task 2.

The beneath example helps students understand the overall score calculation:

  • Coherence and cohesion – band 8
  • Task achievement – band 7
  • Vocabulary – band 7
  • Grammar – band 6

So, in this case, the total score for all four sections will be 8+7+7+6 = 28. The writing task score will then be calculated by dividing the total score by 4. Therefore, in this example, the complete band score for the writing task will be 28 divided by 4 equals 7.

How to Improve IELTS Writing Band Score?

Candidates must have concerns regarding the improvement of the IELTS writing score criteria.

In that case, consider adhering to the below-mentioned steps to improve overall band scores in marking criteria for IELTS writing:

  • Present information accurately
  • Answer every task in the questions
  • Maintain a clear overview and highlight features and other relevant details
  • Keep appropriate paragraphing
  • Use appropriate vocabulary
  • Avoid errors and punctuations
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