Altogether the IELTS writing test takes 60 minutes and there are two tasks to complete.
Task 1: We suggest that a maximum of 20 minutes is spent on this, which requires you to write at least 150 words. A doddle, right!?
Task 2: This is where you need to put your thinking cap on and don’t forget a couple of sharp pencils! This task requires at least 250 words and you should use the remaining 40 minutes. Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the overall score.
You should use the official Writing Answer Sheet and notes are not acceptable as answers. Responses to both tasks must be written in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style.
You may write on the Question Paper but this cannot be taken from the test room and will not be seen by the examiner.
Tackling Task 2 writing question
So, you’ve battled through Task 1 and the short answer. Now it’s time for the big dog.
An unwritten essay lies before you on a blank page or three. How do you fill that white space with 250 clever words and devastatingly brilliant analysis that makes the marker weep tears of shaken awe? Well, we can’t promise that. But we will help you tackle the essay question.
In Task 2, you are presented with a point of view, argument or problem. You are assessed on your ability to:
- present the solution to a problem
- present and justify an opinion
- compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications
- evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument.
Topics are of general interest and suitable for candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.
You should support your ideas with evidence based on your own knowledge or experience.
Keep an eye on the time
You don’t have forever and ever to write this essay, and you’ve already used up a third of your precious 60 minutes on Task 1. Before you start, have a game-plan for how you’ll spend the time you’ve been given. That includes reading the question, working out how you’re going to answer it, actually answering it, rechecking your work and shaking out your hand cramps.
Don’t skim over text
Specifically, don’t skim over Task 2 question, because it probably has several different elements you’ll need to include in your essay. Underline key words and make sure you’re addressing everything you’ve been asked. Yeah, we stressed you out about the clock in the last bit, but that doesn’t mean you should rush the important stuff.
Jot down an essay plan
Before you dive into your essay, it helps to really roughly scribble down what you’re going to say. This means having a specific point for each paragraph that’s going to contribute to your overall argument. Work out what each section is going to say, and why. Then you can get stuck in, and if you get stuck, you have a plan to get unstuck.
Remember your analysis
This essay is meant to demonstrate your understanding of the question and your ability to show off those relevant techniques for discussing the form and meaning of the topic.
You will be assessed on your ability to write a response which is appropriate in terms of content, the organisation of ideas, and the accuracy and range of vocabulary and grammar.
Both tasks are assessed independently and assessment of writing performance is carried out by British Council examiners
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