How to Prepare for the IELTS Writing Exam

How to Prepare for the IELTS Writing Exam

When taking the IELTS exam, practicing every section is important as all sections contribute equally to the overall score. However, many students often need to focus more time on the preparing for the writing section, as they feel it has the most room for improvement. If you’re working on your IELTS writing and want to learn more about what you can do to improve your exam scores, this article is for you. Here, we will go through how to prepare for and improve your scores for IELTS writing tasks 1 and 2, for the Academic exam required for admission into university.

What is the difference between the IELTS general and academic exams?

There are two types of IELTS writing exams you can take – general and academic. The general writing exam is usually for those who want to study below university level, or for work and migration purposes. The academic IELTS writing exam is for those who want to study at a university abroad as an international student.

The IELTS writing exam you need to take will depend on which university you wish to study at, so make sure you check with the university directly before applying for and sitting an IELTS exam.

What is in the IELTS Academic writing exam?

Within the IELTS Academic writing exam, there are two tasks. Below we will discuss the differences between the tasks 1 and 2 for the Academic IELTS exam and how to best prepare for them.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Preparation – Academic Exam

As the academic test is for admission into higher education, writing task 1 imitates typical questions or material which will be presented during university coursework and exams. You will be given a chart, diagram or graph and must analyse and interpret the data presented. The recommended time for task 1 is about 20 minutes, where you will need to write a short paragraph summarising the data in approximately 150 words. The writing style for academic task 1 is formal, meaning you should use formal language, sentence structure and grammar.

When preparing for and sitting the academic writing test, make sure you:

  • Read the given chart, graph, or diagram in its entirety, to make sure you understand the main points.
  • Try and note down the key information that you want to talk about, so you can write a clear and coherent answer.
  • Make direct reference to the chart, diagram or graph you have been given, to show you understand the information.
  • Use appropriate terminology and vocabulary in your analysis.

How to prepare for IELTS writing task 2

IELTS writing task 2 involves writing an essay on a given topic or prompt. The writing style for task 2 is formal, and you will be graded on your use of language, grammar and how well you answered the prompt. Task 2 is approximately 250 words, and it is recommended you take 40 minutes to complete the task.  Some of the prompts will ask you to write your essay response in a particular way, such as arguing for or against, discussing the advantages and disadvantages, or writing your opinion on a topic.

When practicing your IELTS essay writing, be sure to:

  • Use a range of prompts so you can be prepared for any essay style in the exam.
  • Try and think of both sides of the argument before choosing which side to write about, to see which side will allow you show off your writing skills the best.
  • Answer the prompt directly. This is key to achieving high scores!
  • Avoid writing a generic, vague essay as this will be marked down for not answering the question.

Tips for IELTS writing tasks 1 and 2

Preparing for the IELTS Academic Writing exam involves becoming familiar with the types of information and prompts you could be presented with. The IELTS writing tasks will be marked according to how well you can show your understanding of the information and topics given, through a well-organised and coherent response. The IELTS organisation actually has criteria for the IELTS writing writing tasks, which are four features of your writing which you will be evaluated on.

We have organised our tips for the IELTS writing exam based on each of these criteria in the table below. Reflect on the meaning of each of the criteria to see what aspects of your writing you might need to improve on. IELTS writing tasks 1 and 2 are very different from each other, and therefore the ways the criteria apply to them will be different as well. Each criteria can be fulfilled in many ways, so reading through all of our tips can help you improve your IELTS writing scores by making specific adjustments to your writing.

The IELTS writing tasks will be evaluated on the following criteria – becoming familiar with these criteria will help you embrace your strengths and work on weaknesses in your writing. Here are the IELTS writing criteria, what they mean, and ways you can apply them in your writing:

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Receive study abroad advice based on your IELTS scores through IDP

If you want to know where your IELTS scores can take you, reach out to IDP. IDP counsellors can provide 1-on-1 advice based on your IELTS scores and can help you achieve your study abroad goals. Reach out to our counsellors today to discover where IDP can take you!

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