IELTS General Writing

The IELTS General Writing section measures your ability to communicate about common, practical issues and expand on topics of personal interest. You may be asked to provide factual information, make suggestions, express likes and dislikes, or present complaints, opinions, or views. This section lasts for 1 hour and includes 2 tasks. Task 2 carries more marks than Task 1. Therefore, you may wish to divide your time as follows:

  • Task 1 – 150 words – 20 minutes
  • Task 2 – 250 words – 40 minutes

According to the makers of the IELTS exam, assessment of General Writing tasks is based on the following criteria:

  • Task Achievement - how thoroughly you do what is asked
  • Coherence and Cohesion - how organized your letter is
  • Lexical Resource - the range of vocabulary you use
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - how correct your grammar is

You are asked to write a letter to a friend, government agency or interest group. The level of formality depends on who you are writing to and how well you know them, so the style may be formal, semi-formal or informal. You are given a brief description of a problem or situation, followed by bulleted instructions on what to include in your letter. Make sure you write about each and every one of the points mentioned. Also use appropriate grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.

It will also help to read through several sample tests in order to both familiarize yourself with the type of situations presented, and to learn how to write these types of letter answers easily, correctly, and quickly. Sample Task 1 tasks include:

  • writing to a college administration officer about problems with your dormitory
  • writing to a landlord to resolve problems with the heating system
  • writing to a friend to invite him/her to a surprise party

You have to write a minimum 250-word essay on a topic of general interest. You might have to solve a problem, present your opinion, or compare differing viewpoints on a given topic.

The usual rules of good essay writing apply. Plan before you write, use varied sentence structure, utilize linking words to connect ideas, use dynamic and rich vocabulary to put your thoughts across, be careful of your spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, and organize your essay into about 4-5 paragraphs. A sample structure is shown below:

Paragraph 1


Restate the topic, indicate your position

Paragraph 2


Main idea, supporting idea, examples

Paragraph 3


Main idea, supporting idea, examples

Paragraph 4


Summarize ideas, restate position


Sample Task 2 tasks include:

  • whether it is possible to take a vacation from your problems
  • whether families today are closer than they used to be.
  • whether smoking in public should be banned
  • whether old people should go to nursing homes

Write as many practice essays as possible, within the 40-minute time limit, so you can do so with ease and confidence on the day of your exam.

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