Get quicker at writing your IELTS essay

I work a lot with IELTS students who are preparing for the written part of the exam.  Often they can write perfect essays, but it has taken them over an hour and a half to do so, just for the Task 2! Unfortunately, in the exam you only have 60 minutes to write both the 250 word Task 2 and the 150 word Task 1 essays. Therefore, I regularly get asked, “How can I write my IELTS essay quicker?”  Well, here are some tips for you!

Keep your introduction short!

Many IELTS candidates waste time writing long introductions, because they believe that the introduction is the key to a high score. Wrong! The main body paragraphs are the key to a high score, so it’s best to keep your introduction short. You need a maximum of three sentences here. Paraphrase the task response, give your point of view and add a summarizing paragraph. That’s it! This should be your basic template for all essays.

Take this question example:

As a result of tourism and the increasing number of people travelling, there is a growing demand for flights. What problems does this have on the environment? What measures could be taken to solve the problems?

Sample Answer:

More and more individuals are flying today due to increased tourism and business travelling.  This is damaging our environment and I believe that governments should take action to solve this issue.  This essay examine some of the possible problems and solutions to this matter.

That took me less than 5 minutes! Once you practice this format regularly, you will becoming very quick at writing your introduction, leaving you plenty of time to focus on the main paragraphs, where you will get most of your points.

Organize your thoughts.

Before you start to write your main paragraphs, spend 3 -5 minutes developing your thoughts.  Ask yourself these questions to help guide you:

  • What is my main statement?
  • What is the result of this?
  • Can I give a specific example?
  • What summarizing thought do I have?


To begin with, the number of airplanes taking to the sky is increasing every day. This has forced many airports to expand and add additional runways, affecting the environment both in terms of loss to the natural habitat and increased air pollution. For example, Heathrow Airport in London is petitioning to add additional runways. However, local residents and environmentalists are opposed to the expansion as they calculate that for each additional runway added to the airport there will be a 10% increase in air pollution and a 25% decrease in local wildlife. Therefore it can be seen that increased travel is having a negative impact on the environment.

Write a Two Minute Conclusion.

The conclusion is the least important part of your essay.  You should still finish your essay with a conclusion, but don’t spend too much time here. Your main body paragraphs are much more important. Just paraphrase the overall answer that you gave in your introduction and that is all you need.  This should only take a minute or two:

For example:

In conclusion, I believe that governments should implement more regulation around the airline industry to help reduce the environmental pollution that increased traveling is causing.

Practice Efficiently

Take a blank sheet of paper and write down everything that you know about a specific aspect of writing an essay.  What do you know about introductions? What common connecting words and phrases do you know? Do you know how to structure the main paragraphs of your essay? Etc. This will show you what you know and what you don’t know.  Being aware of this will help you organize your thoughts and increase your confidence, and ultimately your speed.


Above all know your writing strengths, your writing weaknesses, and your common mistakes.  Push your limitations to develop your weaknesses and regularly correct your mistakes. Through practice and effort you will become quicker at writing you IELTS essays! Use some of these sample IELTS essay questions to get you started.

And click for a guide to every aspect of the IELTS Writing section.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Gwendolyn

    Gwendolyn is our expert blogger on IELTS. She has experience in preparing students for the IELTS exam and is currently in South Korea teaching English as a Second Language. When not blogging, you are most likely to find her on an airplane, striving to obtain membership in the Traveler’s Century Club, something she’s just about as passionate about as helping students achieve their life dreams.