IELTS Writing: How Many Words to Write

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The IELTS Writing Tasks ask you to write at least a certain number of words on test day—a minimum of 150 words for Task 1 and a minimum of 250 words for Task 2. So what does this mean for your band score, and how do the 250 and 150 word essays for IELTS break down into paragraphs? Read on to find out!

Everything in this article applies to both Academic and General Training IELTS Writing Tasks. And for even more great advice on both these tasks, check out our collection of the best IELTS Writing tips!

Write 150 Words for Task 1

You may already have heard that Task 1 is the “150 words essay on IELTS.” In fact, you’ll see this in the prompt: the task tells you to “Write at least 150 words.” You will be penalized if you write less than this.

Though the essay topics are different between Academic and General Training, the word requirement is the same. Therefore, for General Training, you’ll write a 150-word letter for Task 1. For the Academic exam, you’ll write a 150-word graph or chart description for Task 1.

Write 250 Words for Task 2

You’ll need to write significantly more for Task 2, on both the General Training and Academic exams. Here, the question type is the same on both tests, as you’ll be asked to write a formal essay. Don’t worry, you’ll have more time: 40 minutes, as opposed to 20 minutes for Task 1.

Recommended Number of Words to Write

Although 150 and 250 are the minimum word counts for Task 1 and Task 2, respectively, you’ll want to write slightly more than this to get a higher band score.

Now, you don’t have to write 200 and 400 words for these tasks! That would be far too much for the time given. However, aim for 30-40 words more than the minimum word count that each task sets.

  • In the case of IELTS Writing Task 1, that’s 180-190 words.
  • In the case of IELTS Writing Task 2, that’s 280-290 words.

How many paragraphs is 150 words?

So what does 150 words look like in IELTS Writing Task 1? As IELTS expert David describes in his post on paragraph structure, this boils down to about three paragraphs: an introduction, a summary, and a description of a key feature. If you have extra time and/or extra words, four paragraphs are awesome—but don’t feel compelled to write that much.

How many paragraphs is 250 words?

250 words sounds like a lot more than it is! The best way to use 250 words is to divide them into four paragraphs, as I describe in the IELTS Task 2 template: an introduction, two supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.

A Final Word: IELTS Essay Word Count

It can be challenging at first to get used to writing 150 or 250 words, particularly if you’re doing it longhand. However, the best way to get used to this and understand when you’re writing enough for the IELTS essays is to practice and count your words! The more essays you write at the correct length, the more you’ll build your intuition so that you can recognize the correct length on test day. To learn more about what happens if you don’t meet the minimum word count, check out our post on the IELTS Writing word count penalty.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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