IELTS Writing: Everything You Need to Know

Person writing in notebook to represent ielts writing

IELTS Writing has two tasks. The first, Task 1, involves writing a summary of a visual or process (for the Academic test) or writing a letter (for the General test). In Task 2, you’ll write a complete essay. You’ll be tested on how well your ideas flow together, your vocabulary and grammar, and if you fulfilled all the requirements. Read on to learn more about this task, and more about how to practice IELTS Writing at home!

What is IELTS Writing?

The IELTS Writing section is the third section of the main IELTS exam, right after the Reading Section. Here are some basic stats for the test:

IELTS Writing Section Basics

  • Time limit: 60 minutes
  • Number of tasks: 2
  • Format:
    • Handwritten (IELTS Paper-Based Test)
    • Typed (IELTS Computer-Delivered Test and IELTS Indicator Test)
  • Scoring:
    • This section has a band score of 1-9, based on a rubric (this is the same band score range as rest of the exam).

Comparison of the Different IELTS Writing Tasks

TYPE OF IELTS WRITING TASKMinimum word countRecommended time limitDescription
Task 1 (Academic)15020 minutesDescribe the information in a graph or chart
Task 1 (General Training)15020 minutesWrite a letter for a specific purpose
Task 2 (same on General Training and Academic)25040 minutesTake a position on a social issue and support your position

Academic Writing Task 1

On the Academic version of the IELTS, the first Writing task requires you to describe an infographic in at least 150 words, with a recommended 20 minute time limit. Common types of infographics include pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, maps, and process diagrams. Sometimes you will describe combinations of more than one kind of infographic.

Magoosh offers a complete guide to Writing Task 1 (IELTS Academic), including sample questions and answers. We also offer a quick 15 minute video guide for this first task, seen below (click here for instructions on how to use the Writing Task 1 video guide).

General Training Writing Task 1

Like IELTS Academic, Writing for General Training Task 1 requires a minimum of 150 words, with a recommedned 20 minute time limit. But the similarities end there. In IELTS GT, this first task requires you to write a letter; the instructions will tell you the context of the letter and the specific points you should include.

Letters for IELTS GT can vary in how formal they are. To help you with this, I’ve written a guide to formal vs. semi-formal language for this task, and Kuangyan has put together a great guide to formal and informal language in IELTS letter writing.

And of course, you should also check out Magoosh’s full guide for this task: “IELTS General Training Letter Writing Tips and Examples,” as well as our shorter video guide:

Task 2 for IELTS Writing

The second Writing task is the same on both versions of the test, and requires you to give and defend your opinion on a social issue. Common IELTS Writing topics for this task may be broadly public (such as the issue of government funding for the arts) or more personal (such as one’s preferences on where to live, how to study, etc.).

Magoosh breaks this second essay down for you in detail, with example questions and sample responses. Check out our complete guide to Academic Writing Task 2. You can also check out the video below for some quick tips on this second question:

How Is IELTS Writing marked?

The Writing section is scored in IELTS bands. For a summary of these scoring levels, take a look at the official IELTS band descriptors for Task 1, and Task 2.

And for a more in-depth look at how Writing scores are calculated and what they mean, check out the following Magoosh guides:

How to Improve Your Score in IELTS Writing

The guides below really focus on boosting your band score in the Writing Section. Learn the best way to improve your score in IELTS Writing, task-by-task.

Better Scores for Task 1 (Academic)

Better IELTS Scores for Task 1 (General Training Writing)

Better IELTS Writing Scores for Task 2

General Articles to Improve Your IELTS Writing Score

Examples of IELTS Essays

Perhaps the very best way to improve your score in IELTS Writing is to look at sample essays. Read these examples carefully to learn how to practice IELTS Writing for the various tasks.

Examples of Writing for Task 1 (Academic)

IELTS Writing Models for General Training Task 1

Samples of IELTS Writing for the Second Task


IELTS Writing is multifaceted, testing your English writing skills in a variety of ways. While you may want to hire an IELTS Writing tutor or take a class, with Magoosh that isn’t always necessary. We offer essay feedback to our students. Check out Magoosh IELTS to learn more about how to improve your writing with Magoosh.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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