Let’s focus on the writing section of the IELTS exam. This post will guide you through the structure of the two writing tasks of the IELTS test.
You’ll get concrete advice on how to manage your time during the test, how the different versions of the IELTS test treat their respective writing sections, and our secret of how to start improving your writing abilities immediately. Finally, learn how to get your best results with GlobalExam’s authentic IELTS preparation program.
Read these tips carefully and in no time, you’ll be on your way to breezing through the IELTS writing tasks and become a master of the written word!
Structure and timing of the IELTS Writing section
It’s time to take a close look at how the IELTS Writing tasks work during the actual test. As a reminder, the IELTS is given in two different versions: Academic – for those wanting to apply to higher education – and General Training – for those who plan on moving to an English-speaking country for professional or migration purposes. Depending on which version you take, you will need to focus your attention on different writing functions and time-management strategies.
Now, while the Writing sections include a short writing task and a longer task in both versions, keep in mind that they differ slightly depending on the version.
- In the IELTS Academic version, Task 1 asks you to describe a graph, table, map, or diagram. You’ll need to either describe or explain data, describe a process, or detail an event. Task 2 involves writing an essay to defend your opinion on a given topic.
- For the IELTS General Training version, you have to write a letter in Task 1 to solve a problem or request assistance in a situation from real life. For Task 2, you need to present your point of view on a common-interest topic in the form of a lengthier, more developed essay.
Tip 1: Familiarize yourself with the test
And now for a little math (sorry!): in both versions, Task 1 is worth approximately one-third of the Writing score while Task 2 counts for about the other two-thirds. The whole Writing section is limited to one hour. As a result, of course, you should budget your allotted time accordingly: spend no more than 20 minutes on Task 1 so you can spend the bulk of your time on the more important Task 2. Of course, take full advantage of the time you have; if you end up with extra time, there’s only one thing left to do: re-read, revise, readjust.
Once you are familiar with how the Writing section is structured and timed, it’s time to look at how to work on your English writing abilities to maximize your chances of success.
Tip 2: Improve your writing… by reading!
One good way to start fine-tuning your writing skills may not be obvious: start reading! That’s right, if you read and study high-quality written material in various forms, you’ll immediately notice how good writing should be structured. Newspapers, short articles, academic textbooks, and general-interest magazines are all real-life examples of authentic written texts in English that you can easily find either online or on paper.
Reuters Online News is a great place to find articles with tables and diagrams that illustrate the text, especially in their Financial and Stock reports. This can serve as a real-world model for Task 1 of the Writing section of the IELTS Academic test. As for Task 2, try looking for short articles on current events in sources such as The Economist or The New York Times. Even those free tabloids often distributed to commuters will provide short, simple reading material you can peruse as you get around your town. Editorials, opinion columns, and blogs offer real-life examples of defending points of view. Useful authentic texts can be found in many surprising places!
Tip 3: Read, read, read and read!
Now, it’s not enough to simply read your sample materials passively; you need to actively pay attention to how the text is written. Underline vocabulary you don’t recognize so you can research it later. Highlight grammar structures you recognize so you can see how they fit into the sentence or even highlight unfamiliar grammar so you know what you need to study later! Take particular note of linking devices used between paragraphs or sentences. These linking devices can do wonders… if you apply them to your writing style. Indeed, the key to this active approach to reading is, of course, to apply these principles to your writing on your own. Don’t neglect this crucial step!
Tip 4: Practice your writing on the GlobalExam platform
Next, let’s take a look at applying what you’ve observed until now. Your best bet is to prepare for IELTS and get practice IELTS tests topics from GlobalExam with a topic that interests you. Naturally, you’ll do better if you’re dealing with a subject you know something about (even if it’s in English!). Moreover, try a variety of sample questions and try to meet the designated time and word-count limits.
The GlobalExam platform lets you practice real IELTS exam conditions with lots of sample questions and mock exams with built-in timers and sample corrections. You can even track your writing progress thanks to personalized statistics so know where you need to focus your revision.
There’s no better practice than the real thing. GlobalExam’s materials all follow the IELTS format exactly, letting you experience real IELTS test-taking conditions. If you consistently find that you are having trouble organizing a cohesive essay, we’ve got you covered: on the GlobalExam platform, you’ll have access to function-specific revision and practice files to work on, for instance, linking words or academic vocabulary. And the best part is that it’s all online, so you can put in revision time from wherever you are!
Above all, the most important part of revising for the Writing tasks is just to give it a go, then adjust your writing strategies later. However, do not forget to study the other sections and enjoy top 10 listening tips and Reading tips we provide. In no time, you’ll be an ace at writing in English for the IELTS test!