Learn about changes to your IELTS test arrangements due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). View details
Results in 5-7 days with computer-delivered IELTS

How to be test day ready for the IELTS writing test

Published on December 5, 2017

So, are you ready to write on test day? There are a lot of things to remember, review, and familiarize yourself with for the writing test. This article covers some important points connected to that. Check out what’s below for some tips and tricks.

1. Specific skills & Task 1

For the General Test and the Academic Test, the speaking and listening exams have the same format. However, the two writing tests are different. For both tests, Task 2 is an essay. They’re kinda similar. However, Task 1 of the writing is particularly different. Task 1 Academic involves how-to knowledge for writing academic summaries of images, while Task 1 General is letter writing. So, again, know the letter writing style for Task 1 General and the summary style for the Task 1 Academic. That leads to the next points.

2. Task 1 Academic? You gotta know how to summarize!

Are you signed-up for the Academic? If you’re not in tune with the standard writing style for academic summaries, you’d better get started. This is a skill you’ll always find on Task 1. In simple terms, you’ll be given some kind of image, like a graph, a chart, a process, or a diagram. Using that image, you have to write a report. Take note, there are no opinions, no explanations, and no use of your own examples. You simply report on what’s in the image.

3. Task 1 General? Know the style, cover the bullets.

Two main points here. First, who are you writing to? What I mean is, if you’re expected to write to a friend or family member, your letter’s gonna be informal. If it’s to the town councillor or a bank manager, it’s gotta be formal. Second is bullets. These are those three black points you often see in the test book instructions. Make sure you respond to all three in your letter or you might lose points.

4. Upper case, lower case… Don’t worry about it!

This is a good news story for many of us. IELTS doesn’t take away marks for wrongly using UPPER CASE LETTERS or lower case letters. Although it is always a good idea to use capitals correctly, don’t worry much about it on your test.

5. Do you drive lexis?

No, I’m not writing about a Lex us. This isn’t a luxury car blog. Lexis means your vocabulary. More specifically, it means the vocabulary you use when you speak. Vocabulary use is 25% of your writing mark. A few things that you need to watch here are spelling mistakes, repeating the same words, or copying vocab from the test book. Some tips are to use lots of synonyms, less common idioms, and paraphrase whenever you use language from the test book.

6. The Grammar

I know you love English grammar. Doesn’t everyone? Well, whether you like it or not, you are going to need to use it well on the writing. Accurate and appropriate grammar are important. Showing variety of grammatical forms and variety of sentence types is important. Don’t forget, just like vocab, grammar is 25% of your writing mark.

7. Stay connected

Cohesion, or linking things together is another key point of your test. So what does cohesion mean? This means how your writing flows, or how you join everything together. It’s important to use words and phrases that give direction and order to your ideas. These words are like highway signs. They tell the reader which direction your writing is going. A few examples are first, second, third, however, in conclusion, in sum, in my opinion, etc.... So be sure to use them and use them well!

8. Be a Paragraph Pro!

Paragraphing is a must on the writing tests. If you don’t use paragraphs or don’t use them well, you might really hurt your score. So, be sure when you are cramming for the exam, you review and practice proper paragraphs. A few basics paragraph skills you’ll want to review are topic sentences, controlling ideas, supporting ideas, and staying on topic.

9. Stay on point

The IELTS speaking exam might be conversing with your friend, but not Task 2 of the writing. Staying on topic and answering the question fully and directly is important. Not doing this will really limit your score. For example, if the essay question is about Olympic sports, don’t start writing about video games. If the question is about university majors, don’t go on about public transportation. You get the idea.

10. The numbers game

It is true, the IELTS markers will count every word you write. Sounds boring doesn’t it? Each word is equal to one word when counting. ‘The’ is counted as one word, and so is ‘a’, ‘banana’, ‘micro-biology’, and ‘exponentially’. Task 1 is 150 words. Task 2 is 250 words. Not having enough words will lower your score. So, during your practice tests, count your words and make sure you have enough!



verb meaning to outline and explain something


informal for ‘kind of’ or approximately


adverb meaning to focus on a specific point

in tune with

to agree with sth.


slang for ‘have got to’


slang for ‘going to’


slang in texting language for ‘laugh out loud’; used to show something is a joke or that something is funny

is a must

sth. important you have to do


preparing for a test in a short time



get the idea

understand sth.