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How to finish the IELTS writing tasks on time

Published on March 12, 2018

You have an hour to complete two writing tasks and that takes great time management skills. If you know how to use those 60 minutes well, you should be able to complete both sections and get a higher rating.

How do you decide how much time to use for each task? Think about their length and how much each contributes to your score. In case you didn’t know, Task 1 of the Academic test requires you to write a report and the General training is a letter (each 150-words). The second task for both tests is a 250-word essay. Because the essay counts for more and is longer, you should spend more time on it: 40 minutes for task 2 and 20 for Task 1.

More specifically, you could follow these timelines:

TASK Plan Write Correct
1 3 minutes 10 minutes 2 minutes
2 5 minutes 30 minutes 5 minutes

However, it’s not enough to have these limits if you haven’t practiced and prepared yourself for what you could encounter on the test. Here are some more specific advice and some free resources to help you get ready to do your best when you sit the exam.

Understand what the time limit feels like

Do lots of practice tests to get a sense of the timing. You could start by doing one task at a time using the above time restrictions and build up to completing both in one hour. It will be difficult at first, but over time, you will improve. It’s like exercising a muscle. Build your skill. You can find some practice tests here .

Be aware of your common errors to save time when revising

If you don’t know your weaknesses, you will waste time looking for mistakes. When you know what to look for, you will be able to find errors quickly. For example, if you often forget to use articles, you can skim your writing and check for that specifically.

In addition, don’t waste time counting words. Use your practice tests to calculate approximately how many words you write in one or two lines and then count lines. Remember that every second is valuable.

Get familiar with the question types and know how to work with them

If you don’t understand the different types of questions and what examiners are looking for in your answers, you might panic and use most of your time trying to figure out what to do.

Teach yourself through IELTS preparation books and/or take a look at these our other useful blog articles on the Writing section of IELTS.

Make an brief outline before you write

There are basic formulas for quickly outlining reports and letters that you can learn about in the links above.

Using five minutes to brainstorm and map out your essay will save you much time in the long run. The last thing you want to do is to go off topic. Keeping your ideas focused and on the task with an outline will improve your writing.

Know how to use your time wisely and you’ll be getting the rating you want and off on your adventures in to time at all. Good luck!