How to Prepare for IELTS Academic Writing Test?

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The Academic Writing test consists primarily of two writing tasks, outlined as follows:

  • Task 1: Candidates are tasked with describing visual information, such as a graph, table, chart, or diagram, within approximately 150 words. A time limit of 20 minutes is allocated for this task. The candidate will be presented with visual data and asked to provide a description, summary, or explanation of the information using their own words. This could involve elucidating data, outlining the stages of a process, explaining a mechanism, or describing an object or event.
  • Task 2: Candidates are presented with a specific viewpoint, argument, or problem, and are required to craft a written response of around 250 words. A duration of 40 minutes is allotted for this task. In this case, the candidate is expected to compose an essay in reply to the given viewpoint, argument, or problem. It’s important to note that formal writing style is required for both task responses.

Note – Test takers for IELTS Academic take a different Writing test in IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic Writing – Test Format

  • Paper Format: Two writing tasks compulsory
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Questions: 2
  • Answers are required to be given in an answer sheet in full sentence and no bullet points are accepted.

Academic Writing – TASK 1

The primary purpose of Task 1 in the Academic Writing section is to evaluate the test taker’s skill in identifying key information and notable trends within a diagram, whether it’s a graph, chart, table, or diagram. The task aims to assess the ability to provide a well-structured overview of the information using accurate academic language. Task 1 predominantly requires candidates to elucidate factual data or statistics depicted through graphs, charts, or tables related to a specific topic. Alternatively, candidates might be presented with a diagram depicting a machine, device, or process and be asked to expound upon its functioning.

In such instances, it is advisable to compose the response in an academic, semi-formal, or neutral style, highlighting the most pertinent and essential points presented in the diagram. Candidates are expected to craft a response of around 150 words within a 20-minute timeframe. While there is no penalty for exceeding the 150-word limit, it’s crucial to consider that dedicating too much time to Task 1 may impact the available time for Task 2, which holds twice the weight in the Writing band score assessment. It’s worth noting that marks may be deducted for providing irrelevant content or delivering the response in an incomplete or fragmented format, such as resorting to bullet points or note-like structures. Additionally, severe penalties are applicable for copying content directly from external sources.

In the end, candidate must write their answers on the answer booklet.

Academic Writing – TASK 2

Academic Writing Task 2 is designed to evaluate the candidate’s capacity to present a coherent viewpoint in a pertinent manner. Candidates are advised to structure their presentation in a well-organized argument, furnishing supporting evidence or examples to substantiate their ideas and ensuring linguistic precision. In Academic Writing Task 2, a given topic prompts candidates to compose a response in an academic, semi-formal, or neutral style. It’s important to provide a discursive exploration of the pertinent themes within the topic, meticulously adhering to the task’s requirements.

A crucial aspect is to thoroughly comprehend the task’s nuances and provide a comprehensive and pertinent reply. Candidates are allotted 40 minutes for this task, during which they must generate a response of at least 250 words. Responses that fall short of this limit will incur penalties. While there is no penalty for surpassing the 250-word threshold, it’s vital to note that doing so may compromise the opportunity for revisiting and refining the response before submission. Notably, Task 2 holds double the weightage in the final Writing band score compared to Task 1. A sound performance in Task 2 significantly enhances the prospects of achieving a favorable band score.

Candidates must be cautious to remain relevant to the topic, avoiding any deviation. The response should be articulated as complete, interconnected text, refraining from employing structures like bullet points or note forms. Plagiarism, which entails directly copying content from external sources, is subject to severe penalties. Moreover, direct replication of content from the question paper will not be assessed. It is essential to remember to transcribe the responses onto the provided answer booklet.

IELTS Academic Writing – Marking Scheme

Both the tasks are assessed independently, such that the assessment of Task 2 carries more weightage in marking than Task 1.

Please be aware that every response undergoes evaluation by certified IELTS examiners. These examiners possess appropriate teaching credentials and are selected by accredited test centers sanctioned by either the British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia. The resultant scores are conveyed in increments of both whole and half bands. In addition, comprehensive performance descriptors have been meticulously formulated to delineate written proficiency across the spectrum of the nine IELTS bands.

Assessment of Task 1

  • Task achievement
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy.

Assessment of Task 2

  • Task response
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

Academic Writing – Performance Descriptor for Task 1

  • Task fulfillment – Task fulfillment evaluates the precision and alignment with the stipulated requirements of the task, with a minimum word count of 150 words. In the context of Academic Writing Task 1, there exists a predefined input that invariably leads to an anticipated output. The central aspect of this task involves transferring information, which is closely tied to the factual content of the given input diagram, devoid of conjectural interpretations that extend beyond the provided data.
  • Coherence and cohesion – This evaluation criterion pertains to the lucidity and smooth flow of the respondent’s answer. It is employed to discern the organizational structure and connectivity of information with respect to the subject matter, the type of concepts conveyed, and the language employed for expression. Coherence primarily pertains to the logical sequence linking ideas, while cohesion encompasses the varied and fitting utilization of cohesive elements, which contribute to the clarity of conceptual and referential connections both within and between sentences.
  • Lexical resource – The third criterion gauges the breadth of vocabulary employed, along with its accuracy and appropriateness in accordance with the specific task at hand.
  • Grammatical range and accuracy – The final criterion evaluates the spectrum and precise application of grammar as demonstrated through the construction of sentences.

Academic Writing – Performance Descriptor for Task 2

  • Task response – In both the IELTS Academic and General Training versions, Task 2 mandates the examinee to formulate and elaborate upon a stance concerning a provided prompt in the form of a query or declaration. This entails substantiating ideas with supporting evidence, and examples may be drawn from the individual’s personal experiences. The written response must encompass a minimum of 250 words, and any response falling below this stipulated word threshold will incur a penalty.
  • Coherence and cohesion: This assessment criterion places emphasis on evaluating the comprehensive lucidity and smooth progression of the written response, along with the manner in which the ideas have been structured, interconnected, and linked through the utilization of language.
  • Lexical resource: This aspect primarily appraises the scope of vocabulary employed, in addition to its accuracy and appropriateness in alignment with the specific task’s requirements.
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: This evaluation criterion delves into the span and precise application of grammar, as demonstrated in the test taker’s written expression at the sentence level.

Tips and Tricks

  • Foremost, pay close attention to your word count. It’s advisable to surpass the word limit slightly to prevent any potential penalties. Even a small oversight can result in lost marks.
  • Allocate no more than 20 minutes to Task 1, as Task 2 holds double the weightage. This ensures you have a minimum of 40 minutes available for composing and reviewing your response.
  • Both tasks necessitate careful planning and meticulous checking. It’s prudent to set aside about four minutes or less both before and after addressing each task. Time management is crucial, so practicing with this constraint is essential.
  • Examiners employ performance descriptors during the evaluation process. Familiarize yourself with the allotted percentages for each performance indicator: Task achievement (25%), Coherence and Cohesion (25%), Vocabulary (25%), and Grammatical range and accuracy (25%). Your final score will be an average across these four criteria.
  • Practice, practice, and more practice! Abundant resources are available for both tasks; make effective use of them. Remember, your practice should focus on understanding, not rote memorization, which can be easily detected by examiners.
  • Mastery of spelling, grammar, and punctuation cannot be emphasized enough. These skills can’t be acquired overnight; hone them over time and utilize reputable sources for practice.
  • Familiarize yourself with the format and structure of each task. This familiarity will provide you with confidence and efficiency when facing the final exam.

Quick Suggestions

  • Practice essay writing per day
  • Use some online tools that will help you check your grammar and spellings
  • Write new words and phrases in a diary to improve your vocabulary through the practice you do.
  • Use a time check tool while practicing to have a sense of real-time exam
  • Do not fear to use complex grammar structures
  • Find someone who can guide you and help you correct your mistakes