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IELTS Writing

IELTS General Writing Task 1 Tips

Unlock the secrets of IELTS General Writing Task 1 with ease! Whether you're drafting a formal letter or a friendly note, this part of the test covers various topics like requests or complaints. Spend just 20 minutes (out of the total 60) to write at least 150 words and boost your score. Dive into our article for some handy tips and make your IELTS journey smoother!

And these are what we're going to discuss:

  1. Assessment criteria of the IELTS Writing test
  2. Tips to master your skills
  3. How to manage your time

Assessment criteria

Your writing will be assessed based on 4 criteria:

Task achievement

  • cover all requirements of the task
  • present, highlight and illustrate key bullet points clearly and appropriately
  • present a clear purpose of your letter
  • keep the tone (formal/informal) consistent and appropriate

Coherence and cohesion

  • logically organise information and ideas
  • use a range of cohesive devices (linking words and phrases, e.g. “moreover, however, in contrast, for instance, etc.”)
  • use paragraphing appropriately

Lexical resource

  • use a wide range of vocabulary including topic-specific and advanced vocabulary, collocations, phrasal verbs, and idioms
  • don't make errors in spelling and/or word formation

Grammatical range and accuracy

  • use a wide range of structures including complex ones (different tenses, clauses, modal verbs, etc.)
  • pay attention to punctuation
  • proofread the letter to avoid grammatical mistakes

Scores are reported as a whole band or half band from 0 to 9.0, for example a candidate can get a 5.0 or a 5.5.

The average score for the task is calculated by measuring the criteria equally and the Writing band score is the average, for example:

  • Task achievement - 8.0
  • Coherence and cohesion - 7.5
  • Lexical resource - 7.0
  • Grammatical range and accuracy - 6.5

Writing band score - (8.0+7.5+7.0+6.5)/4=7.25-> 7.5

The details are below:

IELTS Writing tips to master your skills

  • Practise writing both types of letters: formal and informal.

Some students think it’s easier to write informal letters, but in fact it can be quite challenging to get a high score for vocabulary if you write an informal letter to a friend.

  • Switch off T9, Grammarly, and other text assistants to see your weak points.

You should understand from the very beginning if you have gaps in spelling or grammar, so that you can work on them and improve over time.

  • First, take as much time as you need to write a good letter. Next time control the time and take only 20 min to deliver the best possible answer.

It’s OK to take your time to write a response which you are proud of. When you’ve learnt to write good letters, you can do it faster next time.
TRICK. Start the writing section with Task 2

Although an essay is the second task in IELTS, you are allowed to write it first. You can start the writing section with an essay (Task 2), and then when 20 min are left you can move on to the first writing part. It could be especially helpful to students who find Task 1 more difficult. Moreover, Task 2 contributes twice as much as Task 1 to the Writing score, so make sure you dedicate 40 min to your essay.

How to manage your time

To achieve the best score possible at your IELTS exam you should spend the 20 given minutes smartly. We recommend you to stick to the following plan:

2 min: Read the task carefully.

2 min: Make the plan (how many paragraphs you need) and brainstorm.

13 min: Write the letter.

Keep in mind all 4 criteria and remember to use the brainstormed information.

3 min: Proofread and edit your writing.

Check it for misprints, spelling mistakes, repetition and grammatical inaccuracies.

If you don’t have time to check your writing, you can miss the opportunity to correct the mistakes and ultimately get a lower score.

Try to do practice tests for 20 minutes so you get used to the timing.
TRICK. Brainstorming


  • key-specific and advanced vocabulary
  • useful grammatical structures
  • suitable linkers

Make a list of relevant words and phrases, grammatical structures, and linkers and then prioritise them in order of importance. After that decide which to include and which not. Start writing only after you’ve brainstormed a sufficient list.

Are you ready for your high scoring IELTS Writing exam?

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