IELTS Writing FAQs

This FAQ section gives you answers to the questions you should know about the IELTS writing section. Every test is different and has some common rules to be followed. Knowing about the test formal and getting answers to the questions that pop up in your mind is an important aspect of doing well in a test. The FAQs are categories to let you find your answers quickly and in a more convenient way.

Quickly navigate to the appropriate FAQ section from the following links:

IELTS Graph Writing (Academic task 1 ) FAQs:
IELTS Letter Writing (GT task 1) FAQs:
IELTS Essay writing (both for GT and Academic test) FAQs:

IELTS Graph Writing (Academic task 1) FAQs: 

Q. How many tasks are there in the Academic IELTS Writing sections? 
A. If you take the Academic IELTS module, you will need to answer two tasks in your writing section. The first one is graph writing (known as task 1) and the second one is Essay writing (known as task 2).

Q. In Academic task 1 what type of graph I might get in the test?
A. In your Academic IELTS test you will get one of the 9 types of graphs in your writing section and you need to summarise and report this graph. The details of the 9 types of graphs with sample questions and answers could be found at

Q. How long should I take to finish my answer to the graph question?
A. You should finish the graph answer writing in 20 minutes? You will have 60 minutes to finish both task 1 and task 2. Task 2 requires you to write an essay of a minimum of 250 words and require around 40 minutes. So it is advisable that you finish your graph answer in 20 minutes.

Q. How much the writing task 1 worth?
A. IELTS graph writing carries one-third of your writing score. IELTS essay writing is worth twice as much. To get details on that please visit our IELTS band score calculator page.

Q. What is the difference between academic task 1 and General Training task 1?
A. In academic task 1 you need to write a report or summary for a given graph while in GT task 1 you are asked to write a letter.

Q. Do I have to finish my graph answer in 20 minutes?
A. No one will force you to finish your graph writing in 20 minutes. But it is advisable to finish it in 20 minutes so that you can spend the remaining 40 minutes on your essay writing. You have one hour in total to finish both of the tasks and task 2 carried weight twice as much. If you spend more than 20 minutes on tour graph writing, you will have less time for essay writing.

Q. How can I organise my graph writing answer?
A. You need to write the introduction, overview (what the graph presents), body paragraph 1 and body paragraph 2 in your graph writing answer. Writing a conclusion (which repeats the key features of the graph presented) is optional. If you feel that you have already written more than 150 words and have distinctively mentioned the key features of the graph, do not write any conclusion.

Q. Will the examiner check my spelling?
A. Yes, the examiner will check your spelling. If you make a lot of spelling mistakes, you will get a lower score in the vocabulary section. That will affect your overall score.

Q. How many key features should I put in my writing?
A. That depends on the type of graph you are required to summarise or report. Some graphs might emphasize a single key feature and in this case, being able to present that single key feature is enough. However, if the graph has three or more key features, you should put all of them in your writing.

Q. How many words and paragraphs should I write in academic task 1?
A. You need to write a minimum of 150 words in your academic task 1 response. Usually, you should write three paragraphs in your academic task 1 response which are: Introduction + Key features of the graph, body paragraph 1 and body paragraph 2.

Q. I heard that I should never write a conclusion in Academic task 1? What should I do?
A. You should not write a conclusion paragraph in your graph writing response if you have already covered the key features of the graph and have written more than 150 words. However, that should depend on the graph type. For instance, it is probably a good idea to write a conclusion of 1-2 lines when a different summary emerges from the graph and you have written less than 150 words so far.

Q. Why it is important to paraphrase the question?
A. Paraphrasing represents your vocabulary and understanding of the graph. If you repeat the question word-for-word then it will give an impression of a poor vocabulary. Vocabulary is one of the assessment criteria and not paraphrasing the question in your introduction part will surely lessen your score.

Q. What if I write less than 150 words in my academic task 1 response?
A. The minimum word requirement in graph response is 150. Writing less than 150 words will impose a penalty and finally would result in a poor band score.

Q. I heard that I will be penalized if I write more than 180 words in graph response?
A. There is no such rule. If you are presented with a task 1 question that has two or more graphs and quite a lot of data, you can even write more than 200 words. However, keep in mind that writing more would not ensure a better score and would expose the possibility of more errors and reputation.  Try not to repeat the same information in your answer and always finish it within 20 minutes.

Q. Should I count the number of words I have written?
A. This is absolutely unnecessary and will waste your valuable time during the test. While practising you should be able to estimate the word counts for the number of lines you write.

Q. Should I use as many linking words as possible in my academic task 1 response?
A. Use linking words sensibly. Linking words are always helpful to maintain coherency and a natural flow in your writing, but overusing it might make your writing poor.

IELTS Letter Writing (GT task 1) FAQs:

Q. How long should I take to finish my letter writing?
A. You should finish your letter writing a response in 20 minutes.

Q. What is the minimum word requirement for GT letter writing?
A. You need to write a minimum of 150 words in your GT letter answer.

Q. What is the difference between the GT Writing module and the Academic Writing module?
A. In both Academic and GT writing modules you will have two tasks to finish in 60 minutes. You need to write at least 150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2. However, in Academic IELTS writing task 1, you need to summarise/ report a graph while you need to write a letter in General Training IELTS writing task 1. Essay writing which is task 2 is the same for the type of test-takers.

Q. What type of letter I might find in my GT IELTS writing test?
A. There are three types of letters you might encounter in your GT IELTS: Formal, Semi-Formal and Personal.
A formal letter might ask you to write a letter to a company to apply for a job while a semi-formal letter might ask you to write a letter to the librarian in your university and finally, an informal or personal letter type might ask you to write a letter to a friend to invite him to your sister’s birthday.  To know more about the types of letters you might find in your GT IELTS test and how to answer then visit:

Q. Can I use contractions like (can’t, shouldn’t etc) in a formal letter? 
A. You should not use any contraction or informal words in a formal letter.

Q. Does my letter answer carry as much weight as my essay answer does? 
A. No. Your essay answer is worth twice as much.

IELTS Essay writing (both for GT and Academic test) FAQs:

Q. How long do I get to complete my Essay answer on the IELTS test? 
A. You are advised to finish your Essay response in 40 minutes. You will have 1 hour (60 minutes) to complete both task 1 and task 2. Task 1 usually takes 20 minutes to finish and the remaining 40 minutes should be used for essay writing.

Q. Can I spend more than 40 minutes finishing my essay? 
A. You should not spend more than 40 minutes to complete your essay. However, if you can complete your task 1 response in less than 20 minutes, then you might have more than 40 minutes for your essay response.

Q. Should I finish Task 1 or Task 2 first?
A. It’s up to you. If you feel comfortable writing the essay first and then responding to task 1, you can always do so.

Q. How long my essay should be?
A. You need to write at least 250 words.

Q. Will I be penalised if I write more than 250 words in my IELTS writing two responses?
A. No, you will not be penalised for writing a longer essay than expected. However, writing less than 250 words will affect your score negatively.

Q. Is there any difference between Academic and GT Writing task 2?
A. There is no difference between GT and Academic IELTS essay writing. The topics and essay types in both tests are quite similar. However, the essay topics in Academic IELTS writing is slightly difficult than that of the GT writing test.

Q. Should I use a pen or pencil to write my answer in IELTS writing?
A. It’s entirely up to you. You can use either pen or pencil to write your answers to the IELTS writing test.

Q. How much is writing task 2 (essay) worth?
A. IELTS Essay worth double the marks of task one.

Q. What are the four criteria for the IELTS Essay assessment? 
A. The IELTS examiner will follow four assessment criteria while scoring your essay writing. They are:

  • Task Response.
  • Coherence and Cohesion.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Grammar.

Q. How many paragraphs should I write in my essay?
A. Your essay should contain 4-5 paragraphs including introduction and conclusion.

Q. Should I write the title of the essay on my answer sheet?
A. No, You do not need to write the essay topic or title on your IELTS Writing answer sheet.

Q. Can I get extra pages if I run out of space on my answer sheet?
A. Yes, you can. You should ask the exam supervisor for that.

Q. Are spelling and punctuation important?
A. Yes, they are part of your writing assessment and the examiner will check your punctuation and spelling while assessing your answers.

Q. What kind of essay topics I will get in my IELTS exam?
A. You can expect to get one of the ten IELTS essay types in your exam. Please visit IELTS Essay Types to know about the type of essays you might get in your IELTS exam with links to sample answers.