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IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 Overview - Article

Updated: Feb 17


In the General Training Module for the IELTS exam, you’ll be given 60 minutes to produce two pieces of writing.

For Task 1 you will have to write a letter of at least 150 words, whilst for Task 2 you have to write an essay of at least 250 words.

We recommended that you spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 about 40 minutes and Task 2. It doesn’t matter which would you do the tasks in, but it’s important to remember that Task 2 is longer and worth 2/3 of your overall grade. For each task, you will be given a band score from 0 to 9, ranging from a complete non-user of English (0) to someone with native speaker proficiency (9).

To decide your score, the examiners will look at four criteria:

  1. Task Achievement or Response

  2. Coherence and Cohesion

  3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy and

  4. Lexical Resource

IELTS Writing Test Overview
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Task achievement/response

In Task 1 this criterion is called Task Achievement and in Task 2 it is called Task Response, but in both cases, it measures how well you have answered the question.

  • Have you understood the question?

  • Have you included all the necessary information in the letter?

  • Have you given your opinion clearly in your essay?

  • Have you supported your opinion?

If your answer to any of these questions is not yes, it is unlikely that you will get a good score for Task Achievement/Test Response.

Coherence and Cohesion

Coherence and cohesion refer to how well the reader can understand your writing and how well your writing is organised.

  • Do you have paragraphs?

  • Does each of your paragraphs have a central topic, and is everything in the paragraph connected?

  • Have you used linking words and expressions appropriately?

If your answer to any of these questions is not yes, you’ll are unlikely to get a good score for coherence in cohesion.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Grammatical range and accuracy refer not just to how many grammatical mistakes you make (accuracy), but also to how many different structures you can use (range).

  • Have you written and mixed simple and complex sentences?

  • Have you used more difficult structures such as conditionals, relative clauses and passive verb forms?

  • Have you used punctuation correctly?

  • If your answer to any of these questions is not yes, you’ll are unlikely to get a good score for grammatical range and accuracy.

Lexical Resource

Lexical resource category measures the level of your vocabulary:

  • Have you used a range of vocabulary?

  • Have you used words appropriately?

  • Have you spelt incorrectly?

If your answer to any of these questions is not yes, you’ll are unlikely to get a good score for the lexical resource.

You will receive a score for each category and the scores will be combined to decide your overall writing score. Therefore, if you have received a poor score in one category you can pull your overall score down even if your other scores were very good.

You should keep these four criteria in mind whenever you do a writing task.

If you would like more detailed information about the writing module go to the website

Band descriptors can be downloaded using the links below:

IELTS Writing score calculation

Each of these four criteria receives a score from 0 to 9 points.

After that, an arithmetic mean is calculated to determine the task's total score.

For example, if Task 1 gets the following marks:

  • Task Achievement: 6.0

  • Coherence and Cohesion: 7.5

  • Lexical Resource: 7.0

  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - 7.5

Then the score for IELTS Task 1 is (6.0 + 7.5 + 7.0 + 7.5)/4 = 7.0

IELTS writing total score

*Note that Writing task 2 weighs two times more than Writing task 1.

So if you get

  • 8.0 for task 2 and

  • 6.5 for task 1

The total score for IELTS Writing Section is 8.0* (2/3) + (6.5) *1/3 = 7.5.

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