How is the IELTS Writing Test marked?

Power of WordsMany of my students express their concerns about the IELTS Writing Test and how it is marked so I’d like to dedicate this post to that subject.

The IELTS Writing Test is marked by a certified examiner who has been specially trained to mark this part of the test.  In the interests of security, the IELTS Writing assessment criteria are confidential and do not leave the test centre.

There is, however, a public version of the IELTS Writing Band descriptors for both IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2. (Click on the links to find them).

So let’s look at these descriptors in greater detail.

Task achievement (IELTS Writing Task 1)

General Training Writing Task 1: You have to write a letter with a clear purpose and it must contain ALL the information specified in the task.  The letter might be formal or informal depending on the task set.

Academic Writing Task 1: You have to write a report based on some kind of visual information; it could be a graph, a table or a diagram.  It is important to identify and compare the key features and to make sure that you report the data shown accurately.

Task Response (IELTS Writing Task 2)

General Training and Academic Writing Task 2: You are given a prompt, which will either be a question or a statement.  You have to give your point of view on a subject, making sure that you support your ideas with relevant examples.

The following criteria are common to both General Training IELTS Writing Task 2 and Academic Writing Task 2.

Coherence and cohesion: You need to connect your ideas clearly and organise your response into paragraphs.  See my post The Importance of Paragraphs in IELTS Writing.

Vocabulary: You need to have a wide and varied vocabulary and your words need to be used appropriately and spelt correctly.

Grammatical range and accuracy: Obviously, grammatical accuracy is important here and you need to use a variety of simple and complex grammatical structures.  How well you punctuate your writing will also be assessed.

Studying these descriptors will help you understand what an examiner is looking for and some of the key differences between a band 5, a band 6 and a band 7.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

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