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Do you write well?

Gurpreet Wadhera | March 31, 2006

How proficient are you in English? You could take the IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System exam, to find out.

The IELTS consists of four parts: reading, listening, writing and speaking.

We have already dealt with the reading and listening parts. For those of you who missed it, please see:

~ Planning to take the IELTS?

~ IELTS: Crack the listening module

The writing module is the third part of the IELTS exam. This module, like its name suggests, tests the candidate's skill in written English. You have two tasks to attempt -- a letter / graph and an essay.

Is writing module same for all the candidates?

No. Task I is different for the Academic and General modules. Those giving the Academic module will attempt a graph, while those attempting the General module will attempt a letter.

The essays are also different for each module.

Is there a word limit on these tasks?


For Task I, the word limit is 150-180. The limit for the essay is 250-280 words.

Be careful about the number of words you use while attempting each task. Exceeding the word limit may fetch you a low score.

What about the time limit?

You have 20 minutes to complete Task I and 40 minutes to complete Task II.

Can I write on the question paper?

Sure. You won't be provided any extra sheet for rough work, though.

What type of essays does the IELTS paper feature?

Generally, there are two types of essays in this test:

Agree/ Disagree: The candidate has to agree or disagree with the question/ situation and write down his reasons for doing so.

Comment / Opinion: You will have to examine both sides of the issue -- the positive and the negative -- and give your reasons for the same.

Helpful hints

~ Understand the topic thoroughly. Jot down your points before you start writing the essay.

~ Take five to eight minutes to plan the essay before you start writing it.

~  The essay should be well organised, clear & appealing. Divide it into paragraphs.

~ It is very important to start the essay with an introduction before you follow it up with the main body. Don't forget to conclude it properly.

~ Try to give examples, preferably related to your personal experience.

~ Use simple words.

~ Don't stray from the central idea of the topic.

While writing:

~ Stay within the word limit -- 280 words if it is an essay and 180 words if it is a letter or graph.

~ Your thoughts should be well-organised and well-presented.

~ Your handwriting should be legible. Preferably, use a pencil.

~ Once you have finished answering the paper, read what you have written carefully to eliminate any errors.

~ Don't commit grammatical mistakes and ensure you spell everything correctly.


Part I: Planning to take the IELTS?
Part II: IELTS: Crack the listening module
Part III: Do you speak English well?

The author is Centre Manager, BetterThink division of Top Careers & You, Ludhiana, which specialises in IELTS preparation. Gurpreet can be reached at

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