IELTS Writing Test

Recent IELTS Writing Topics

Task 1 [Academic Writing Test] requires you to write a description of at least 150 words. This is based on material given in a chart, table, graph or diagram, and demonstrates your ability to:
  • Present information
  • Summarise the main features of the information

Task 2 requires you to write a short essay of at least 250 words responding to an opinion or question. The topics used are appropriate for and easily understandable by candidates who are planning to enter undergraduate or postgraduate courses. You are expected to demonstrate your ability to:
  • Discuss abstract issues
  • Present a solution to a problem
  • Present and justify an opinion
  • Compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications
  • Evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or an argument

How is the IELTS Writing test scored?

In Task 1 you are asked to describe some given visual information (graph/chart/table/diagram) in your own words. Depending on the type of visual information and the specific task given, you are assessed on your ability to organise, present and compare data; describe the stages of a process or procedure; describe an object or event or sequence of events; or explain how something works.

There are two sets of criteria which are used to in the assessment of writing. However, there are some differences in how the General Training and the Academic Writing tasks are evaluated.

  • General Training Writing Task 1 - You are expected to write a letter, the purpose of the letter will depend on the task instructions. Your answer should contain all the necessary information according to the information given in the task. Depending on the task instructions, you should write your letter using either formal or informal language or style.

  • Academic Writing task 1 - You are asked to produce a short report based on the information given in a table, diagram or graph. You must identify and compare key features of the information and report the data accurately.

  • General Training Writing and Academic Writing Task 2 - You are given a question or statement, and are expected to form and express your own point of view or opinion on a topic. Your ideas must be supported by relevant examples based on your own experience or knowledge.

In addition to the above, the General Training Writing and Academic Writing tests are evaluated according to the following criteria:
  • Coherence and cohesion: Your response should be organized logically into paragraphs with your ideas clearly connected. Paragraphs should have a central theme as well as including supporting evidence/statements and examples.
  • Vocabulary: To achieve a high score for your writing, you need to show a wide and varied vocabulary. The words you use should be appropriate and with correct spelling.
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: A high score requires the use of varied grammatical structures, both of simple and complex type, and accurate use of them. You will be evaluated on the standard of punctuation in your writing also.

You will be given two answer sheets – one for Task 1 and one for Task 2. Answers must be written in full, not in note form. Currently you can choose to write your answers in pen or pencil. You should therefore take a pen, pencil and eraser with you to the exam.

Task 1 carries on-third of the total marks. You have to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and are recommended to spend no more than 20 minutes on it.

Task 2 carries two-thirds of the marks. You have to write at least 250 words for Task 2 and are recommended to spend no more than 40 minutes on it. You will lose marks if you write less than the minimum number of words for each task.

Writing Task 1

You are given a visual input (a chart. Graph, table or diagram) and have to transfer the visual information onto text using your own words.

For example, you may have to consider a set of statistics presented in a graph, and then summarise it by selecting and reporting the main features.

Alternativley, you may have to study a diagram of a device and explain how it works, or you may have to look at a flow chart and describe the main stages in a process.

The target skills in this task are:
  • presenting, describing, interpreting, and comparing data
  • describing a process or how something works
  • Using appropriate and accurate language

Writing Short Descriptive reports

In Task 1 of the IELTS Academic Writing module, you are expected to write a short descriptive report based on visual information or data. This visual information is most commonly presented as line and bar graphs,pie charts or tables.

You might be asked to describe two graphs or charts. If this is the case, you need to compare and contrast and make onnections between the two.

Pie Chart

describe a pie chart for ielts writing task 1
image courtesy of jscreationzs

Pie charts are circular charts divided into sectors or ‘pie slices’, usually illustrating percentages. The size of each pie slice shows the relative quantity of the data it represents. Together, the slices create a full circle. They are commonly used in business world and the mass media, and are less common in scientific or technical publications.

Line Graphs

image: anankkml

Line graphs can be used to demonstrate how something has changed over a period of time. They consist of an x-axis (horizontal) and a y-axis (vertical). Usually the x-axis shows the period of time and the y-axis shows what is being monitored. Line graphs are often used to show trends.

Bar Graphs

describe a bar graph ielts writing task 1
image: ddpavumba
Bar graphs, also known as bar charts, are similar to line graphs in that they have two axes and are useful for showing how something has changed over a given period of time, especially when there are significant changes. Bar graphs consist of rectangular bars, which can be orientated horizontally or vertically, with the lengths proportional to the data that they represent. They are typically used for comparing two or more values.


report the information in the table ielts writing task 1
image: posterize

Tables contain words and numbers, displayed in columns and rows to illustrate a set of facts and the relationship among them.

General IELTS Task 2 Sample Essay Answers

Example 1Example 2Example 3Example 4

Recent IELTS Writing Topics

Task 1

  • Describing a pie chart: European immigration between countries in 2009.
  • Describing a bar chart: comparing 7 different age groups, people who don't exercise in Australia.
  • Describing graphs: trends in international trade between Australia, the USA, China and Japan.
  • table: data about carbon dioxide production for 5 different countries, comparison of volume /year for different years
  • describe information in a table: UK population, changes in percentage of young and old people (data given for 3 different years)
  • describe information in a graph: sources of book sales (book stores, supermarkets, online, etc.) since 2005 with forecasts until 2020
  • describe information in a table, percentage of residents living in different types of housing in 3 areas of a UK city
  • Bar chart: comparison of supermarket products (non-food & food) bought by consumers in Europe in 1998 & 2008
  • Describing information in a chart: internet connections in five different countries
  • Describing information in three pie charts (data for three decades): the percentage of Australians who were studying, employed, unemployed after finishing secondary school.

  • aplology letter: something borrowed from a friend which was broken, apologize, explain, and offer solution.
  • letter: explanation to manager about lost company documents
  • letter: request for information from a company about replacing an item no longer on sale

Task 2
  • Unemployment: relation between graduate students and level of unemployment, more or fewer is better? advantages, disadvantages, own opinion.
  • Comapnies: companies with overseas locations and HQ in different countries. Advantages/diasvantages/own opinion
  • Ambitions: ambitions and society; advantages & disadvantages/
  • Traffic congestion: is building wider roads the solution? Agree or disagree?
  • Important inventions: the Internet is the most important invention for human beings? Agree or disagree?
  • advantages/disadvantages of digital technology in the home
  • international sports events & world peace, discuss & give opinion
  • banning/prohibiting (long) mobile phone calls in public places, agree/disagree, discuss reason why/why not
  • government spending: allocating more funding for science teaching (instead of other subjects) will benefit economic growth, agree/disagree
  • building design: many new public buildings (schools & offices) use an open-plan design, discuss possible reasons for this trend. Are open-plan buildings good or bad?
  • children spend more time playing computer games than doing outdoor activities or playing sports, discuss possible reasons for this? Is this a good/bad trend?
  • children and their leisure time, should they focus on educational activities, parents worried about their children being stressed out by education; discuss & state your own opinion
  • Schools spend too much time teaching traditional academic skills and not enough time teaching skills to help young people get a job
  • Should college student live away from home while studying? agree/disagree (opinion essay)
  • Consumer trends: people buying fewer new things & buying more second-hand things (good or bad trend?)
  • Animal exploitation for human benefit: discuss both points of view, give own opinion.
  • Young people spending leisure time in shopping malls: negative effects on young people & society, agree/disagree/give own opinion.

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