General Training: Writing Task 1
Information & Grading

Information

In task 1 you are asked to write a letter in response to a situation. 

Example… 

                  Source: Cambridge English IELTS past papers

You are required to write a letter in response to everyday situations with instructions of what to include.

Included in the instruction is “You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.” This is just some friendly advice from IELTS and not one of their regulations so the test invigilators will not stop you after 20 minutes and order you to start task 2. 

Unfortunately, some candidates sometimes spend too much time on task 1 which means that task 2 is rushed. There is also no IELTS regulation stating that you must do the tasks in order. So, if you want to start with task 2, that’s fine.

Try to aim for 150 – 160 words in GT task 1 and keep in mind that even though there is no IELTS restriction on the number of words you can write (task 1 and 2), writing 200 + words on Task 1 is really not necessary and is not effective time management.

Some candidates ask if there is a penalty for writing too many words... there isn’t.

However, answers under the word count are penalized in the Task Achievement criterion. When the examiner sees that your answer is short, they will count the number of words and must follow the IELTS rules for word count.

The examiner will give you a band score in Task Achievement and then minus that score according to the number of words. 

Click on the following link for how words are counted.

IELTS Word Count

Grading

Task 1 is worth 33% of your overall writing band score.

You are graded in 4 criteria – Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical range & accuracy. Click on the link to view the official IELTS band descriptors (public version). Contrary to some IELTS myths about a hidden set of band descriptors for examiners’ use, you are graded on these alone.

https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ielts_task_1_writing_band_descriptors.pdf

There are some IELTS myths about a hidden or a secret set of band descriptors for examiners’ use. This is simply not true.

 

The criteria are equally weighted with 25% awarded for each category and the overall writing band score is the average of the four. For example…

If you want to calculate your overall band score…

Task Achievement

This measures how well you address the requirements of the task. In order to avoid a low score in Task achievement in GT writing task 1, there are 3 requirements that you should never neglect… 

1. Clear purpose. For strategies and tips on how to write a clear purpose for your letter, follow the link.

GT Writing: Purpose of the Letter

2. Appropriate tone.   For strategies and tips on the importance of choosing the correct tone or style for your letter, follow the link.

 

GT Writing: Planning & Formal Vs Informal

3. Including all bullet points.  It’s essential that all bullet points in the instructions are expanded. For strategies and tips on this, follow the link.

 

GT Writing: Bullet Points, Closing & Sign Off

Coherence and Cohesion

You should organize your letter into clear paragraphs. For strategies and tips on how to do this, follow the link.

GT Writing: Planning & Formal Vs Informal

Click on the following link for detailed a discussion of Coherence and cohesion.

IELTS Writing: Coherence & Cohesion

Click on the following link for a list of cohesive devices

IELTS Writing: Cohesive Devices

Lexical Resource

Lexical resource is the range of your vocabulary, your awareness of style and collocation and spelling ability.

 

For a more detailed discussion and tips for Lexical resource, click on the link.

IELTS Vocabulary

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Click on the following link for a detailed discussion of Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Grammatical Range & Accuracy