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IELTS General Training: Writing Task 1
Information & Grading

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IELTS General Training


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


IELTS General Training Giving Information Letter

 You are required to write a letter in response to everyday situations with instructions on 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.

IELTS Writing 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


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

IELTS Writing Grading

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.

IELTS Writing Band Descriptors

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. 

IELTS Writing Band Descriptors

If you want to calculate your overall band score…

IELTS Writing Score Calculator

Task Achievement

Even though each criterion is equally weighted at 25% each, Task Achievement is the most important category where you need to cover the requirements of the task with...

  • Relevant and accurate content

  • Appropriate format

  • A clear purpose

  • Consistent tone

  • All bullet points are covered

Relevant and accurate content

This grades how well you have followed the instructions.

Band 7: The content is relevant and accurate... there may be a few omissions or lapses.

Band 5: The response generally addresses the requirements of the task. The inclusion of irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate material in key areas detracts from the task achievement.


Appropriate format

This refers to how you structure the letter into clear sections and paragraphs that make it easy for the reader, following the convention of letter writing.

Band 7: The format is appropriate.

Band 5:  The format may be inappropriate in places.

Follow the link for how to structure your letter...

IELTS Letter Structure

Clear purpose

All letters need to have a clear purpose. This is where you give the reason(s) why you are writing. It should be stated in the first paragraph. 

Band 7: It presents a clear purpose.

Band 4: The purpose of the letter is not clearly explained and may be confused. 

Follow the link for tips and strategies on how to write a clear purpose in your letter.

GT Writing: Purpose of the Letter 

Consistent tone  

The tone refers to the style - formal or informal. Who you are writing to determines the style of your letter.

Band 7: The tone is consistent and appropriate to the task. Any lapses are minimal.

Band 4: The tone may be inappropriate.

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

GT Writing: Planning & Formal Vs Informal

All bullet points are covered  

It’s essential that all bullet points in the instructions are expanded.

Band 7: All bullet points are covered and clearly highlighted but could be more fully or more appropriately illustrated or extended. It presents

Band 4: Not all bullet points are presented.

For strategies and tips on this, follow the link.

GT Writing: Bullet Points, Closing & Sign Off

Coherence and Cohesion

The Coherence and cohesion criterion is very similar for General Training and Academic tasks 1 and task 2. 

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.

A major change in the IELTS General Training Writing Lexical Resource criterion is...

Band 4: There may be inappropriate use of lexical chunks (e.g. memorized phrases, formulaic language and/or language from the input materials

This refers to the use of memorized phrases, which students often use these as a means to increasing the word count.

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

IELTS Vocabulary

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The Grammatical range and accuracy criterion is exactly the same for General Training and Academic tasks 1 and task 2.

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

Grammatical Range & Accuracy

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