IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING 8+

In this guide, we will give you a comprehensive breakdown of how to score an 8+ in the IELTS academic writing section (academic test mode). Using sample questions, strategies and tips, by the end of this guide you will be in a fantastic position to score highly in your assessment.

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is essentially a system which measures the language and writing proficiency of people who want to work or study in a country where English is the primary language. The scoring is done on a scale of 9, with 9 being the highest (at expert level) and 1 being the lowest (at non-user level).

There are two versions of the IELTS, which are as follows:

Academic.

IELTS Academic is designed for candidates applying to higher education or professional registration.

General Training.

IELTS General Training is designed for candidates migrating to the UK, Canada or Australia, or who are applying for secondary education or work experience/training in an environment where English is the primary language.

Both versions of the IELTS will assess your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The listening and speaking elements are the same for both tests, but the reading and writing elements will differ. In this guide, we will be focusing purely on the IELTS Academic Writing assessment.

The IELTS Listening assessment will challenge a variety of skills.

IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING

The IELTS Academic writing assessment is a comprehensive test of your writing skills. Just like the reading assessment, the exercises have been deliberately chosen to be appropriate for people applying for a university course or wanting professional registration.

The test will last for 60 minutes, and will assess elements such as:

  • Writing clearly and concisely.
  • Accurately summarise data.
  • Your ability to describe.
  • Ability to explain.
  • Identifying arguments, and responding to them.
  • Your ability to write formally.
  • Use of language to persuade and inform.
  • Grasp of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

There are a total of two tasks in the IELTS Academic writing assessment. The second task is the most important in terms of your writing band score, contributing to double that of task 1.

IELTS Academic, Task 1

In this task, you will be given a graph, table or chart. Your job is to look at the image and then summarise or explain the information that’s being presented. You might also be given a diagram of a machine, or a device, and then asked to explain how it functions and how it works.

The main aim of the assessment is to see how well you can identify important information and trends/patterns, whilst giving an overview of said information in an accurate and academic/formal style. Your main priority should be to include the most important/relevant aspects of the image in front of you. You should try to include minor details if you can, but you will score higher if you focus on the more important elements of the image.

You will be given 20 minutes to complete this task.

The aim should be to write 150 words in total. If you write any less than this then you will be penalised. You will not lose marks for exceeding the word count, but you should not spend any longer than 20 minutes on this task.

You will also be penalised if you go off topic at any point during your written response, or you fail to adhere to basic requirements, such as sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Ensure you write in full and clear sentences, do not use bullet points or short-hand text. When taking the test, you’ll be provided with an answer booklet in which to write your responses.

IETLS Academic, Task 2

In this task, you will be given a topic and then asked to write about it in an academic/formal style. The topic will be given to you in the form of a prompt. For example, you might be given a statement which reads, ‘Zoos are immoral and should be banned.’ You’ll then need to respond to this statement, either arguing for or against, with detailed analysis on why you believe what you believe.

You should try to support your answer with evidence, and you are allowed to use examples based on your own personal experience. You must make sure that you focus on the statement in the question. For example, if the statement reads, ‘Zoos are immoral, they should be banned,’ then you need to focus your answer on zoos, not just on lions, or whatever your favourite animal is. While you could use the plight of some animals kept within zoos to strengthen your argument, this should not be the main focus of your argument.

The minimum word count for this exercise is 250 words, and you will have 40 minutes to complete the assessment.

Again, falling under the word count will result in you being penalised. The marks for task 2 are twice that of task 1, meaning that failure to complete this exercise will greatly harm your chances of scoring highly.

During this assessment, the main elements that are being tested are in relation to the fluency of your writing and vocabulary. You are also being tested on how well your response is structured, how well it uses persuasive language, and how well it cites information and ideas. Basically, you need to put together a coherent and logical response, paying attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation, whilst addressing the main statement from the question.

IELTS Academic Writing Practice Question: Task 1

Task 1 will require you to look at an image, and then construct an explanation about what you see. In this section, we’ll show you exactly how to do this.

How To Answer

Sometimes, looking at a graph can seem quite intimidating. There’s a lot of information to take in, and it can be quite hard to make sense of it all. The thing to do here is to stay composed. Don’t panic and let the information overwhelm you. Take a moment just to look at everything in a calm and logical fashion, and work out exactly what the graph is showing. Once you’ve done that, your answer shouldn’t be too difficult. All you have to do is summarise exactly what you see in the graph, in
150 words or more.

So, how should we look at the above graph? The first thing that should stand out for you is that the graph shows the relationship between the months of the year and the number of shoplifting incidents that occurred, in the countries of Scotland, Ireland and England. Your first line should explain this.

For example:

‘The graph shows a correlation between the time of the year and the number of shoplifting incidents that occur in the countries of Scotland, Ireland and England.’

Now that you’ve summarised the main point of the graph, you can move onto the actual data. When we look at this graph, we can clearly see that there are more shoplifting incidents occurring from January-March, and October-December, than there are from April-June and July-September. Therefore, logic would dictate that more shoplifting incidents are occurring during the colder months of the year.

Once you’ve established this, you just need to work out the numbers behind the increase/decrease, and then summarise this.

Like so:

‘By looking at this graph, we can see a clear indication that more shoplifting incidents occur during the ‘colder’ months of the year than during the hotter months. To demonstrate this, the graph shows that from January to March (in all three countries) there were 95 shoplifting incidents in total. This was followed by a marked decrease, with only 135 incidents occurring over the next 6 months. It is worth noting that there was an increase in shoplifting incidents from July till September, compared to April till June, but this was quite a minor leap.’

In the above we’ve covered the first 9 months of the year. Now we can close our summary by detailing the final 3 months of the year:

‘Following this, and moving into the Autumn, we saw a large increase in the number of incidents – with 135 incidents occurring over the next 3 months, from October till December.’

If we put this altogether, we have a concise, accurate and 150+ word summary of the graph in question.

Final Structured Answer:

‘The graph shows a correlation between the time of the year and the number of shoplifting incidents that occur in the countries of Scotland, Ireland and England. By looking at this graph, we can see a clear indication that more shoplifting incidents occur during the ‘colder’ months of the year than during the hotter months. To demonstrate this, the graph shows that from January to March (in all three countries) there were 95 shoplifting incidents in total. This was followed by a marked decrease, with only 135 incidents occurring over the next 6 months. It is worth noting that there was an increase in shoplifting incidents from July till September, compared to April till June, but this was quite a minor leap.

Following this, and moving into the Autumn, we saw a large increase in the number of incidents – with 135 incidents occurring over the next 3 months, from October till December.’

IELTS Academic Writing Practice Question: Task 2

Task 2 will consist of the following:

You’ll be given a statement or question, and then asked to write 250 words discussing this in essay format, using formal language. You will be marked on your ability to argue for/against in a persuasive fashion, using evidence, and examples based on your own personal experience too.

You’ll have a total of 40 minutes to complete the assessment. Again, falling under the word count will result in you being penalised. The marks for task 2 are twice that of task 1, meaning that failure to complete this exercise will greatly harm your chances of scoring highly.

During this assessment, the main elements that are being tested are in relation to the fluency of your writing and vocabulary. You are also being tested on how well your response is structured, how well it uses persuasive language, and how well it cites information and ideas. Basically, you need to put together a coherent and logical response, paying attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation, whilst addressing the main statement from the question.

Let’s start out by looking at an example:

‘Technology is harmful to human interaction.’

How To Answer

If you’ve ever written an essay, you might be familiar with the general structure of how to approach a question like this. However, in the IELTS Task 2, you have a limited amount of time and words. This means that you need to be short and concise with what you are saying. In a normal essay, you might take the time to acknowledge counter arguments and alternative points of view. Since you’ve only got 250 words (or slightly more) for this task, it’s advised that you focus on just arguing for or against the topic. While you can of course make passing reference to other points of view, keep these brief, and above all stay focused on the argument that you are trying to make. Remember that you are trying to be persuasive, and highlight that your point of view is the correct one.

There are two structural approaches that you can take to an essay, and in this book we have provided you with examples of both. Below is an example of how to write in plain and simple language:

This aptly named way of writing an essay is exactly what it sounds like. You start out by responding to the statement.

For example:

‘I agree with the statement. I believe that technology is harmful to human interaction. The reasons that I believe this are as follows.’

Here you have clearly laid out your viewpoint, and now you can move onto the main body of the essay. The difference between this and a longer essay is again, the time and number of words that you have. Whilst in a longer essay you might start out by talking about different forms of technology, definitions of the word harmful, and other such speculation – in the IELTS essay it’s better to get straight to the point. 250 words is not a huge amount.

Following this, the main body of the essay should be pretty simple. Write one to three reasons why you agree (or disagree) with the statement.

For example:

‘Firstly, I believe that…’

‘Secondly, we must consider that…’

‘Thirdly, it is important to recognise that…’

Finally, we have the conclusion. In your conclusion, above all you should basically summarise the main point of the essay. For example: ‘In conclusion, I feel that technology is harmful to human interaction, because it has a sustained impact on the way we behave face-to-face.’

TOPICS COVERED IN THIS GUIDE INCLUDE:

IELTS Academic writing task 1

  • In-depth explanations on every element of writing task 1!
  • Multiple practice questions and detailed responses!
  • Top tips on how to ace task 1, and what to avoid!
  • Ideas and strategies for writing fantastic responses.

IELTS academic writing task 2

  • Essential strategies for writing fluent and coherent answers!
  • Advice on how to avoid making devastating errors!
  • Clear guidelines for constructing debate-worthy responses.
  • Multiple sample questions and answers, to put you ahead of the competition!

IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING 8+

Absolutely full to the brim with incredible tips, tricks and strategies for achieving 8+ in the IELTS Academic writing task, this guide is the ultimate resource for aspiring IELTS test takers! Also containing a detailed breakdown of both tasks 1 and 2, even more sample questions and answers, our book is sure to improve your scores TODAY!

This book contains advice on:

  • Every single element of the IELTS Academic writing examination!
  • Learn how to maximise your scores, and achieve an 8+.
  • How to demonstrate linguistic prowess, through fantastic written responses.

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