IELTS Writing Test Format
To find out more about the whole IELTS test, go here.
Candidates are given a band score for 4 different areas of the 2 tasks and the average of these scores is the final writing band score. The 4 areas (with links to essay writing lessons) are:
Task Achievement (TA) is how well the question is answered. If all parts of the question are dealt with and the ideas are logical or the data is accurate and well summarized, then TA will be high.
Coherence and Cohesion (CC) is how well structured the answer is, and if ideas are signaled and logically follow on from one another in paragraphs. Referencing and substitution are also important for good CC so the candidate doesn’t repeat the same things too many times.
Lexical Resource (LR) is the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. The wider the range of vocabulary a candidate uses to accurately express themselves, then the higher their band score will be. Spelling and word formation are also important for good LR.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA) will receive a high band score if the candidate uses lots of complex sentences with few errors. Complex sentences are sentences that have subordinate clauses such as relative clauses. Punctuation, using full stops and commas accurately, is also important for GRA.
Below are the band descriptors. They tell the examiner what to look for when awarding a band score.
Band 9 | Expert User
Band 8 | Very Good User
Band 7 | Good User
Band 6 | Competent User
Band 5 | Modest User
Band 4 | Limited User
Band 3 | Extremely Limited User
Band 2 | Intermittent User
Band 1 | Non-User
Band 0 | Did Not Attempt the Test
Writing Task 1 Descriptors
Writing Task 2 Descriptors
Notice for the Task 2 descriptors that Task Achievement has been replaced with Task Response, as the purpose of the task (to write a well organised and relevant essay) is different to Task 1. You can see that ‘a clear position’ (the writers opinion) is important. For the higher bands, the arguments must be relevant and fully developed. That means that you need to think carefully about how you support your main points. Learn more about essay writing here.