General Writing in IELTS
Everything you need to know about the IELTS General Writing Test
The IELTS exam is divided into four sections which are Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. The Speaking and Listening sections are the same for both modules of the test. But the General Writing and General Reading differ from the same sections in the Academic module.
The Writing Section of the exam lasts for one hour and has two questions or tasks. The time allocation for the two tasks is 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. The difference between General Writing and Academic Writing basically lies in Task 1 of the writing section.
Task 1 of the General Writing asks you to write a letter in at least 150 words. The letter could be informal, semi-formal or formal. The question could ask you to write a personal letter to a friend asking for a favour or expressing some sentiment. It could also be a formal letter written to file a complaint or a letter written to obtain detailed information about a product/service or any general information. This task aims to check how well you can communicate in the written form and the way you express yourself. The aim of the letter task is to ascertain whether or not the candidate is able to engage in correspondence for purposes of maintaining personal relationships or obtaining information. The manner in which you express your needs and wants, likes and dislikes is also judged. The format expected in the letter task is the standard format we all have learnt at a high school level which is dividing the level into three parts which are the introduction, the body and the conclusion.
The second task of the test is an essay to be written in a minimum of 250 words. The topics of these essays are of a general nature and an examinee is not required to have any special knowledge on a specific subject to do well in this task. The question will ask you to respond on a particular point of view or an argument. The essay in the General Writing section demands slightly more personal views compared to the essay in the Academic Writing section. A good essay is divided in three parts - introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction of the essay will inform the examiner of the stand the candidate is taking on the topic and also introduce him to the various points which the candidate will cover in his essay. Main content and reasons for choosing to have a particular opinion are expected in the body. This part can be divided into two or three paragraphs if needed. The conclusion summarises the entire essay for the examiner. This task tests the candidate's ability to present solutions to problems and to express his opinions on a subject. The examiner sees how well the candidate is able to support his opinion with evidence in favour of it alongside criticising the other point of view to the problem at hand.
Students should visit the official website to get an idea about the types of questions which occur in the exam. The link to the free samples offered is - http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/test_sample/general_training_-_writing.aspx. Apart from that, there are a number of blogs and websites which offer free samples of the tasks that frequently come in General Writing. Two such websites are http://ieltswritingsamples.blogspot.in/ and http://www.ielts-exam.net/IELTS-Writing-Samples/ielts-writing.htm. Students can consult other preparation materials and books devoted to this module for more examples of writing topics.
Criteria of Marks Distribution
Since the General Training module of the exam is for those individuals who are applying for migration or for general work experience, the General Writing aims at finding out whether they can communicate in the written form in a broader social context. The examiner checks how well they are able to express their views and opinions. He also sees if the candidate feels at ease when he has to obtain certain factual information or engage in personal correspondence.
Marks are awarded on the basis of the organisation of thoughts, on the spellings and grammar skills possessed by the individual, the amount of coherence and cohesion in the text and whether or not the task is achieved. If you satisfy these four criterions, you are sure to score well in your writing test.