Writing Essays in IELTS

How are the Writing Tasks Different for the Two Modules of IELTS

The IELTS exam has a very detailed Writing test section. Students face maximum difficulty in this section, along with the Speaking section. The importance of the IELTS writing essays section is highlighted by the fact that a lot of the correspondence carried out these days is in written form. Thus, test-takers must make an effort to fully prepare themselves for this component of the exam.

This section is different for the two modules of the tests i.e. Academic and General Training. The writing section is 60 minutes long for both modules and is divided into two tasks - Task 1 and Task 2. Task 1 is completely different for both modules while Task 2 comprises of the essay part of the test. Students are advised to spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. Let us discuss the Writing section of both modules separately.

Academic Module:

In the Academic module, the question in Task 1 consists of some pictorial information to which you have to ascribe a description in around 150 words. The information could be in the form of a bar chart, pie diagram, table or some other diagram depicting a process. The candidate has to explain the given data in his own words. If statistical information is given, then the candidate is expected to elaborate on it and describe the trends that he sees in the picture. He is also expected to give reasons for the movement of data. If the picture shows a process, then the candidate is expected to describe the process and explain all its stages.

In Task 2, the candidate is given a particular statement or an opinion or a problem, in response to which he is asked to write an essay in at least 250 words. The topics of this section in the Academic module are of general academic interest that will be easily understood by the student. The student has to present his point of view in response to the given opinion or to form a solution to a given problem while using his analytical thinking skills. He is expected to support his opinions with relevant reasons and form a logical argument. The structure of the essay is supposed to comply with the standard format of an essay having an introduction, body and a conclusion.

In Task 1, the candidate's ability to interpret and correctly describe given date is assessed. He should also be able to draw comparisons in data. Task 2 judges his ability to present valid arguments to a given opinion or to give feasible solutions to a given problem. They are also supposed to justify the stand they choose to take.

General Training Module:

The main difference in the two writing sections lies in Task 1. Task 1 in this module is a letter. The question requires you to write a formal, informal or a semi-formal letter. The letter could be in complaint of something or you could be asked to write a letter to ask for information or to ask a favour from your friend. The letter should be divided into an introduction, body and conclusion. This would make sure that your response follows the prescribed format of a letter. It would also lead to better organisation of ideas.

Task 2 is the essay question. This section differs slightly in both versions in the sense that the essay in this module can be slightly more personal. Topics will be more on the general side than academic. Again, the question will contain an opinion, problem or argument to which you will have to give a response in the form of an essay. You will have to state whether you agree or disagree with the given opinion before launching into your essay. If the question has given you a problem, you will have to present a solution to it in your answer. The argument will require a counter-argument. Do justify your opinions with the help of suitable examples. You are expected to follow the traditional format of an essay.

Task 1 aims to see the candidate engages in correspondence with another individual and how well they express their opinions, or their needs and wants. Task 2 checks how the candidate responds to general problems or arguments and their ability to analyse and present their opinion or solution.

Basis of Marks Distribution

Marks are given on four basic criteria - spelling and grammar, depth of vocabulary, coherence and cohesion and answering the main question which is also called task achievement. If the task is not achieved or sidelined and the candidate chooses to ramble on about other topics then, however well-written the answers may be, marks will be lost.

To prepare for this section, develop a habit of reading newspaper. Read other books and journals and practice writing as much as you can. You can find sample answers and see what is expected of you in the exam and go about incorporating that into your way of answering a question. This will surely help you in acing this section of the test.

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