Master the IELTS Writing Exam: Your Guide to Understanding the Assessment Criteria

IELTS Writing Assessment

If you've just finished school and you're dreaming of studying abroad, the IELTS exam is a crucial step on your journey. Being familiar with the IELTS writing assessment criteria can make the difference between getting the score you need or falling short. Thankfully, IELTS has recently revealed the full assessment scales used by their Writing examiners. This is a big deal — it means you can now understand exactly what the examiners are looking for! Let's dive in and discover what it takes to ace the IELTS Writing test.

What are the Key Assessment Criteria for IELTS Writing?

The IELTS Writing module consists of two tasks, Task 1 and Task 2. Each task is marked independently, but there are shared criteria between them. Understanding these criteria can help you prepare better and get the scores you need to secure admission in your dream university abroad.

For Task 1, the examiners look for:

For Task 2, the examiners focus on:

Remember, if your script is partly or wholly copied from somewhere else, or if it's not written as a full, connected text (for example, using bullet points or note form), you might lose marks.

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In the next sections, we'll break down each of these criteria to help you understand exactly what you need to do to impress the IELTS examiners and get the score you need.

Task 1 Breakdown

Whether you are taking the Academic or General Training test, your Task 1 writing will be assessed on the same four criteria. Let's explore each of them.

Task Achievement (TA)

Task Achievement is all about fulfilling the requirements of the task. For the Academic test, this means summarising and illustrating the key features of a diagram, graph, table, chart, map, or other visual input accurately and in detail. For the General Training test, this involves explaining the purpose of the letter you are writing, addressing all the requirements set out in the task, and using an appropriate tone and format for the letter. Understanding this can help you focus on what's important and make sure you're giving the examiners exactly what they want.

Coherence and Cohesion (CC)

Coherence and Cohesion refer to the logical organization of your writing. Your ideas should be linked through logical sequencing, and you should use cohesive devices (like logical connectors, conjunctions, and pronouns) to make clear the relationships within and between your sentences. This will make your writing easy to understand and follow, showing the examiner that you can communicate effectively in English.

Lexical Resource (LR)

Lexical Resource is all about your vocabulary. The examiners will be looking at the range of words you use, how accurately and appropriately you use them, and how well you control and use collocations, idiomatic expressions, and sophisticated phrasing. Improving your vocabulary and understanding how to use words effectively can significantly boost your score in this area.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA)

Grammatical Range and Accuracy assess your ability to use a variety of grammatical structures accurately. The examiners will be looking at your use of simple, compound, and complex sentences, and the accuracy of your punctuation. The more you practice and improve your grammar, the higher your score will be in this area.

Mastering these four criteria will put you on the path to success in Task 1 of the IELTS Writing test. Now, let's move on to Task 2.

Task 2 Breakdown

In Task 2 of both the Academic and General Training Writing tests, you are required to formulate and develop a position in relation to a given prompt, which could come in the form of a question or statement. Your response should be a minimum of 250 words, and it's important to support your ideas with evidence. Remember, examples can be drawn from your own experience, making your writing more authentic and relatable.

Task Response (TR)

The Task Response criterion assesses how fully you respond to the task. It looks at how well you extend and support your main ideas. It also measures how relevant your ideas are to the task. Therefore, you need to make sure you clearly open the discourse, establish your position, and formulate conclusions. The format of your response should also be appropriate to the task. This might sound challenging, but remember, your perspective is unique and valuable. By presenting your ideas clearly, you are showcasing your ability to think critically and express yourself in English, a skill highly valued by universities abroad.

Coherence and Cohesion (CC)

Coherence and Cohesion are about the organization and logical development of your message. It involves how you organize and link information, ideas, and language. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas through logical sequencing, while cohesion is about the varied and appropriate use of cohesive devices such as logical connectors, conjunctions, and pronouns. This is key in making clear the relationships within and between your sentences. This criterion evaluates the coherence of your response through the logical organization of information and ideas, or the logical progression of your argument. It also assesses your use of paragraphing, logical sequencing of ideas and information, and the flexible use of reference and substitution. The appropriate use of discourse markers to clearly mark the stages in your response is also important. Remember, a clear and well-structured response is easier to understand and more persuasive, which can help you connect with the reader and express your ideas more effectively.

Lexical Resource (LR)

Lexical Resource is all about your vocabulary. This criterion evaluates the range of general words used (for example, using synonyms to avoid repetition), the adequacy and appropriacy of the vocabulary (such as topic-specific items, indicators of the writer's attitude), the precision of word choice and expression, and the control and use of collocations, idiomatic expressions, and sophisticated phrasing. It also looks at the density and communicative effect of errors in spelling and word formation. By broadening your vocabulary and improving your spelling and grammar, you can express yourself more accurately and persuasively, enhancing your ability to make a strong impression on the examiner.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA)

The Grammatical Range and Accuracy criterion refers to the range and accurate use of your grammatical resource through your writing at the sentence level. This criterion evaluates the range and appropriacy of structures used in your response (for example, simple, compound, and complex sentences), the accuracy of these sentences, and the density and communicative effect of grammatical errors. It also considers the accurate and appropriate use of punctuation. Remember, grammar is the backbone of any language. By demonstrating your grasp of English grammar, you can show the examiner that you have the language skills necessary to succeed in an academic environment abroad.

With these guidelines in mind, you can tackle the IELTS Writing test with confidence. Remember, every practice counts and brings you one step closer to your dream of studying abroad!


You can practice all the points from above in our online essay IELTS writing task 2 checker. You will be evaluated in accordance to the criteria listed here.

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