The Practical Guide to IELTS Writing

If you’re preparing for the IELTS exam and you are particularly worried about the IELTS writing section, you’re not alone. In fact, writing is the section with the lowest average score by a significant margin.

One reason for this is simply that when it comes to IELTS writing, there is a lot you need to know. I put this guide together to include everything you need to know about IELTS writing without any fluff. This guide covers task two, so make sure you also check out our task one guide.

How to use this guide

This is a long guide. As such, I’ve worked hard to make it as easy to navigate as possible. There are four sections on

  1. Grading
  2. Question types
  3. Structure
  4. Frequently asked questions

There are plenty of tables of contents throughout the guide which you can click to access different sections. You can read through this guide section by section to improve your knowledge of the IELTS writing test, but it’s also a fantastic resource when used as a reference. When you are reading this guide, keep an eye out for links to other pages which go into more detail about some topics.

This guide is designed to have all the information you need for IELTS success, but I also have a free course on how to study for the IELTS writing exam. The free course is all about taking the facts from this guide and putting them into practice, so I strongly recommend it alongside this guide.


If you want to succeed at any kind of test, it’s important to know how that test is graded. This is especially true in IELTS writing where the type of English you are rewarded for is quite different to everyday language.

By the end of this section, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how IELTS writing is graded and how you can achieve your IELTS goals.

Contents show

About IELTS Scores

What IELTS score do I need?

When you’re planning to take the IELTS test, it’s important to know what grade you need. If you’re taking the test to apply for a university place, the score required can vary based on the level of the course, what subject you want to study and by which university you’re applying for. If you’re taking the course for a visa, the requirements can vary county by country. Keep in mind that most people don’t need a band eight or nine. While it’s nice to get these scores, you shouldn’t feel like you must get a top score to achieve your goals.

How is the IELTS test graded?

The IELTS writing test is graded in four areas:

  1. Task response
  2. Coherence and Cohesion
  3. Lexical Resource
  4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

For each of these, the examiner gives you a grade from one to nine. The average of these four grades becomes your final exam score for the exam.

Task Response

Task response is all about giving a detailed answer to the question. Your examiners are looking for three things for your task response score:

  1. Did you address the whole of the question?
  2. Did you present a clear position?
  3. Did you have enough well-developed ideas?

Answering the whole question

This section looks at how well you’ve answered the question. Taking a look at the criteria, we can see that knowing the question types can make a big difference but also that not knowing the question types is an easy way to lose points.

Band 4
Responds to the task only in a minimal way or the answer is tangential; the format may be inappropriate.
Band 5
Addresses the task only partially; the format may be appropriate in places.
Band 6
Addresses all parts of the task although some parts may be more fully covered than others.
Band 7
Addresses all parts of the task.

Presenting a position

This part of task response is all about having a clear argument. The key part to remember from the grading criteria is that the examiners are looking for this argument to be there “throughout the response”. This means that it’s not enough to just do this in the conclusion. You should give your position in the thesis statement portion of your introduction. Next, you should back up that position in your body paragraphs. Finally, you should restate your position in the conclusion.

Band 4
Presents a position but this is unclear.
Band 5
Expresses a position but the development is not always clear and there may be no conclusion drawn.
Band 6
Presents a relevant position although the conclusion may become unclear or repetitive.
Band 7
Presents a clear position throughout the response.

Developing ideas

The final thing to pay attention to get a good score in task response is how well developed your ideas are. The main place where you can demonstrate this is in your body paragraphs. You should pick one specific idea for each of these body paragraphs and then develop it with explanations, arguments and examples.

Band 4
Presents some main ideas but these are difficult to identify and may be repetitive, irrelevant or not well supported.
Band 5
Presents some main ideas but these are limited and not sufficiently developed; there may be irrelevant detail.
Band 6
Presents relevant main ideas but some may be inadequately developed/unclear.
Band 7
Presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to over-generalise and/or supporting ideas may lack focus.

Coherence and Cohesion

Coherence and cohesion is about how well you organise your ideas and how well those ideas flow into one another. When grading this section, your examiner will be looking at how your ideas progress, how you use cohesive devices, how well you use referencing and how well you form paragraphs. In this post we’ll take a look at what each of those things means as well and how to improve your score in this area.


Progression is about being able to follow an argument throughout the whole essay. This can overlap quite significantly with what the examiners are looking for in the task response section. You can show progression by having run through your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. In the introduction, use your thesis statement to give a clear argument to the examiners. You can also use the introduction to introduce what your body paragraphs will say. In your body paragraphs, have a clear topic sentence which is linked to your central argument. The supporting sentences in the body paragraph should link to that paragraph’s topic sentence. Finally, use your conclusion to remind the examiner of what your body paragraphs were about and to emphasise your thesis statement.

Band 4
There is no clear progression in the response.
Band 5
There may be a lack of overall progression
Band 6
There is a clear overall progression.
Band 7
There is a clear progression throughout.

Cohesive devices

Cohesive devices are short phrases that don’t carry meaning on their own but show the relationship between different parts of your writing. Students often want to study cohesive devices by memorising a long list of them. However, it’s a much better idea to learn a few and be able to use them perfectly.

Band 4
Uses some basic cohesive devices but these may be inaccurate or repetitive.
Band 5
Makes inadequate, inaccurate or over-use of cohesive devices.
Band 6
Uses cohesive devices effectively, but cohesion within and/or between sentences may be faulty or mechanical.
Band 7
Uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under/over use.


Referencing is about using pronouns and relative pronouns to make your writing less repetitive. It’s best to demonstrate why this is important so here’s an example:

Congestion charges have been opposed by regular commuters. Regular commuters argue that congestion charges make it too expensive for regular commuters to get to work every day.

Congestion charges have been opposed by regular commuters. They argue that these charges make it too expensive for them to get to work.

From this example, we can see that without referencing our writing would get boring quickly. However, we also should not fall into the trap of using pronouns too often. Make sure it’s always clear who you’re referring to.


The final aspect of coherence and cohesion is paragraphing. We can see that the examiners are looking for a “clear central topic” for each paragraph. What that means practically is that you should pick a quite narrow topic for each of these paragraphs

There are two ways of making paragraphs in English. The first is to indent your paragraphs, the second is to leave a line between your paragraphs. Both of these are acceptable for the IELTS exam but I always recommend students to leave a line because it makes your paragraphs as obvious as possible to the examiner.

Band 4
May not write in paragraphs or their use may be confusing.
Band 5
May not write in paragraphs or paragraphing may be inaccurate.
Band 6
Uses paragraphing but not always logically.
Band 7
Presents a clear central topic within each paragraph.

Lexical Resource

Lexical resource is all about the words you use. In many ways, it should be the most simple part of the IELTS grading criteria to understand. However, it’s also the area with the most misconceptions around it. This article will take a look at the grading criteria, unpack what those criteria mean and explore what mistakes people make around lexical resource.

Band 4
Uses only basic vocabulary which may be used repetitively or which may be inappropriate for the task
Has limited control of word formation and/or spelling; errors may cause strain for the reader
Band 5
Uses a limited range of vocabulary, but this is minimally adequate for the task.
May make noticeable errors in spelling and/or word formation that may cause some difficulty for the reader.
Band 6
Uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task
Attempts to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy
Makes some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication.
Band 7
Uses less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation
May produce occasional errors in word choice, spelling and/or word formation

Range of vocabulary

The first thing the examiners are looking for in task lexical resource is a wide range of vocabulary. The band descriptors ask for ‘flexibility and precision’ at higher levels and this means that you should use words that are more specific. An illustrative example of this might be describing a meal. If I say I had a meal that was ‘good’, it doesn’t give you much information about what that meal was actually like. However, if I say a meal was ‘spicy’, ‘earthy’, or ‘refined’, you have a much better idea of what it was like. Another aspect of vocabulary range is making sure you don’t overuse words. Obviously, common words like ‘the’ don’t apply here, but if you find yourself using the same word too frequently, you should look for a synonym (a word with the same meaning).

Next, we need to pay attention to errors in usage. Errors can take the form of spelling errors, word formation errors or word choice errors. A word-formation error means using the wrong form of a word. For example, writing ‘I swim good’ instead of ‘I swim well’. A word choice error is more about using a word that isn’t suitable or typically used, for example, ‘I fired a candle’.

The final thing to pay attention to, especially if your goal is a band 7 or above, is collocation. Collocation describes words that ‘go together in a language. A famous example of this is that in English, we almost always say ‘it rained heavily’ not ‘it rained strongly’. There’s no reason for this except that people say ‘it rained heavily’ so often that other people have learned it by copying them. The best way to learn collocation is to expose yourself to as much English as possible, this might be through books, TV shows, movies, podcasts or real-life conversations. It doesn’t matter where this exposure to English comes from too much; it’s more important that you pick something you enjoy so you can build a good habit.

What are some common lexical resource mistakes?

Using rare words for no reason
One issue I’ve seen over and over again is that students want to use uncommon words rather than wanting to use more specific words. Above I said that ‘spicy’ is more specific than ‘good’ for describing a meal but what if I said ‘piquant’ instead of spicy? ‘Piquant’ is another word that means ‘spicy’ but is less commonly used. Students might think that it’s better for the IELTS to describe a food as ‘piquant’ and not ‘spicy’ because it is a ‘rarer’ or ‘more advanced’ word. However, these two words are equally specific so ‘piquant’ isn’t better than ‘spicy’. If anything ‘piquant’ sounds a little strange because it’s so rare.
Memorising word lists
Another mistake learners make is that they often love to memorise word lists. While this is better than doing nothing, it’s a really ineffective way of learning words. One reason for this is that people are better at memorising things that are meaningful for them. However, when you read a word list, it’s fairly meaningless. Another reason is that even when you can remember what a word means, that doesn’t mean you can use it effectively in a sentence. Learners who do this might end up using a word in a way that sounds very out of place and this can negatively impact their task response score. A much better way of learning new words is to get as much exposure to English as possible as I’ve described above.
Using idioms or sayings
The last mistake students make is using idioms and sayings in the IELTS writing exam. An idiom is a phrase where the meaning does not match the meaning of the words. Examples of idioms include ‘it’s my cup of tea’, ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ and or ‘I smell a rat’. These mean ‘I like it’, ‘it’s raining heavily’ and ‘something seems suspicious’ but if you didn’t know the meanings of these, you’d struggle to work it out from the words themselves. A saying is an expression that offers some common wisdom such as ‘actions speak louder than words’, ‘better late than never’ or ‘time is money’. Both of these aren’t really appropriate for academic writing and won’t improve your lexical resource score.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Grammatical range and accuracy is, just like it sounds, all about using a wide range of grammatical structures accurately. However, there’s more to it than just trying to use as much grammar as possible. In this guide, we will look at what the requirements are and what you can do to meet them.

Band 4
Uses only a very limited range of structures with only rare use of subordinate clauses
some structures are accurate but errors predominate, and punctuation is often faulty
Band 5
Uses only a limited range of structures
attempts complex sentences but these tend to be less accurate than simple sentences may make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation may be faulty; errors can cause some difficulty for the reader
Band 6
Uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms.
makes some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication
Band 7
Uses a variety of complex structures.
Produces frequent error-free sentences
Has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors.

Accuracy versus range

One thing students don’t realise about grammatical accuracy and range is that having a wide range is more important than having perfect accuracy. You could write perfectly without making any mistakes at all and still only get a band four if those perfect sentences were all simple. On the other hand, an essay with a wide range of grammar and some mistakes can do quite well. Even a band six will let you have ‘some errors’. One piece of advice I often give to students is to ‘be brave’ with their grammar. It’s better to try something more complex and risk not getting it perfect.

Complex versus complicated

The word ‘complex’ gets used a lot when talking about grammar in the IELTS grading. It’s important, however, to know the difference between complex and complicated. Complex means something has a lot of parts while complicated means something is difficult to understand. We might say that for grammar, complex grammar is hard to put together but complicated grammar is hard to read and understand. In the IELTS test we do want our sentences to be complex but we really don’t want them to be complicated. You should try and include more than one idea in your sentences to add complexity, but you don’t need to do more than that and make your writing complicated.

What types of grammar should I use?

The most important thing to remember when you’re thinking of what types of grammar to include is to think about including more than one idea in a sentence. There are three types of complex grammar we always recommend for students who are new to the IELTS. These are easy to include in an essay on any topic. These are:

If sentences
If cities want to improve their residents’ quality of life, they need to reduce traffic congestion.
Although sentences
Although taking the subway is sometimes uncomfortable, it is a very efficient way to commute.
Introducing a congestion charge, which is a fee to drive in certain areas of a city, can also discourage drivers.

If you want to find out more about these three types of grammar, you can read about them here or watch this video.

Improving your accuracy

Of course, just because range is more important than accuracy, that doesn’t mean you should ignore range. To become a more accurate writer, you need to practice and you need to get feedback. Practice is important because just reading about grammar isn’t enough. You need to practice using that grammar to remember it. However, if you just practice, you might make mistakes that you don’t notice and fail to correct them. For that reason, it’s important to get frequent feedback on your writing.

For most students, increasing their grammar response isn’t about learning a lot of new grammar. It’s more important to focus on learning a few flexible pieces of grammar and use them well. The best approach is to focus on flexible grammar like the types in this article. Keep practising these and get some feedback on your writing to check that you’re using them correctly.


Answering the wrong question is one of the easiest ways to lose points in the IELTS writing exam. To make things worse, some of the questions are hard to tell apart. That’s why this section breaks down the five big question types in IELTS writing:

By the end of this section, you’ll know how to identify these questions and what your examiner is expecting from you with each one.

Why are IELTS Writing question types important?

Many students feel overwhelmed by the different types of questions in part two of the IELTS writing exam. However, while these questions often look like too much to ever learn, it is possible to break them down into five broad types. Once you know these, you will know how to handle any IELTS writing question that you get in your exam. This article will introduce these question types and how you should go about answering each one.

Before looking at the question types, I want to look at how we’re breaking them down. The easiest way to study IELTS question types is to look at what your thesis statement and topic sentences will be. The thesis statement is a sentence in your introduction that lays out what your whole essay will be about. Topic sentences are the first sentence of each of your body paragraphs which say what those paragraphs will be about. Because these sentences essentially lay out the structure of your essay, they’re a great starting point for understanding question types.


This question type asks you what you think. Usually, this will be a statement followed by ‘Do you agree or disagree?’ or ‘What is your opinion?’.

For example:

Online shopping allows people to buy almost anything and have it shipped to their front door and has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, some people believe this is a negative development.

What is your opinion?

For this type of question, it is easiest to have a strong opinion one way or the other. We should then give two specific reasons for our opinion. In response to this example we could write:

  • Thesis statement: This essay will argue that internet shopping is, on the whole, beneficial.
  • Topic sentence one: First, this type of shopping allows people to have more choice.
  • Topic sentence two: Second, shopping online makes it easier for people to get more information about what they are buying through reviews.

This response ticks all the boxes for a good answer. The thesis statement gives a clear point of view while the topic sentences refer to specific points. If the topic sentences were broader, we’d struggle to cover the whole point in a few sentences.

Both Sides and an Opinion

Along with opinion-type essays, both sides and an opinion questions are one of the most common questions in the IELTS writing exam. However, unlike opinion essays, the question is more specific about what you need to cover. It’s common for students to get too nervous during the exam and only give one side of the answer. This is the easiest way to lose marks in your exam, so avoid it by keeping an eye out for this question type. You can spot it easily because it quite explicitly says ‘Compare both sides and give your opinion.’ or ‘Compare both points of view and give your opinion.’ For example:

Question: Online shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years. Some people believe that this has improved people’s lives while others believe it is damaging to both consumers and stores.

Compare both sides and give your opinion.

For this question type, it’s important to compare two specific points. It’s common for students who are new to IELTS to write something like ‘First, there are some advantages.’ This is very broad and impossible to give enough detail on. A useful structure for your introduction is: ‘This essay will compare the advantage of _____ with the disadvantage of _____ and conclude that _____.’ For our sample question, this could look like:

  • Thesis statement: This essay will compare the advantage of increased customer choice with the disadvantage of the environmental impact of online shopping.
  • Topic sentence one: One advantage of online shopping is that it offers a greater amount of choice to customers.
  • Topic sentence two: Conversely, online shopping has a negative effect on the environment.

Problem and Solution

A problem and solution, as you might have predicted, will ask you to give some problems and solutions. This essay type can look a few different ways. They may ask you for the causes and solutions for something or for the problems and solutions. One example is:

In recent years, online shopping has grown in popularity and overtaken shopping in-person. What are some problems caused by this and what are some solutions?

To answer this question type you should pick out two problems, one for each body paragraph. In each body paragraph, you should explain what the problem is, give examples and offer a solution. What you don’t want to do is just offer a list of problems and a list of solutions. Remember that your body paragraphs should always be focused on one specific point. One way of structuring an answer to the question above is:

  • Thesis statement and outline: This essay will look at two problems this causes and their solutions. First, the environmental damage and second, the damage to local shops.
  • Topic sentence one: One problem is that internet shopping involves a lot of packaging and transportation which has an impact on the environment.
  • Topic sentence two: Another problem is that internet shopping is causing damage to local high street


The two-part question states something and then asks two questions. These are, in my opinion, the easiest to answer because the exam tells you exactly what you should do. Your first body paragraph should answer the first question and then your second body paragraph should answer the second question. An example of this type of question is:

In recent years, online shopping has overtaken in-person shopping in popularity. How has this affected customers? How has it affected shops?

The thesis statement should contain a brief answer to both questions. Each body paragraph should then answer one of these questions. This might look something like this:

  • Thesis statement: This essay will examine how the rise of internet shopping has made shops increase their online offering and has increased customer choice.
  • Topic sentence one: The heightened popularity of shopping online has forced local shops to move more of their business online.
  • Topic sentence two: In addition, this change has led to consumers having more options when it comes to shopping 

Advantages and Disadvantages

This essay type is a little confusing. Many IELTS guides will include questions that ask you to compare advantages and disadvantages with questions that ask you to describe them. However, these are quite different. Questions that ask you to compare the advantages and disadvantages are essentially opinion essays. You make two points and give your opinion. For an essay that asks you to describe advantages and disadvantages, you are not expected to give your own opinion. An example of this is:

The popularity of online shopping has skyrocketed over recent years. What are some advantages and disadvantages of this?

For this question, we should describe one advantage and one disadvantage in detail. We don’t need to give our opinion on it. You can use examples, explanations and reasons to do this. Our answer might be structured like this:

  • Thesis statement: This essay will describe the advantage that this shopping increases choice and the disadvantage that it damages local high streets.
  • Topic sentence one: One advantage is that online shopping offers shoppers more choice.
  • Topic sentence two: However, a disadvantage is that online shopping has damaged community shops.


In this description of the essay types, you might have noticed that I’ve tried to use similar examples for each question type. You might have also noticed that the content of the answers to these questions can be quite similar. For example, a lot of the essays have points about increasing choice. However, the way you present that content changes depending on the question type. By studying these question types, you can learn how to present your ideas in the right way to get a high score in the IELTS exam.


When you’re preparing for the IELTS writing test, one of the crucial things that can make or break your essay is structure. Having good IELTS structure on its own won’t get you a good score, but without good structure, you will struggle. This section covers:

  1. Introductions
  2. Body paragraphs
  3. Conclusions

By the end of this section, you’ll know exactly what you should be doing in each of these sections.


The introduction is a very important part of your IELTS writing essay because it sets it off in the right direction. It also sets up your ideas for the rest of the essay and should make them clear to yourself and the examiner. A good introduction should:

  1. Give some background on the topic of the essay.
  2. Tell the reader what the main idea of your essay is.
  3. Present what your body paragraphs will be about.

Let’s take a look at an example of an essay that doesn’t do a very good job of that:

The phenomenon of driving to work is more and more common in society. This is causing more negative effects than positive effects. This essay will offer two reasons why.

This introduction isn’t as good as it could be because it doesn’t make it obvious what the essay is about or what it’s going to do. Let’s take a look at a better version:

As people get richer, more and more of them are choosing to drive to work rather than use public transport. This essay will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects. First, because commuting causes traffic congestion, and second, because it increases air pollution.

This version is better because it makes it more obvious what the essay is about and tells you what you’re about to read. It is made up of three sentences:

A background sentence.
As people get richer, more and more of them are choosing to drive to work rather than use public transport.
A thesis statement.
This essay will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects.
An outline.
First, because commuting causes traffic congestion, and second, because it increases air pollution.

Let’s take a look at how to write those three sentences that make up a perfect introduction.

Background Sentence

The first thing to include in your introduction is some background information. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about the background of the question because the exam question will always give you some background. However, you shouldn’t just copy from the question, it’s important to paraphrase this information. This means you should write the same information using different words. For our sample introduction, the question is:

People are increasingly switching abandoning public transport to travel to work by car instead of public transport. Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

To paraphrase that, the introduction starts with:

As people get richer, more and more of them are choosing to drive to work rather than use public transport.

This sentence expresses the same idea without repeating the question.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is a sentence that expresses the main idea of the essay as a whole. You can also think of it as the sentence that answers the question. You should keep things simple for this sentence so that your central idea is clear. In the sample introduction I’ve written:

This essay will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects.

But if you don’t want to write ‘This essay will…’ you could also use:

In this essay, I will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects.

One thing you should avoid is writing something like ‘I think that’. This makes it sound like you’re just giving your personal opinion rather than expressing the central idea of an essay.


The outline isn’t actually an essential part of the introduction. You may see examples of essays online without one of these. That said, they’re very useful because writing an outline lets you check that you have planned the rest of your essay. It also lets your examiner know your essay is going to be well organised and shows coherence between the introduction and body paragraphs. For the example outline, I’ve written:

First, because commuting causes traffic congestion, and second, because it increases air pollution.

Taking another look at our example sentence we can see that it gives some background, expresses its main idea and outlines what the rest of the essay is going to be about. 

Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs make up the majority of your essay and so it’s important to pay attention to them. This guide will teach you how to put together IELTS-style body paragraphs even if you’re not sure what you want to say in your essay. Each body paragraph you write should have one topic sentence and three-four supporting sentences.

Topic sentence

A topic sentence is, like the name suggests, there to introduce the topic of the paragraph. Your topic sentence should be simple so it’s easy for your reader to know what the paragraph is going to be about. It’s also important to make sure that your topic sentences line up with what you wrote in the outline portion of your introduction

In our sample introduction above, we promised the essay would cover traffic congestion and air pollution. For a paragraph on traffic congestion, a good topic sentence might say:

First, more people driving to work causes increased traffic congestion.

This sentence describes what the paragraph is about well. It’s also nice and simple.

Supporting sentences

Once you’ve completed your topic sentence, it’s time to add three or four supporting sentences. Students sometimes ask why not more than four, especially if you have time. However, it’s more sensible to use any extra time to make your sentences more complex than add more simple sentences. Another issue with supporting sentences is that you need to make sure all of them are related to the topic sentence. It’s easy to drift away from your topic especially towards the end of your paragraph. It’s best to check back on the paragraph topic to make sure you’re not drifting away from it too far.

What to write in your body paragraphs

Students often want to know what they should actually write in their IELTS body paragraphs. There are three main things you should think of:

  • Explainations
  • Arguments
  • Examples


These explain what the key term means. In our example, we’re talking about traffic congestion. In this case we can explain what ‘traffic congestion’ means:

Traffic congestion is when there are too many cars on the road causing traffic jams and delays.


An argument is a reason why we should do something or a reason why something is true. One reason for traffic congestion is old cities, so we could write:

Many cities were designed before people drove cars and as a result, they don’t have enough road capacity for everyone to commute to work by car.


You can also give examples of what you’re talking about. It’s best to introduce these with ‘For example,’ or To give an example,’. For our example paragraph we can add:

For example, cities like London have had to introduce congestion charging because the traffic congestion had gotten so bad there.

Putting it all together

Let’s take a look at our body paragraph all together.

First, more people driving to work causes increased traffic congestion. Traffic congestion is when there are too many cars on the road causing traffic jams and delays. Many cities were designed before people drove cars and as a result, they don’t have enough road capacity for everyone to commute to work by car. For example, cities like London have had to introduce congestion charging because the traffic congestion had gotten so bad there.

We can see that this paragraph goes into a good amount of detail on one specific topic. It has a topic sentence that describes that topic and uses explanation, argument and an example to explore its topic. You can use a similar structure in your IELTS writing part two essays to put together effective body paragraphs.


The conclusion is probably the easiest part of your IELTS writing part two. However, conclusions are still important to get right for several reasons. They play an important structural role in your essay. They’re also important because the final impression is memorable. Finally, if something is easy, you should be trying to do it perfectly! For your IELTS writing part two conclusion, you need three things:

  • To let the reader know your essay is coming to an end.
  • To restate your main argument.
  • To recap the main points from your body paragraphs.

Let your reader know your essay is ending

There is very little to say about this one. You just need to start your conclusion with ‘To conclude,’ or ‘In conclusion,’. Because these are introductory clauses, you need the comma at the end.

Restate your main point

Naturally, it’s important to give a conclusion in your conclusion! Your conclusion should be the same one as the one in your thesis statement in your introduction. However, don’t just copy every word you used in your thesis statement. You should express the same idea in different language. In our introduction above, our thesis statement was that commuting ’causes more negative effects than positive effects’, so for our conclusion, we should use language like ’causes more harm than good’. This gives the same idea without us repeating ourselves.

Recap your body paragraphs

It’s good for coherence and cohesion to have a clear thread running through your essay. To do this you should recap your main points from your body paragraphs. In our article on IELTS body paragraphs, we made two points about congestion causing air pollution and traffic congestion. Therefore, we should use the same points in our conclusion.

How to write the conclusion

Let’s put these three elements together into a conclusion. While the first element, the ‘in conclusion’, is always first. The second two parts can go either way round. If we’re following the order above, we could write something like:

In conclusion, an increase in commuting does more harm than good because of its effects on traffic congestion and air pollution.

However, we could just as easily switch the last two elements around to write:

In conclusion, an increase in commuting has negative effects on traffic congestion and air pollution. Therefore, it does more harm than good.

Neither of these is better than the other and you should pick whichever you prefer.


This last section of this guide covers questions that didn’t fit in well anywhere else. If you have any questions you’d like answered, contact [email protected] or leave a comment below.

In the exam

How long should I spend on each section of the IELTS test?

Try and spend 20 minutes on task one and 40 minutes on task two.

Should I start with part one or part two of the IELTS exam?

It’s up to you. That said, I recommend starting with part one to build your confidence for part two.

How much are task one and task two worth in the IELTS exam?

Task one is worth 33% and task two is worth 66% of your final IELTS writing grade.

What is the IELTS writing exam word limit?

For task one, you should use more than 150 words. For task two, you should use more than 250 words.

How are the IELTS academic and general different?

In task two, there is very little difference between IELTS academic and general: it’s an essay in both tests. However, in task one, the general test involves writing a letter. In the academic test, it involves describing a diagram or chart.

Before the exam

What type of vocabulary should I be learning in the writing section of the IELTS exam?

Good IELTS writing vocabulary is specific, formal and, most importantly, used in a natural-sounding way.

How should I practice vocabulary?

It’s important to learn vocabulary in context to make sure you know how to use it appropriately. If you just learn from word lists, you will not be able to use the words correctly in the exam. Instead, try and read a lot of high-quality English articles and model essays. 

What study plan should I be using for the IELTS exam?

Your study plan depends on how long you have before your test. If you have a long time, you should try to focus on your general English ability. However, if you don’t have much time, look at your test-specific skills.