General or Academic IELTS Writing Exam

Are you planning to study in the UK or work in an English speaking country?

We’re here to help you get a 7+ in your General or Academic IELTS writing exam.

The best way to prepare for your General or Academic IELTS writing exam is lots of sample tests, a teacher to mark them and give you feedback – that’s what you get when you study with English Teacher Online.

Academic or General?

The two formats are graded in just the same way, but each exam presents slightly different challenges:

The IELTS writing exam has two versions, depending on what you are planning to do at the end of it.

If you are going to university or sixth form college, you will require a score in the Academic exam.

If you are immigrating to work in an English speaking country, you will need to take the General test.

There are two tasks in both versions of the exam.

Task 1 Differences

The General test involves writing a 150-word letter. The Academic exam requires writing a 150-word report based on data in a chart or table, describing a process, or comparing information on a map.

Task 2 Similarities

Both versions of the test require writing a 250-word essay. They have a separate question on any given exam day, but the topics and types of essays stay the same.

Four criteria are used to grade both versions of the exam. They are; task response, cohesion and coherence, vocabulary, grammar.

IELTS Writing Preparation

The General exam is easier to prepare for because Task 1 only involves learning how to write a few styles of personal letters.

Studying for the Academic version requires learning how to write about a variety of charts, different time periods, and passive tense in order to describe processes and maps.

The table below shows the similarities and differences between the Academic and General IELTS writing tasks.

General Training Writing Academic Writing
Task 1 Informal, semi-formal or formal personal letter with some information provided Interpreting information from a diagram, graph, chart, or process, etc., using your own words
Task 2 Broad essay on general topic of interest Lengthy essay on academic topic addressed to the educator


Top Tips That Help You Score 7+

1. Do Task 2 first because it is easier and is worth more marks.

2. For Task 1, learn all the writing structures for each type of task. In the real test, you can apply that structure with the data in a suitable verb tense.

3. Read sample essays and take note of the papers with good structure so you have a wide range for Task 1. Some structures might be used in Task 2 as well.

4. Writing requires a broad vocabulary so use a dictionary to enlarge and enrich your use of language. Avoid all informal ways of writing.

5. A paragraph must include, the topic sentence, supporting sentences (2-3 sentences), development sentences (evidence, example, experience, data). Concluding sentence.

6. Practice makes perfect, so start now by asking for a few sample tests. Find a teacher to mark them and give you feedback. Learn from your mistakes.

7. Time yourself. More writing practice – but this time do both Task 1 and Task 2 in one hour. Remember to start with Task 2 – and learn to leave yourself enough time for Task 1 at the end.

8. When you follow these tips, you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep – Go to your IELTS Test Center early, confident and well prepared.

Book Your Teacher

We can have a FREE 10-minute chat online and discuss how to get you a high IELTS score.

Please email Steve@EnglishTeacherOnline.Org explaining which exam you need to study for and why.

I charge $15 an hour for IELTS exam preparation.

Please leave questions and requests for future lessons in the comments section.