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The IELTS Writing test: a common mistake

Before we begin, there is something else you need to know. In the recent post about the difference between the formal and informal writing styles there was a mistake. Although it was caught and fixed almost immediately on the website, the erroneous version was sent to your emails before we could stop it. To clarify, the words “children”, “many” and “much” are formal equivalents of informal “kids”, “a lot of” and “heaps of”. My apologies, if the previous email confused you.

And now to the common mistake in the IELTS Writing test. As you may know, there are 2 tasks, Writing Task 1 and Task 2, and in both Academic and General Training modules Task 1 is shorter (150 words) than Task 2 (250 words). Often people decide to write the Task 2 first, before writing Task 1. No problem so far, but we are getting to the really important bit.

It is essential that you pay attention to the Answer Sheet and write your answers in the right places. There are 2 marked spaces on the Answer Sheet that you get in the Writing test, one says “Task 1” and the other says “Task 2”. To avoid confusing the examiner who will check your work, you need to make sure that the the essay is written under “Task 2” and the report (for Academic) or the letter (for General Training) – under Task 1.


If worse comes to worst and you’ve mixed the two spaces, don’t panic. First, finish writing your tasks – wherever you’ve started to write, don’t worry about the wrong spaces, just take care of the contents and the paragraphing as usual. After the Writing test is over you can ask staff at the test center to affix a note to your work explaining where each task is. It will help the examiner locate the right task and your score won’t suffer.

Good luck with your exam!

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